So I’m finally back home in Philadelphia, and so far it’s been great. While staying with my parents was good and they gave me food and love and things, not being able to drive was, well, driving me crazy, and I constantly had this empty feeling between my ribs that made me feel like I wanted to cry. I thought I might still feel that way when I got home, but so far, that hasn’t been the case. It’s been great to hang out with my roommates and my friend Kara, who is staying with us while she rehearses a show in the city. They asked me all about my surgery and said I look really good. “I’m sorry, I’m staring at your boobs,” Dustin said. “But it’s for science.” 

I was kind of tired and would have liked to just chill out for the rest of the night, but I had plans: I was going on my very first date.When I was walking around the city last week, I was stopped by a guy who was very nice and I agreed to go out with him. I got there a little late because for some reason, no trains were coming and when one finally did, they wouldn’t let us get on it. When I finally did meet up with my date, Bryan, we went to a not-loud bar/restaurant. I got some soup and we both got a drink. We stayed there for awhile, and he was really easy to talk to. When we finished, I paid because I am a feminist and because I got the most stuff. Then we went back to his apartment, he showed me this video we had been talking about, and then we made out. So apparently, I will kiss on the first date.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with him- I had a lot of fun and it was a good first first-date experience. Neither of us has contacted the other yet, so who knows if there will be a second date. Either way, I’m satisfied with the experience.

I’ve been feeling less useless being here, since I can do more things and go more places, which is nice. I see my surgeon on Monday and go back to work on Tuesday. I’ll also be seeing a bunch of my friends this weekend, which I’m really looking forward to.

The Quest for Bras

Tomorrow, it’ll be a week since my surgery. That’s so weird, because it seems like it happened yesterday. I’m glad, though, that it doesn’t feel like it happened yesterday. The pain isn’t gone- far from it- but it hasn’t gotten worse. I’ve been taking ibuprofen only, and actually more for headaches than anything else. Yesterday, I finally took a shower, which, besides smelling good at last, meant taking off the official doctor dressings off. While my mom did a really good job of patching me up, the bandages weren’t as supportive, so I was probably the most sore I’ve been since the hospital, this morning.

I had bought a two-pack of front-closing sports bras at WalMart a few weeks before my surgery. They were APPARENTLY extra-large, but holding one of them up to my new boobs, I knew that while they might be okay for exercise, no way were they going to work for recovery- way too small. And so after my mom stopped by her work, we went to look for some replacement bras.

I thought with my smaller size, it would be easy, or at least easier, to find sports bras. And it will be as soon as I can wear back-closing ones, but it’s extremely hard to find an abundance of front-closing bras without an underwire in ANY size. We had to go to three stores and ended up having success at KMart, of all places.

After shopping, I was so exhausted. I think I said this before, but I really need to slow down. I’m moving around like I’m two weeks post-op, and my body is feeling it. And even if my body isn’t showing it right now, I’ve heard that if you get your heart rate up too high, by exercising or exerting yourself in general, your scars will be much more visible than if you don’t.

As far as size goes, I’m in the D/DD range, maybe going a tad smaller when the swelling goes down. I’m not surprised by this. I really really wish I had been taken down to a C, for size purposes, but as long as I can buy my bras in an American store for less than a hundred dollars, I’m pretty happy. Plus, I finally got up the courage too look at my new self in the mirror today; I was really afraid to see the stitches and bruising. But actually, the weirdest part is the fact that my chest is stained almost completely yellow from the disinfectant they used during surgery. Otherwise… it looks awesome. Very little bruising, and while I will probably forever want to be a C, I look so much more proportional; the size is probably exactly right. I just love them,and they way I look now, so much. This decision was such a good one.

It’s day four of recovery. By last night, not even one full day into my stay at my parents’, I was going stir crazy.

Today, my mom and I had to drive all the way back to Philadelphia for two doctors’ appointments: my therapist and my surgeon. Because I haven’t had a lot of pain (only ibuprofen since Saturday night) and because I’ve been feeling less tired-all-the-time and more normal-tired, I thought I’d be okay. But after a two hour car ride and an hour talking to my therapist, I was exhausted.

