At 5'2" and 34G/H, It's Time to Lose Some of my "Assets"! Chicago, IL

I can't begin to thank all you wonderful ladies...

I can't begin to thank all you wonderful ladies for writing reviews and relating your stories on realself, it's been so good to know I'm not alone in the journey to smaller, more appropriately sized breasts!

Similar to many of you, I developed early, at 11 I outgrew my training bra by leaps and bounds, and was a 36B. I grew to 36D in high school, and stayed there till I went on the pill after college, and hello, 36DD. In my mid 30s I was fitted for a 34F, and more recently, a 34 G/H, depending on the bra. My breasts seem to grow every time I go on the pill!

Physical issues- in my 20s, I started experiencing numbness in my arms and hands, the orthopedic surgeon diagnosed me with carpal tunnel, and I started wearing splints every night when I was about 26. So sexy!! In my early 30s, my back and neck started hurting more than ever, so I saw an osteopath for adjustments and acupuncture for the numbness. After he retired, I started seeing my boyfriend's chiropractor, and the massage and adjustments did help a lot.

I started running again after several years off, and of course started injuring myself from the get go. Visiting several specialists, I found I had IT band syndrome, greater trochanteric bursitis, a stress fracture in my foot (all left side) and what was thought to be carpal tunnel was actually thoracic outlet syndrome! I spent all last summer in physical therapy, which I actually enjoyed.

Unlike some, I never "hated" my breasts, so to speak, but they never fit my self image, and haven't made life easy. I have always felt self-conscious, top heavy, and matronly, even in my teens (most pictures show me self-consciously pulling my shirt away from my chest). I always wished I had the A cups my mother and sister have!

More recently, I was out for a run with a good friend and her neighbor (the neighbor has breast implants). As I was adjusting my multiple sports bras, she (neighbor) said to me "You know, you shouldn't get a reduction. A lot of women pay for what you have, and here in the US, they are a big asset for women!" I was rather taken aback, but told her that I'd rather people think my intelligence, creativity or kindness was an asset, not a body part, but I don't think she understood my point.

The Decision to Pursue Surgery

It's funny, I found realself when I was looking up laser and chemical peels for my face, and drifted over to the breast reduction section. A 97% "worth it" rating was high praise! I've thought about a reduction since my 20s, but it didn't really dawn on me that the physical issues I was having, and the pain was all due to my breasts.

When I would tell someone my size, I'd usually get "you don't look that big" as the response. Were they just being nice, or did they really have no concept of breast size? I think it's both, I look ok from the front, but the side view...*shudder*. In certain shirts I look 12 months pregnant. Flowy tops and dresses are the enemy. The book "When Less is More" by Dr. Bethanne Snodgrass really helped put the pieces together for me, with what my body had been dealing with.

On realself, I saw other women around my size (height, weight, breast size) were being covered by insurance. I'd been seeing doctors for years for the pain, and had PT, so why not see if it's possible for me too? I checked my insurance for in network plastic surgeons, and read up on them. I made appointments to consult with the 2 I liked best, and who were affiliated with Northwestern Nemorial Hospital (a teaching hospital where I have several doctors, and my boyfriend had his kidney transplant there).

The first consultation was with the doctor I ended up choosing. He just gave me the best feeling that it was the right thing to do. He said "so you're all of 5'2" and carrying all that weight on your chest? No wonder your center of gravity is out of alignment." He told me my breasts were beautiful as is, but that they were just way too big for me. His goal would be to give me well proportioned breasts that remained beautiful. He said he'd remove between 400-500 grams, and also do lipo on the sides. The consult with the other PS I met with was very similar, he too seemed like a great doctor, but I just felt the first doctor was the right doctor for me.

His nurse took pictures of my breasts, and the PS wrote up his findings, my symptoms, the treatment I've sought out, and his recommendations. His assistant told me I'd probably hear back in 6-8 weeks from insurance, so we scheduled a follow up the following month. Well only two weeks later, I got a letter from my insurance saying they approved my surgery!

My BF came with me to my follow up, and asked his questions, he liked the surgeon I chose, so his mind was put at ease. My surgeon won't use drains, my breasts aren't so large I'd need a FNG, and he said to remind him on the day of surgery if I prefer to be on the smaller or larger side. Smaller please! He said I will be wrapped in gauze and an ace bandage, that I will be able to shower the next day, and my first follow up will be 1 week later. Two weeks later, I will come in to get my stitches removed. Or maybe that's at week 1, I can't recall now! He said I can start wearing a sports bra after a week, and if I'm up to it, walk on the treadmill after 2 weeks! We'll see how I feel...he uses a short scar technique, so I won't have a scar from my cleavage to my armpit. He also said if any revision is needed, it is included, as it's his responsibility to do the surgery right and give me the best aesthetic result. His before and afters are all beautiful.

Since it's through insurance, I don't know the actual cost, but my insurance estimate for this hospital was $16K-20K. That's before they do the negotiations with the doctor on the max amount they'll pay, etc. I will have reached my deductible by surgery date, and as I will be outpatient, no hospital co-pay ($250). I do have a 20% coinsurance, so I could end up paying between $2K-4K out of pocket.

I'm planning to get a MLD massage the day before (manual lymph drainage), and a series of 3-5 MLD treatments post op. They are supposed to be very beneficial for healing, particularly for breast related surgery, as it's very close to the armpit lymph nodes. The therapist I spoke with is hoping to connect me with a client of his that had a BR recently, so I can find out her take on the surgery and MLD.

The therapist recommended I avoid red meat and salt for the week before surgery, and that I get arnica montana pills. I also bought a reclining backrest pillow for sleeping post op, and a "lap desk" for using my laptop in bed. I plan to take only 1 week off work, but I have a desk job and work from home. My surgeon said that was fine. My schedule is flexible, so if I don't feel good, I can log off and check email later. I have my pre op testing tomorrow, and have to get a mammogram, my last one was just over a year ago. I'm 46, by the way, no kids, just cats and a BF of 12 years (living together for 10). My boy cat will be unhappy, as he likes to lay on my chest at night, and be picked up and carried around. He is definitely more than 5lbs!

Pre-op Testing and Mammogram Fun!

I thought I'd detail my experience with this step, in case anyone wondered what goes on. I had my pre-op testing done on Friday (7/17), and I passed with flying colors. I filled out a bunch of paperwork, gave them a list of medications and supplements I take, and had to pee in a cup.

I then spoke with a nurse practitioner (who was really cute!!) at length about my medical history, sleep habits (occasionally snore, apnea maybe twice a year), reaction to anesthesia, asthma, cardiac history (I have occasional palpitations and rapid heartbeat when dehydrated, holter monitor I recently wore found nothing wrong) and any alcohol use or smoking. I rarely drink and don't smoke, though of course I ended up having 2 cocktails that same day (it was my BFFs birthday)!

He said based on all my answers, he worked out a calculation that my chance of a cardiac event during surgery was .01%, so extremely low, to say the least! He also stressed that this was a very low risk surgery (probably because of my anxiety/panic disorder), and that because of my anxiety, I could take a lorazepam the morning of surgery. He gave me written instructions for when to stop taking certain meds and supplements, and a new script for an albuterol inhaler to use before anesthesia (I have reactive airway disease, an asthma-like condition brought on by allergens, bronchitis and apparently, sometimes anesthesia).

He did a quick check of my heart and lungs, poked and prodded my abdomen, and said he didn't need to run any cardiac tests (EKG) or do a blood draw. I had one a few weeks ago from my endocrinologist, and the results were all in the normal range.

My sister came with me because we wanted to have lunch at the outdoor cafe under the Bean sculpture on Michigan Ave (fun for people watching), which isn't far from the hospital. We then drove from downtown Chicago out to Skokie for my mammogram, and traffic was unconscionably bad. It took us 45 minutes to get from the hospital to the expressway, which is about a mile and a half away. My mammogram appointment was at 3:45, and I didn't get there till 4:15, it took almost 2 hours to drive about 12 miles! Summertime in Chicago is amazing, but make sure you walk, bike or take public transit any time you can, because everyone else is out and about too!

