Thursday, 28 November 2013

Very Vivian - 10 Days Away From Home

That's how long Vivian ended up spending away from her own bed while I was recovering from my surgery.  She spent a full week at Grandma's house and she did SO WELL.  She's been really awesome through the whole surgery process - but she's starting to get a little sick of the whole thing.  She asks me every day - "Mommy, you still sick?"  The other day the conversation was, "Mommy, you still sick?  You still have owies?"  "Yeah, honey.  Mommy's still sick."  "Yeah, you go to the doctor tomorrow.  He'll make you better."  She's also totally figured out that Mommy can't pick her up, so if she doesn't want to do something, there isn't really much I can do about it.  So that's been fun.

But anyway - her time away.

I take Vivian to my mom's place basically every Sunday.  I get to hang out with my mom, Vivian gets to hang out with L, and I get out of having to cook supper.  Great news all around.  So she's super comfortable there, and since my mom does foster care, there's an extra toddler bed that Vivian can sleep in.  This definitely made things easier.  I didn't want to send too many things along with her, but I did make sure to send her quilt that she sleeps with every night, along with a couple of stuffed animals that she really likes.  My mom helped by sticking some pictures of Vivian and I together by her bed so she could say goodnight to me.  She called me on the phone almost every night, which really helped us both.  It broke my heart to hear her ask about coming home, but I knew she was having fun and was doing okay.  My mom also kept her super busy - she had dance lessons and skating lessons, and was going to a daycare the whole week.  Keeping her busy and involved in new things definitely helped to keep the tears away.  She also had a special treat to help her get through the week - Froot Loops.  This kid is crazy for Froot Loops, and I don't buy them often because she wants to eat the whole box.  But my mom let her have them as much as she wanted, so that was her "special thing" for the week.

When I went back to mom's to see her (instead of bringing her home right away I stayed at my mom's with her for a weekend first to ease myself back into it) I brought her a present for being so good while mommy was sick.  L was awesome with her and was really good about sharing his toys so I brought him a present too.  It took a few tries to get her to understand about my "owies", and it was hard to get comfortable to snuggle with her, but eventually we got settled.

Here's our reunion - I wanted to record it thinking it would be so damn cute and sweet, and it's pretty much true Vivian fashion.

video


She's been so sweet - handing me my drink from the coffee table, asking if I'm okay, giving me lots of gentle hugs.  While it would have been somewhat easier for this to have happened when she was a bit older and could understand things a bit better, I'm glad it all happened when it did.  I should be able to pick her up again by Christmas, so that's a nice timeline to have.

It's nice to know that she is capable of spending so much time away from me - but I'm not anxious to do it again!  I miss that crazy face when she's not around.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

How it all went

I certainly hadn't intended on taking this much time away from the blog, but between trying to heal (which is harder than I thought it would be), fighting with a stupid computer, attempting to stave off a cold, and dealing with a puking Vivian, it's been a busy couple of weeks.  Tomorrow will be 3 weeks since my surgery and in general I'm feeling pretty good.  To be honest, I thought that I would be feeling much more like my old self at this point, but I'm still finding I have limitations.  I still get tired pretty quickly, and I find that if I do any lifting (which I know I'm not supposed to do, but I'm stupid and stubborn) I can definitely feel it.  Still feeling super tender and bruised, but that's probably my own fault.

In any event, I wanted to get the whole "how it all went down" post out there before I forget a lot of it.  I promise the blog will be back to normal soon - it won't be all boobs all the time over here forever!

The way the hospital works was that I had to call in the afternoon before my surgery to find out what time I'd been scheduled in for.  I was lucky and managed to score the first slot of the day, which meant I had to be at the hospital for 6:15 a.m.  I was told at my pre-admit appointment to be prepared for a lot of waiting since the first surgery isn't until 8:30 a.m., and that I was welcome to bring a DVD player or tablet or something if I wanted to watch a movie.  So I showed up prepared with my little DVD player and the first season of Happy Endings along with Clue - nothing like a little Tim Curry to take your mind off surgery.  I ended up not even having time to take it out of my bag though - things moved so quickly!  Once they got me into my robe and settled in to a bed, I got my IV put in (which, by the way, was much better than when I had an IV when I was in having Vivian.  Now they don't leave the needle in your hand anymore, it's just the tube, so it was much more comfortable.)  Before I knew it my surgeon came in to say good morning, and a few different nurses checked in on me.  One of the nurses along the way came to get my surgical bra too, since it was put on me immediately after my surgery.  Then my surgeon came back armed with a Sharpie to get me all marked up.  Sadly, it was a black Sharpie and not the traditional red that you see in movies and on TV.  It was pretty interesting how she measured things out from my collarbone and drew all of the lines.  My mom took a picture for posterity sake - it's so weird to look back on it now.  Dr. Marignani was amazing through the whole thing - my mom couldn't believe how nice and friendly she was.  She even complimented me on my purse and was happy to answer any questions either of us had.  Next thing I knew it was about 7:45 and they were ready to wheel me in to the OR.

