Friday, 22 July 2011

The M-Blow Thing and How It Happened

It seems the god of symmetry has decided against cutting me slack. My formative years were spent hustling to the left side of friends in group shots so I could turn my skinny arm toward the camera, and keep my monstrously, disproportionately humongous right one out of view. I may be exaggerating in the same way that you feel particularly conscious of your own pimple, compared to other peoples perception of it. Or I could not, since it has always been a source of delight and awe for everyone I know. Including the surgical assessment nurse who had to measure both arms for hospital records, in case of lymphoedema. Each measurement of my right arm is exactly one cm larger than my left, apart from the upper arm, which is three cm bigger. There is no medical explanation. On the up side I was very good at javelin at school. And swimming in circles.

My alcoholic childhood dentist neglected to correct one protruding incisor, so it took a lot of practice and effort to stop talking, laughing or smiling out of one side of my mouth only. It just wasn't great for my graduation photo, attempts at coquettish giggling or early TV appearances.

And now, I am destined to the next two years of mono-boobism.

Its not really something a 31 year old should think about. The problem is, the breasts haven't done their job yet. I'm not done with being outraged (read delighted) at appreciative glances from the opposite sex. I haven't breast fed my baby, or lured anyone (read DadJokes) into making one with me in the first place. I'm not ready to give up bikini-confidence, haven't filled out my wedding dress, basically I was really quite happy with both boobs for now, thank you very much.

As with the hair loss, I had to go through some stages of mourning to handle the thought of this new me. There involved wailing on a train platform while I accused Dadjokes of being too nice in telling me he'd still find me attractive. I spent whole evenings mentally sorting through my lifelong collection of lingerie, consigning my most beloved pieces to an imaginary dustbin. There are some dresses hanging in my wardrobe that I actually couldn't look at, like a sick puppy I'd given up for adoption. But most of all I couldn't imagine waking up from surgery and dealing with looking at myself for the first time.

As it turned out the anticipation was so much worse than reality. This may have been helped along by morphine, but it was definitely helped by the understanding of my boyfriend, best friend and sheer bloody relief that I no longer had a mortal enemy exorcising squatting rights in my body.

I won't lie, it is quite weird. I didn't look until Katie helped me shuffle to the toilet, and since I was there, and a mirror was there, and we had nothing else to do, I held my breath and kept my PJ's on and had a peek. It wasn't earth shattering, just flat, to be expected, nothing special. I was even slightly disappointed that I didn't crumble in a heap and require immediate psychotherapy, or even sedation. If anything I am freaked out by how OK I have been. It appears I didn't know me very well. I'm now fascinated by my scar , like when someone catches a repulsive spider under a glass and I insist on inspecting it before they put it outside.

Fashion wise - guess what?! More shopping needed, hey ho. I need stretchy to accommodate my awkward left arm, patterned to distract from the extreme a-symmetry, high necked to avoid an accidental bending-down flash, sleeved to cover the dressing, loose sleeved to allow for swelling, short sleeved to allow for hot weather - wait, we can probably scrap that last one - but basically, it's a logistical conundrum of very great importance that requires INTENSIVE Internet research and monies spent. Even my dad can't argue with that one.

It has been four weeks and one day and, aside from the unsettling pings and pangs I get where my jumbled nerve endings are trying to work out their place in life, I'm really feeling OK about the new me. I think the surgery interrupted my grieving process, so I skipped the denial, anger (OK, some of that), bargaining and depression and went straight for acceptance. I'm not blowing my smug trumpet, it's just not as bad as everyone thinks. Not least for the post-surgery perks such as a medically prescribed necessity for someone else to carry everything for me, and lots of flowers and cards.

Plus its not forever. I can look forward to being re-built at some point in the future, I may even take advantage of the situation and up a cup, in which case I will need a whole new lingerie drawer and a showcase holiday too. In the mean time I'm someone a bit different from everyone else. And I like it that if I put my wig on and stuff a foam comfy down my Sloggi crop top (needs must), that guy who just checked me out on the street has no idea that I'm only just past bald and with one tit. How funny is that?

Symmetry fans...


  1. Oh my goodness. You really are a champ! You are so brave. Some people would breakdown at this kind of thing, but I guess you're past that. Props to you! And cheers for being different.

  2. You are a great woman and you are a fantastic writer. I wish you all the best and I am sure you will be fine.