Last August 4 at 9:00am I had two breasts. At noon I had one. During the following several weeks I had the emotional upheaval that, I read, accompanies the removal of any body part. Time and Life filed off those edges and I'm fine . . . and still me, for better or worse.
I wasn't prepared for some of the physical effects that remain. None of these is traumatizing, but nobody tells you about them beforehand. Maybe they aren't fun facts, but from my point of view, they are . . . interesting.
- The most salient sensation I had prior to diagnosis was itching. I still have an occasional itch but the itchy part is no longer there. Or the itch feels as if it's deep inside somewhere, perhaps near my liver. I have tried finding the spot where the nerve was truncated and scratching there, but it's unreachable. In either case, it's frustrating to have an itch that can in no way be scratched. The affected exterior area is absolutely without sensation, which makes that itch even more odd.
- One has a silicone blob to wear, of course, and with it in place, my exterior is quite unremarkable. Without the accessory under a t-shirt, that part of the body is amazingly flat. Beyond flat. The original structure never was, and is not now, impressively convex, but as I look down from above it appears that I have Mount Everest sitting directly adjacent to the Dead Sea.
- Remember 1980s shoulder pad buildup? The shoulder pads in the coat overlaid the shoulder pads in the blazer, which overlaid the shoulder pads in the blouse and it appeared that my earlobes were resting on my shoulders. Put clothing on this guy to the right and you have the image. During surgery, the various layers of tissue get stitched up separately, of course, from inner to outermost. If all goes as it should, which it has in my case, all those stitched-up layers knit together and make a hard little ridge in the middle of the Dead Sea.
- All those knitted-together layers connect the outside to the inside: One's skin feels as if it is Super-glued to one's rib cage. Reach for something that requires a stretch, particularly at an odd angle, and the subfloor shifts a little. Not painful, but perceptible.
So, that's all. Just another day in the life. Who else would tell you these things?