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.

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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.

Tylenol? That’s Cute.

Let it be noted that it is less than EIGHT DAYS until my surgery and that tonight is the Mr. Marmalade preview! My life is lovely and scary all at the same time. And very tiring.

According to the interwebz, you’re supposed to cease all use of aspirin-containing products about two weeks prior to any surgery. For me, this meant letting go of my best friend: Excedrin Migraine.

It should be noted that 1) I haven’t had nearly as many, or as bad of, headaches as I did pre-Topamax, and 2) the internet has been wrong. It had also told me that I couldn’t take my anti-depressants/anxiety meds before my surgery OR with the pain meds. Both of those things are false.

I figured that even if I did get a headache or two, I could muscle through for two weeks. I mean, it’ just fourteen days, come on! But when the two weeks began, it coincided with the end of my period (major headache time), the start of tech, and of course, being stressed about having my chest cut open in two weeks. I was hit with a doozy of a migraine, probably the second worst I’ve ever had. All of the websites said Tylenol was okay, but even extra-strength had zero effect. Finally, when I had to pause in the middle of a work show to make sure I did projectile vomit onto my audience, I called the hospital to make sure I had the right information.

ME: Hi, I’m calling to ask about the medication I can take pre-surgery.
RECEPTIONIST: I’m looking at your chart… I don’t understand, did you not have a pre-admission visit?
ME: Yes, I did.
RECEPTIONIST: So, what are you confused about? Everything looks fine to me. Did they not tell you what you could take the night before?
ME: (Geez.) No, I have a question about now. I know Excedrin is bad to take, but I have an awful migraine, and I was just wondering if nine days beforehand was a safe enough time prior to take some.
RECEPTIONIST: Is Excedrin not supposed to be taken?
ME: I read that it interacts badly with anesthesia, but if I’m wrong, that’s great.
RECEPTIONIST: Well, I’ll go and check, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that being a problem.
(She puts me on hold. Two minutes later, she comes back, suddenly much friendlier.)
RECEPTIONIST: …You’re right, it is bad. You can take it today, just not very close to your surgery. Oh, and if you get a lot of headaches, you should really bring that up to your doctor.
ME: lolololololololbye

Okay… This is the second medical institution that repeatedly said something along the lines of “I don’t even know why you’re calling.”
…Because you are a hospital and I am your patient and I have a question. I guarantee you I am not the stupidest person you’re going to talk to today.

I was hoping that taking it would knock the migraine out for good and I’d be golden until my surgery, but this migraine is stubborn. I bowed to the pressure again today and took another Excedrin, but today has to be the last day; I’m too scared to take aspirin a week before my surgery. I really, REALLY hope that getting this literal weight off my chest will solve some of these headache problems.

Stresssssss

Yesterday was just one of those days where the stress doesn’t stop. It actually started the day before, because I think my nerves were affecting my work performance, which was abysmal.

The thing I was most nervous about was the first thing, my pre-admission testing for my surgery. They gave me a list of things they MIGHT do (drawing blood, EKG, mammogram, urine sample), but no one was sure what would be needed. I was pretty sure they’d do a blood drawing though, since that covers so many bases, and I was most nervous about that since I’ve never had blood drawn before. My therapist had given me a lot of tips, but I was still worried.

Turns out, I shouldn’t have been. I hardly had to wait to be seen, and when I was, they looked at my sheet and, upon seeing I’ve never had any of the listed problems, decided I didn’t have to do so much as pee in a cup. All they did was look in my ears and listen to my heart and lungs. I couldn’t believe it. I was also surprised and really happy to get all of my surgery information; my procedure is at 6 am, and not at the hospital’s location in the city, but the one five minutes from my house. This alleviates so much stress for both my mom and me; I don’t have to worry about taking the train into the city and walking to the hospital with just my i.d. and glasses case, and my mom doesn’t have to drive in the city, and it’s closer to my bed and my belongings, which makes everything easier.

After my appointment, I met up with my mom to trade cars. The brakes in my car went out again, and while the problem was only brake fluid this time, my mom has lent me her car for the next two weeks while my Nissan gets inspected again. While I’m recovering, I will definitely be researching new cars. Besides wanting a car whose breaks don’t go out every few months, I would really like air conditioning so I don’t show up to every destination soaked through.

I had my first meeting as a dramaturg at 3. It was really nerve wracking because the playwright was in his late seventies or early eighties, and I wasn’t sure if he would take me seriously. In the beginning, I was really nervous and saying “um” a lot and I don’t think he liked what was going on. But as the meeting went on, I got more comfortable, and he was more open to my feedback. At the end, I felt good and more confident, and he even insisted on paying me for my time (I do charge for subsequent sessions, but this first session was meant to be free.)

Following the meeting was therapy and tech, both of which were actually all right. I think that once the first two events were up, I was feeling better. The show is going to be really good; I’m sad we only run for a weekend.

ABCD…

Breast-Surgery-200x300

Last week, I went to my requested plastic surgery appointment. It was the only time, besides the blood test, when I’d see her before the surgery itself, and I didn’t want to be standing in the hospital right before my surgery asking what size she thought I’d come out as.

I was extremely nervous- I don’t really know why, since the only thing I figured we’d do was chat, no examination or anything. I think it was because I am so scared that the insurance is going to pull their coverage and I’m going to wake up on the other side of surgery with awesome but expensive boobs that I now have to pay for.

But my PS assured me that that’s not usually the case. I had a chat with the insurance company a few weeks ago, too, who also said that the only way that they definitely won’t pay for it is if I get a different procedure entirely or in addition to my reduction.