My mammogram was at the Mammography Suite at Nordstrom, which is a super awesome place to get one. No stress, a relaxing environment, everyone is really nice there. My last mammogram was just over a year ago, and my surgeon wanted to make sure all was still fine (I have very dense, fibrous breasts so had to have extra pictures and an ultrasound last time). Mammogram was done, they'll send my results to my PS and my PCP by mid next week. Then my sister and I window shopped on the expensive side of the ladies department. Saw an Alice+Olivia dress that was dreamy, but it was $450, and of course, even if my boobs were their new smaller size already, that's still far beyond my budgetary boundaries! although if you added up what I've spent on the 5 bras in my lingerie drawer, I could easily have bought that dress, and sandals to match!

It's Like the 12 Days of Christmas!

On the first day of Christmas, my surgeon gave to me, smaller boobs in a 34C...

Only 12 days till my surgery, and I can't believe how time has flown by. I think I've remained as calm as I have because of my tendency to plan ahead. I've always been a planner, I'm the only one in my family like that, I come from a family of people that prefer to "wing it". My mom will say to my sister "your sister is so anal, isn't she?" Perhaps, but at least I'm prepared! I'm spontaneous with some things, but the big stuff? I don't want to forge ahead blindly!

So as of today, I have done the following in anticipation of my surgery:
1) made my pre-surgery appointment for MLD (manual lymph drainage), 11:00 am the day before (8/3). Will make first post op appointment for 5 days post.

2) arranged for a cleaning service to come in 2 weeks after my surgery - I've been wanting to do this for a while now, so this was the perfect time to start. They'll come every 4 weeks, which is perfect timing for a nice deep cleaning.

3) I bought a backrest pillow with arms, the arms will help keep me from moving around too much. I'm a side sleeper, and use a body pillow, but always end up on my back, with my neck in a weird position. I'll put pillows under my knees to help my low back. Also bought a "lap desk" so I can use my laptop/tablet in bed, and when I start work again after a week off, I can stay in bed if I'm too tired and work.

4) I cooked up a storm last weekend, and will do some more this weekend. In my freezer I have dinners for 2 in ziplock bags: 2 bags green chile posole, 2 shredded beef for tacos, 1 ham and bean soup. I will put together bags of frozen fruit and veggies for breakfast smoothies, just add coconut water and blend! I'll also make a big batch of overnight oats and put in individual bowls in the fridge for breakfasts, and make sure I have my favorite yogurt. This weekend I'll probably make chicken soup and split pea soup - I'm a huge fan of soups and stews for freezing. I want to make it easy for my boyfriend to put dinner together the first few days, and for me over the next week or so after. My dietitian and chiropractor were both impressed, they said a lot of people would use surgery as an excuse to order out a lot. I want to avoid too much sodium so I don't retain water and swell. Plus I won't be working out for a few weeks, I don't want to gain a lot of weight!

5) supplements: I just placed an order with Amazon for arnica montana, bromelain and vitamin C pills to help with bruising and healing, and a Hanes front close sports bra (I'll be in an ace bandage for the first week).

6) post op prescriptions: I spoke with my surgeon's nurse, and asked her to mail my scripts to me ahead of surgery, because the hospital has Walgreens all over campus, but I have to use CVS, and don't want to have to go anywhere afterwards. I also asked for a substitute for Norco, because it gives me headaches, so she said they use tramadol in that case. Since it's not a controlled substance, she said she can just call it in to my CVS a week before surgery and will email me to let me know. My boyfriend uses 2 Norco daily for pain, and said tramadol doesn't help him, but I'm a painkiller lightweight (I use ibuprofen and Valium for my back) so tramadol *should* be fine for me. The nurse said if it isn't enough, they can prescribe something else.

7) pre-surgery exercise and weight loss: my weight has been a pain to control since I developed PCOS and my thyroid took a permanent vacation when I was around 38 yrs old. I see a dietitian and endocrinologist, take synthroid and watch what I eat. Exercise is super important for my body though, I can't just eat less, I have to move more. I love to be active, but my large breasts cause pain, making exercise tough at times. I have been walking 3-5+ miles almost daily leading up to this, and I'm at my pre-surgery goal weight (was 178 in February) of 165, but anything extra is a bonus. My ultimate goal weight is 145-150lbs, that was the weight I was most fit and comfortable at (I'm very muscular, so I weigh more than expected for my height). I hope post surgery, I can start running again, because that was what always kept my weight off in the past!

8) loose ends: the weekend before surgery, I plan to do laundry, clean the house, grocery shop and color my roots (can't have perky smaller boobs and unsightly roots!). Pull any weeds I find in the garden beds and walk at least 5 miles per day Saturday and Sunday.

My boyfriend just told me he's taking the entire week of 8/3-8/7 off, rather than just my surgery day and the day after. He said whenever I don't need him, he can work on some house projects we've had outstanding for a while. I also found some clothes I set aside to sell on eBay, because they didn't fit my chest anymore, and I'll never lose weight there because they're mostly breast tissue, but now I'm going to hang on to them in case they'll fit post op! If they don't, no love lost, but it's worth a shot. ;-)

Cleavage Popcorn and Other Randomness

The other day, I was lounging on the couch, watching a scary movie (Ouija, not as scary as I'd hoped), with my boy cat on my lap and some Skinny Pop popcorn. Later I went to change for bed, and popcorn fell out of my sports bra when I took it off. I am looking forward to a life of popcorn-free cleavage!

I will miss one "pro" of large breasts - when I go walking, if my workout pants don't have pockets, I can stow my iPhone and house keys in the side of my sports bra and my cleavage, and others will literally have no idea they are in there. So, post reduction I will definitely need to ensure I wear pants with pockets!

So I think I'm pretty well prepared for Tuesday's surgery. I got my bromelain, arnica pills, vitamin C, prune juice and prunes (which I've loved since I was a kid - I liked non-kid foods when I was little!). We have some senna stool softener/laxative in case I do get backed up, but I have IBS-D, so I am actually thinking I might just get less diarrhea due to the painkillers, so my very fast moving and active GI system will just be more like that of a normal person...
I picked up my prescriptions (Valium, albuterol inhaler, tramadol and keflex), have 2 cheap button front shirts in size large, and got 2 Fruit of the Loom soft cotton front hook sports bras, because my current ones are all pull-on. I also made a huge pot of chicken soup, and froze several ziplock bags for additional dinners. I think I'm pretty much all cooked out at this point!

The other day I caught my boy cat lounging in my backrest pillow, so I see I shall have to fight him for it post-op! I sent a picture of him in it to a friend of mine, who started out as the foster mother of the girl kitten we adopted last year. She asked what surgery I was having, and told her BR, and she said "OMG, I had one in my 20s!" The funny thing about this is, we have all these random things in common, and are a lot alike, which is why we became friends. I never expected her to say she had a BR, too! We joke that we're twin sisters from different mothers. She said her 13 year old daughter will eventually need a BR, she's already a 32DDD.

This weekend I plan to clean the house, do laundry, and we're going to see a band at 11:00pm on Saturday, a Lollapalooza after-show. Sunday, my sister and I are going for a walk, then grab bagels and lox for breakfast afterwards. I hope to just take it easy Sunday and Monday. Today I met with my backup at work and we reviewed what's going on next week, I wrote up a "what if" list of unexpected annoying things that could occur while I'm out, so she knows what to do, without having to contact me. Tomorrow I'm working from our downtown office (I normally work from home), so I can meet with my therapist and we'll discuss my going into surgery, and exercises to help my anxiety and to not have any panic attacks (though I will take a lorazepam before surgery).

