Tuesday, February 14, 2017

First week of 2017

We've just put away most of Christmas today, cleaned, swept, mopped, and gathered up the scattered cat toys, dancing to Lyle Lovett and Greg Brown the whole time. Now the corner where the tree and all have been standing just holds the vacuum cleaner. The return to non-holiday season is plainer. But I like the space.

It's been mighty cold by us this last week. Cold enough to force us to warm up the cars for at least ten minutes before driving to work in the mornings. Cold enough for Spark's cheeks to still be ruddy hours after he gets home from school. Cold enough to prompt me to leave two taps running, one in the bathroom, one in the basement, so that the pipes don't freeze.

Primo turned sixteen last weekend. Having a birthday that always falls over the schools' winter break is a mixed bag. Primo chose his activity and whether we had a meal out at a restaurant. We went to see the latest Star Wars movie at the super-deluxe theater that offers real foods brought to your own motorized red leather reclining seat. After the show was over, we were all too full eat a special meal. Perhaps we'll make it up later, and have some cake, too.

Sixteen's the age around here that kids usually get their drivers licenses. Due to a number of factors in our summer and autumn schedules, Primo has deferred his driver's ed coursework until this coming spring. In our city, kids have to take the courses privately. Primo will be paying for half of the cost of lessons.

Sparky will be turning twelve at the end of January. He's firmly hanging on to childhood so far.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Breast reduction: it's good for me!

Today is eleven days post-op, and my first day at home alone. It's really quiet in the house. The cats are napping. The weather is cool enough to keep the windows closedI slept until 10am, dipping back into the sea of dreams until she wouldn't have me any more. 

Hero is back to work, and the boys are in school. I made myself toast and coffee, nothing more, and went straight to the couch.  I've been ordered to strict relaxation, no exercise, for the next ten days.

The surgery went well! More than three pounds of tissue removed from EACH side. I requested that the team remove absolutely as much as possible, while leaving blood supply for the nipples to remain viable. Looks like the size will turn out to be around a full C cup after the swelling goes down.

The surgery was set for 2pm, and we had to arrive at the hospital at 12pm. I started fasting after dinner the night before. I was surprised to have a good sleep and wake up just feeling excited the morning of the operation. Hero got the boys off to school while I slept in. I took a final shower with surgical soap, and packed a small bag. Then we tried to stay calm and waited for the right hour to arrive.

At the hospital's surgery center, everyone was kind and efficient. I was giddy. I think I surprised the staff by how happy I was to see them. We picked out the best veins for the IV, got through all the questions and vitals quickly, and then I rested for about an hour. They put me in a gown that had an inflatable liner; a hose was connected to it that blew warm air into the gown and kept me warm.

About 20 minutes before surgery, the anesthetist came to meet with me. Then cam the anesthesia staff, surgery interns, and surgical nurses. I introduced Hero as my delightful husband. It was very pleasant to say hello to everyone who would be working on my transformation! 

The last person to come in was my surgeon. He looked energized, which was a good sign to me. I gave him my requests: living nipples, no square corners, and breasts as small as possible. He told me that the corners might be unavoidable, because that's the nature of the surgery. But he'd try. He could definitely go small, especially compared to where we were starting from.

As someone who has had breasts larger than a D cup for nearly 30 years, my memory of being relatively breast-free is based in pre-pubescent childhood. Really. I think I was wearing D cup bras when I was about 14. Significantly sized breasts run on both sides of my family. You look at family reunion photos, and there are just rows of giant bosoms all lined up. If a woman hasn't got a large bosom, she's either not had children yet, or she's had a reduction surgery.

I woke up in my hospital room, with nice nurses checking my vitals and providing me pain medication. The procedure had taken just two hours, and I had done well!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Rescheduled Spring, rescheduled surgery, readjusting

It's April tenth. We've had snow on the ground every morning for the last week or so. And it's two and a half weeks until my breasts are no longer a J-cup size. Wahoo! 

I am counting the days. I am reviewing photos of successful reductions. I am planning on shopping for bras. I am looking for a used recliner for post-op sleeping. I feel like I am preparing for childbirth. But I'm planning for a new post bust-o-riffic life.

This surgery had been scheduled for the end of February. I had sort of planned my 2016 around that date. (I've actually been getting prepared and medically assessed for this surgery for over a year.) My employer adjusted for my work schedule and brought on a temp employee to be trained to cover during my absence. I would have been healed and back to work by now. Instead, my health insurance company required more information, and that delayed the operation by two months.

The wait is almost over.

You probably have at least one friend who has very large breasts. You may have a few friends who can relate their experiences as a big-bosomed woman in the U.S. today. There are social aspects of living in a female body with big breasts. There are physical issues that can develop. There are psychological ramifications that can occur over time. I could write and write about the funny parts of bra shopping, the wonder at the idea of being able to see my feet without bending over, the hopes for movement and exercise opportunities. You can look that stuff up.

