I like my potatoes lumpy.
I’m not into the whole perfectly, softly whipped, fragile peaks, mashed potatoes. I like my mashed potatoes looking like they actually came from potatoes — some hard lumps, throw in some bacon and butter, and give me something to hold on to gravy.
I like my potatoes lumpy.
Today, I looked at my lumpy breasts.
I’m officially at 7 days since surgery (this time last week I was just getting my chest sliced open in a football like design). And, 7 days since surgery, I finally looked. Over the past week, I’ve been slowly peeking. I started just looking at the top of my compression bra (which comes, nearly, to my collarbone). A few days later, I glanced down with my blurry vision at the top of the Tegaderm that protects my incisions. A few days later, I pulled my tank top just enough to see the 5-inch black scar that ran across my right breast. And, today, I pulled my top down just below the 10-inches of scars running across my chest.
They don’t seem “real.”
My chest is lumpy, faintly tinted blue from bruising, and all sorts of misshapen. I look like I have two tiny footballs — the kind you get as a consolation prize at the carnival when you can’t get the 3 rings over the Coke bottles — attached to my chest.
It’s an interesting feeling — a combination of pain and nothingness.
I want, so bad, to feel something. When I touch the bruised sections of my breast, I expect to feel tenderness, tingling, or tension. Instead, I feel Absence. My hand quickly recoils, partly out of fear; partly out of sadness.
Jorge reminds me, in his conversation with my plastic surgeon, that the reconstruction process was quite difficult. There wasn’t a lot of tissue to work with, they had to “jam” size B implants in, and there was a ton of scarring. For so many months, part of the humor getting me to accept the surgery was the “I’m trading my 3x breastfeeding, saggy boobs for a nice perky round rack!” Unfortunately, at least 7 days out, they are neither perky nor round.
I have a lot to be Thankful for this year. One of the most thankful parts of this Marathon B4 Mastectomy journey is, for sure, the “Marathon”. Though I didn’t break a size 16, didn’t dip below 188 lbs, and didn’t manage to rock a cut 6-pack of abs, I did gain a powerful body. Because I committed to 11 months of fitness prior to the mastectomy, my lungs bounced back quickly. Within just a few days, I was able to get my incentive spectrometer all the way up from the first window (a struggle on Day 1) to the very top — indication that my lungs had regained their strength. Because of my running, my quads were powerful enough to balance me even when doing something as simple as putting my legs into pajama pants (this still takes about 4 minutes from start-to-finish). Because of running, I was able to build a strong enough core to allow my chest to rest while lifting myself out of bed or twisting my body around to re-position myself. By Day 3, I no longer needed any help getting in-and-out of bed.
My size 16, 188 lbs, plus sized body kicked some serious mastectomy ass.
The “marathon” also helped me to embrace the quiet. All those hours of running by myself forced me to be at peace with my own thoughts, my own expectations. Running gave me the tools to balance “push myself” with “rest myself.” It also gave me the strength to know that this, too, shall pass.
My sister Grace says that the “lumpiness” will change once the swelling, fluid, and bruising has run its course. But, I should expect “lumpiness” to give way to “rippling.” She says, “Liza, c’mon, there are a lot of things at work here — implants, tissue, muscle, skin, fluid — all things you, no one, can control.” When my friend Steph showed me her reconstructed breasts last May, she, too, said, “With my original boobs, I cut them some slack because they were natural; they were me. I’m not that happy with my implants because I just expected them to be, you know, perfect. I have to get to a place where I’ll accept these as perfectly imperfect, too.”
I am perfectly imperfect. We all are, aren’t we? And, for that, I am thankful. I am thankful that I don’t have a desire for perfection, for an unattainable quest for something, well, unattainable. Rather, I have me. I have my health. I am who I am. And, I am surrounded by that — and those — who, too, embrace that they are perfectly imperfect.
Peace, love, and thankful,