I am still surprisingly calm about the surgery though. However I only slept 5 hours last night, I kept waking up and kept thinking of 2 awful news items: that trophy hunting dentist that killed Cecil the lion, and the man in Ohio that was killed by a reckless cop for a simple traffic stop (the cop lied about the events, but his body camera showed what happened). I cannot adequately express my feelings about either incident, and it came out in my insomnia. And this is why my therapist tells me not to watch the news! I have to get my act together, I need as much sleep as possible.

7:30 surgery time!!!

It's actually here, I have to be at the hospital at 5:45AM Tuesday morning! It's not my preferred time slot, but hey, it'll be over sooner, right? The nurse said I'll be there till 5:00-6:00PM, so a long day at the hospital!

We had terrible storms here yesterday, so many big old trees were destroyed, broken in half or split by lightning. Luckily, my block got off pretty easily, damage wise, just a block over, trees were on top of cars and just inches from a few houses. Lots of roofers out and about, and the sound of wood chippers everywhere. We lost power at 2:30pm, came back around 8:30pm, but my friend 4 blocks away didn't get it back till this morning. Another thunder storm rolled through late last night, and I was actually scared of how close the thunder was, our house was shaking! So I took a lorazepam and we went to sleep...

Now I have to hit the hay - I'm sure I'll be restless! Woohoo, it's almost here!! Good luck to everyone else having surgery in the next few days!

It's the big day...

I felt like I got no sleep, but I had weird dreams all night, so I know I did sleep. It's 5:00AM and we'll be heading to the hospital soon. I'm definitely feeling more nervous and anxious now, but that's natural. I probably won't be home till 7:00pm tonight, so I'll update then, unless I feel like typing on my phone in recovery...

Good luck to everyone today!!

Bummed about complications...

So, I had my BR on Tuesday, and everything went smoothly in surgery. My PS did not do the lipo as he was concerned about blood flow to the left breast, and also thought they looked good without it, but if I wanted it after I'm healed, he could do it in office.

They are a perfect size, I'm really happy with that. I feel they fit my body much better, and my torso and even my arms seem to look slimmer. Although I was super bloated till yesterday afternoon, I had 3 bags of IV fluid in recovery alone, so my middle is a bit squishier than usual. Still a little bloated, but it's working it's way out. I'd say size-wise, I'll probably end up a C cup once healed.

Now the bummer PS had me come in yesterday to check my skin and stitches on the left breast, but it turned out lefty was looking much better, and righty is the problem now. He said he didn't see that on surgery day, so it must've happened after, the skin got dark, and he said I may have some skin die. Ugh. The called in a script for nitroglycerin paste, so I've been using it since yesterday (it's a vasodilator and helps open blood vessels). He also asked me to use a heating pad on low to help bring the blood to the skin, so every 1-2 hours I'm applying heat 5 minutes on, 5 off, then 5 on again (10 mins heat total). I also have to lay flat so there's no pressure on the bottom stitches, no more reclined laying/sleeping, no sitting up or walking around. Laying flat is a pain in the neck and back. I'm using a body pillow under my knees to help my low back, and when I do get up, I have a couple maxi pads slung under them for a bit of soft support, I can't wear anything that will cause pressure or compress them.

This morning his nurse called me to ask me to take photos of the problem areas and email them today, so he can see them, so I did. The bottom of righty is not very nice looking. I'm going to see his nurse next week, but if he needs to see me today, I guess I'll find out. He's out of town next week, which is why I'm seeing his nurse.

On the positive side, I do have feeling in my right nipple, and it seems like a little feeling is in my left, every now and then. Also, I haven't had arm/hand numbness, and my shoulders feel great. Neck is stiff from being in bed, but that'll probably go away once I'm able to move around more.

So I'm happy with the size and shape, but the complication of blood flow is bumming me out. I have photos, but might not post them, I have to think about it.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber!

So as I wrote above, my PS is concerned about loss of skin. The reaction is like that of a smoker who would heal poorly, and I'm fervently anti-smoking, and try to lead a healthy lifestyle. I also usually heal very well, so both my PS and I find this quite vexing.

So when he called me today, he said he spoke to a colleague of his that works at a wound care center, and he wanted me to go today, for a session in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. He asked if I was familiar with that, and said not really, so he said "it's what Michael Jackson used to sleep in." Alright then! He told me the doctor there was expecting me, so my boyfriend and I went out there. It's in Lake Forest, so about a half hour away from my home in Chicago.

We got there, answered tons of questions (hoped they'd have my info bc it was part of Northwestern), and the nurse took pictures of my breasts and measured the incisions. The doctor came in a little later and said it was an emergency (!!) and they'd start my treatment before getting insurance approval. He explained it felt like diving about 50 feet underwater (which I've never felt), and asked if my ears were ok. I said I have trouble with pressure on planes, so he said if it was too painful, they could place shunts in my ears.

I went into the room where there were 2 chambers, one was occupied. The tech was really nice, kinda cute but I could probably be his mother! I had to strip down to nothing and put on a gown, no jewelry or metal (hinges on my glasses were ok). I got on the gurney, he put a blanket on me and said the first 15 minutes were when the pressure would increase, so every other breath, I'd want to pop my ears (I yawned a lot to do that). Once the pressure was stable, I'd be able to just lay there and watch TV (outside the chamber, speaker inside). I lay there for about 90 minutes, then there was 15 minutes of lowering the pressure, so more ear popping. It was put painful, a couple pops hurt, but nothing unbearable. Essentially, the chamber is filled with 100% oxygen and the pressure forces the blood vessels to the surface(?) and to oxygenate. Something like that. Twice during the 90 minutes I. Put on a face mask and just breathed normal room air so I didn't get too saturated. It was a little weird, but relaxing.

So, my insurance approved 10 sessions, and might go up to 20 (that's their limit I guess). I have to go there Monday thru Friday for 2-4 weeks, depending on how I do. I texted my manager and told him I had a complication that has become problematic, and I will need to work a shifted schedule. I work from home, a desk job, usually 8:30-5:00. I told him I will work 6:30-8:30AM, go to my 2 hour session, get back around 12:30 and work 12:30 - 6:00PM. He said that was ok, and he hoped it resolves faster for my sake/sanity.

I looked at my breasts when I got home, and areas that were "dusky" were a bit pinker. I'm using my nitro paste, heat, the HBO therapy, (HyperBaricOxygen, not the cable channel), taking my vitamins and supplements, and trying to eat regularly (I haven't been that hungry). I'm going to have to up my protein, and eat enough calories (never an issue before).

There were 3 good things out of today though: 1) I pooped! Had a small BM Wednesday night, but nothing since then. I think my system's getting back to normal, and I had a good poop. 2) when I showered tonight, I felt the water hit my left nipple, so it seems like I may have sensation in both once I'm all healed! 3) when I put on a button down shirt to go out, my profile was how I always imagined in my minds eye, my shirt didn't billow out like I was wearing a tent! It lay close to my body!

I've got to keep a positive attitude, my boyfriend is super supportive and will drive me to and from the appointments (he works in the area where the wound center is, so that's kind of convenient). He said we'll do what we have to to get you healed. He's the best!

Weight Loss and a Saturday Call from my PS

I weighed myself this morning, and I've lost 4.5 lbs since the day after surgery. It's not intentional, I just haven't been hungry, and I get full easily. I have been eating healthy things, just not enough. I was 164.5 the day of surgery and the day after (even with my IV fluid bloat). This morning I weighed 160. Normally I'd be thrilled, but that's not good for healing, and I need more protein. My boyfriend got me a kale smoothie this morning and some high protein ensure, because I can drink something even if I don't feel like eating. My BF did dome research and zinc is an excellent supplement for skin/skin cell healing and regeneration, so he ordered some from Amazon for me. I have been sleeping a lot, and my PS said sleep is one of the most important keys to healing (which is why he prescribes the Valium, so the patient can get sleep). I haven't needed it yet!