Sitting in my surgeon’s waiting room, my mom kept telling me to go tell the receptionist that I was there. I kept telling her I didn’t have to; when you have a breakdown in the middle of someone’s office, they tend to remember you. I’ve never had to sign in. 

I got my final drain removed and the catheters in each breast. The research I did prepared me for some serious pain, but I didn’t even know she had taken them out until she told me. I finally got a look at my new boobs, and even though they’re still swollen and have marker and yellow antibacterial residue on them, I love them so much. There’s very little bruising, from what I can see. And you know what else I can see? My feet. My stomach. The button of my pants. It’s amazing. 

So now I’m back at my parents’, completely exhausted from my day. I may not be feeling a lot of pain, but I’m still suffering from the normal post-surgery fatigue.

Reduction Surgery!

I am at my parents’ house at last! I’m a day later than I expected because I had to stay in the hospital for an extra night, for reasons I’ll explain below.

Thursday was the big day. As I wrote, I thought I’d be nervous, but beyond a few butterflies here and there, I wasn’t. I was cool as a cucumber the entire time, and that was without drugs. I think I had done so much research, and all of the doctors and nurses explained things to me well and respectfully, so I felt secure.

I got up at 6:30, washed my hair and used the antibacterial soap. I don’t like using a hair dryer, but I didn’t want to be dripping all over the hospital, so I did that, too. Around 7:50, my mom and I headed over to the hospital. We were able to walk there, which was nice.

It took a really long time for my pre-op stuff to start. I was so surprised how young most of my nurses and doctors were the whole way through the process, but then I reminded myself that a lot of my friends are nurses and are the same age as me. The younger, male nurse was great and was able to draw blood (my first time) without pain and was fun to talk to. There was a older female nurse though, who wasn’t as great. She kept reiterating that she was just helping out and that everything on her usual floor, the third floor, was done WAY better than on the crummy old ninth floor. They needed a urine sample from me to make sure I didn’t get knocked up in the two weeks since my pre-op appointment. I’m bad at peeing on command in general, but the nurse kept coming over and hammering on the door, making me tense up. I didn’t know it was her and finally abandoned the single-occupancy bathroom, thinking someone needed to throw up or something. She made me feel super guilty for not producing the sample an I eventually got it to her, emphasizing that I needed to be left ALONE.

In between all of this, my plastic surgeon and another doctor came in and talked to my mom and me about the procedure, and my PS drew all over my boobs with a pen and a measuring tape, showing where she was going to, essentially, cut and sew. I think that was the weirdest part of the whole experience.

After I was finally pronounced without child, I climbed onto a rollaway bed to be taken to anesthesia. This was probably an hour and a half after I’d arrived. The anesthesia was the part I was most worried about, but again, there wasn’t any palpable worry about me. I waited forever for the anesthesiologist to come talk to me, and he was really nice and explained stuff very well. I got my first IV, and my entire IV experience wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as I’ve read about other people’s being. 

A long, LONG time later (maybe a bit after ten?), I was wheeled to the OR. My plastic surgeon was sitting in the corner, casually on her phone. She and everyone else helped me onto the operating table and they gave me some heated blankets, which I thanked them for. I think those were probably the last words I said, or at least the last ones I remember saying. The anesthesiologist told me he was putting some relaxing medication into my IV, and I must be a super lightweight, because the room almost instantly went blurry, and I was out seconds later. I didn’t experience being told to think of a nice place or to count backwards; I don’t even remember falling asleep. Night and day experience from my terrifying one in ’98.

I woke up feeling like I’d had a long nap, and the first thing I noticed was that I didn’t have a tube down my throat like the doctor had told me I would when I woke up. Again, maybe being I am such a lightweight, I was supposed to wake up then and didn’t, but I had a nasal cannula on my face when I did wake up. I also noticed that the right corner of my upper lip was painful and swollen. They must have bumped it with the tube. That has actually been one of the most painful parts of recovery so far! The recovery room was super understaffed, so I had time to wake up before anyone was asking me any questions. When a nurse went to get me some ice chips, I looked at the clock on a column near my bed. I’m bad at reading analog clocks anyway, but there was also a glare on the clockface, so I couldn’t tell which hand was longer, and I panicked when I thought the clock read 10:30 pm. Between that and the cannula, I started tearing up, sure that I had died briefly during my surgery or something. But I asked what time it was when the nurse came back it it wasn’t yet five. My surgery took four hours.

