Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Braving Breast Implants, or Things my Doctor Didn’t Tell Me

***Okay, put down the beverages before you read guest author Toni V. Sweeney's blog. You were warned, lol.***

I was one of those women who always envied anyone who had cleavage.) As a size 32AA, I had a right, I felt. When I was in college, there was a British Model named Twiggy, with the remarkable measurements of 21-21-21. Not to remarkable…so did I. Not that I was a famous model or was British or anything like that, but sharing Twiggy’s measurements was kind of a claim to fame. I was one of those poor, deprived girls whose dresses fit everywhere except at the top, whose lingerie drawer was filled with bras that didn’t fit unless they were filled with those abominably embarrassing foam rubber creations called falsies.

Even when I was a dancer, the falsie was a major part of my costume wardrobe. (jpg#1) Not the pasty, which was a teensy little nipple-covering, all sequined and glittered and hiding hardly anything, but a breast-shaped piece to fill the front of my costume and make my bottom and my top symmetrical. Sometimes, if I lost weight, I actually had to double-up and wear two—one inside the other—on each side! My mother, who was a stage mother par excellence and a Mommie Dearest in her own way, always made certain I wore a padded bra when I was measured for my costumes, bringing me up to a 34-A. Otherwise when they were completed and I went to try them on, they would be too large and loose at the top.

With the advent of Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, and Jayne Mansfield, all ladies whose acting talents generally were ignored in favor of their well-endowed upper stories, I felt even more slighted. But, I would sigh, what can I do? Big boobs just weren’t in my genetic material. In that day and time, in my neck of the woods, breast enhancement, which would’ve meant silicone injections, just wasn’t done by the ordinary woman in the street. And after the news story of one fatality occurring when the silicone was injected into a lung instead of a breast, I wasn’t certain I’d want to. (That may or may not have been an urban legend.)

Let’s fast-forward a couple of decades.

Now I’m sitting in a doctor’s office, wearing a paper gown and waiting for the awful news. I found a lump. Yup, it’s cancer. Do the biopsy. Have the radation therapy. Hug what’s left of that pitiful little knot and pretend everything’s A-OK. So I did that, but I was also thinking: Nowadays, people who have breast surgery can have breast reconstruction surgery also. Well, I’d had one…so why couldn’t I have the other?

Answer: I could. (Yay! Or not. Let’s proceed…)

So I began the reconstruction process and believe me, it was probably just as painful as the one the South went through right after the War Between the States!

The actual convalescence wasn’t so bad, other than the fact that I couldn’t use my right arm for a while and had to give up swimming. Giving up doing housework wasn’t so bad, however. Now I had the excuse, “I can’t sweep with one hand,” or “How can I wash dishes with just one hand?” or “I need someone to carry in the groceries for me.” Good way to get volunteers all around while I sat there looking helpless and invalid-ish.

It was what came after the convalescence, when the bandages were removed and the stitches came out, and I was dismissed from care. No one had prepared me for what going from 32AA to 38C was going to involve after I was once more pronounced able and fit. And that was the first thing I noticed.

Nothing fit any more.

All my clothes were suddenly too tight in the bosom. To be more precise, I couldn’t even get some of them on because I suddenly had so much up front. It was like trying to cram a Roman legionnary’s breastplate into a skin-tight leotard. Though the skirts of dresses fit, the tops didn’t, so I soon found myself buying new dresses and blouses. A whole new wardrobe. That wasn’t so bad. And bigger bras. But at least now, when I invested in something with a plunging neckline (and I suddenly find myself with a whole closetful of those), there was something there to see.

Then, another problem revealed itself.

No one had bothered to point out that when you have large breasts, they have a tendency to fall against each other when you roll over. I found that out the hard way. By doing it. And you know what? It hurt! There is nothing to describe the pain When Boobs Collide. I solved that problem with pillows. Now, there were three instead of two on the bed. One for me, two for the girls. It became a routine. If I went to turn over, no matter to left or right, I had to wake up, place one pillow under the outside of the breast to be laid on, tuck another between my boobies, then ve-e-r-r-y gentle…roll over. The pain gradually went away as I got accustomed to what I was carrying around up front but for a few months, I didn’t get much sleep.

The third problem also made itself known when I tried to sleep. I had trouble breathing. Whenever I lay flat on my back, I would soon start to do a Big Bad Wolf imitation, huffing and puffing and gasping the longer I lay that way. I tried to ignore it, convinced it would go away. When I went for a check-up, I asked surgeon about the weight of the implants. The average implant weighs 12 ounces, she said. Mine were probably closer to 16. So I had two extra pounds inside my chest wall, putting that much extra weight on my lungs.