So this morning around 10:00, I got a call and it was from my PS! He was in his car headed somewhere (he's on vacation next week), but wanted to see if I made it to the wound care center yesterday. I told him I had, and was scheduled for 10 daily 2 hour sessions, and he was very happy to hear that. He asked how they looked, and for me to take photos tomorrow and email them to him. He also said I can email or call him anytime this coming week, even though he's out of the office. His bedside manner and aftercare is amazing, and I see why he told me he considers his patients like family members while in his care.

Today I started feeling what I'm thinking are "zingers", and they are sudden and surprising. I remember when my friend that had a reduction went to lunch with me, she'd occasionally grab her breast and inhale sharply. I thought "that must be awful!" And now I'm in her place.

My mom and sister stopped by today, I'd sent them both pictures (in a shirt), but they were amazed at my new size in person! That was gratifying, because I now look like I lost more than the 18lbs I've lost since March, since my large breasts are now average sized and no longer blocking the view of my body. Yay!

I had a terrible headache all morning and afternoon, and wasn't sure if it was from laying on my back or maybe a rebound headache from tramadol. I'm not taking a lot, just 50mgs every 4-6 hours, but my pain isn't that bad. I took an ibuprofen and gave myself a head and neck rub using Olba's Oil (this amazing smelling oil that is great for head and neck aches, sinus headaches, etc), and put an ice pack behind my head, and the headache started to go away. I had half a turkey sandwich for lunch and took a second IBU, and my headache is gone. I think I'm going to switch to IBU for my painkiller now. I had pulled a muscle in my back the other day from trying not to strain my chest muscles when sitting up, and the oxygen chamber seemed to help a bit yesterday, and this morning I rubbed it with Ben-gay, and the pain seems to be gone now! Aside from a bit of residual headache, I'm not experiencing any of the other pain I had from my large breasts. This aspect is great, if I do say so myself!

I just ordered Mexican food from GrubHub for us, I ordered a steak burrito suiza combo for myself, expecting to not eat much of it, per usual, but I'll have it there for leftovers! I think we'll watch Birdman (on the DVR) tonight and just relax...

Finally, a photo!

I finally decided to post my before "marked up" picture as compared to my after as of tonight. I emailed photos to my PS his morning and he replied that they look much better, and that just one session of HBO therapy helped, so I'm excited to start my daily sessions tomorrow. They look much better in just a few days of using nitro paste too. I do have a bad spot at the t junction of the right breast, but I will see what my PS and the wound care specialist say.

I went through my work email, around 1,000 new ones since Tuesday last week, but a lot were system generated notifications, so I just deleted them. I sent out emails to my coworkers and client teams to let them know I'll be working an altered schedule the next 2weeks, so I'll be all set tomorrow at 6:30 to start work.

Luckily, I work from home, and I'm in data management, so my client teams (in India) do the day to day work/process management, and I basically ensure everything moves along, oversee and assign special projects, and attend client calls/act as the U.S. based client contact. So, I got that lap desk for my laptop and can plop it next to myself and my cats in bed and stay on op of work and doze when needed! My BF is going back to work tomorrow, but he'll take me to and pick me up from my HBO session every day.

A Day I Did Not Expect...

So I got to my HBO therapy session at 9:15, and I started to have a rapid heartbeat. This has happened maybe 6 times in the past year, it passes in 30 seconds - 1 minute and I do a few breathing/bearing down exercises to stop it. I was in the changing room at the clinic and my “tricks” didn’t work, and it kept racing. I told the lab tech I had a rapid heart rate and when he took my BP and pulse, it was 185. He was like “wow, that is fast” and got the doctor. It was 200 by the time the doctor walked in, he checked a few things and asked me if I was light headed, had chest pains, etc, and I didn’t. He said “how do you even sit up or function with a heart rate that fast?” and THAT’S when I started to really worry! He said “call 911” and within 5 minutes the lab was full of EMTs (all handsome, I think they do that on purpose).

They did an EKG on the spot and printed it out, asked me a lot of questions, I told them this has happened a few random times and ended very quickly. I also told them I’ve told my PCP and she sort of looked into it (I wore a holter monitor for 48 hours, but didn’t have any events) and that was the end of that. My heart rate was at 220 by the time they got me on the ambulance, so they inserted an needle for IV and told me they were administering a drug that would “reset” my heart rate, very quickly. They said it will feel weird. When they pushed it into the IV line, it was immediate, and I said to the EMT next to me “OMG, I'm freaking out, please hold my hand!” and he did. They told me to breathe slowly and deeply, and the only way to describe how it felt was imagine you were on a roller coaster going really fast, and then it slows down almost immediately - that full body sensation of the force of slowing own. It truly was odd, but it slowed my heartrate from 220 to 130 in mere seconds.

I was admitted into the ER and had a room full of people around me asking questions, gluing electrode pads on me, inserting more IV lines. Whoa. Eventually I went for a CAT scan to see if I had any blood clots, because my blood test was positive, but they found none and realized it was because I’d had surgery a week before, it was a false positive? But the CAT scan was bizarre. They injected contrast dye into my IV and I was immediately HOT inside, I felt like I was burning from the inside and wet my pants (the nurse told me that was how it would feel, but she said “warm” not "spontaneous combustion" hot, and she assured me I hadn’t wet my pants).

So anyways, since my heart rate was normal (around 100), they cleared me and I was discharged, but I have to see a cardiologist in the next week. Let me just say that I am so glad this happened while I was at a medical facility, and a doctor witnessed it, because I felt like my PCP kind of brushed it off like “you’re young, it’s nothing”.

Phew. So that was my day today, and I hope tomorrow is back to normal! Sorry for spewing all this information, I just had to get this "off my chest" so to speak!

A Recap of the Craziest Week of My Life

To those of you following along with my adventures, I thank you heartily for your kind words and the ability to suspend disbelief. If it hadn't happened to me, I'd have been like "really? no way!"

In any case, Wednesday's hyperbaric oxygen treatment was uneventful, though I started having pain in my left ear as I was "diving". James, the tech had to stop and let me get my ear popped (that's the scientific term), then we took it very slowly, and all went well. When I got home, I worked a bit, my teams in India are great, so they have kept our projects moving along.

Then the one thing I've always feared would happen, happened. I knocked a glass of iced tea over and onto my work laptop. it immediately shut off, I unplugged it, took the battery out and turned it upside down and tried to shake any tea out. I tell you, I have not moved that fast since having surgery! My mantra was "oh sh!t! oh crap!" the entire time! I put it upside down on a towel, got more towels to soak the tea up from the rug, and texted my manager. He told me to cal in a ticket to the help desk, and I swear the helpdesk rep chuckled when I told him what happened.

He sent the ticket to the Chicago IT contact, who is a good friend of mine, and I knew I'd be hearing it when he called me. We can access email through our webmail app, so I at least have remained on top of the goings on at work, and have had to delegate things I'd normally do myself (things that my analysts should really be doing, but you know how it is, sometimes it's easier to do some things yourself).

Thursday's "dive" was the same, trouble with ol' left ear, so we went slowly. The doctor at the wound center told me to make sure I followed up with a cardiologist, and I told him I was in the process of getting an appointment - it's tough getting an appointment that is sooner rather than later! He said if the SVT happens again, it could be worse, and I said I don't have a death wish (I just got awesome new boobies!). I spent the afternoon on the phone calling around to cardiology departments, the hospital where I was in the ER had no openings till September, but they had one on 8/24 in another town. I took it, and also made an appointment at Northwestern downtown (where I had my BR, and cardiology shares the same floor as plastic surgery!), for 8/27, but I'm on the waiting list for any cancellations. I called the hospital where my neurologist is, but they don't have a cardiology department, per se, so the referral line gave me the name of a cardiologist who's office is really close to my home! Great if I need to go with any regularity. I called them and got an appointment for Thursday 8/20, so victory! I got one for this coming week!