I'm in my early 40's now, and done with having babies and the years of nursing; I want to be free of these floppy weights. I've even considered having a mastectomy and not just a reduction: if it had turned out that I carry the BRCA genetic mutations, I would have enthusiastically said goodbye to my breasts altogether. Breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers regularly occur in one part of my family. But we don't carry any known genetic markers for those cancers. So this surgery, by dramatically reducing my breast tissue mass, is going to reduce my breast cancer risk. My geneticist is happy about that.

My surgeon estimates I'll lose between six and ten pounds in just a matter of hours. There will be microsurgery to re-connect the blood supplies for the remaining tissues. I'll end up being more than fifty percent smaller and lighter. I may even have breasts that look like they're 20 years old again. Wouldn't that be something?!

February and the very coldest days again. But a change is coming.

That's right, in the -10'sF here. In our drafty old house, that means blankets swaddling cold ankles when one's in the living room. Indoors, we wear layers of regular clothes, hooded sweatshirts, outdoor vests. Hats help keep us warm in bed. But the sparkling sunshine is beautiful and distracts us from the chill.

I have a new radical hope that's getting me excited. It's going to be a permanent physical change and identity shift. My insurance company has finally agreed with me that, after 20 years of outrageously sized breasts and ALL that that can mean, I can qualify for breast reduction surgery.

And I am so ready. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

JUNE 2015

Part of this healing process is stories.  Reading stories.  Last summer, I was reading about three books a week, just eating up the words like a ravenous animal.  I submersed myself in deep pools of other lives, other places, other eras, other wisdom.  What was being washed away?  What would be revealed?  I took notes and covered legal-sized pages with notes on Louise Erdrich's novels.  I randomly chose and read books from the fiction section of our local library.  I pre-read the series openers of Primo's next free-reading books.

In the autumn of 2014, I started working on a travel photo book editing project.  I went through thousands of photos of beautiful places and celebratory people,  What was I learning?  It was great to be earning money just sitting at home, working on a computer on the couch. I was present and available for my sons after school.  I went to weekly therapy until the month of November, when the project got busy enough for me to stop losing two hours a week to the appointment.

Now we've gotten through the school year. We're preparing for our FIRST family vacation that isn't just a weekend away. Got the car spiffed up with new spark plugs, timing belt, brakes, the whole shebang. Feels like it's almost new, which is pretty good for it having 124,000 miles on it. It's actually the first car I've owned from the current millennium, and it's a 2004. Such luxury is unexpectedly welcome.

Spark graduated from his dyslexia program a couple of weeks ago.  I had the privilege of giving a speech at the ceremony, and in my anxiety, I procrastinated writing the speech the night before. I printed it in 18-point type and practiced a couple of times that day. Whew. It went fine, and Sparky smiled for his photograph. We ate cake in the basement of the Mason's building and then skedaddled. It's been fantastic not having three hours' worth of tutoring/waiting/driving every week.

Back to this summer's stories so far: for entertainment during the Spring's first round of photobooks, I've been watching M*A*S*H on Netflix. (Primo has figured out how to use Chromecast, and I'm able to send a show from my laptop to the TV without using a remote. It's crazy. I guess I'm at the age and tech level where a teenager is required for television viewing.) The boys have both noticed and commented on the stories in M*A*S*H, and asked questions about why TV shows today aren't like they were 30 years ago.  That would have turned into a longer conversation than they wanted to hear. Personally, I am in awe of Alan Alda's skillset. He's still going strong! And Gary Berghof's ability on the drums is admirable.

I've been reflecting on the way M*A*S*H influenced me when I was growing up. Liberalism, humanitarianism, pacifism and distrust of the military are some of the values that still ring true to me. Enjoyment of sarcasm and crazy humor, too! The sexual innuendo is mighty thick for watching with the kids, though. Primo seems old enough to ask questions and know the difference between an old TV show and what's actually okay.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Slipping off into a summer depression

I can feel it coming on. What do you do when you feel the darkness rising?

Noticed the sadness while I was in a meeting today, and I remember this brand of heartache.  I haven't been sleeping well, and can't seem to get enough hours in the bed. I don't feel like taking care of the household chores, nor making any food that's good for us to eat. Working at the office feels like a struggle each and every hour.

I took some Rescue Remedy lozenges, drank extra water, and am going to be taking a walk. I don't want to go down into the depths of the depression. Not me. Not this time.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

First black eye. No broken nose.

Today, Primo and Spark were playing outside.  It's Spring break, and they'd been inside on screens all day.  I sent them out at 5pm, telling them to play until Daddy got home. He usually arrives at 6.

When one son is twice as large as the other and they like to play with sticks, the little one often ends up with a scrape or whacked knuckles. Today was different. There was chasing, shouting, a strongly pushed swing, and then blood and tears.

Primo needs physical exercise and release every day. Unfortunately, he doesn't have any peers to goof and roughhouse with.

Spark's nose has a neat 90-degree cut, and his right eye and cheek will tell their own tale soon. Thank goodness for my Girl Scout first aid courses.