I did it. I made an extraordinary number of phone calls, researched, analyzed what I felt went wrong before, and I made my appointment to get prosthetics. I asked all the questions I worried about beforehand: what exactly does insurance cover? will I get them the same day? do you carry things in my size? will you let me decide what size breast is right for me? I did it. And then, it came time for my appointment.
The night before, I was full of mixed emotions. There was still embarrassment and guilt. There was still some anger, both at my new body and at the people with whom I had attempted to go with before to get prosthetics almost two years ago. Have I written about that experience? About how I was told that I had to have a certain size breast because I was “too fat” for smaller ones? If I haven’t, it’s because I am still angry and frustrated and, yes, embarrassed, two years later. Would this be the same type of experience?
When I made my calls and found a place in my insurance network (almost two hours away!) I was initially really excited. Several friends asked if I needed them to come with me. My darling teacher sister came along. She’s this very smart, very together spitfire of a human who tells it like it is and has my back in everything that I do. Most of the time, I don’t even remember that I’m old enough to be her mom. Most of the time. She seemed excited to be part of this with me, and I was beyond grateful. I’ve been lucky enough to have friends support me in the past with these incredibly hard appointments, and I was glad to know again that I would not have to brave it alone. So, appointment made, friend on board, times scheduled, and the night before jitters set in.
The drive there gave me time for all of my nervous energy. My friend asked from time to time if I was ok, if I was nervous, and never once pushed me. She may have been just as nervous as I was. I wonder if she thought I might have a meltdown in the middle of everything. I guess I sort of did.
When we got to the “boutique,” it was clear that things were going to be different. Everything was so bright and airy that I immediately recognized the first problem I had with the older place. This one had a big, proud sign out front. It was sunny and open inside. The other was almost ashamed of what they did. It was dank and dark with furniture to try and make it look homey, but it looked like someone’s grandma designed an unhappy office. This new place was like a high end doctor’s office meets a spa.
I had a perfect little dressing room and the owner worked with me. She had contacted insurance and knew exactly what I needed and could have before I walked in. She told me that, lots of times, the company doesn’t give the client the correct information, and it was totally true in my case. My benefits were much more extensive than what I had been told. She measured me while I was topless in front of my dear friend. My self conscious level was super high, but not about my chest. Here was my stomach, all of it, bigger than before my surgeries, bigger than ever before, covered in scars and fat, but ready for a journey.
This lovely shop owner made small talk about her life, about her shop, and went to get the first set of prostheses to try. She took one out of the box and I instantly deflated. Oh no. It was huge, just like at the old place. But I said, “It’s huge. Oh boy.” She reassured me. She knew it looked big, but asked that I try them on. She showed me how they go into a bra. She shook them around. Then I put them on. They weren’t nearly the size I thought. They looked little. Perky. Perfect. Right. I asked to put on my shirt over them.
Instantly, I burst into tears. It was just like on Say Yes to the Dress. The only thing missing was Randy. It was that perfect dress moment. My friend cried. The owner hugged me. It was magic. We then proceeded with the appointment, with picking out undergarments, with scanning my chest wall for custom made prostheses (!!!).
When I left I felt powerful. All of my fears were gone, all of my guilt completely faded away. I felt whole again. And now, I can wear them when I want, and not wear them when I want. I get to be in charge of my chest, and I get to feel powerful and healed.