Friday's dive was again uneventful, but my left ear was pretty painful. I told James, the tech, that I wanted to proceed with getting tubes put in my ears (which the doctor told me was something I could do if I had trouble with the pressure). He called the ENT and set up an appointment for me for this coming Monday morning, before my HBO session. I've had problems with my ears since childhood, particularly lefty. In college, I had a terrible sinus and ear infection, my ears filled with so much fluid, I literally could not hear. When I told my mother, she said "huh, well, you might need hearing aids then." Thanks for the support and concern, mom! One would think she'd take me to the doctor, but my parents are weird about medical stuff - my sister and I had to be pretty damn sick for them to take us!

After my dive, I saw the doctor and he confirmed significant healing has occurred, and asked how I perceived the changes. I said I saw new blood vessels, the color of the skin improved and even the black spot at the t-junction looks a bit smaller. I will probably do all 20 dives that my insurance allows though. Then my BF took me home and went back to work, and my friend came over to take me to Whole Foods, bc I was out of some things. She also wanted to show me her newly enlarged breasts, and wanted to see my littles! She's 5'9" and has a broad back, wore a 42B bra, and I thought she looked fine as is, but honestly, she looks great now, more proportionate to her frame. She was amazed how small I am, and I said "we just swapped chests!"

After she dropped me off, I started to have a fluttery heartbeat, a little fast but nothing like before. I started to freak out, and my BF was at work, so I texted my friend and then called her. She said "I'm coming over" and showed up within minutes (she lives just a few blocks away, thank god). She asked if I'd been drinking enough water, had I eaten anything salty, had I eaten at all? Where's your lorazepam, you should take one, just relax, let's sit down...she was awesome, she came in like a project manager. The project? My fluttery heartbeat and potential panic attack from it. She stayed with me for about an hour, though my heart rate normalized about 5 minutes after she got there, so then we just relaxed and talked about our experiences with card readers and psychics. My boy cat, Max, who did not like her the first time she came over, was totally cool, thank goodness!

I've decided to just take a lorazepam daily to keep me chilled out. Im most nervous about waiting to see the cardiologist, I want to get that problem resolved. I was reading about SVT, and beta blockers are often prescribed. My BF takes atenolol (a beta blocker), and it controls blood pressure, heart rate and has an anxiety reducing effect. If I need a new drug, that sounds like it could be the one for me!

So today I'm just chilling, have a bit of a headache, but my breasts seem to be healing great. The color is normalizing, and the oozing that started in my right breast again after my day in the ER (from all the movement and jostling and poking) seems to be ending. I keep a non-stick pad lightly taped to the vertical incision so it doesn't stick to my clothes during the day. My weight seems to have stabilized at 160 (I was down to 158 a few days post op), my dietician said not to worry as long as I eat according to my plan, there's plenty of protein included. I told my boyfriend I wanted fro-yo today, and it's over 90 degrees out there, so it's a perfect day for a frosty treat!

A Few Fun photos

I put one of my 34F bras on over my newly smaller boobs, and mind you, I should've been wearing a 34H. The F cup is laughably big! I also tried on a sundress I always had to wear a tank under, bc I was busting out all over, and a red corduroy jacket from jcrew that I bought in '07, but never wore bc my boobs started growing after I went on the pill around that time. I was planning to sell them on eBay, but now I can keep and wear them!

Got my "new" work laptop and upcoming doctor appointments

So after the iced tea incident of Wednesday last week, I removed the hard drive from my laptop and overnighted it to the office. Our IT guy put it in another laptop of the same model, and voila, it worked like a charm. He overnighted the laptop to me, I got it around 3:30 today, logged in and breathed a huge sigh of relief, I never thought I'd be so happy to have my work laptop again!

I was going to have tubes put in my ears for the HBO therapy, because I have a lot of trouble with equalizing them under pressure (plane trips, driving in the mountains, really fast elevators in tall buildings, and now "diving" in an HBO chamber). I saw an ENT, and he was super nice. I explained my situation, the pain and trouble I have with the "dives", but we discussed how I could go without them, since they are not without complications, and he said I'd be stuck with them for 6 months. Since I only had a few weeks of the treatments, he recommended against them, and I saw his point. He asked if I used a steroid nasal spray for my allergies, and I use Nasocort, so he said to use it twice daily, 2 sprays each nostril in the AM and again in the PM. He said if should help with the fullness, and so far it has! James, the HBO tech takes me down slowly, I seem to have some trouble between 35-40 feet, he backs off and then continues when I give him thumbs up, and then the last 15 feet I'm good again.

My breasts continue to look better, but the nipple hypersensitivity is annoying! I have to pull my shirt away from my body sometimes, it's so sensitive. My left breast incisions are looking really clean, but righty is still kind of "scabby" (?) looking. The dark, necrotic area at the t-junction hasn't gotten bigger, thank goodness, and the slight oozing has lessened significantly, just the tiniest bit on the pad when I change it.

Im taking thursday and Friday off this week, tomorrow I have my appointment with the cardiologist in the afternoon, and Friday I have an appointment with my PS after my HBO treatment, so we have to drive directly from Northwestern Lake Forest to Northwestern downtown Chicago. I hope to get the ok to wear at least a light bralette, to help with the nipple hypersensitivity, and maybe he'll say I can start walking again, at least just a few blocks at first. My stamina is waning from all the resting and sleeping and healing, so it'll be a little while to work up to my 5 mile daily walks again!

I've tried on a few more favorite things that I thought were destined for eBay, and they fit, with room! I am going to have so much fun dressing when I'm healed and start going out again! I realized the other body "flaws" I have (big thighs, little belly pooch) don't really bother me, now that my breasts are a suitable size for my height and frame! Sure, I always wished I had thinner thighs (I did gymnastics as a child), but they're strong and muscular. My pooch doesn't show in jeans, and for slinky stuff, well that's what spanx are for! My body self consciousness really was all about my oversized breasts. It feels so good to have an average chest, and no daily pain!

One Month Update

Phew, and what a month it's been! Yesterday I had my final HBOT treatment, and both my PS and the doctor at the wound care center deemed it successful. I saw my PS twice since my last update, 16 days post op, when he removed the external sutures (which felt good, they were starting to pull and feel tight) , and declared my left breast incisions to be closed, so I started using BioCorneum silicone scar gel on it.

On my right breast, the wound clinic gave me a script for Santyl ointment, which is collagenase, for enzymatic debridement - it "eats" the dead tissue and leaves the healthy tissue alone, so new skin can grow. It works well, the necrotic spot is getting smaller and smaller - it was $90 for the tube, so it better work well!

I saw my PS yesterday, and he found 2 sutures worked their way out on righty, and were causing the areas not to heal. He removed them, but now I have a hole (eww) by the t-junction, and he said we'll just do "good old fashioned wound care" now, and I apply the Santyl, and then push the edge of a gauze pad into the hole and tape the gauze on. It seems so weirdly old fashioned, but I remember when my friend had a basketball sized ovarian tumor removed (non-cancerous, thank goodness), she had a huge open wound on her abdomen, and had to pack it with gauze. Mine is so little, I can't complain! I go back to see him in 3 weeks, and if I'm healed up, we'll plan for the side boob lipo I was supposed to have.

I am really happy with my size and shape, and my PS said they'll look even better once the lipo is done. I bought a few bralettes from the Gap, soft modal fabric, they are so comfy! I also got some from Target - a strapless bandeau for $9.99 and a black modal and lace triangle bra for $12.99. I can't get over how cheap bras are when you don't need industrial engineering to design and create them!! My friend who had an augmentation gave me a huge bag of clothes to try, since she's now a 40DD (!). I was exhausted trying stuff on, but kept several really nice tops, a tankini from Victoria's Secret and some soft cup sports bras and yoga tops. She likes expensive clothing, so it was fun to see what she had. I gave her a bunch of things to try that I had that are now too big. I like expensive clothing too, but hated buying stuff because it never fit well.