In typical fashion, a few things happened that would only happen to me.  On the day of my surgery there were a bunch of kids in getting tubes put in their ears and their adnoids taken out - must have been the ENT surgeon's regular day or something.  So as they were wheeling me to the OR there was a poor mother handing off her little boy for him to go for his surgery.  We had been talking to her in the waiting room and it was his second time getting tubes put in and he was also having his adnoids out.  Poor little boy was crying as he was taken away, and of course the mom was just standing in the doorway, helplessly watching him.  My heart was breaking for her, and the nurse had to gently ask her to move out of the doorway.  She stepped aside and they pushed me through - but because of the delay the automatic door timed out and started to close on my gurney.  My hand shot out to try and shove the door open, which is a ridiculous thing to worry about on your way to an operating room.  We pulled up to the OR and I had to walk into the room to get to the table.  I'd been warned beforehand that I would be asked what my name is and what procedure I'm having done as the final check to make sure they have the right person.  As soon as I walked in the nurses said, "Okay, what's your name and what are you here for?"  Because I'm an idiot I said, "I'm Ashlie Hawkins and I'm here for a breast reduction.  And uh, I feel like I should say I'm an alcoholic or something too."  Fun fact - jokes do not go over super well in the OR.

So on to the table I went and they started to strap my arms down.  I was trying to stay calm when I felt a large, heavy piece of fabric get laid across my legs.  I could hear some kind of metal clanking on it and my first thought was, "Holy shit, there's a giant roll of like Dexter tools on my legs.  That's messed up."  As soon as I thought it, a nurse said, "Okay Ashlie, I'm just going to strap your legs down too."  Then I went ahead and said, "Oh good, I was really worried that you just put a bunch of Dexter knives on me or something."  Puzzled nurse - "Uh, no.  We don't really put things like that on you."  So I'm 0 for 2 for jokes in the OR.  At this point they must have just decided they were done with me because I remember being told that I would start to feel a bit loopy, then the ceiling tiles started to move, then I was gone.

Next thing I know I'm in recovery.  I can remember being somehow curled up on my left side and feeling someone rubbing my arm and asking me to move to my back.  I can hear my name being called over and over again and asking me to respond but all I can do is cry.  I'd been warned before that people react in a lot of different ways when they wake up from anesthetic.  Some people are sick, some people are angry and come out swinging, and some people cry.  I'm apparently the crying, hyperventilating, shaking kind.  I had a nurse on either side of me trying to calm me down, but I just kept crying.  They told me it was okay, I was in recovery, and the crying was just from the anesthetic.  I couldn't stop, and when I tried to take a breath I would hyperventilate and couldn't stop shaking.  They gave me a warm blanket to stop the shaking and asked me what my pain was at.  The pain was a burning type of pain, and I'd been told before not to low-ball the pain level when they asked me.  So I said a 9, and they gave me a bunch of morphine.

That was at around 11:00 a.m. - and I left the hospital at around 4:00 p.m.  The time in between is fuzzy - I kept waking up long enough to have some ginger ale and a cookie so I could take a pain pill, then would fall back asleep.  Some nurses talked to me and checked on things, and one explained what would happen with my home care, but I don't really remember how it all happened.  I know I felt really badly that my mom was just sitting there waiting while I kept falling back to sleep.  I knew I was in a different bed than where I had started and was worried about where my things were.  I didn't even realize it was happening, but soon there was a wheelchair outside of my little area and it was time to go home.