Having now abandoned the pillows, I always sleep on my side nowadays.

Doing surgery on the breasts can also involve cutting nerves. At first I thought the numbness in my chest was simply from invasive shock. I soon found out it wasn’t. Even after six months, my entire chest had no feeling. I found this out in an embarrassing way…by wearing a tube top. With no sensation, I had no idea it had slid down around my waist until I passed by a mirror and happen to glance at it. My desensitized boobs were happily bouncing above what appeared to be a red elasticized cummerbund! Hasty grab. Pull it up. Swear from now on to never wear anything that doesn’t have straps.

At this date, ten years after surgery, I now have 50% sensation in my breasts. The day I had that surgery, I lost my second-best erogenous zone. Bummer!

The last problem is a more ridiculous one: Crumbs in the cleavage. I love potato chips, crackers, and all those crispy, crunchy things. BI (Before Implants), if I dropped a piece of chip or bit into a particularly crumbly cracker or cookie, or there was a slip betwixt the cup and the lip, I knew exactly where it was going to fall. Right into my lap. So I’d pick up the chip and finishing eating it, brush off the crumbs, or hope my napkin had caught the soup, coffee, sauce, whatever. AI (After Implants), where does everything fall? You guessed it. Right in the cleavage! I’ve fished out so many fragments of Pringles and Doritos (sometimes with salsa), peanuts, popcorn, pulled my blouse away from my body to shake out crumbs, and mopped up so much sphagetti sauce and other semi-liquids from between the Valley of the Dolls, I’m reminded of the famous “Hunt for the Dumpling” scene from Hello, Dolly! On occasion, if there’s no one else around, I actually tie a dish towel around my neck and let the food fall where it will!

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t swap these babies for what I used to have, nor would I chose to go back to being a one-and-half boob wonder, nor do I wish to be 32AA again. I just wish someone had warned me about all this, so I could’ve been prepared. It would be nice to have a veteran of the Reconstruction Wars sit down with a would-be candidate and tell her what exactly is what.

I still have to go back for the final phase of reconstruction and I don’t even like the sound of it: nipple re-positioning.

I don’t even want to think what new and adventurous avenues that’s going to open up!


Toni V. Sweeney was born in the South but has lived the past two-score years in the mid-West and the sunny state of California. She’s the author of 30 novels, written in various genres depending on her mood when she sits before the computer. Approximately one-third of those were written before her surgery and the other two-thirds afterward (not that this is an incentive for creativity). Her current offerings are Runaway Brother by her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone (Class Act Books, and Bride of the Beast under her own name (Smashwords, All joking aside, Toni urges all women to do self breast exams to help detect breast cancer.


Faith said...

Great post, Toni, and it is certainly an eye-opener, too. Any woman thinking of getting breast implants will glean a lot of info from your post.

Love your humor too! Several great belly laughs in this one!

Liz said...

I had my "what don't you like about yourself" moment with a plastic last year. He talked me out of breast implants but into a "mini neck lift." heading into that adventure in a month! great post and thanks for sharing.

Toni V.S. said...

Thanks, Faith. And Liz... I could tell you about neck lifts...but that's a story for another day.

Ruth J. Hartman said...

Toni, I had no idea about your cancer! And all the adventures of stuff leaping down into your cleavage? That's me too. I was as flat as a door until age 17. Then all of a sudden, "hello!" Big boobs. Friends tell me they're jealous, until I describe some of the pitfalls.

Great post! :)

Kate Richards said...

I got those breasts naturally and still remember how I had to stop sleeping on my tummy as a preteen to accomodate them. I can't imagine the culture shock of getting them later. Very funny post lol.

Anonymous said...

A brave retelling of the tale Toni. You earned every new inch. My sister was exactly the same. After AA's and cancer, she became a respectable B. She said she earned it. Thanks for sharing. ~ Rose Anderson

Anthology Authors said...

LOL, Toni. I am small chested. So small that most of the time, I don't bother to wear a bra. The other reason is that I can't find a bra to fit me. I'm a cup size A, but a 38 back. The 38A sizes have larger cups, so even those don't fit me. The 36A make me feel like I'm being cut in half. Unless it's cold, it doesn't really matter. (g)

Great post!


Sylvie said...

Loved your humor and glad your outcome with cancer was positive! Also, love your pictures :)

Molly Daniels said...

ROFL! I soooo know what you mean! I'm small chested and the only time I've had serious cleavage was while pregnant/breast feeding my kids. Then they happily shrank back to the 34A size.

They got in the way; I could not sleep on my stomach; and they hurt whenever touched. Plus, yup...everything fell into my bra!