So on the cardiac front, I've not had any additional SVT episodes, I saw a cardiologist a few weeks ago, and he prescribed Cardiezem at first, a calcium channel blocker, but I'd had a bad reaction to Plendil, another calcium channel blocker, about 15 years ago. The drugs are molecularly different, but the doctor said we shouldn't risk it, so he gave me a script for metoprolol instead (a beta blocker). It lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety and slows the heart rate. I stopped taking my other blood pressure med because it was too low with both of them. Ive been taking my BP every morning, and the new pill seems to be keeping it at an even better level than the lisinopril did. The downside of this med is it can cause fatigue. I'm pretty wiped by mid afternoon daily since I started it, and im not used to the slower heart rate, but I'll adjust. I'm having an echocardiogram next Thursday, and I saw a cardiac electrophysiologist last week (he was very handsome, I seem to keep encountering handsome men in the medical field!). He said we'll try the drug out but some people hate how it makes them feel, so there is the option of having an ablation to correct the errant heart rate. With all I've dealt with recently, I said I'd try the meds for a while!

I've started walking a bit again, it's been so hot this week, I've stayed inside though, and started doing planks, crunches, and some of my old PT exercises, just to get back into the swing of exercise. Each day I have less soreness, but today they feel swollen, so I switched out of a sports bra into a softer, looser one.

A couple fun oxygen therapy side effects: my fingernails are AMAZING. I have weak, crappy nails that peel, split and break, and since HBO, They're wonderful! I'm thinking of getting a French manicure to show them off. My hair Aldo feels fuller, and my skin is really nice. The downside - I'm more nearsighted! It's a side effect, and I have a squinting headache. But it's supposed to go back to normal within 6 weeks, so I shouldn't see my eye doc for 2 months, lest they want to change my glasses and contact lens scripts!

I took some pics a couple weeks ago, but think I'll take new ones so the most recent ones are posted. Not sure if I'll take a pic of the hole. It kind of grosses me out, but perhaps I will, in the interest of full disclosure.

New photos!

Ok, I took a few photos after my shower today. The color turned out weird, redder than reality, so ignore that! The red area is the same as the color above and below my breast, i.e. regular ol' flesh tone.

You can see the right breast in the face forward photo is now slightly larger/lower than the left (which was the larger one pre-op), but that could be due to the fact the right one is still healing and perhaps swollen. It doesn't bother me, after all, I'm not a topless model or dancer, and they look equal in size when I'm wearing a bra/clothing.

My bra shopping experience has been fun - I got 3 Hanes bras from Target yesterday, wireless soft cup or cotton molded cup that gives a nice shape (I'm kind of wide still, hope that changes a bit after lipo). The best part? The bras were no more than 12.99. Woohoo!

Charges for surgery (!!) and a few pics

So I don't recall posting about the charges to my insurance for my reduction, but dayum! The first thing I got was an itemized statement from the hospital, and it said "THIS IS NOT A BILL" at the top ($39K, thank gawd not a bill, as it was more than I paid for college!). This was just for the facilities, anesthesia, meds, including a line item for "Self administered drugs", which was when I told the nurse in recovery I was in pain, and she brought me a tramadol that I placed in my mouth, thereby self administering it. ;-)

The surgeon's fees were already submitted to insurance and I got the bill for that. The total charges were $18,828.00, and insurance paid $14,028, and my share is $767. I know there will be more coming, after the hospital and insurance hammer out what they'll cover on the $39K. My out of pocket max is $6,600, and when I checked my info on my insurance website, I've fulfilled around $5,200 of that. I'm not sure if that's yet to be paid (as part of my surgery bill) or past paid bills, I've lost track! I've definitely used my insurance this year, from the holter monitor for my heart in the beginning of the year, to BR surgery, 18 hyperbaric oxygen treatments ($611 each billed to insurance), to my stint in the ER for the PSVT, and finally my echocardiogram yesterday. Phew!

So the hole under righty is definitely closing, I'm not able to push the gauze into it anymore, which is good (and less gross). The necrotic area is turning more yellow/white as I apply Santyl daily, so new collagen is being created. The area is itching and I'm feeling a little pain, which I'm taking to mean nerves are coming alive.

Soreness is much less, I only start to feel it when I've been really active during the day. I'm still sleeping on my back, I've actually gotten used to it! I was never a stomach sleeper, always a side sleeper, but my sides are still a bit tender, and today, my right nipple is itching like crazy, argh!!


So today when I got dressed, I decided to wear skinny jeans with a tunic-y sweater that I love, but always felt so top heavy in. Well, now it hangs on me the way it's supposed to (not quite how the 5'10" 32B model wore it, but better than my previous 5'2" 34H self) and I know you understand how awesome that is. After years of "filling out" my sweaters and shirts, they "hang" on me or fit the way they should and I couldn't be happier.

Took a couple pics and also one of the progress of my t-junction messiness. I can see the tissue healing from the inside out and the dead tissue area is shrinking away from the Santyl ointment. Gross looking, but it's getting there!! ??

Suture Surprise!

This morning, during my shower I felt something under my right breast, though it was the dead tissue hanging off some, but when I got out and dried off, I noticed a loop coming out of the area that's growing in. Argh!! I'm not seeing my PS till 9/24, so I'm going to email this photo to him to see what he thinks (do I come in earlier?).


I emailed my PS the photo I took of the escaping suture, and he emailed me first thing yesterday morning and asked if I could come in. I got an appointment at 4:15, but they were so backed up, he wasn't able to come in the room till 5:30.

He apologized profusely, then took a gander at my breast. He said it was one of the "shaping sutures" working its way out, so he snipped and removed it. That felt odd. Then he said he'd remove the loose dead tissue I've been applying Santyl to, and oooh-wee, that was unpleasant. I felt blood running down my ribcage, and my boyfriend was making faces. I bring him in the room to keep me company while I wait, and so he can see what's going on (and feel sympathy for me and my boob)... ;-)

The area under there is now open, as in no skin (eww), and my PS told me to apply the Santyl to it, but he said its healing exactly the way it should, so I'm happy about that. It stings a little, but if that's as bad as it gets, I'm fine with that.

On my walk today, I was looking down and admiring the view - my feet! So I took a picture, and my chest barely juts out. What a great feeling!

7 Weeks Post...

So it's been a little over 7 weeks now, and things are progressing nicely with "the patch". I saw Dr. Galiano today for a follow up, and he removed a little piece of suture that was pushing out laterally. The area is much redder, and he told me that it will get a bit white/yellow, then redder again, and at that point, it will close up and new skin grow over before I know it. He said it happens very quickly at that stage, and because I'm so fair-skinned, that it will pretty much blend with the rest of my skin once all is said and done.

The scars on my left breast are coming along nicely, getting softer and flatter, but the right one, on the side, the scar is still fairly raised and red, and tender. I haven't been as vigilant about the scar gel because of the open wound issue, but need to get on it. I've started trying to sleep on my side again, it's been so long now that I've almost forgotten how I did it! My chiropractor said back sleeping is good for the spine, so at least with a pillow under my knees, it's comfortable.

My sister and I are in Saugatuck, MI right now, having a girl's weekend away. The weather is about as perfect as can be for September, sunny and upper 70s. After being cooped up for several weeks recovering, it's been nice to still have some summery weather!

I saw some Coobie bras at one of the little shops in town, so I may pop in and get a couple - cute patterns and colors! We had Bloody Marys and shared an order of calamari and of fish tacos. We'll be here till Saturday, and perhaps hit the outlet mall in Michigan City, IN on the way back home.

