Prosthetic Breast

My mom is packing for Canada. I can’t imagine this taking too long, she’s been living out of a suit case for the past six weeks. But then again, it’s my mom – and when does a job, she does it right. So I may have a little while to type.

But today I won’t talk about how Mom is leaving after six weeks of being here, giving her love and support. And I won’t mention how incredibly grateful I feel to have spent this time with her. So there is no point saying she’s incredible, and I’ll never be able to thank her enough.

There is time for all that tomorrow, because tomorrow I’ll probably be thinking of nothing else.  (Last time my mom flew out from Heathrow, I left her at the departure area and returned home on the bus. Once home, I realized I had no key for the apartment. Being locked out I tried to call Zsolt, but my phone had no credit. While heading to the shop in order to add credit (couldn’t do it on the bank machine because I didn’t have a card with me, just cash), I dropped my phone down five flights of stairs. Suffice to say, I cried like a baby once Zsolt asked, “how you doing?” and it wasn’t because I was locked out, or dropped my phone, or was exhausted – it was all about my momma. But on the plus side, I can absolutely say that those basic Nokia phones are tough stuff. FIVE flights of stairs!)

Anyhow, I won’t go into any of that. Not even a little bit.

Today we did something fun, and now I understand why men love breasts.

Grabbing a taxi to the hospital, Mom, Zsolt and I called in on the breast care nurse (I had an appointment). We were taken into a room with many boxes – similar to the back of a shoe store, only more hospital-esque, and were asked to take a seat. The nurse then asked me to pull out my bra, which I did (giant A cup mastectomy bra) and we began to try on prosthetic breasts (I tried, others watched; it was a group effort).

I had to swap my pre-bought bra for an on hand sampler because my bra had padding. Therefore, I was wearing a non-padded bra, and we were slipping in different size prosthetic breasts.

What does a fake boob feel like?  It’s a bit like a Ziploc back sealed with water inside. . . if you hold the bag up and touch the bottom where all the water pools . . . it’s kind of that sensation, only softer. Anyhow, it feels good. Really smooth to the finger.

Trying on, trying on – a little smaller, a little bigger, a little here, a little there . . . till we hit the perfect shape.

“Run your hands over both breasts. Give them a good feel,” suggested the nurse. Wow, did that ever feel good. Not like “ohhhh yeah” good. GOOD. It felt real, really real. Had I not known otherwise, it’d be easy to forget there was a difference between the two sides (except for the temperature). And I was fascinated, I could have spent the entire day stroking this soft boob that wasn’t really mine. Not mine, but mine.

So I get the fascination. Mind you, I still don’t have an urge to oogle or stroke anyone else’s breast . . .

Summary: fun day boob shopping. It was a good change.

[Upcoming preview: next week Zsolt’s parents will arrive, shortly followed by his sister Anita and Berci-in-law. Who will sleep where? How much Hungarian will Catherine remember? And will Zsolt be able to work on his thesis? ]

Oh boobs.

Man-Bugger-Frig-DAMN-Augh-Frack-Fuck. AhhhhhHHH!

I’ve been demoted a bra size.  My boobs have always been two different sizes, the left smaller and the right a bit larger, but the nipples were even, so who cared? Not me. I was a happy, healthy, proportionally kick-ass 34 B–ish. Ish.

Well, not anymore!  Post mastectomy, little lefty is all that remains and she is a healthy size A.

Okay, okay. ‘Healthy’ should be the key word in that previous sentence, I know. But Frig. FRACK. BOOBS!

Today I wore my first ‘false’ breast, which is why I’m griping. I have this post-recovery camisole with pockets for a fake breast. My mom and I spent about ten minutes with the comfy – pulling out stuffing and trying to find it the right position in the shirt. Once we finally had it in place, I pulled my dress over and took a look in the mirror – hmm, even looking . . . but, smaller . . . Even Zsolt has noticed, though I suppose of all people he would be the one to notice.

This is not the end of my world. On the brighter side, my drain has been removed by two wonderful nurses who visited my home (I really mean it, they are great. Vicky in particular was so reassuring). And on the even brighter side, my mom is here and we spent an hour in a cafe today talking; getting out was difficult at first, I nearly fell asleep on the table from exhaustion, but after a cup of tea the world become far easier.

So yes, there are good things happening. But it’s a change – that’s all I’m saying, and a disappointment.  Big reliefs and small disappointments. These feelings can be tough, but I know they won’t last.

Bumpyboobs gets a little bit smaller. Hey, they’re still cute , and lefty’s been good to me. She really has. Thank God she’s healthy. Now I’m praying and fighting so that she and the rest of me can stay that way.

