Thursday, August 4, 2011

Shopping and other weirdness

Remember how I said I'm getting things done? Preparing mentally and physically? It's going OK. I literally spent the entire afternoon yesterday at the mall, on the hunt for button-front shirts. Why, you ask? Because after you get a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction via implants YOU CANNOT RAISE YOUR ARMS ABOVE YOUR HEAD FOR FOREVAH. Or at least that's what it seems like. In reality it's probably 6 weeks. So no cute little t-shirts and tanks for the Sarester. Nope. Relegated to buttoning and zipping for a while.

I found some suitable items, but I've come to the conclusion that I'm not a huge button-front shirt fan. Too frumpy, too preppy, too boho, to BIG (although at first, big's gonna be my friend, so I've gotten a couple "boyfriend" shirts for that. Why not use an old shirt of DI's, you ask? 'Cause good ol' DI is nearly a foot taller than me and much broader chested. I look like a preschooler at dress-up time wearing his clothes. I'm already going to feel freakish immediately post-surgery, I don't want to add to it.)

What else have I gotten? Well, two camis that you can step into. They exist - and these are super-soft all-cotton and have pockets to hold your drains. Thow on a cute hoodie or an oversized shirt and shazam! you're presentable. I have gotten a velcro belt w/little pockets that attach for those times when I want to tote drains w/o a cami. In yesterday's mail arrived my "pink pockets" - adhesive-backed fabric pockets to put into garments to hold drains, and also my custom-made hospital gown (a thoughtful gift from a friend). I've also invested in a "shower shirt" so that I can bathe more comfortably in those weeks while I still have the drains. That thing is pure genius. And now DI won't have to fashion me a getup out of a trash bag and duct tape . . . the man is amazing at covering incision sites (Lord knows, he's had practice), but he's going to have enough on his plate, don't you think?

It's all so odd, running around town and traveling the interweb for tools to use when your breasts are removed . . . and then there's the more weirdness in the interaction with people that are more tangential to your life at a time like this. Or lack thereof. I haven't broached the subject with certain people - how to bring this up with your housekeeper? My painter? The carpenter who's building us a new bookcase - I wonder what he thought when I told him he wouldn't be allowed in my house for the last 2 weeks of September after I had "major surgery?" What'd the woman at J.Jill think when I bought 5 button-front shirts? Did she even notice? What did the librarian suppose when I checked out 4 mastectomy "mammoirs" this morning? And let's not ignore the fact that I flat-out lied to my former neighbor earlier today when I stopped to say hello: he asked me how everything was and I said "fine!" and smiled. Somehow, getting into the specifics of what's about to happen with a 65-year-old Greek undertaker just wasn't for me today. I'll burn for that one, I'm sure.

I'm in a funky netherworld . . . the pre-treatment netherworld that all cancer patients understand. You've got the blueprint for what's going to go down, but the specifics are sketchy. You're continuing about your business, and no one outside the inner circle is any the wiser. But you know what? It also feels kinda good in a way, and that's even weirder. For now, I'm "normal," and by getting my ducks in a row, I'm calming some of those pre-surgical fears . . . and that, my friends, is a very good thing.




  1. Sarah - I prepared like you. I remember that netherworld. It sucks. Also, zip-up hoodies went a long way, but it might be too hot for those. I wore hoodies and yoga pants or those Soffe shorts 24/7. I am sure they just thought u really liked button downs. :-)

  2. Sarah -- You still have the planning skills of a lawyer! What about a poncho for rain? I did find a very good zupper-down raincoat for trips to the hospital post-surgery. Make sure you get zipper pulls for those sneaky things like lunch boxes when your hands are down.

    The cotton camisole will do double duty if you end up with hot flashes. Where do you find a soft cotton except in baby clothes? Claire

  3. FYI -- Get the carpenter to put in low shelves, child-height, and hands-down height, towel hooks low, and the infamous toilet holder, an easy stretch for the downed hands. If they can ever design a hospital jonny with velco instead of strings -- would that be too hard? They do it in some mammography centers, so why not the breast center?

    If they could plant a nice garden outside the radiation suite, wouldn't that cheer up patients? Ask for decent mags, not too heavy, while you are waiting for surgery. See if they could revamp the patient education shelves to have less deadly literature. And "Coping" magazine, it is also deadly. They need a computer terminal for patients, lots of doctor's office have them.

    You are doing all the right things, and are very, very brave. You will get through the nether-time soon, just stay healthy. If the blog gives you sanity and support, all the more reason to contine with it.

    Retrofit the computer and office -- hands-free copy stand, etc. The YMCA has LiveStrong exercise programs for free -- they can tell you how to safely modify all your exercise routines.

    Good luck,


  4. After all this talk of retail preparing, I've been trying to think about what I wore after BMX years ago. Nothing is coming to me. I, too, am not usually a button-down gal, so either I wore the same thing over and over or I pulled out the hubby's shirts and pulled the "I'm not trying to impress anyone" mind game. Regardless - it sounds like you will be the best dressed recovering person ever!!! (I do wish I knew about those drain holders, however - those are a nice update in the wardrobe section!)

    Happy Shopping (and returning)