Patricia said...

Hey, Toni! I read your post and thought it was my autobiography! I had DCIS in 2006 and a right breast mastectomy. Went from a 34AA to a C cup and I feel ya', believe me! I can no longer sleep on my back, and because the implants are under the chest muscles I often feel squished and therefore a bit claustrophobic, and I had 4 or 5 reconstructive surgeries to get it right because the left one kept falling and right one was stationary. I just had my nipple constructed and the LAST thing I need to do is have it tattooed. Then I'll be finished. Thank god for mammograms!

Mary Marvella said...

Now I understand how my high school and college friend went from being smaller chested like I was to WOW! I can't match you, though nature and weight gain grew my girls to boob size.

Marianne Stephens said...

Wonderful way you use humor for such a serious topic. A friend went through this, and I would go with her to her dr appts where her would inject saline...I got to watch her breasts "grow".
How brave you are...beating cancer and telling your story will help others.

Janice said...

Your a lovely woman, Toni. Before and after the surgery.

One of my friends told me she wanted breast implants and my reaction was, "Oh, please don't. I know it sounds lovely to have cleavage, but from what I understand the surgery is painful and your breasts might be numb forever afterwords."

She said that was okay with her. She rather not be a AB cup any more.



Susan said...

Wish I'd had the chance to talk to you. Having the headlight thing going on is no fun for more reasons than just the clothes thing.
Go jogging and you end up with black eyes and bruised knees.
If one of your dollies falls off the bed and you get dragged off after it.
I've always wondered--after implant surgery when you wake up and find them pointed toward the ceiling, are you worried that rigor mortis has set in? *winks*
Enjoyed your post! Thanks for the morning grin.

Paris said...

Glad you warned me about putting down my cup or I'd be buying a new keyboard. I'm glad you're okay and I'm positive your great sense of humor helped you with your recovery.

Great post!

Anonymous said...

I hope it's ok for a man to make a post. BTW it is a great post. I;m glad you are a surviver and not the other option. I'll be 60 this month and I've dated or have been close friends with women with breasts size from A to EEE or did she say FFF. I've heard all types of complants, problems, and joys. It seems that most of the problems come from self immage and their body not being good enough. I'vefound that thereisno such thing as a PERFECT BODY. that goes for men as well as for women. To list some different complaints I've heard over the years are,my breasts aren't the same size, nipple size (being to short or long) color or shade (one nipple is darker or lighter), one nipple is more sensitive than the other or they have no feeling at all, or one nipple is lower or higher on the breast than the other. I've even heard a couple complaints about witch way the nipples pointed. I've heard more complaints about the women's nipples than their breast size. Those came more from women with really too large breasts or too small. After listening to women's comments about their breasts and men's comments about women's breasts (about what they like or didn't like) leds me to make this statement. what women complain about the most, about their breasts doesn't bother men that much. What really matters to most men (the good ones at least) is that the woman in their life is healthy and happy and that they (men)are satisified with what ever type of breasts she has. So there it is from the men's locker room.
GW Pickle

Anonymous said...

I was worried about too long a comment. I just wanted to finish by saying that if one person loves another then shape & size of body parts should not matter, only the size of their love for one another.
G W Pickle

Robyn M Speed said...

Toni, I never even imagined what a boost in boob size could result in!!

Hilarious story!! LOVE your sense of humour!!

Viola Russell said...

This was great. I admire your guts and humor. Don't you notice how Twiggy's changed over the years. She went from really skinny to voluptuous. Good luck with those tatas knocking together! You rock!

Toni V.S. said...

Thanks, everyone for the comments, ladies and GW Pickle, Just don't forget the purpose of this those self-exams so you don't end up where I was.

Big Momma said...

Ha! A similar thing happened to me when I had a baby and started breastfeeding -- I went from a 32AA to a 32B or C (depending on how recently I've nursed). It's crazy! NONE of my tops fit. And the crumbs!!! I think I found a pretzel or a peanut down there once, too!

Lucy Cale said...

Women with big breasts are part of an exclusive category of male preferences. Indeed, Tony, your information are very useful for women who want to have a breast augmentation surgery in the near future. The general truth is that women would do anything for their appearance to be close to perfection.

Geoffrey Lelia said...

Ha ha ha, well, on the bright side you have received a learning experience that could educate others. It's nice to have larger breasts, but as you've said that one really needs to know the whole process before considering going under the procedure.

Belen Beraquit said...

This post is really impressive and in this whole article we know so many things about women and their beauty. I know some breast augmentation toronto clinics in Canada. according to me breast in good shape increase confidence in women and they feel more conferrable because they think they look more beautiful and attractive.