Saturday, June 20, 2009
my new rack
Warning: This post may contain too much information for some readers.
I have not worn a prosthesis for more than two years. Lymphedema and then scarring from radiation made the experience of wearing it excruciating. The last time I tried to wear it, I was on a date with my spouse in Florida. After an hour, I was in tears, it hurt so much.
Out it came and I haven't looked back.
At least not much.
I find that I'm pretty comfortable without a prosthesis. Sometimes I dress to camouflage and others I just don't care. And most of the time, I don't think about it at all.
Lately, though, I've wanted the chance to blend in a little more, to not have to lead with my cancer when I meet people. And although I have some great tops that work with my asymmetrical body, (from Rhea Belle, of course) I do get tired of the limited options open to me (it's hard enough finding funky clothes in larger sizes).
So, while feeling slightly guilty about giving into societal notions of beauty (in hiding my asymmetry, am I implying that I think there is something wrong with it?), I set out to visit Kelly's Mastectomy Boutique.
The entire operation took all of ten minutes ("Oh look! Boobs!" I exclaimed as I tried on prosthesis and bra) and cost several hundreds of dollars (recuperable, thanks to the government and my insurance plan. I wonder though, why do we need a referral from a doctor? Does anyone get a prosthesis for fun? What would they do with it?). I brought it home, stuck it in my closet and didn't wear it for almost a week.
Yesterday, I decided it was time for the prosthetic equivalent of a test drive. I was meeting Sassymonkey for pints and knitting on a sunny patio. It seemed like a low stakes endeavour, in that if I arrived with my boobs pointing in different directions, Sassymonkey was likely to be unperturbed. It was also a good opportunity to put the boob through it's paces, as I would be biking, knitting, eating, sitting in the warm sun and engaging in a social encounter.
My new fake boob is squishier in back and is supposed to be lighter - better for both my uneven chest wall and lymphedema. I wore it under a t-shirt with a picture on it (much harder to wear with an uneven chest) and one that is slightly snugger than I have been wearing lately. I noticed immediately that my waist, gone for ages, seemed to reappear. I also noticed that my posture seemed to improve.
I ran into someone I knew on my way to the pub. She said, "You look different. Have you done something to your hair?"
And after Sassymonkey and I had been sitting for a while, I pointed out my newly symmetrical rack to her. "That's what's different!" she exclaimed.
"You'd tell me if I were unbalanced right?" She assure me that she would (I felt unbalanced, I'm so unused to having this weird mound on the right side of my chest).
All in all, I declare the outing a success. The thing felt odd but there was no pain. I even forgot I was wearing it for a while.
When Sassymonkey and I parted we hugged goodbye (I later repeated this experience with T. Hugging feels very odd, like we are squishing a big pillow between us) and she noted, "You're still balanced."
I said I was glad but that I was going to take it off when I got home. "It's like breaking in a pair of shoes, you know?"
She said that she did.
As I type this, the stand-in for my right boob is nestled in it's box in my closet. I am toying with taking it out for a spin again this evening.
And one last thing: there needs to be more support and encouragement of women who create clothing for the post-mastectomy body. Also, it would be great if the bigger clothing companies would come across, by supporting the work of women like Jacqueline and modifying their own designs. I can't be the only woman who has had a mastectomy, does not love prosthesis and cannot/would not choose surgical reconstruction.