At my initial consultation with my PS, I felt like she kind of rushed me along, and that bothered me. But she really took her time with me during this last appointment, making sure I got all of my questions answered and bringing things up herself, so that settled my mind. One thing I had been feeling pretty secure about was her skill level- she has excellent patients reviews for not only her breast surgery, but her speciality, which is hand surgery. While in her waiting room, I was looking around at the other people, wondering if they were there for their pre-op visits, only to find out that they were a few months to a year post-op from hand surgery. I never would have guessed.

In the end, she told me that what a lot of doctors and websites and patients (in the world in general) say is wrong: you can’t go to a plastic surgeon and say “Make me a DD.” ¬†Especially with reductions, and especially if you’re like me and want to go on the smaller side, issues of safety come into play. I can request to be a C or a B all I want, but it all comes down to what my PS determines is safe when the procedure is going on. And, as I said, I can’t even request to be a C or a B, because the PS doesn’t bring a bra in and hold it up to your in-progress breast to check the sizing. They’re more concerned with taking out a certain amount and making the two breasts generally the same shape and size. So my PS said I’ll probably end up a C or D when going bra shopping. I so desperately do not want to be a D. I want to get out of D territory forever. But since I’ve been squeezing myself into the wrong bra size until a few months ago, my idea of a D, and what a D actually is is skewed, and anything will be an improvement.

The prospect of the surgery is still really really scary to me, but it has never once crossed my mind as the wrong choice. Almost ever part of my life, from daily activities to passing my reflection in a window, reminds me that what I’m doing is right. People- doctors and non-doctors alike, save for my therapist, seem really concerned that I’m not concerned that I might not be able to breastfeed when/if I have kids.But to be honest, breastfeeding is never something that I’ve felt the need to do. Maybe I will regret it if/when I have kids, but it’s not like there is no other way for me to feed them.

I also know that a lot of women wait until after they’re done having kids to have the surgery, but I can’t wait. Besides the fact that I want to have it now, for all the reasons I’ve already discussed, I can’t imagine the disappointment I would feel if I ended up childless (by choice or not), knowing that I could have had this relief decades earlier. Yes, if I were at a point in my life where I thought I was ready, or almost ready, to start a family, I would probably wait, but I’m not at all. It will definitely be a frustration if I do have kids and I swell back to the size I’m at now, but I’ll cross that bridge if I come to it again.

Aside

I’ve been busty since I was a young teen; hitting puberty at ten will do that to you. It always made me uncomfortable. I never looked the same in the “in” clothes that everyone else wore, I was always cast as moms and old women despite looking facially young for my age, and in seventh grade, boys would sit next to me and hiss “tittiessssss.”

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Me at thirteen, waaaaay beyond a training bra

I only got more buxom as the years went on, and gaining weight in high school didn’t help. Until my senior year of college, I was squeezing into 36Ds, and even when I started buying DDDs, I still spilled out of them. I felt uncomfortable in my clothes and in my body, and I never felt attractive,

I thought things would get better when I decided to lose weight. My mom and I set out to make our lives and ourselves better, and we did it- we both lost a lot of weight and I know I was a lot happier with how I look. But I didn’t lose a single inch on my chest. When I tell people this, they tell me how lucky I am. But I’m still an actor, I still look young but lose roles because of my chest, and I still feel like a slut when I wear a cami.

More than that, my neck and shoulders hurt, I had constant headaches, sometimes I had migraines (which have been helped by Topamax), my shoulders are notched and scarred. I’ve kept the weight off, but I still felt kind of unattractive because of my chest. I don’t feel 24.

And that’s why I’m getting a breast reduction.

I went to see a few plastic surgeons before telling my parents. I didn’t know how they would react, and the only reason I really told them was because I was afraid some insurance papers would show up at their house and they’d call me going “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!” As it happens, my mom was really supportive, and I’ll be staying at their house the first week or so of my recovery, which hopefully means I won’t die from a blood clot and there will be someone to pour milk for me.

I did a lot of research before even seeing doctors, and even though some of the prices without insurance were staggering (anywhere from $3500-$33,000), I decided to see doctors in case my parents’ insurance would cover it. I knew I was a good candidate, and all the plastic surgeons said I was too, but just because all the sane people knew I fit the criteria didn’t mean the insurance company would agree. I figured it would be really hard; a lot of places won’t even give you a consultation until you’ve been approved. Thankfully, I found a plastic surgeon who did the work for me, taking shoulders-down pictures of my breasts, the dents and scars on my shoulders, etc., and writing down information such as my career being affected negatively and having a hard time exercising. Her office sent all this to my insurance company and told me to give it a month. About three weeks later, I got a voicemail saying that my insurance company was covering the procedure. I couldn’t believe it. It makes sense, but insurance companies have made my mental health coverage such a hassle, so I expected the same thing this time around.

Cold feet set in just a few hours after I excitedly told my friend and my mom about the approval. Maybe I really don’t NEED a reduction. Why can’t I just be happy with my body the way it was? Do I really need to go under the knife? Then, on the way home, I stopped at Wawa to grab a drink. Since it was 80 degrees outside, I left my work sweater in the car, wearing just my cami on top. As I walked into the store, like they had choreographed it earlier, every man’s head turned in unison to stare at my boobs. My decision was cemented in that moment.

My surgery is scheduled for July 17th, so long as all my blood tests go well (I don’t know why they wouldn’t.) I am terrified and excited. I might be tempted to cancel the surgery if I didn’t know that I will get it at some point in my life; might as well be now, while I’m young and healthy and really, really want to wear Peter Pan collars before I’m officially too old for them.

Aside

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