I got a summary of charges from my ER visit for the PSVT, that was $8200.00, and my hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments totaled $52,000.00! So between my reduction surgery ($18K), the hospital facility charges ($50K), my heart issue and post op care, I've racked up $128,000 in medical bills. My insurance annual out of pocket is $6,600.00, so without insurance, I'd be bankrupted. Now my boyfriend is talking about retiring early (he is 16 years older than me), so I'm glad I had my surgery while he's still employed, because we will definitely be on a fixed budget if he retires early!

Anyhow, he told me not to freak out about it, it's not happening right away. And on that note, here are some new pics, about a week old now, so the patch is looking even better now. ;-)

Just about 2 months post-op!

I will celebrate my 2 month boobiversary on Sunday, and I am still so pleased with how they turned out! Seeing my profile view is always a surprise, because it's so flat! The other day, I was at my friend's house, the one who had a breast augmentation 1 week before my reduction, and she asked me how I liked my new size. I told her I was so happy with the size, and that I even wouldn't have minded going smaller. I think she was really surprised to hear that, she said "oh, really, smaller? wow!" I mentioned that I will still have the side boob lipo done in office, as my PS couldn't do it the day of surgery bc of the blood flow issue, and that they will get a little smaller, or rather narrower and more shapely from that.

I guess if always wanting bigger boobs was my thing, the idea of wanting to be smaller than a C cup is foreign. She asked about the pain issues and I told her it was like night and day - I don't wake up daily and inventory where my body hurts, and then think about what stretches to do, painkillers to take and muscle rubs to use. I just get up, yawn and pee. ;-) My friend's breasts look huge to me now, she was a B cup before and thinks she's just shy of a DD, but she is a lot taller than me and has a much wider back than I do, so a DD on her 40 band is actually the equivalent cup of my old 34H! I should have her try my H cup just for kicks.

So healing wise, I'm probably a little behind where I thought I'd be, just because of all the nonsense I dealt with the week after surgery (blood flow, PSVT, ER trip, HBO therapy), but I've resumed just about everything I did before. I'm back to almost daily walks, housework, carrying my boy cat around, hauling heavy bags of groceries, etc. No gardening/yardwork yet, I have big plans for an area in my side yard that's gotten overgrown and is a mish-mosh of plants, and I have bought some of the (nonperishable) supplies to revamp it, but that'll wait till the spring, when I'll be 9-10 months post-op, and can dig and lift with abandon! I still have that small open area below righty, but the tissue is all filled in, and now the skin is growing over from the perimeter inward, it's really cool to see the progress.

My cardiac issue seems to have been taken care of for now, through taking the metoprolol, I haven't had any fast heart rate episodes or palpitations, and this drug also has an anxiety reducing effect, so I haven't had to take any lorazepam or Valium, and I've even had a few anxiety producing work issues, AND my work laptop crapped out on me yesterday when I tried to reboot. They say bad stuff happens in 3s and so I've 1) spilled iced tea on it when I was recovering 2) left the mouse on the keyboard and one of my cats jumped on the lid and caused the LCD screen to crack and now 3) got the blue screen of death when attempting to reboot after it was super slow and unresponsive all day. I'm going into the office tomorrow to get it reimaged, and I will be baking brownies to take to the IT guy, who is also my friend, but he deserves something for all he's put up with me and my computer woes. SIGH.

A letter I came across when cleaning up old email folders...

Long post, just needed to put this out there...I came across this letter today from my childhood BFF, and reread it (it's from 2009), and it was so relevant to the BR I just went through, apparently I've dwelled negatively on my breasts longer than I realized. I first met Judy when we were 10 years old, and started the same day at a new school, in a program for gifted children (nerd alert!). Her mother didn't give her lunch money, and I gave her the 50 cents for a lunch ticket. We became fast friends, I was the safety minded, responsible eldest child in my family, she was the naughty, what can I get into now, youngest child in her family.

We lost touch for about 10 years, between ages 28 and 38. She was living in Europe with her husband, but planned to move back to the US after her divorce, and I had been living with an emotionally abusive fiance. I left him before she moved back, so when she went to our old apartment to see me, he told her he didn't know where I was (which was a lie). I didn't have a new address for her, because the last time I'd seen her (when I was still living with the liar), she didn't know if she'd be staying in Europe or coming back here (she ended up in Montreal for a few years). This was in the late 90s.

I was in my car one day in 2004, on my way to meet my date (who is my now partner of 12 years) and I randomly saw her running across the street for a cab. I debated following the cab, but she literally could've been going anywhere and I could've been driving who knows where, and I played it safe (of course) and didn't follow, but then knew she was in Chicago again. I searched online for several years, but never found her, because she started going by her middle name and her second husband's last name. I kept scouring Facebook and, till I one day in 2009 I saw she'd signed up to classmates under her birth name and immediately messaged her. What happened after that was a series of long letters and emails, and sadly, life hadn't been good to her. She still had that mischievous spark inside her that I knew from age 10 on, and sense of adventure, but she hadn't had it easy. We became fast friends again, like those 10 years apart never happened, and my boyfriend always said to me "I just hope I never have to bail you out of jail because of one of your adventures with Judy!" which was only half true. In January of 2011, she ended her life, and that huge part of my childhood and young adult life that was missing for so long, that I regained for 2 short years was gone again. I sometimes like to think she is still out there, traveling the world like she did before, when I didn't know where she was, but knew she was having an adventure, somewhere.

And here is the letter I came across saved on my computer, it was from early in our re-connection:

Good evening m'dear.

Did I somehow forget to tell you that Billy adored your bountiful bosom? I probably didn't think you would like the compliment, or I felt that it would make you feel in a weird position. Or maybe I told you in one of my infamous moments of complete tactlessness. You do not suffer from that.

I have your last letter printed out. It’s terrible I can’t get to my NEIU account from here. I also created a very special folder for your letters and yours only and I made it so super-private that even I can’t get to it. Back to Billy, here is one misinterpreted situation that I thought I would let sit until the right time came. We were going to Orbit, I had on an unseasonable sleeveless shirt, you had on unseasonable long sleeves. We were going to Orbit and Billy takes this huge stamp that also lets me get into Medusa's and SLAMS it on my arm, it left a bruise, he was too busy admiring your breasts to think about you rolling up your sleeves. You said, "hey, he didn't give me a stamp" and I didn't want to say "Veronika, he didn't PUNCH you, and he was staring at your breasts." He told me this was a big disappointment for him, that I didn’t have any. Also when I got pudgy (a few times) he would poke me like I was the little Pillsbury guy with the chef hat.

I do think that in moments of emotional duress you do go into some transcendent space - I noticed it first when I griped at you in four square, and I think once in kickball or something equally stupid. My basic
stance was "Veronika whom I adore for all your soft qualities, please be a big jerk!" and you would stare at me peacefully and I felt like a skunk.

Don’t bite your nails
Leave the boobies alone

I can’t believe you still don’t like your breasts, you know how many men I disappoint? Well, you also know how little I care about that. I find that if the man likes the woman, is attracted, their idea of what is sexy changes. When I liked Andrew, I found bald spots sexy. eeek! Not bald spots, Andrew.
I never knew your breast size changed, I never knew your breast size, period. I still don’t know what your size means exactly. I still have so much to say! I never liked LV bags, I didn’t want those letters on my bag.

I’m so out of time
don’t bite that one nail

Another suture makes a break for it!

This morning when I took off my gauze pad, I saw a string, and didn't realize at first it was a suture! I thought it was from the gauze pad. After my shower, I noticed it was linger, so I took a picture and emailed my surgeon. He replied right away and said it was a shaping suture, and is barbed, so won't come all the way out. He said I can just pull it as far as it comes out, and snip it close to the wound. Because of the location, my boyfriend will have to do it, I won't have a good view or angle. Hopefully that's the last one, but I'm glad I got the go ahead to handle it myself - I wasn't looking forward to driving or taking the train downtown!

Almost 4 months post-op!

