Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Breastless Burden with Braces: A Beauty Blog



I know I said I wouldn't blog about it, and I haven't much, but I feel the need to address my reality here. It's been an eventful month.

The morning of August 10, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Conicidentally, I had an orthodontist appointment the same day. I have been wearing Invisalign for the past year so I could stop looking like a gap-toothed hillbilly. (I will still act like one - there's no hope for that.) Hours after I'd been told I had breast cancer, my orthodontist said "Well, I know you're about done with the liners, but I don't like the way these incisors are refusing to turn in. Want to go ahead and just put some wires on these today?"

Because I know how to party, I said "Sure. Why not?" My orthodontist apparently doesn't speak Sarcasm, so an hour later, I walked out with two separate brackets and metal wires across a few of my front teeth.  Yay, me.

I swear this is what they look like.

Then since I wasn't ugly enough, on Monday September 12,  I went to the hospital and had my breasts removed. Except officially it's called a bilateral mastectomy and they also began the reconstructive surgery. When it was all over, I was lying in the hospital, battered, bandaged and unable to do much of anything for myself. I looked at Pootie and said "Hello. This is your ugly wife. I am breastless. I have braces. And I am a complete burden." And he laughed and laughed and said "Breastless with Braces. You have to write a Beauty Blog about that." So here we are. And here I am. Breastless. With braces. Still pretty much a burden, even though I'm home.

One "beauty" thing is that my pathology results from the remaining tissue came back negative, so there was no more cancer and my surgeon considers me 100% cured with surgery. No need for any further procedure. That's solidly in the "plus" column. In the "minus" column is what I still have left to go through. I've discovered that there is a pretty common misconception about the reconstruction part of this surgical procedure, which I held myself until I got into all this. If you're curious, google it, because I'm not going to gross you out here. Suffice it to say that the reconstruction is not simply slipping an implant in and walking out the door with a pair of Hollywood Beauties. It's lengthy, it's painful, it's involved, and the end result won't be breasts. It will be a close approximation of something that passes for breasts. Sort of. From far away. With lots of clothes covering them. My nude modeling days are definitely over. I suppose now I'll have to rely on my brains to make a living.

Another "beauty" thing is the love and support I've gotten from friends and family. Man, I'm lucky. My wonderful Pootie, besides being my caregiver, my medical liason, my visitation coordinator, my - well, pretty much my everything, stepped way above and beyond and bought me a Star Projector for my hospital stay. It projects moving stars and clouds up onto the ceiling. He also downloaded about four hours of "space music" - just quiet, soothing stuff - and put it on my Nano and set the docking speakers up in the hospital room. So while I was lying awake at night, this is what I got to look at.

It was hit with the night staff at the hospital.
It made the medication a lot more interesting.

Before I went in for surgery, Happy Jenn brought us chili (David made it - it was ossum, DT! Sorry! We didn't wait for the surgery to eat it!) and brought me a bunch of light reading. I now have several copies of People Magazine. I looked at them and realized I'm sorely lacking in the popular culture knowledge department, because I don't have a clue who any of those folks are. Their lives are WAY more interesting than mine, though, so you may want to ditch this blog and go pick up the latest copy.

Meg came to visit while I was in the hospital, and brought wine (which no, I am not drinking yet) and some nice other little gifts. I was pretty doped up while she was there, but I do remember that she came. I think that was her, anyway. And our wonderful neighbor Darlene came and visited, although I slept through that. I was pretty useless as company. Hell, as introverted as I am, being even tolerable company is difficult for me on a GOOD day. And the three days I was at New Hanover were definitely not three of my better days. I feel vaguely like I should apologize, but I don't remember what for.

When we got home on Wednesday, Our other wonderful neighbors Morgan and Jesse brought over some blueberry muffins and chicken noodle soup. Talk about perfect. After almost no food for three days and cartloads of medication, my stomach was a little on the delicate side, and chicken noodle soup was just what the doctor ordered. I mean this literally, since Morgan is a physician. I'm pretty sure that means her soup had Magical Doctor Powers.


It certainly made me feel much better.

Darlene brought some groceries, some much-needed vegetables as soup and ratatouille, and help with bandages. Shannon and her girls stopped by to say hello and brought some seriously tasty lasagna cups and fresh greens for a salad. Melissa and Liza and Levi brought a tamale pie and a game that Pootie and I are planning to break into sometime today. My mother-in-law has alternated bandage duty with Darlene, and is roasting us a chicken today or tomorrow. Stephanie is on dinner duty tonight. Carol and David brought food last night, and that's way over the top considering the fact that David has spent the last year dealing with his own cancer. (He's doing better now.)

And flowers. Man, did I get some flowers.







They've brightened my mood considerably. I'm kind of stuck at the house for a while, so having them in vases around the house gives me quite a lift.

I'm going to owe a lot of people big when this is all over with in a few weeks. It's the kind of debt I'm very happy to repay. Thanks to everyone for the kind thoughts, well wishes, food, flowers and assistance. I feel very loved and cared for and am grateful for the help in all its varying forms.

I'm feeling a little more like myself every day. And that's a beautiful thing, too. But it will be a while before I'll be looking in the mirror.


Here's Dr. Morgan's Magical Chicken Noodle Soup, if you know someone who needs a little post-surgical comfort. Or maybe just has a cold.

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