The rest of the night, and to be honest the next few days were basically me waking up long enough to have a snack and a drink and a pill then head back to bed.  I had drainage tubes in, which are ridiculously gross and uncomfortable.  I was lucky though and had them taken out less than 2 days after surgery.  On the whole I felt pretty okay - just things change when you're recovering from something like that.  Things like "I'm hungry" or "I'm tired" turn into "I need to eat" and "I need to rest".  I did a whole lot of shuffling around the house, just doing laps since I was told that the more I moved, the better I would heal.

On the Sunday following surgery we got concerned that there was an infection since one of the VON nurses had warned that if we saw any signs of puss to get straight to the hospital.  That was the day that I tried to take a shower by myself (it didn't go super well) and noticed some yellow and green discharge on one of my bandages.  I knew I wouldn't be able to sit in the emergency room for hours at a time, so my mom called to hospital to see what kind of wait we would be looking at.  They called Dr. Marignani and she came right to the hospital just to see me.  She checked me out and said that it was totally normal, and that if I'd made it to the third day post-op without any problems then I was basically out of the woods.  I couldn't believe that she came all the way in just to see me - and on a Sunday afternoon.  I really can't say enough good things about her.

As the days went on things got easier and easier.  It took a good week before I could make it through a shower without feeling like I was going to faint, and it took a good 10 days before I stopped feeling dizzy altogether.  I feel like I healed pretty quickly - at this point I only have one bad spot left where my incisions intersect.  (My incisions are basically shaped like an anchor, curved at the bottom, then a line straight up with a circle on top.  The point at the bottom where the curved part and the straight part meet seems to be having trouble healing.)

Before my surgery I had been worried about how I would deal with it mentally.  Depression after any surgery is common, but depression after this particular surgery is very common.  It's a huge loss of identity for me, and I was worried about not being able to recognize myself afterwards.  Now that I can wear a normal bra I feel like I still look like myself in clothes - like a better version of myself.  I look slimmer and more proportionate, and I'm amazed at how differently clothes fit me.  When I'm looking in the mirror without clothes things still feel a bit foreign though.  Even though I know I'm far from flat-chested, they still look so small to me.  I know it's because my perception was so skewed for so long, so it's a hard adjustment to make.  I keep reminding myself of all the things I'll be able to do now (I can't wait to golf!) and that definitely makes things easier.

It will still be at least another month or so before the swelling all goes down, but at this point I can definitely say that I'm glad I had it done.  The relief on my back and shoulders was immediate.  Before my surgery I couldn't spend more than about 6 hours at a time in bed without my back hurting.  I thought it was just because I have a shitty old mattress, but now it doesn't hurt when I wake up in the morning.  I used to have to crack my lower back after walking around a store, but that doesn't bother me anymore.  I was out the other day and had to use the restroom and realized that that was a time when I would normally have to spend time in a stall readjusting myself - moving straps, pushing things up, just generally trying to get comfortable.  I don't have to do that anymore.  I can look in a mirror and look at my face before looking at my own chest.  I can walk around and feel like I blend in.  I bought a bra on clearance for $3 the other day.  This is a whole new world.

I can't wait to be able to do a jumping jack.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Treats of the Weeks - Post-Op

So last week was a write-off.  I kept thinking about writing a quick blog post, but never quite had the energy to get around to it.  No shame in a little time off!  The good news is that I'm feeling much better this week - still sore and tired, but I'll do a whole post about how things went later.

I just wanted to get a post up to thank everybody who has been helping me out.  My family and friends have been amazing, even my Grandma who nearly killed me with kindness.  She means well.  So to everyone who has wished me well/sent me cards/called/texted/commented/liked/visited/brought me food, etc - thank you.  To my closest family and friends who have been taking such good care of both Vivian and I - THANK YOU THANK YOU, I don't know what I would have done without you all.

Other awesome things that I can remember through my Tramacet-filled haze of the last week?