Before the mastectomy

Okay, I love writing  – (I also love yogurt, which I’m eating right now) – and through writing I can clean my system. Plus, it’s a great way to share information.

So I’m going to write up two posts: before the mastectomy, and after the mastectomy.  And I’m going to start immediately, here, now.

The morning of my mastectomy I woke up at 6.50, ate a piece of toast and crashed back into bed. Zsolt and I slept in till nine, then rolled around the apartment till ten. My acupressure must be working, because even with the operation looming I was able to sleep soundly.  There was writing of emails, watching of Zsolt (he was eating and I was fasting; I couldn’t help salivating as he ate a late breakfast) receiving of letters, and prepping of bags. I used basically nothing that I packed, but it was still good to have it all there. For the most part things stayed ‘cool’, until I received two letters – one from Sandie and one from Laura, which were both very touching and helped me cry a little. Light crying is a good thing.

Eleven o’clock and we caught the bus to the hospital.  I kept looking down at my boobs, that happy couple sitting side by side, and would hold up my hand to cover the right one.

About ten to twelve we arrived at the Princess Anne, and we found our way to D level, day surgery. This is the area for people who are having surgery but leaving the same day. I guess they are getting things taken out, bits sliced off, etc. All the while I waited for them to take me away. One woman had to say goodbye to her husband in the lounge area and I burst into tears. How ridiculous is that? It’s not like this was a movie scene where the couple says a final goodbye; they didn’t even seem to mind. But still, the tears were rolling down my cheeks.

After my little scene, we kept on waiting. A lovely nurse came into the room – she was round, with big hair and a smiling face – and called out a list of names, on which I was placed third. She said that there were not enough beds, so we had to stay in the waiting room while the prep went on, and we’d go off and return one at a time. This was fantastic news for me – because Zsolt was in the waiting room and so long as he was there, I was happy.

Another hour passes by. Zsolt and I visit with my Anaesthetic Doctor (Nick) and he explains what we’ll be doing to knock me out.  I’m given robes to change into. Then it’s back to the waiting room.

Around 3.20 the nurse comes and asks if I’d like to sit on a bed to wait. “I’d rather stay with my husband,” I reply. And she says, “No problem, he can come with you.”

No problem? He can come with me? What was that pre-assessment nurse telling me two days before?

So! There you have it! Zsolt came with me. We sat in a small curtained off area, I was on the bed and he was on the chair. By this point in the day the patients were tapering off and the nurses seemed to  relax. They began to sing ‘all things bright and beautiful’ on the other side of the curtain, which I had never heard before. One nurse said it reminded her of a funeral, but another – the smiling nurse from earlier – said it reminded her of home; it reminded her of festivals and how people would walk down the street singing aloud. It held a lot of memories for her. So she sang it again for them. Zsolt and I listened through the curtain. It was lovely.

Eventually a nurse popped her head round our curtain (just past 4 pm) and asked if I was ready. Ready… well, I was willing. Can you ever be ready? A quick goodbye to Zsolt, I pulled myself together and was wheeled to the prep room.

Touching is such a comfort. All this nurse had to do was touch the side of my face and I felt supported.

We wheeled into this small prep room that somehow reminded me of high school tech classes. It seemed too small – not large enough for operating. But, of course, it must not have been. Before me were two grey doors, and I have a feeling the ‘theatre’ was on the other side.

There was Nick, the man who’d give me drugs, and he put a catheter into my hand. I frigging hate needles.  But in it went. He asked me what my favourite drink was . . . hmmm, water filled with ice cubes? (the question as an answer response, very Canadian).  He had meant an alcoholic drink, because what I was about to feel would be like two gin and tonics poured into my veins (maybe that’s his favourite drink).  Earlier he had told me it’d loosen me up, make me giggle. Nope, no giggles. I started to cry instead (a very common theme for the day). But good old Nick and my nurse did their best to distract me. “Where’s your favourite place for holidays?” Hmmm, Lake Balaton in Hungary? I answered (again as a question, because I wasn’t sure of anything at this point).  “Sounds great” he replied.

And then I was dreaming about Zsolt’s colleague’s German accent in conflict with someone else’s accent.

And then I was waking up, and realized that I was moving – being rolled, and Nick was there in his blue outfit, and the nurse (name forgotten, sorry!) was there with her pink ribbon and I asked if it had been okay – yes it was okay – and had they gotten it all out – yes they’d gotten it out.

And on we rolled into recovery. The rest was a dream with ins and out. I think I arrived in recovery around 6, and I know I arrived in the ward around 8.40. Zsolt was there after a day of waiting, and I was so tired I could barely stay awake.

But that’s after the mastectomy, and this is about before.  I’ll write the rest later. For now this is enough.