Last week the Captain and I abandoned the dull cold and drizzly weather of January in the UK for the sunnier climes of nine days in Tenerife. And it was just a little bit fabulous. To lounge around in shorts and tee shirts under blue skies and warm sunshine really was delightful. We read books, walked walks, ate masses of fish and even drank a soupçon of gin. Perfect.
We got back on Wednesday to a letter from Surgical Spice. Apparently they anticipate a bed being available for me on the 9th of March for the next phase of my reconstruction. Oo er! I know she said March last time we met, but somehow I had sort of consigned it to the realms of Sometime Never so it came as something of a surprise. I am a bit dim like that. However, I am not sorry. I had a total meltdown on holiday over my unbalanced state. My last minute packing had meant I could not find my mastectomy swimming costume so there was no point in taking my prosthesis. I did pack other costumes but when push came to shove, I could not face the pool. It is one thing to go about unbalanced in a bra, fully clothed, when quite frankly, it is pretty much impossible to tell (for reasons I do not understand but there we have it), but it is an entirely different matter to do so in a swimming costume. And I just could not do it. So the lopping and trimming of my right boob and the plumping and adjusting of my left is coming at the perfect time.
There is, however, the small matter of having a clear mammogram first. Since cancer came to play, I get to have mammograms on an annual basis for five years and I am due one very soon. So, February is going to bring a whole host of appointments as I gear up for yet more surgery. Fun fun fun!
Who would have thought it? There is a magical group of women who provide the most amazing and generous service to any and all who have had one or both breasts removed. They are Knitted Knockers UK and really are a fabulous group who should be trumpeted from the rooftops.
Having read one of my holiday posts bemoaning the weight of my fake boob, a friend got in touch asking if I had heard of Knitted Knockers. I knew it was possible to knit such things but as the cardigan I began in the 1970s for my Knitters Badge in Brownies remains unfinished to this day, I rather felt knitting a wooly bosom was beyond me. Fortunately, however, these knockers do not come in kit form. Rather, you supply your measurements, make a few choices – colour, knit/crochet, nipple – and a lovely person begins to knit. For you. Especially for you. And the whole thing is absolutely free. I am going to repeat that. The whole thing is absolutely FREE. It is ‘a gift from one woman to another’ and is ‘made will love and filled with hope’.
My order went in at an especially busy time but I still received the finished article within a month. My package arrived with not only my very own knocker but a knitted butterfly key ring fob, spare filling, a packet of love heart sweets and a small note. The whole lot was then wrapped in tissue paper and tied with ribbon. It was a delight to receive.
I have been very tardy in writing this post because it has taken me a long time to test drive my knocker. I can now reveal that it is going to be very successful. Since my lamentations of prosthesis weight, I have been almost exclusively wearing a ‘softie’ given to me by the hospital. This is a exactly what it sounds like: a soft, fabric prosthesis filled with stuffing that weighs nothing and is much more comfortable than my proper one. However, it does not have the best shape and tends to dimple as the stuffing moves about. The knitted knocker has all the advantages of the softie and gives a much better appearance. I ordered one with a nipple which, if I had my time again, I would not do. As the Captain put it, ‘I see your left breast is excited at seeing me!’ Because my real nipple is not permanently standing to attention it does rather draw attention to the other one. But this is easily addressed. I have not yet decided how, but I will do. It is also going to take a little time to sort out the correct amount of stuffing. The really good news is that once settled upon, the stuffing is not going to move about like it does in the softie.
So, all in all, this was a fabulous discovery and I am thrilled to have had my attention drawn to them. If anyone reading this fancies knitting for them, I believe they are always on the look out for knitters.
Somewhat sneakily I have been away in foreign climes these past few days. The beauty of scheduling posts has meant that I have been able to keep posting without drawing attention to my absence. But since the internet over here is really rather good, I am writing to you from the sunny isle of St Lucia. By the time you read this, however, we will be back in the UK, unpacking and getting the washing on. Sigh.
We have spent an amazing week soaking in the sun, drinking in the views, feasting on the food and imbibing in one or two of the local brews. It is exactly what the doctor ordered. Seriously. I checked. ‘You must go!’ he said. So there you have it. I am here on doctor’s orders. Sadly it is not available on the NHS.
Travelling with my falsie has been a mixed experience. I remain euphoric that wearing it is utterly undetectable and renders me beautifully balanced in the chest department. But, it is heavy. And it is only a partial – room for my newbie has to be left. So I can only wonder at the weight of a full sized one. I suspect this is causing me problems as I am still healing. Eight hours wear is enough in one day so I have been going lopsided in the afternoons. After all we are here with friends. They know I am unbalanced and have done for years.
