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OPTIONAL IS BULLSHIT

OPTIONAL IS BULLSHIT

“I don’t think it is fair that the word, ‘optional ‘ or ‘elective’ is used when referring to the second half of the mastectomy portion of your surgery,” my dear friend Sara stated so matter of factly and her voice of reason as usual brought me back to reality. I was reviewing the trials and tribulations of my most recent second surgery five days post with her and using this language to describe my ‘how did I get here?’ feelings. “Come on,” she said with her pragmatism I have grown accustomed to in our almost twenty year sisterhood bond. “How dare they use that language with women when it comes to the plastic surgery portion of this, what do they expect, every woman to walk around with no boobs? It’s our inherent female body part.” She was so right. I was starting to have a bit of panic from this last surgery, oddly not at all because of the breast part of this, that part was a serious breeze- take the hard baseball tissue expanders out, put the soft squishy real feeling silicone in. Done. Awesome. Easy. It is the liposuction part of this surgery to replace the spaces and dents like epoxy on an old 57 chevy (52 in my case) that has thrown me for a loop. I am bruised and battered. All of this the good doctor warned me about and told me truthfully that this was the part that was going to suck, but that it would only last a couple of weeks max. If I added a photo to this writing, no one in their right mind would think this would be going away within two weeks from now.

Black, blue, yellow orange and not the pretty color selection from the rainbow. Besides I feel like I have the worst period cramps coupled with that five hundred crunch workout and the southern part of my body (and not my legs) is now part of the party too. The irony does not go unnoticed of super hot tits, but the southern part of my body (was planning on using the V word here, but my partner sounded kind of horrified when I read it aloud so I decided to censor, forgive me) that looks like it was tackled by a team of drunken hockey players. Not pretty. My friend, Melissa asked me matter of factly as I was lamenting over my soreness feeling mighty sorry for myself struggling to get up from the couch, “What are you doing looking anyway?” I can’t stop looking at it frankly, I had no idea this was a repercussion from the Twilight Zone desire of my Doc for me to have perfectly sculpted boobs. OMG. Pray for me. My other friend, Kris assured me that she watches some bizarre reality TV show that shows lots of liposuction and this is temporary. I don’t know what I would have done differently. I wasn’t going to not have the reconstruction. I wasn’t going to tell the GOOD DOCTOR not to do his job, I don’t think he would have listened anyway because the fact is bruise now “perfect” boobs later or no bruise and distorted misaligned boobs forever.

Bruises and pain go away, this is not permanent. It is just fucking freaking me out and I don’t think I was really prepared for the pain of this as much as it is. I can hear my inner circle of friends saying, “It is only five days, Alayne, what did you expect?” I know. Do I dare say that this is worse than the mastectomy? I am not sure. Maybe because at the mastectomy I was totally prepared for pain. I wasn’t for this so it has kind of caught me off guard and it is pissing me off. All because of the vanity portion of this surgery. I wish I was one of those super cool chicks who said, “Fuck tits. Take ’em off, sew ’em up and bam done, I’ll start running laps with no shirt on now that I am boobless. Tell the boob dictators to go to hell.” I just couldn’t do it. Does this make me less of a warrior? The language of elective and optional surely doesn’t help me feel like a warrior anymore as I sit on the couch taking oxy for the soreness in pain because my plastic surgeon was aiming for perfection in his surgery and I let him because I trust him. Still do. I am struggling with the vanity portion of this in my pain here. I am dehydrated, constipated and tired. I wasn’t prepared for this and I am annoyed that it is all because I chose to have “elective” surgery causing one more woman angst for yet another decision she makes. It reminds me of the guilt thrown on women for natural childbirth vs. epidural or formula vs. breastfeeding. What the fuck. Maybe the oxy is getting to me or the mounds of dessert I have been indulging in this last five days trying to minimize the pain. I know you superchicks out there reading this are ready to kill me with my laments. I can hear you screaming at the computer, ALAYNE, CAN YOU GIVE YOURSELF A FUCKING BREAK, A PASS?!!!!!! Thank you I can hear you and I will definitely. Starting right now, I will mindlessly lie in front of the tv, clicker in hand and turn this computer and my over thinking brain off and let myself heal. Thank you.

It is now the morning after I wrote this and I am glad I slept on this because I I feel way better today as promised by Dr. M. He said 7–10 days and today is the beginning of the Sixth Day. I didn’t sleep very well last night at all and I was sure today was going to suck, but I think the evening was the worst, now I feel better. YAY. Don’t worry out there, my friends, I am not going to run to the gym and overdo it. I am going to have lunch with my son and nap, read and write today. I love the turning point of healing, you just know when it is happening. The bruising is starting to soften a bit and things are looking up. What a difference a day makes. Fuck Optional.

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LUMPECTOMIES, LIPOSUCTION AND WTF

LUMPECTOMIES, LIPOSUCTION AND WTF

It all started with a lumpectomy, actually two lumpectomies, when the removal of cancer became synonymous with plastic surgery. I tend to be Au Natural girl, I don’t really like the whole plastic surgery, botox, fillers, and all of the other crap we women have been told to do so we look better, younger, prettier, firmer. I have to give the docs credit for making reconstruction a major piece of a double mastectomy; reconstruction conversations go hand in hand and I almost forgot that this part of the surgery was optional.

