Two Years Post Op: A reflection on the time since going under the knife

Thanks to Timehop, I realized that May 30th was the two year anniversary of my breast reduction.

Two years? How could it be two years already? Where has the time gone?

Here are some things I’ve learned in that time.

1. Phantom pains are extremely freaky… and horrendously painful.

My surgeon wasn’t sure what was causing them, but they were awful. They’re weird to describe as well. You try to hold the area that hurts… but you can’t, because it’s not there. I only experienced the phantom pains for two weeks about six months after surgery, and then I never felt them again. Needless to say, I’m glad those didn’t come back. Now, it’s not normal to get these for a breast reduction

2. It takes a long time to adjust.

Even during the past few months there have been times where there has been a disconnect. When I was doing snatches, even though I knew I wasn’t as big in my chest, I still kept wanting to “avoid” what I used to have. After about 10 times of consciously being aware of what I was doing, I finally fixed my form.

It took three days after my surgery for it all to hit me. Why it took so long? I was so drugged up. I don’t remember very much about that time. (That Instagram post I made? Yeah. I don’t remember taking those pictures, or posting that at all.) I remember three things.

A. I remember telling someone (my mom, a doctor, I don’t remember who) that I had “bruises the size of Africa” on my sides. I was so frustrated because I wanted to sleep, but I only sleep on my stomach, and can sort of make it work on my sides. My back? Yeah right. Those “bruises the size of Africa” were keeping me from my beauty rest and I was pissed at them.

B. It was the first or second night home from the hospital. I was so high on painkillers I didn’t know if I was imagining things or if what I was seeing was real life. It was late at night (I think. It was dark) and I saw the front door open and someone walk into the house. I remember thinking “OMG. It’s a burglar. I’m going to die. I’ll just pretend I’m sleeping. Maybe he won’t see me.” I stayed quiet. The “burglar” went upstairs. I took a sigh of relief. A few minutes later, the shower turned on. The “burglar” was my sister.

C. I was starting to come off of my painkillers. It was the first night where I was actually sleeping in my bed. My “bruises the size of Africa” were about the size of Australia at that point, so I could sleep on my sides again. But I couldn’t sleep. My mind was racing. “Were people going to look at me different? Was this going to fix my back pain? Will my scars go away?” I eventually broke into tears. I was so overwhelmed with emotions, I didn’t know what to do.

It took me months before I could finally sleep on my stomach again. When that time came, I was so happy. But it took some time to get used to. I didn’t need a million pillows. I only needed half. It felt weird. It was completely different. It was as if my body wasn’t mine. The feeling that my body wasn’t mine didn’t go away until December 2014.

3. The pain doesn’t miraculously go away.

Several of my goals have been accomplished. I can run without crying. I can lift without being afraid of falling over. I don’t need to go to the chiropractor multiple times every week. I naïvely thought that once my “problem” was taken care of, I wouldn’t be in pain anymore. Two years later? I still have pain. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but it’s still there. My back still locks up some when I run. I’ve fallen over a couple times. I still see the chiropractor every once in a while.

4. Scars suck.

Women who undergo breast augmentation don’t have as bad of scars as women who undergo breast reduction. This doesn’t make much sense to me, but I know nothing about science, so my opinion doesn’t hold its water. My scars aren’t gone, but they aren’t as prominent as they used to be either. For my sanity and self esteem’s sake, I just want them to go away. Being a young woman who is ashamed of something she can’t change about her body is frustrating.

Am I upset I made the decision I did? No. Would I do it again? Yes. I enjoy breathing. I enjoy not being stared at. I enjoy running again. Have things gone the way I planned? Nope, but that’s OK. If everything were to go to plan, how enjoyable would that be?

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