I had top surgery on December 28th, 2017. It had been, you know. In the planning since September or whatever but it always felt so far away, so unlikely. Until suddenly we were packing for San Francisco and driving there and checking into the hotel and waking up at 6am to be at the hospital by 8 and waiting three hours in the come and go unit and singing “Wonderwall” with the anesthesiologist in the operating room and then Waking Up in recovery and thinking how nice it was that they kept the lights down in there, and wow I still don’t like apple juice, even though I am definitely thirsty as fuck, and wondering why my high heart was such a big deal (I eventually settled on “because I am lying down and not exercising” but did not ever ask about it because I was too tired and still high to form good sentences) and, finally, greeting mom with, i don’t know, a greeting probably, followed pretty shortly by “:O mom! my tiddies is gone :O!”
And the next whole week was like that, too. It all felt very like there was still a possibility we had come all this way and spent all that money on the hotel and nothing had happened. What was under the dressings? A ghost? Where were my nipples? (I had some very strong suspicions based on where I was having the most pain, and it turns out I was right, but there was still A Possibility.)
Even with the Jackson-Pratt drain reservoirs in place (we affectionately referred to them as “my boobs”) I liked the way I looked in a mirror (with a shirt on, that is- without one it was just back to “whats under there? a ghost?”), but there was this overwhelming feeling of, like, Fuck. what if they take my dressings down and I don’t like it and also regret everything forever immediately? And I was worried I had done something to upset the healing, or my nipples (my precious, newly grafted nipples!!!!!) and I literally don’t think I could deal with losing my nipple grafts, and right up until it was time to cut the bolster dressings off it was just, like, a limbo. The nipples could be anywhere, in any condition. It’s still like that, too! Replacing the dressings every day and checking in on them like “How are my nip nops today? still gross? not dead? cool lets take a gentle shower and hide you away again so nobody has to look at you while you heal.”
And then even once the dressings were down and we could see the results (sort of, because it’s still pretty early in the healing process and everything was still scabby, and red, and yellow with povidone-iodine) I couldn’t bring myself to look at it. I had mom take a picture for me and show me and it was… fine. But it at that point still wasn’t my chest yet. Still isn’t, really?
I see it maybe once a day to clean (gently, gently) and change the nipple dressings and that’s… honestly all I can really stand. While it’s still healing and everything settles back into place, existing without the supportive compression band on is like….. someone taped a bunch of bologna to my chest and just expected it to stay on (it won’t!! why would you do that!!!), or maybe it’s like…… running without a bra on, except while doing literally anything other than laying down. So there’s not… much opportunity to get used to it, yet, but it’s also not upsetting other than the physical discomfort and nipple-related squick, which seems overall like a good sign.