Following a day’s boat trip, the Captain and I were heading back to our room. I had changed out of my swimming costume on the boat and removed my prothesis at the same time. Years of training by my mother kicked in and I rolled my wet cossie up into my towel. With my falsie. This would have been fine. But in his eagerness to help, the Captain decided to take the towels back to the beach to drop in the linen skip. He found the end of my roll and pulled. Hard. Both my cossie and boob flew out and landed on the floor. I’m pretty certain the whole resort know about my fake rack now 😉
I was back at the hospital today. It is becoming regular. Pretty soon, people will talk. I am already greeted by name. Today’s treat was a trip to the Prosthetic Clinic. I was hoping for a gloomy room in the bowels of the hospital with various false limbs propping up the corners and cupboard doors groaning under the weight of legs making a bid for freedom. But no. Once again I was in the All Singing All Dancing Breast Unit, for this Prosthetic Clinic was just for boobs. No gloomy rooms, no cluttered corners, no false limbs legging it out of cupboards. Just an excess of pink *sigh*.
I took my comfy but ugly new bra with me as instructed and without further ado stripped to the waist. It is a funny old business. I have never been one to shy away from flashing but this latest episode of my life has seem me strip and flash in a new and not altogether thrilling manner. As accomplishments go, it is not one I shall be listing on my CV anytime soon. Anyway, Ms Fitter soon had me eyed up and rootled through her neatly stacked store for one to try. Who would have thought falsies came in so many different sizes? As I already have my shoubsicle, I need a partial rather than full prothesis but we still had to decide between a tear drop shape or a more triangular style. Turns out I am triangular. Ms Fitter deftly placed a size 6 into the pocket on my bra and stood back to admire the effect. We chatted for a while about maintenance (seriously) and imagine my delight when I discovered that for a week’s holiday, I can manage with just the one ‘ordinary’ one and that a swimming prosthesis will not be necessary. Did you even know swimming protheses even existed? I had hoped they came with their own water wings and bikinis but apparently not.
During the time it took for us to have our chat, my size 6 oh-for-goodness-sake-I-can’t-keep-calling-it-a-prothesis shrank. For a moment I thought I had acquired one with a particularly shy nature, but it seems this happens. They settle in. Well, this one appeared to more than settle in. It had put on its slippers, curled up in an arm chair and was merrily dunking custard creams into its tea. This would not do. Size 6 was whipped out, sternly reprimanded and shut away in its box. Ms Fitter decided a size 8 was in order. More furtling followed but eventually everyone was happy. So happy am I that the scarf I was wearing, for I have become Scarf Woman, was consigned to the carrier bag and I went home proudly displaying my newly perky rack for all to admire. Should I ever become bored of wearing Size 8 in the usual manner, it could double up as a hat. For it perfectly fits my head. The nipple may take some explanation but otherwise I think I could rock that look.
I may have to issue a minor retraction on the comments about my new bra. Only a minor one mind. I still think it is hideously ugly. And I still can only wear it with the sort of necklines a nun would approve of. But, but, but … I have successfully worn it for two evenings out now, having made my own stuffing for the side that is lacking. And it is not bad. Not bad at all. I may not be able to balance tea cups on my ‘shelf’ but I do at least have a ‘shelf’. Its stuffing pockets offer a multitude of possibilities too.
The idea of secret pockets takes me right back to the knickers my Mum used to make for me. Yes, that is right. Pity me. I grew like weed. Far faster than I could be kept in dresses. So knickers in matching fabric were fashioned to attempt to hide the far too quickly too short hem lines. I am not convinced they were successful. As a sop to make me want to wear them, Mum would sew a secret pocket into the outside of knickers. For a five year old this was appealing. But not so appealing that I ever liked them.
Enough of knickers. I am more breast obsessed these days. I have been inviting all sorts of people to cast their gaze over my newly evened up bust. Bizarrely they seem somewhat taken aback by this. I rather suspect Debrett’s does not mention how to respond to such an invitation. But really, I am terribly pleased with the effect.
Currently, I am not sure how long I could wear the Nun Approved Bra for as my back and shoulder tend to ache after a while but for short bursts I am rather warming to it.
As I am deficient in the breast department to the tune of a half, I am going to be visiting the Prosthetic Clinic next week with a view to being balanced up. Amazing, a clinic designed to bring balance into my life. World peace may also be on offer or perhaps I am expecting too much?
In order to prepare for this event, I needed to be fitted for a bra. I have done this many times. I am not sure I have ever enjoyed it. Today’s experience, while as good as it could possibly be, was right up there with the worst of them. Actually, cancel that. It WAS the worst. During none of the others have I sobbed in the changing room. The fitter was lovely: kind, professional and good at her job. I could not have asked for more. The reality of buying the hideous sort of bra my grandmother would have considered conservative just felt a bit much.
But the deed is done. And on the upside the VAT got knocked off as a perk for having cancer related surgery. And on another upside, I rather suspect it will be quite comfy when I eventually get to wear it.