At my appointment yesterday the Surgeon told me I no longer need to wear the breast binder. My husband took me to a local mastectomy apparel/wig shop. I hoped for the strength to not cry, since just over a week ago I had a total meltdown just trying to call one of these shops. I managed to handle it ok while we were there.
I tried on a number of camisoles. The ones that were really soft were too high around the neck and didn't hold the forms very well. I ended up with a not so comfy purple stretchy tank top with lace on the bottom and a set of shaped forms. Just FYI - apparently forms don't come in pairs... the ones I bought came individually (i guess I'm lucky she found two that matched!)
It seemed kind of like wigs were more of their specialty as they didn't seem to have much apparel selection, but they were in the process of relocating their store so they were in a bit of disorder.
I cried most of the way home. And then for a little while after we got home. My husband was really good about it, he accepted that I just felt like crying and I didn't want to talk about it. He actually encouraged me to "get it out" and put on mood appropriate music.
I had thought that once I didn't have drains, and didn't have to wear the binder I could buy things to wear that would make me look normal again. I should have realized that looking normal isnt the same as feeling normal. And even looking "normal" is still different than how I used to look or how I would look if I had boobs - even weird expander boobs.
My chest is so hard. The lower half of each breast is as hard as my breastbone and the skin seems thinner. I imagine it might be better to be in this state with out the preserved skin and nipples, because then it would be smoother. What I have now really kind of freaks me out. I don't like to look at it or touch it. When my finger accidently pokes the hard area like when I'm dressing, it kind of gives me that nails on chalkboard feeling. Even though much of the area is numb, some of the skin is really sensitive to clothes rubbing, so it feels best if I wear something tight and soft and even then I still put in the soft nursing pads.
When we went out to eat and I was wearing my camisole and forms under my regular college gameday attire I felt like I looked normal, however the feeling I had was like when my boobs were sore prior to starting my period, but there are no boobs there! It's just really bizarre. By time we got home I was very eager to get it all off (which is still challenging with my arm/shoulder pain and mobility issues - I totally understand my 4 year old daughters frustration when she gets a tight shirt stuck halfway off her head and arms and needs help getting it off).
Last night I did a lot of web surfing looking at different kinds of forms and searching for things like "mastectomy lingerie" and "modest apparel" (HA!) There's not a lot out there.... this may be tmi for some readers, but I'd really like to find a bra or lingerie or combination of something that I could maybe feel mildly sexy in, I don't think I'll be feeling sexy while nude until I get some boobs again. I think if for some reason I couldn't get reconstruction, I would atleast have the surgeon remove the excess skin (and maybe even the nipples) to smooth things out. But for now, as unattractive as it is, its important for a good reconstruction result.
This is only temporary. In a few months I can start reconstruction again and get expanders in. Just right now that feels like a really long time.
I found the best thing for me was regular shelf camisoles that you get at Kohls, Target, etc. The special mastectomy stuff was too expensive and the shelf cami's held the form in better. My PS also allowed me to get a wireless bra (so I'd feel normal). I even went to the gym with my form in! I will tell you this, if you have the ability to laugh at yourself you will get through it so much easier! I had more than my fair share of "Oops my boob is falling out" if the form peeked out from my shirt. I had a good laugh with my PS talking about how, when running, the form bounces to the middle of your chest.ReplyDelete
Phantom pains are completely, totally normal. I have them all of the time. It's a medical fact..anytime a limb is removed (even breasts) sometimes the patient still feels pain in the area. Seriously, the way I get over it is I have ot mentally (sometimes verbally) tell myself "I can't be hurting there! I don't have breasts!" and then it honestly goes away :)
I promise, the hardness will get better. It freaked me out at first too and your comparing it to nails on a chalkboard really sums it up. The feeling set my teeth on edge! I told my PS I felt like I was knocking on my ribcage and that I hated not having anything there.
Chin up and I PROMSIE PROMISE PROMISE time will fly and you'll have hard expanders again (and a whole new set of expander related problems). Right now, my best advice is too try to keep your mind off of it, and relish sleeping on your side :)