Monday, April 28, 2008

Ode to Nordstrom

It's not what you think. Forget the shoes, I'm paying homage to the women in the lingerie department. The ones trained as "fit experts" for travelers on the breast cancer express.

Twice I've made the journey to the third floor of the nearby mall for help with bras. The first time was shortly after the mastectomies when the plastic surgeon advised me to find a gentle compression bra to use while undergoing "expansion." Turns out I only used the little bandeau beauties (think elastic bands) for a month before surrendering to the bliss of camisoles and nothing-at-all, since there was little need for support of any kind. The memory I have from the Nordstrom fitter, certified and trained to be absolutely nonplussed in the presence of mutilated mammary glands, was how utterly professional and kind the woman was. No pity, no sadness. I felt petite, not flat-chested. She was gifted, that sales woman.

Today I decided it was time to support The Girls. Ms. Choy was my guide back to the new world I'm living in. She did not blink when my scarred skin was exposed. Instead, she found exactly the right fit for me. Pretty, feminine. Real bras. I'd forgotten what it was like to buy lingerie. Goodbye, camisoles, love you though I do.

Here's to Nordstom, the best place I know for women post-mastectomy to visit when looking for a little "lift."

Friday, April 25, 2008

She's Alive! A Little Pale, But Alive!

Wow, has it really been nearly three months since I've visited my own blogdom? Goes to show how out of it I've been. A little surgery/flu/sinusitis/bronchitis/exhaustion will do that to a gal. The immune system ain't what he used to be.

Just placed an order for a lymphedema gauntlet. What a fitting term for it. Throw down the gauntlet I will! Damn swelling has my left hand the size of a puffer fish in full puff. It's been a week and the pain is less now; I won't be able to see the lymphedema clinic folks until mid-May so I'm on my own. Between the lymphatic massage I was taught last time, the new sleeve I purchased this week and the gauntlet (to replace the Isotoner glove I was using for compression), plus acupuncture treatments, maybe I can get the swelling down somewhat. What caused it? Who knows. Stress of being ill, poor sleep. Maybe it was trying the new softball mitt out with the kids. Dang. I hope that wasn't it. A new low: "Cancer kills softball with the kids."

The DIEP surgery went very well, as did my recovery. Took a lot of steam out of me, obviously, but no serious complications. The result, or results, are okay. I still feel the pressure under the pectoral muscles but I guess that is no surprise. At least now there is softness on top, and hugs are squishy. There will be another surgery (a revision) but it should be minor, perhaps even outpatient. After that, nub creation. Last, but not least, tattoos! Thought this would involve a trip to a seedy tattoo parlour but a friend tells me she went to a woman who specializes in tattoos for BC reconstructions. Drat. Maybe she'll give me a hummingbird on my tush for free. Thinking about August or September for the revision...

I've come to realize this spring that I may have rushed into acting 100% before I was ready. There is a lot of unspoken pressure to be well, to participate in activities as though everything is normal. Heck, I want to be normal. I don't have the stamina to pull it off, though. My memory isn't there (ask the poor mom who carpools with me) and the energy to get through the day leaves before the sun does. I know that people are tired of hearing The Excuse. I'm beyond caring, most of the time anyway. What's difficult is being with new groups and feeling absolutely worthless as a contributing member. I know why my kids miss practices, or why we're late for games, or why I don't volunteer to toss the ball with the team. What's the etiquette for explaining to people that you're spacey because of chemo? Tired because you haven't recovered your stamina following cancer treatment? In pain with swelling due to lymph node dissection? Of course I don't want to whine about any of this but then what do I say? I'm lazy? I forgot? I don't like to play sports?

Where's the user manual for this part of the game?