Iron Bra and Buddha Belly


Iron Bra and Buddha Belly

There are some interesting disparities between feelings and reality at the moment.  For example, I have an itchy left nipple.  But I don’t have a left nipple, nor a left breast, nor anything on the right for that matter.  Of course I’m still full of codeine which makes me a bit bonkers.  (Note to self – hide my tablet after surgery so I can’t order any more inappropriate items like that indoor trampoline, or totally unnecessary silver charms for my charm bracelet, or that shirt in the wrong colour which I thanked my sister for but when I checked my browser history it transpired that it wasn’t from her…..)  I can still feel the weight and pull of my left breast but it’s not there.  I feel the grip of an iron bra tight around my chest and back, yet for the first time in thirty seven years I am not wearing a bra.  It’s all a bit weird.

The Buddha Belly is what we see if you take our breasts away.  Even very slim women are shocked to have an unimpeded view of their belly.  Those of us in the business talk about being eleven months pregnant.  I suck mine in but it still sits there.  It doesn’t really matter.  As one of my friends said recently, “well, your organs have to go somewhere, don’t they?”

My chest is a bit of a battle ground: bruises in blue, green and yellow, a dark red haematoma, a hole in my side from the drain and a wound which stretches from high in my left armpit across to the right.  My surgeon took the opportunity to do a bit of tidying up on the right so the new scar is long – about 37cm long, getting on for 55cm if you join in the old mastectomy scar.  Both ends rise into my armpits.  I am Frankenstein’s underwear model.

My chest is skin and bone and feels cold and vulnerable.  Being built for comfort not speed I’m not used to being able to feel or see my ribs. I am pear-shaped now.

It’s going to take some getting used to but I am much happier as a pear than as a one-boobed, lop-sided freak show who failed completely in the wearing of a suitable prosthesis.  Horrible, sweaty uncomfortable things that made my nerves jangle.  I am also free of the fear of my left-boob turning nasty and trying to kill me.

Pain – there’s plenty of that but it’s nothing like as bad as the axillary clearance last March.  This pain is more straightforward and my body tells me every three hours, day and night, that it needs painkillers.  Miss Paris Cetamol and Mr Cody Eine are my pals, together with Ike buprofen and La La lactulose to keep things moving. (Yeuchy stuff!)

I was a medical marvel for a while as my drain was draining more gunk each day for a fortnight rather than less.  My body doesn’t always do what it’s supposed to.  It doesn’t follow the rules.  Drains shouldn’t stay in too long due to the risk of infection; there is also the real risk that the bearer of the drain will go crazy one night and snip their own stitches and haul out the damned thing themself.  Drains do an important job but are universally hated.  Who wants to carry a plastic bag full of blood around day and night?  Who wants a hole in their side with a tube stuck in it?  Who wants daily visits from the nurses poking at it.  Ask me if it pinches…go on….ask me.  Does it pinch?  It bloody does!  And I only had one drain.  My friend who had reconstruction had to deal with six and two young children.  What a trooper.  Anyway, my surgeon decided that the drain could come out last Friday and I heaved a huge and painful sigh of relief.  Last April I developed a seroma that had to be siphoned off with big needles twice a week after the drain came out but so far, touch wood, thank God, there’s no sign of a build up of fluid.

It’s all so disgusting isn’t it?  I’m pretty disgusted with it all.  The smell of the hospital makes me want to run in the opposite direction, I even got fed up with the lovely, kind, daily district nurses.  I have really had enough of all of this. I want to shout at the docs and nurses “I used to be well and have a job and never go near any of you!”  I think this means that I am on the mend and not in danger of becoming institutionalised.  So it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I’ve been so patient for so long and I just need to hold it together a while longer.  Now the drain has gone I can start my proper exercises and get moving a bit.  This morning I walked to the chemist round the corner.  Hurrah!  But now I feel like I’ve been run over by a bus and my arms ache so badly.  It has taken me hours to type this as I have to keep stopping and stretching.   I have to follow the physio programme and take it slowly as that will mean better and quicker healing in the long run.  Oh but it’s hard to be patient.  I want there to be an end in sight but I have to see the surgeon on 14th February for the results of the breast biopsy and the Prof on 29th March which is routine three month oncologist appointment but will also give results of the x rays of my hip.  There always seems to be something going on.

As for all those people out there grumbling about losing a week to flu ….come on people.  Really?