  • Tramacet definitely gets a shout-out.  Even though it made me tired and lightheaded, it was really there for me when I needed it.
  • Also, ginger ale is basically a miracle.  
  • My surgeon and the hospital were really awesome - I was the first surgery of the day, so things moved really quickly.  I had great nurses, and I really can't say enough nice things about my surgeon, Dr. Marignani.  She even came all the way to the hospital just to see me a couple of days after my surgery because I was worried I might have an infection.  She was definitely worth the wait.
  • You guys - I actually bought bras at Walmart.  This is a huge deal for me.  I got 4 for $40.  Just cheap sports bras for now, but you had better believe I've been doing a lot of online browsing at Victoria's Secret!
  • I have already managed to enjoy American Horror Story - both Murder House and Asylum.  Now I have to wait for Coven to come out on DVD since stupid Bell doesn't carry FX.  I'm also currently burning through Orange is the New Black.  So glad to have good TV to watch while I'm camped out on the couch!
  • Vivian did so well being away at Grandma's house for a week - she and L are now extremely close.  They talked on the phone today, which is basically the most adorable thing ever.
  • Vivian has had this weird, stubborn thing about saying "I love you".  Even though I knew she could say those words, she would never say them back to me.  I guess she was just saving them for when they counted, since she finally said it to me on the phone while she was at Grandma's house.
I'm sure there's a lot that I've forgotten, but to be honest my memory hasn't been awesome this week.  I actually locked myself out of my bank account the other day because I forgot my own PIN.  So that's been fun.  The computer also doesn't seem to want me to upload any pictures at the moment, so that's not happening.  I'll post all about how the surgery went and stuff soon though!



Wednesday, 6 November 2013

My Last Day

Today is my last day.

My last day of constant back pain.  My last day of having red, angry dents in my shoulders and suddenly feeling like cold water was dumped down my arm from having a strap hitting a nerve in a weird way.

The last day of seeing someone look, then look again, then nudge their friend so that they can look too.  The last day of constantly worrying about how things look - are they high enough?  Too high?  Spilling out?  Top too low?  Am I making someone else uncomfortable?  The last day of feeling like I look 50 pounds heavier than I actually am.

After tomorrow there will be no more franken-bras.  I won't have to sew or pin or otherwise modify a bra just to get it to fit somewhat properly.  I won't have to order bras online and hope that they fit.  I won't have to go to a specialty shop and pay $150 for a single bra.  After tomorrow I'll be able to walk into any regular lingerie store and buy bras right off the shelf.

Today is my last day of feeling unbalanced.  Of feeling like I'm always on display in some manner.  Of immediately dismissing a dress or a shirt because it's something I "can't wear".

Today is my last day.


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Timeline

I thought I would post about the length of time and the number of appointments it took to get to the point of having my surgery for anyone who is interested or who might be considering having a breast reduction done.  It has been a bit of a long process - so it might be good to ask early!