After awhile, they took me up to my room and my mom and (surprise!) my dad came up. My pain level through the whole process has in general been pretty low. I figured I would have some nausea, since my twenty-minute surgery in ’98 made me dizzy, and I ended up vomiting four times that night. I had a catheter in, and it didn’t really bother me, though it felt weird when they removed it early the next morning. My first night was pretty easy. I didn’t sleep much because I kept having to get my vitals checked, or I just had some pain. For a stomach-sleeper, though, sleeping on my back hasn’t been as hard as I expected, but I’ll definitely be using the recliner here, not a bed.

The next morning, they told me if I could pee by 12:30, I could be discharged, since everything else looked good. So, as instructed, I drank lots and lots and lots of fluid.. but no matter what, my body wanted to keep it. It got to the point where they had to straight catheterize me (VERY painful) to empty my bladder, and the time was reset; if I peed by 8:30, we could leave. And… I couldn’t. Before 8:30 even arrived, they decided I was going to stay for another night. I cried a lot at this point, because I couldn’t do something I have been able to do literally since I was born. After a second bladder ultrasound, they put in the Foley (a.k.a the longer-term catheter) for the night. Again, REALLY painful. Like, seeing the lady doctor x10.

The next morning, I did more rounds of meds. There was a huge mixup with my everyday meds, which was kind of annoying; my schedule got thrown off, and at one point, they tried to give me the full dosage of Wellbutrin all at once, which can cause seizures. I watched tv, slept, talked to my doctors. They took the Foley out and I started drinking like a fiend, and FINALLY,my body worked like it should. I was so relieved. Even so, I didn’t get discharged until about 2:30 or 3; one of my drains was taken out (not painful at all. I still have the left one in), I got another bladder ultrasound, more meds, and then I got to put on real person clothes!

The drive home was a bit rough. I get car sick anyway, but add in recovering from surgery, being on several strong medications that made me dizzy, and not having sat up that straight in over two days, and I was really nauseous. But we made it home without incident, and hopefully I won’t have to go back to the hospital for any complications.

I think the thing that surprised me the most about having surgery in general was how tired it makes you. I’ve heard it does, and you always hear of hospital patients sleeping a lot, but I didn’t think I’d be doing that. I thought I’d be watching TV or reading most of my time there. But I would fall asleep constantly, no matter what time it was or what was happening. The entire time my parents were there on surgery day, I kept drifting off on them. I’m not a napper, but I’ve taken at least two naps today. It’s very weird.

From what I’ve seen of my new breasts, I like them very much! I look like I’m in my twenties, finally, instead of like I’ve had four children. As soon as I woke up, I noted that my neck pain was completely gone, and it still hasn’t returned. I haven’t been without some degree of neck pain since 2007. The tops of my breasts aren’t bruised, but my doctors say the undersides are. Right now, they’re swollen and covered in bandages, but I’d guess they’ll probably be D-cups when they get to their true size.

 

I am so happy I did this!

12 Hours

I got the call from the hospital. My surgery call time (said the actor), which was initially scheduled for 6 am, has now been moved to 8:15. Which means that in exactly 12 hours, I will be at the hospital.

I feel calm right now. I keep waiting for that to turn around.

PLOT TWIST

Much to my surprise, I am writing this from the living room of my house; I thought I would be working until three today, earning as much money as possible. But many many things happened to bring me back here today.

1) The owner of the hotel continued to be awful. When I got back to the hotel two nights ago, the towels were gone from outside the door, and I knew that one of two things had happened: he had cleaned the room/had it cleaned, or he had gone in, found my laptop in the side table drawer and torched it. Neither of those things had actually happened.
So I’m sitting on my bed, watching tv and surfing the net, when I hear this constant clicking sound at my door. I ignored it for awhile because there was a storm going on, but eventually I looked through the peephole and saw that there was a couple trying to get into my room. THE MANAGER HAD GIVEN MY ROOM TO SOMEONE ELSE. Thankfully, they had enough common sense that when I locked the third lock, they realized the room was occupied and left.