Polyanna Moment: There are so many of these.  This operation marks the beginning of the end of all of this nonsense and I’m glad, glad, glad that it’s done.  It was devastating when the December operation was cancelled at the last minute (And I mean ‘last minute’.  I’d been there all day, hungry, thirsty, anxious and it wasn’t until early evening that I was told it wouldn’t happen).  I’m also glad and grateful for the friends and relations who are STILL visiting and doing shopping and cooking for my freezer and bringing presents and cards and giving me lifts to boring horrible hospital appointments and walking Bonnie, and the long distance people who are sending flowers and cards and texts.   Thank you!  Things One and Two also need a special mention as they continue to be kind and resilient.  Thing Two kept me fed and watered for the first ten days or so, put the fire on in the morning, checked on me, stayed in.  Being alone in the house with someone who’s just had an operation requires courage and kindness.  Thing One came home for two weekends to help and, with my sister, got me up and dressed in the hospital. This was no mean feat as I was completely out of it!  She’s constantly in touch.  Amazing daughters.

Needle Count:  Oh the fun we had in hospital trying to find a viable vein for the anaesthetic.  How we laughed.  Including the drain we are now on 180 needles since diagnosis in August 2015.








15 thoughts on “Iron Bra and Buddha Belly

    1. eddigoodwin Post author

      Fortunately I forgot my Debenhams password and was not able to check out a basketful of unnecessary crap last week. I only realised this when checking my browser history for who had ordered the shirt….

  1. Pat

    So much of what you have written resonates with myself. Sometimes I still get a but sad about the second boon going, but like you I felt like such a freak. I have such a big Buddha belly, need to deal with that but have had partial thyroid out 4 weeks ago, and exercising seems to aggravate that, on valentines day it’s ovaries out, how romantic, but today told it might be cancelled. I can’t wait till there is no more of this crappy list to deal with. Every day you will show improvement, I can’t believe how much better I feel now, but I do have a terrible back ache and feel that all this weight distribution changes has effected the engineering of my body. Xxxx

    1. eddigoodwin Post author

      I am sorry that things grind on for you, Pat. That’s hard. I will think about you on Valentine’s Day. It makes sense to me that our bodies might need some help readjusting to the new shape and weight distribution. I was lucky to be on a physio trial after the first mx and this helped me to deal with the devastation in my arm and shoulder from the axillary clearance. I am doing the same exercises now. I’m constantly aware of my posture and keep forcing my shoulders back. Pain and tightness makes us hunch over our poor cold chests doesn’t it? I’m going to resume gentle yoga asap and I’m also thinking that Pilates might be a good idea. Everything aches though and some days I feel soooo old! Take care and good luck for the 14th. X

  2. Martin

    Coincidentally Ed, your blog coincides with my regular trip to a local church hall to see the blood and transplant people. Tonight more than most times the donation seems the very least I can do.
    I’m told Oneg tends to go to the local neo natal unit but whoever it is, newborn or otherwise, I hope I can help you to be as big, strong and robust as I seem lucky enough to be right now!😉
    Thanks for posting your latest blog Ed. Love M.

    1. eddigoodwin Post author

      Thanks Martin. I can’t give blood anymore so I’m always pleased when strong fellas like you step up. Well done. When they get that needle into your vein think of me and my 180! Love Ed

  3. Mary Foster

    Oh, Ed! I have been thinking of you and am so happy that you were finally able to have the surgery that was unfortunately put off in December! My heart ached for you on that day! But now, you are gradually going to feel better and stronger EVERY day! I, too, had lovely bruises all the way down to my waist! So glad your drain is out, too! I laughed when you mentioned your purchase of unnecessary or inappropriate items! Take good care of yourself as you continue on your healing path! 💜💐💜

    1. eddigoodwin Post author

      Thanks Mary, you are always so lovely! I’m so bruised I did wonder if someone had been tap dancing on my chest in the operating theatre! Thanks for your kind words.

  4. Caroline Harper

    Ditto…! Wound check today. I swear our car has no suspension – I felt every bloody pothole on the 45 mile round trip! Drain hole is closing, bruises are myriad colours and it all hurts like hell, but weirdly, i feel quite happy about it all! xx

    1. eddigoodwin Post author

      Oh Caroline, 45 miles is too far. I grumbled like mad on the 20 mile round trip for my follow up appointments and made the drivers go out of their way to avoid speed bumps. But I felt every bump! Good luck with your recovery.

  5. leanne41

    So glad you’re still able to see the positives, hopefully all the bad stuff is over for you. Sending you gentle hugs and heartfelt prayers. Much love Eddi ❤

  6. Julia

    I’ve been staring at this empty reply box for ages trying to find the right words but I haven’t found them. You sound so strong and courageous (but may not feel it). You have a sense of humour, still, which is astonishing and truly worth celebrating.
    This is the first time I’ve come across your blog because Louise shared it. I’m glad she did.
    Sending positive thoughts and the best of good wishes xx


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