Yesterday I had a really bad day. I went to get a temporary prosthesis to wear in two specific instances before my second mastectomy surgery: if I want to wear one of my two favorite dresses and job interviews. I planned to get one, for now, to “balance myself” and then get a matching, smaller pair after my second mastectomy. In the long term, I don’t think I will wear them at all unless it makes me uncomfortable as a teacher of small children. I know that they’re hot, heavy, and many women do not like them. Still, I wanted the option so I went.
I went into the shop I’ve been to multiple times by now, and I was greeted by the owner, who I’ve worked with before. We got down to work. She measured me and looked at my chest. She disagreed with my current, no, old, bra size, even though I’ve been professionally fitted multiple times, all to the same size. She commented on the appearance of my incision, saying it looks too red, despite my expert surgeon telling me it looks perfect. By the time she leaves the room to get me a bra and prosthesis, I was already feeling defeated and vulnerable.
I’m very large, as has been addressed in the blog before, so the “foob” she returned with was VERY large. I did not like how it felt and I hated the bra that I needed (the only one the store carries in that size). It was heavy and cold. The bra was itchy and the material felt like sandpaper on my skin. The straps were so wide and the bra itself looked like something out of a grandmother’s lingerie catalog from 1956. I told the shop lady that I didn’t want it. I said I’d be back when I could get a pair of cozy little Ds.
Then my uncomfortable and slightly unpleasant experience became downright miserable. I was berated. She told me that in the approximately six weeks until my next surgery, I would destroy my spine and shoulders, again contradicting what my very educated and experienced doctor has assured me about. I was insulted and made to feel hideously ugly without wearing a prosthesis. I was told I had to do it for Daughter if not for myself. When she told me that I’d have to get it so I could “look pretty on Easter and Mother’s Day,” I realized I had nothing left in me to fight this lady. She’s the only shop even remotely close to my home and I felt trapped. I was so crushed and humiliated by her words. I felt so selfish for ever wanting to be flat. So, I left with the bra and prosthesis and in tears.
I had some time to think now, and I have some ideas about how I would like to handle things from here on out. I’m still not sure what I am going to do, but I am slowly building up my bravery. I’m ready to do some research and work with my insurance company on other options for me. I would like to say that I will never let something like this happen again, but I cannot make that promise; regrowing nerve, exercising to achieve full range of motion and break up scar tissue, stretching, and just generally healing have been so much more of a drain on me than I ever thought. I expected to be back to my normal level of activity, normal chores, normal feelings, everything by now; I was wrong. I will work. I will get better. And I will not let this happen to the rest of you.