2) I ended my night with fewer than 30 sellable pieces of merchandise, which is not enough to work a full shift the next day.

3) In the middle of my work day, I got all call from an unknown number. When I answered, it was my plastic surgeon. “Hi, Rachel. I was wondering if you would be okay with me changing-” and my heart practically stopped until she said “your surgery location to [the hospital in the city]” (instead of the one down the street from my house.)
I was relieved. I thought my surgery was going to be cancelled, undoing all he hard work I’ve done the past month. But she was just unable to secure a physician’s assistant at the other hospital. Of course, it’s funny-not-funny because I originally thought my surgery WAS in the city, so my mom booked a hotel there. Then I found out it was by my house, so she cancelled that hotel and booked a different one. Then yesterday she had to reverse the process. And since I have to head into the city this afternoon instead of spending it driving home from work/packing, I had to shift all of my plans to this morning.

All in all, I just want to be on the healing side of this surgery.

Bye Bye Mr. Marmalade

Last night, the show closed. The run was fantastic and last night we had about 70 people in the audience, two of them being my therapist and her husband. I was kind of worried she would think I was super disturbed, since this play is super disturbing, but she found it very intriguing and said she had to go off and think over the show for awhile. She sent me a text later telling me again how much she liked it.
I went to the cast party afterward at the director’s house. We all had a lot of fun in the pool and it was just a great time. Most of the cast had assumed I wasn’t coming because I hadn’t gone out with them the two previous nights, but I saw the director’s house as a much safer place than the bars they went to. There was still stuff I had to just ignore though, like when I was led around to the front of the house by one of my cast members only to be offered some pot. I did not partake.

Our director gave us all gifts and cards, and almost cried while making his goodbye speech. This play was such a great experience, and a nice low-stress one as compared to August. I was the theatre were closer; the drive was ridiculous. But the board told me last night that they’d love to have me back.

Surgery

I’ve been pretty calm about my surgery up until last night; having the show as a distraction was great, but as soon as I had said goodbye to my therapist and was driving to the party, I started to feel nervous. In less than a week, I will no longer be weighed down by these awful breasts. I’m worried that something might go wrong with the surgery or recovery, or that the results might be disappointing (especially if they’re still too big.)

Work

Work is winding down for me. This afternoon, I drove to work location for tomorrow through Wednesday, which is 95 miles away from my house. I had heard stories about the owner of the small hotel where my coworkers, and now I, have been staying. My coworker Kelly reasonably asked the owner if she could leave the key to our room at the front desk for our other coworker Steph. What she expected to be a simple exchange ended up lasting a half hour. Finally, Kelly just walked away with the key as the owner yelled, “It’s better this way, sweetie!” She then had to drive to another state to get the key to Steph.
For me, Steph hid a key behind a tree. Yes, a tree. I had to crawl under a pine to get the hotel key because the owner refuses to give the guests their own keys. When I got into the room, I noticed that it hadn’t been cleaned. I know that happens sometimes, so as I was heading out to hunt down some dinner, I stopped into the office to ask if it could be cleaned while I was out. After all, the trash cans were overflowing, there were no clean towels, and the soap/shampoo was out (I brought my own of these, but he didn’t have to know that.) But before I had even finished my sentence, he started shaking his head violently.
“No,” he said with an accent. “No. I clean when you leave.” (Which means the room hasn’t been touched since last Wednesday or Thursday.)
“Can I at least have some clean towels?” I asked. He shoved a single towel and a roll of toilet paper into my arms, which means I’ll have to go back.

When I got back from getting dinner, I stood in the doorway and looked at the four dirty towels on the floor, knowing there were two or three more in the bathroom. I thought about how he treated Kelly and me, and how he will treat me tomorrow when I go back for more towels or a washcloth. So I gathered up all the dirty towels and I dumped them outside the door of my room. All of a sudden, the owner was very interested in me- knocking on my door, calling my room. But unfortunately, it appears I’m out for the night.

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