The universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are. Rumi
I thought I would continue this blog with a picture I painted through an art course I am taking called Life Book through Willowing Arts. This was our first picture and I chose a word for the year. My word was trust which is my life lesson for 2018.
I wrote last about our move in which trust played such a pivotal role. My next big change happened on February 12, 2018 and was much more personal. I had surgery to have a breast reduction. I figured this was a good week to talk about it as we are focusing on body image topics.
I had wanted this surgery for many years and had been on a wait list with a surgeon for 5 years. As my mobility decreased with my disease progression, my weight increased, it felt like a lot of it had found a home in my chest area. As a former dancer, I was always quite slim. After my diagnosis, I stopped dancing and sub-sequently gained a lot of weight. This took a big toll on my self- esteem and body image. It also made activity even harder for me. When I got a call that there had been a cancellation, it seemed like a godsend. I was super anxious the few days before the surgery but the actual day of, I felt strangely calm.
The surgery itself was quite painless. I was up and moving around that same day and went home the next day. My mom came up for a week to help me out as I was drugged up and couldn’t do a lot. Everyday things got a bit better. The first time I looked in the mirror after my surgery I was amazed. I looked so much smaller and actually wept in the hospital when I looked in the mirror with relief that I had rid myself of what I viewed as an extreme burden.
What I was not ready for was how I felt months afterwards. I am an intelligent woman and logically knew it would take me longer to heal than the average healthy person. I have been on immunosuppressant drugs for the last 18 years so I knew delayed healing was likely. That is the funny thing with illness. You can think you have prepared yourself and then it still sneaks up and bites you. Disappointment that is. Almost three months in, I am still dealing with scars that aren’t healing properly, not being able to buy the bras that I dreamed of wearing yet and more than anything, not feeling feminine or beautiful at all yet. I am ok with healing until it passes a date that I for some reason arbitrarily come up with. After that date, all bets are off. Back to the trust thing. Logically I know things will heal. However, every time I look in the mirror, that doubt rears its ugly head.
Another thing I was not expecting to be as big of an issue, is how I see the rest of my body now. Having extremely large breasts made me not ever have to see things like my abdomen. Now it is right out there in front of me. That is something else that I am continually critical of myself for. Even though I know logically it was there before, now it is right in the open.
Apart from just physical things I have noticed, I think over the years I have become “that girl with the big boobs.” They always entered the room before me. Now it is just me trying to figure out my place in the room.
I don’t mean it to sound all doom and gloom. There are many things that have been wonderful about having the surgery. They removed 8lbs from my chest. Since the moment I woke up in the recovery room I have had zero pain in my neck which I lived with for many years. My back is tremendously less painful. Small things still awe me. I went to the ballet the other night and could not believe how much more room I had in my seat and I didn’t feel cramped or that I was imposing on the person next to me in their seat. It makes me happy to try on new clothes in a regular store that I couldn’t have done before. Possibly one of the best things that has happened is that when I saw my niece and nephew for the first time, they gave be big hugs and said my hugs were so much better because they could get so close to me now. All in all, 3 months in the grand scheme of life is a blip in the radar. It just isn’t always rosy and perfect when you have an illness to slow you down in terms of healing and recuperating.
If asked if I would do it again, I would say absolutely. My mobility has definitely improved and things in gereral are just easier to do now. I am also not carrying that extra weight around. What I will continue to try to do is have realistic settings for myself around healing. Also, I am going to try to work on not beating myself up if I am not better “yet.”
As always for me, self-kindness is my go to. When I feel this way I try to remind myself of all I have conquered and overcome and I am lucky to have a support system who reminds me of this as well.