Back in August, it seemed like 4 months would never pass, and here we are, Thanksgiving is 2 days away and Christmas is around the corner! My right breast is completely closed, and I've stopped wearing any gauze or bandages about 2 weeks ago. I don't have any pain or tenderness, though I still get the occasional zinger, which is good, nerves are mending. This part may take a long time to resolve, my boyfriend had a kidney transplant in 2009, and only recently got all the feeling back in the area where the new kidney was placed.

I've pretty much gotten used to my smaller breasts, but one thing that still surprises me is looking down and seeing my nipples and areolas. When I shower or get dressed and I look down, it's a surprise to see them, because pre-op, they faced downward, and now they're so perky, I'm like "what's that?" And then I realize, woohoo! It's my small boobs!

When I last saw my PS, he was very pleased with my progress and outcome, and I'm seeing him in late January next. At that point we'll plan the lipo, and I'm excited about that, as they'll be a tad smaller/narrower then. Here are some photos from today. The spot that was open for months is a little indented, and the color is a little darker, but I'm hoping it'll fade and drop into place as time passes. But, I'm not a playboy model or topless dancer, and my boyfriend thinks they look pretty amazing now, so any additional improvement will be great.

I'm walking almost daily, 3-5 miles, and even adding running in. Yesterday I did a 5k turkey trot, and I'm doing one Thursday on Thanksgiving day! Gotta get some use out of these small ones! They didn't bounce at all when I ran yesterday, and I only wore one bra!

Six Months Post-op Suture Escape

So I am 6 months post-op, and a couple weeks ago I developed some irritation under righty, my problem child. It looked like a small abcess or pimple, on the healed area that had been open several months ago. There was also a small area on the scar that had always been a little discolored, and it started to bleed a tiny bit when I was wearing a sports bra and exercising. I started wearing a little gauze pad over the area and applying bacitracin.

The abcess area drained and healed, but a tiny hole developed on the scar line. I had an appointment with my PS on 1/21, so I figured I'd just wait and show him. When he saw it, he said "oh, that's an internal suture making its way out!" Say whaaat? After 6 months? So he injected a little lidocaine into the area and using tweezers went and pulled out an internal suture! It was about 3" long and bright blue, and he said the other area that was irritated may have been another one trying to make its way out. The hole closed up and I haven't had any irritation since then!

So I decided to buy a new bikini, my old ones are too loose now, yay! I ordered a top from Athleta, they have nice supportive bra sized bikinis, so no accidental flashing happens at the beach. Their bikini bands run small, I can't close a 34 on me, so I ordered a 36D and it was HUGE! I reordered it in a 36B/C, and it fits fabulously! It's actually a little loose at the top, but nothing I can't work with. I still haven't gotten officially fitted, and my PS said I need to massage the heck out of my breasts so the sides soften up for him to do the lipo. I'm going back in June, so it won't be till the summer. Argh, side boob be gone! I can't wait for summer...

Bought a couple "Real Bras"!

So I finally took the plunge and tried on a bunch of bras at Nordstrom rack. I took about 15 bras in the fitting room with me, and found that a 34D fits very well. I tried some 36Cs and those also fit, which makes sense, if you go up a band, you go down a cup.

The DKNY bras I tried fit me better in a 36 band, while the Chantelle and Felina bras are better in 34. I actually think one of the bras I bought (Felina) is the same style I once owned in a 34F (and outgrew)! I wish my breasts weren't so wide, but that seems to be par for the course when our breasts are so big. Wearing an actual underwire bra really changes their shape though, they are super high and perky, and I can cover them completely with my hands, and I have little hands! Woohoo!

I will probably stick mostly with the soft stretchy bras and wear the "fancy" underwire ones when I go out. ;-)

Nearly 1 Year Post-op!

I saw my surgeon late last month for a follow up, and he is extremely pleased with my healing! My scars are barely noticeable, and we decided to forego any side lipo. He said there is so little to do, he'd be afraid of messing up the shape! I have no problem with that, there's not much side-boob, and with the scars so faint, I agree it's best to leave well enough alone! He wants me to come back once a year, so he can monitor how well they keep their shape.

I notice a bit of tenderness in my left breast every so often, and when I go running, the kind of tingle all over, like the nerves are trying to come back. I do have a small amount of feeling on the bottoms now, but it's very faint. The numbness was odd at first, but I'm so used to it now, it's weird to have some feeling back. My left nipple isn't very sensitive anymore - the sensitivity I still had post-op has kind of faded away, but righty is feeling just fine. ;-)

I went on a 3 day beach trip this weekend and it was so awesome to wear a bikini top and not worry about my old H cups popping out in the water, or turning on the blanket and flashing someone because my top slipped. I didn't have to think about them at all, they stayed put the entire time.

Pain-wise, I haven't gotten headaches like I used to, my back and shoulders are great and the numbness in my arms at night is practically non-existent (unless I sleep on my arm weird). An old, non-breast related neck injury has been bothering me, but because it's the only place I have pain, it's completely tolerable. And my summer wardrobe is so much cuter now - my favorite dress is a smocked elastic top sundress in white, of all colors (I never wore white before) in a size small (!!). I recently went to my 30 year high school reunion, and everyone commented on how amazing I looked, and I think I owe it to my smaller breasts - my demeanor has changed overall.
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Galiano is quite simply, amazing. I consulted with 2 doctors, Dr. Galiano being the first, and I knew right away I would choose him for my surgery. The other surgeon was great, also very highly regarded, but I just felt so comfortable with Dr. Galiano, and had complete confidence in him. Dr. Galiano immediately understood the physical issues and pain I'd been dealing with for years, and even asked questions about other symptoms I'd never even connected with my large breasts! I had a list of questions ready, but he answered them all before I even had a chance to ask. He is extremely thorough, and showed a great deal of empathy and understanding for me and my situation. He told me he was confident insurance would approve the surgery, due to all the treatment I'd sought for the past 15 years (acupuncture, massage, chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy), and within 2 weeks I received an approval letter from my insurance. At our follow up consult, I brought my partner so he could ask any questions he had, and feel comfortable with my decision and choice of surgeons, and he too was very impressed with Dr. Galiano's demeanor. He is soft spoken, but confident. I told him I wanted to err on the side of smaller, because I really felt my otherwise non-curvy figure did not match a voluptuous chest, and he told me to just remind him on surgery day. On surgery day, as he made the markings, he said to the resident " she would like to be quite small..." So he remembered without my prompting. During the surgery, he noticed I was having issues with blood flow to the skin on my left breast, and opted not to perform the planned lipo on the sides, to be safe. He said once I was healed, it could be done in office. I had a follow up 2 days post-op, and he noticed my right breast looked worse than the left, so he prescribed nitroglycerin cream to improve blood flow, contacted a colleague at a wound care center where they perform hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments and arranged for me to go for immediate treatment. He was out of the office the week after my surgery, yet called me on Sunday to see if I was able to go for the oxygen therapy, and asked that I take pictures and email him every few days so he can see the progress, even though he was on vacation! He would respond the same day, which I thought was incredible. He told me in my consult that when I am his patient, he treats me like a family member, because he'd want his wife or daughter to be treated that way by another surgeon, and with the attention he showed me, I really felt he meant it. I am on the mend, one breast is basically healed, the other is still healing at the t-junction, the hyperbaric oxygen treatments did an amazing job of creating new blood vessels in my breasts, and I am so glad Dr. Galiano jumped right on it, rather than "wait and see". Once my right breast is healed, I will have the side lipo done, and I'm sure the size and shape will go from great to amazing! I went from a 34H to approximately a C, maybe small D, and could not be happier with the result, care and treatment from Dr. Galiano. His patient coordinator, Robyn, is also amazing, as is Emily, his nurse. They are very sweet, kind, knowledgeable and responsive to both emails and phone calls. I cannot express how highly I recommend Dr. Galiano and his staff.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
4 out of 5 stars Wait times
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