  • Summer 2001 - My mom took me to the doctor to talk about a breast reduction because she thought it would be the ideal time to have it done.  It was the summer between high school and starting university, so she figured it would give me a bit of a fresh start so that I wouldn't go to university as "The girl with the big boobs".  While it would have been the perfect time, I wasn't mentally ready to let go of that piece of my identity yet.  The doctor could tell that I wasn't psychologically ready for it, so the idea got shelved.
  • December 2010 - Vivian is born, and I do my damndest to nurse her.  At that point I was wearing a 38J and it was way too small.  I couldn't find a nursing bra that was comfortable and supportive enough, so I wore a regular underwire bra and just slid the strap down my arm to give me enough room to do what we had to do.  It was extremely uncomfortable for both Vivian and I, so I ended up only nursing for six months instead of the full year that I had hoped for.
  • January 2012 - I was becoming glaringly obvious how uncomfortable things were for me.  Going to swimming lessons with Vivian, playing with her on the floor, running around in the yard, everything was an uncomfortable effort.  I didn't feel like she was getting the best of me, and I felt like I was ready to really talk about having the surgery.  I didn't feel like I was going to have a second baby, and I felt like even if I did it was worth the risk of not being able to nurse them.  I had an appointment with my family doctor to talk about a consultation with a plastic surgeon, and got my appointment.  It was for May 2013.
  • May 2013 - Almost a year and a half later I was finally sitting in the surgeon's office.  There was a bunch of paperwork to fill out (including putting down what size I would like to be after the surgery.  I was only slightly disappointed that it didn't include any computer imaging programs since I was totally expecting it to be exactly like that scene in "Singles").  She explained the surgery to me and took some measurements and pictures to be sent to OHIP for approval.  At this point I'm wearing a 34HH, and she only has to take one look at me to say, "Yeah, you're not going to have any problem getting this approved."  She tells me the wait will probably be 9-12 months, which sounds fine to me since I'm still worried about Vivian being old enough for me to do the surgery.
  • June 2013 - I get my approval letter in the mail.  OHIP will be covering the surgery - so grateful that this is an option.  The letter states that it could be a 1-2 year wait, and that I'll get a phone call about 3-6 months before to let me know when it's been scheduled.  I put the letter aside and hope that I'll hear back about it before the end of 2013, but don't get my hopes up.
  • October 22, 2013 - I get a phone call from the surgeon's office.  There's been a cancellation, and there's an available spot on November 7th if I want it.  I ask if I can get back to them by the end of the day and begin frantically emailing people to figure out if this is even a possibility.  Can I get the time off work?  Can I get help with Vivian?  Am I actually ready to do this?  While I wasn't sure how I felt about it at first, once I started getting other people's reactions to it (Along the lines of 'This is an amazing opportunity and you absolutely have to just go with it, everything will work out fine.') I called the office back and said I would take the appointment.  But first - three more appointments to get through before November 7th!
  • October 23, 2013 - I'm back in the surgeon's office first thing in the morning.  Because it has only been about six months since she'd seen me last, she didn't bother with new measurements or anything.  We went over the surgery again and I confirmed my "after" size.  I'd initially written down that I would like to go down to a D or DD ish, realizing that there isn't exactly a template that she'd be following.  She said that that's exactly where I should be, and that most women come in wanting to go down to a B or a C and it's just not feasible in most cases.  It's all about being proportionate, and she bluntly stated that I would look ridiculous any smaller than that.  
  • Later in the day on October 23, 2013 - I also managed to get in with my family doctor for my pre-op physical.  Nothing too crazy - just getting weighed, measured, examined, just to make sure I'm physically fit for surgery.  Got my form filled out and away I went.
  • October 29, 2013 - Happy birthday to me, it's time for my pre-admit at the hospital.  Got myself all registered in case I have to stay overnight (the surgery only takes about 2 1/2 hours, so I should be able to go home the same day unless there are any problems), have the surgery and recovery explained to me again, and have some blood taken.
So that's it - all of the boxes have been checked, forms have been filled out, surgical bra has been purchased, all set to go.  I don't think it's really hit me yet, and I'm actually feeling relieved that I had such short notice.  If I had been given the 3-6 months notice that I was supposed to originally have, I think I would have stewed and stressed and worked myself up about it to the point that I may have considered backing out.  I'm terrible at overthinking things, so this short timeline is forcing me to just go with the flow and get it over with.

Tomorrow I call the hospital to find out what time my surgery will be taking place, then it's really all set to happen!  Thank you all again for all the well wishes and positive thoughts - it's much appreciated!  And now, some Superbad.  Because of course.


Monday, 4 November 2013

Treats of the Week - Feeling those positive vibes

So many treats this week!  Between my birthday and lots of words of encouragement about my impending surgery, I am feeling those positive thoughts and it meas a lot.  Thank you, everyone!


  • Vivian went to a swimming birthday party for her buddy Ellyot on the weekend and judging by the way she was screaming, "I'm a mermaid!  I'm Ariel!" I think it's safe to say that she loved it!
  • I went out for some Five Guys (yum!) and shopping with my friend Jeannette and got to introduce her to the most amazing things in the world - jeggings from Maurices.  They come in straight sizes, and plus sizes, are ridiculously soft, comfortable, and flattering.  Plus they're cheap - $34 a pair.  I'm loving mine!
  • Vivian made out like a bandit from trick or treating, which means I've been enjoying stealing her candy.  A big thank you to whoever gave her a full-sized Wunderbar!
  • I basically want one of everything from Buy Me Brunch.
  • The SNL with Kerry Washington hosting was a great episode - I loved the cold open and thought she did an awesome job all the way through.
  • I'm a big fan of the Dollar Spot at Target - especially since they have these Ariel socks that Vivian is obsessed with on for 50% off - she now has about 8 pairs of Ariel socks.  How could I not when they were only 50 cents each?
  • I got an ice cream cake from Marble Slab for my birthday - the best ice cream cake there is!


  • And I got my special birthday dinner from my mom - Poor Man's Pizza!