When I went in for my double mastectomy almost six months ago, I never really gave much thought to all of the extra elements I would be facing simply because I couldn’t imagine my life without breasts. Who implanted that meme in my brain anyway? Was it an organic thought or was the thought much deeper stemming from my sneaking peaks at Playboy magazine of women and their luscious bodies when I was prepubescent. Hugh Hefner died the same day I was headed into my final surgery this past Thursday, September 28th. So the irony of this does not go unnoticed as I read the mass amounts of tributes and criticisms of his controversial existence as provocateur, free speech proponent versus his reputation as an exploiter of women, misogynist and free sex capitalist. I read a piece today in the NYT by Ross Doutat (not a big fan of Hugh) called Speaking Ill of The Hef which criticized the underbelly of the Playboy mansion and Hef’s line leader reputation behind the scenes. This got me thinking about my decision to go forth with reconstruction, a less bunny like term for the alternative-“breast implants.” As I sit here feeling like I got run over by the Patriots linebackers and have the bruises to prove it, I have started to question the auto pilot decision to go through this optional surgery just so I can look like my previous female self.

Dr. Hottie, my plastic surgeon who is the consummate professional and expert in plastic surgery and reconstruction is an artist as well. He was sure to sculpt and measure so my end result would be no less than a work of art. What this equates to is his recommendation to perform a small amount of liposuction during surgery too so that he could take fat from another part of my body and mold and shape it like Silly Putty filling in the holes and pockets that were left from the mastectomy. Every woman I ran into who had some semblance of knowledge about mastectomy/ reconstruction surgery spoke with sisterhood envy that I would be getting “free” liposuction aka belly tuck etc. There is nothing to envy here; trust me. The thing is that my belly was already flat. Remember I pay dearly for this flat belly with my overpriced boutique gym classes that I wouldn’t give up for anything. Dr. M, while looking for areas of my body to lipo determined what I already knew; we would be heading a bit more south for the usable (aka sides of my thighs) fat. Little did I know that exchanging the tissue expanders with new and improved final silicone would be a walk in the park compared to the lipo part of this last surgery. Who knew that removing fat and moving it to a different part of your body in its twisted Twilight Zone way would be so uncomfortable. Remember the old Jane Fonda workouts in the eighties? Remember her “Make it burn” one liners she belted out as she challenged us to do one more crunch in our thong leotards and leg warmers? So picture the decision to finally get off the couch and do your first Jane Fonda VHS tape workout after not exercising for like your whole life. You make it through the 60 minute tape out of breath and feeling burns in parts of your body like you never felt. You go to bed and when you wake up the next day you realize that you have muscles in your abdomen you never knew existed and you can barely get up off the couch.

This is what liposuction feels like. This too shall pass for sure, but where I thought the pain would be it is not, as a matter of fact, my upper body except for the too tight compression bra I am forced to wear for the next two weeks 24/7 is nothing compared to the areas that were liposuctioned. This leaves me to think why the fuck would any woman voluntarily do this to themselves. I would put a photo of the bruising that happens in the areas where the fat was removed, but I don’t want to freak out the women about to go for their final surgery. All of this is normal, all of this I was warned about and since I totally trust my doctor, I don’t care at all about this because I do know this is temporary. But on the coincidental timely passing of Hugh Hefner and my surgery, I am wondering why I put myself through this elective surgery. Was it so I could have the cosmetic replacement that society has told me is inherently defining as female? What defines female? Surely I am not, with the wisdom of retrospect now, shallow enough to think that breasts are what constitute my sole source of femininity. Don’t get me wrong here, I have absolutely no regrets on my decision. I have loved playing dress up Barbie for this past summer. As a matter of fact, my decision was not even a decision to begin with. My choice to move ahead with replacement parts was so automatic, this is what I find myself questioning. The auto decision. For someone who is so non cosmetic non invasive thinking when it comes to my female world, I am actually surprised that I didn’t think about this decision with a little more curiosity before I jumped into the rabbit hole of breast reconstruction.

As I sit here on my third day post surgery waiting for my single bra that God knows the price that was charged to the insurance company to dry (because there is not a chance I want two of these contraptions), I wonder if all of this will ever be over. I mean I have had my back, my breasts, my underarm, my stomach all prodded and poked to keep me whole. I have had radiation, more than I care to have mammograms and MRI and ultrasounds and drains and plastic surgery. I have had nipple sparing cosmetic surgery and fat sucking liposuction. And my breast cancer was caught early twice. For a young woman who had never had surgery except for a lazy eye when I was in second grade, I have surely caught up with it all in the last two years. As I sit here with the weight of the 475 cc in one breast and 495 cc in the other silicone replacement, waiting for my bra to dry, I find myself wondering what was the point to all of this. Is there one? Don’t get me wrong, I am happy I made the decision to march forth with these new bad ass wonder woman centerpieces that now reside on my upper body, but this last surgery has given me a different perspective in this decision. I am guessing I will be thinking about this much more as time and my new breasts march on.