Wednesday, March 09, 2011
I have spent my life since Jr High using the sandbags on my chest as an excuse not to exercise. That is not to say I never wanted to exercise and do things, because oh I so did. It is just they always got in the way, so I would make excuses.
Jump forward 30 years, and I am overweight and out of shape beyond belief. I look in the mirror and I love who is on the inside, but cringe and turn away from the reflection on the outside. I joined the gym, I tried golfing, hiking, yoga and so many other things. But the weight on my chest made breathing impossible, and there were so many physical limitations I just kept giving up. No excuses, I just kept looking for something to help me get into shape and be the person that I know God wanted me to be.
My husband left me last year and I have always been a christian, but I was praying and handing my life over to God in ways I never imagined. I continued to set goals and place pictures everywhere of what I wanted to look like and accomplish someday.
I have never made fun of anyone who had plastic surgery. To me it was always to each his own, and if that is what you need t do to feel better about yourself, then I hope it works for you. And I have never believed in weight loss surgery for me, because I felt it did not fix the mental issues that caused my problems to begin with.
One day I was sitting at my desk wondering what I was going to do with the $2000 in my medical flex account that I now had since my husband had left. It had to be used by the end of the year or I would lose it. I started going through my insurance companies web site, looking at things I could spend it on. A plastic surgeon came up in my search of local doctors. I was thinking lipo and so many other things to help me lose weight. I prayed to God and made an appointment.
I was so nervous not knowing what to expect in his suggestions. I explained I had some money to burn and was wondering what he would suggest I get done to help my quality of living. He took one look at my chest and said a breast reduction would change my world. I laughed and said "I thought that couldn't be done until after you lose weight?" He said that doctors such as him were changing their attitudes and that it so drastically changes the quality of life, that many patients are finally able to exercise and lose the weight they so desperately wanted to. He said because of the size of my chest (44 J) the insurance company would approve it right away.
I left there excited that I might finally get to do all the things I dreamed of, and that I could be the active, fun person that was trapped inside this body. I prayed and put it in God's hands. Boy I had no idea the journey he was going to send me on.
Well that was the first week of November. I was hoping to squeeze the surgery in before the end of the year. Due to the insurance company approvals, scheduling with the doctor and million other little things, it never happened. I spent the money on other things and kind of let the dream die.
Setting up my insurance and flex accounts for this year was hard, for the first time in 20+ years it was just me. I hesitated, but adding some extra money to my flex account, just in case I ever changed my mind about the surgery.
The first week of January the doctors office called and asked when I had, had my last mammogram. This made me nervous and I said I have one every October. They said thanks they would pull the records for the insurance company. I was confused and actually a little scared. Why did the insurance company want that info. I got my answer two days later when they finally approved my surgery. I guess they have had issues with going in and then finding cancer, and what is a simple surgery all of a sudden turns into a much more serious and completely different surgery.
I prayed to God and said OK it is approved and I have a year to get it done. When the time is right I am sure you will show me. Not even a week later I got a call from the doctor, surgeries were being scheduled two to three months out, but they just had a cancellation. Since I had waited for the insurance company to decide for so long, would I be interested? How soon I asked. The following Wednesday, this was on a Tuesday. I was in shock. I said I have to call my bosses and see if I can get the time off. I said a little prayer, then picked up the phone to start making calls. Without telling anyone exactly what I was doing, I got my District Manager's blessing, then I called Human Resources and got approved to use sick days and vacation days to take 2 weeks off (Oh my God, in over 15 years I had never taken more than 3 days at a time off). With everything approved for work, I called them back and said lets go for it.
From there everything moved so quickly. Doctor's visits, lab tests, not to mention preparing my staff to handle everything. Most people have time to plan for these things. I was doing it all on a wing and a prayer. Day of the surgery came and I will admit I was scared to death. Then while sitting in the hospital, there was a local tragedy. I was waiting for my surgeon to show up when I was told the hospital was on lock down, that there had been a shooting at the elementary school nearby. I know many people that work and/or have kids at that school. I went into prayer mode, and just sat there praying for all those I knew and those I didn't that were going through such horrors that day. A little while later they came by to say the gun man had been caught and only one person had been shot, and that the hospital was now open again and that as soon as my surgeon was allowed in, my surgery would start.
The doctor and nurses came in and had me stand up (quite the feat since I had already been drugged in preparation for the surgery). With a big black permanent marker they started measuring and drawing lines from my neck to my belly button. I was in such a daze, this day was so unreal in so many ways. Once I sat back down on the bed, I remember nothing more, I do not remember being wheeled into surgery or anything,
I awoke briefly in the recovery room and the doctor asked me how I felt. I mentally assessed my body to give him an answer, and took a deep breathe before I started talking. Wait a minute - I took a deep breathe. This is the girl that failed her CPR registration because she could not get enough air in her lungs to lift the chest of the CPR dummy. I started crying and said "I can breathe!" I am pretty sure the doctors and nurses had no idea just how much that statement meant to me. They probably thought it was just the drugs talking, but even now 5 weeks later I remember that wonderful moment when I could actually take a deep breathe for the first time since I was in junior high. It felt so wonderful and reassuring.
I had never taken drugs (not even aspirin) so over the next couple of days the drugs kept me quite out of it. But I know I was telling every one that I finally knew what it was like to breathe and that I could not wait to actually try running and not have the pounding in my chest from the weight, and play golf and be able to actually swing a club at the ball in a straight line, and OMG I had always loved kayaking, but hated that when I rowed it was always a zig-zag pattern because of the girls on my chest. All these things were now a possibility. My friends, family and doctor were all laughing at me and my new found enthusiasm. I was excited for the first time that I actually COULD exercise.
Stepping on the scale after surgery was another wonderful thing. Besides the 7+ pounds they had removed from my chest, I had lost another 5 on top of that in a week just walking around the house.
I was just released this week to start exercising again and I am looking forward to it in so many ways. Contemplating all the wonderful fun things I will be able to do this summer and next winter that were just dreams a few short weeks ago.
Everywhere I go whether its church, work, out in public, people have noticed a huge change in me and it is not just in my chest area. Along with the confidence this surgery has given me. I am happy with the outside as well as the inside and it is showing in everything I do. I am happier than I have been in years, and I am looking forward to my future and whatever God brings my way. I know now that I can do anything. I just have to put my faith in God and trust that he knows what is best for me. And sometimes it may be the last thing I ever imagined. A year ago if anyone had suggested i would have plastic surgery and be happy with it, I would have told them they were crazy. God gave me this body and I would never imagine cutting into in unnecessarily. Well this surgery was necessary and I am so glad I did it.
Here's to the new and improved me. Nothing is going to stop me on this journey now.