My Bins of Boobs Journey

I began to memorize the exact layout of the operating room: the table, a black chair, the blue handles on the overhead lights.

The bins of boobs.

Angie Houtz

(page 1 of 2)

I have related many of my breast cancer experiences around the sport of rowing. If you have read just one of my blogs you know rowing is a sport I am passionate about and work very hard to be good at.

What you don’t know is the technical side of it all—even I don’t try and understand all of it. This is probably why it took me so long to figure out that what the first coach was telling me was exactly the same thing my last coach told me—only I chose to understand him. Call it what you want, rowing those little boats requires skills that are learned only through trial and error. Error most likely means you dumped yourself in the lake, but I know that I learned from each one of those occasions and am proud to say I have learned quite a bit about breast reconstructive surgery, too.

As I write this, I am recovering from getting jelly boobs a second time around. I am recovering because in my first attempt to reach this part of my recovery, I rushed into it, thinking there was nothing else I needed to worry about. I had a capable and fun doctor who was taking care of me, and yet within the first few weeks of reconstructive surgery, I was sad because, honestly, what was on my chest was not what I thought they would be. They didn’t look normal and they certainly didn’t feel that way either. I found out after my surgery that things can actually go wrong—such as rippling, indentions, and thin skin issues. I found myself thinking about it way—with a capital ‘w’—too much and decided that there was no reason I should have a chest that constantly reminded of having breast cancer.

I went to my deer-hunting plastic surgeon in March only to have him scold me a bit (Perhaps it was needed, but at the time, I thought it was mean). He told me to be happy that my cancer was gone. I have come to realize that there was a deeper reason I was unhappy—and it had nothing to do with being vain. In the initial meeting with Dr. Deer Hunter, as I came to call him to myself, I was in a state of shock and had this “Just get them off of me” attitude. I didn’t want the beast to get a hold of me any more than it already had. I wanted to be in charge of my choices, which included choosing the method to have new breasts. In this process, he vowed to me that while, “I had nice boobs, he was going to give me great ones.” I held onto that promise with all I could and when the issues appeared after surgery, I became sad, angry, and irritable about these things hanging on my body.

And then I realized, I had an important weapon in my arsenal: other doctors.

I waited three months before I sought out any advice on “the girls” and the issues I saw each time I bent over or rubbed lotion on my chest. These issues included the fact that I could feel the implant bunching up and sometimes I felt a knot or lump—something a breast cancer warrior most definitely doesn’t want to have! That feeling would instantly freak me out, but then I would remind myself it was only the implant. Take a breath and shift the implant around and wah-lah,  lump gone.

The other fun I wasn’t enjoying at the time: having a side boob. Now I say this with all respect to any woman out there who was born ample, but I did not like, enjoy, or want this extra addition. I think I was barely an A cup when this process all began and, through the magic of medicine, I became a D cup. It helps to read that slowly to get the full impact: A Deeee Cuuuuuuppppppppp.

With this new size came the side boob. Much like the addition of a side-car to a motorcycle, my side boob tagged along for the ride. As far as I could tell though, it provided no benefit to me. Or extra seating area for that matter. But it did require more parking space. For those of you who don’t understand the concept of or, in my opinion, problem with the side-boob, all I can say is it is a nuisance. The best example I have to convey how much I didn’t like these boobs one bit is when I would lie down: my side boob would drop to my armpit area. Yes, it was weird. And it felt that way too. To recap: I quickly deduced that I am not a side-boob girl.

I met my new doctor in June. She was part of the Art Bra adventure, but in a moment I can only compare to the “I could’ve had a V-8” commercial (and the ensuing smack on the head), I saw her name on a list of sponsors and thought, “I need a woman doctor!” So away I went to see her and we hit it off fabulously. It helped when she introduced herself—remembering me as the Carbon Fiber Bustier girl. Then she asked me if I was there because she had rowed in college. Uh no, but now I am going to stay! How lucky could a girl get?

We discussed all of the things I liked about my chest and didn’t like. She was complimentary to “my girls”—they were even in size and looked okay on my chest. When I talked to her about the reasons I was unhappy, she instantly understood and instead of saying, “Let’s get those changed for you right now,” she said that I could be a candidate for re-do, but she wanted for me to wait.

She worked with me for the next four months to help me understand what went wrong the first time and how a second surgery could fix most of it but not all of it. She was technical at times with her discussions but just as my eyes would begin to glaze over, she would stop and make sure I understood all that was about to take place. Once I understood what could be done, we set my surgery for November—round two of Jelly Boobs, here I come!


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