Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fare thee well...

...but not to my breast -- well, not quite just yet, anyway.

That is something I will no doubt continue to write about, here and at my other blogs, intermittently and perhaps perpetually. But today I am thinking about another body part that shall be leaving me. Today I am saying goodbye to my belly, or at least a rather large portion of it.

I will be having a tummy tuck as part of this procedure. It's not optional, not an added bonus like buy one get one free. It's a necessary part of the operation.

If there were one body part I felt suffered the most for the triple ravages of time, pregnancy and obesity, it's my tummy. In fact, ironically, I was just beginning to research the process of having a tummy tuck when I found the first breast lump. It was a procedure I needed to have done eventually, not so much for vanity's sake but for health reasons...suffice is to say that much extra skin isn't easy to deal with and we'll leave the TMI aside for the time being.

So, after a 2nd meeting with my plastic surgeon I found out that not only will all that extra skin below my navel be removed, but the upper ab area will also be flattened out as a result of suturing the remaining muscles.

Wow, I hardly know what to think!

"You do realize," I said to my husband as we left the hospital, "that this means a whole new shopping process when this is finally over?" He just shook his head and smiled.

I mean, nothing will fit me anymore. And maybe I'll be able to tuck shirts in...and I won't have to buy my jeans a size larger just to accomodate my waist -- they'll fit me better right off the rack. When I try on clothes that look good from the front I won't be continually disappointed that the profile view is, shall we say, protruding.

And perhaps the most incomprehensible factor of all...no more dreaded muffin top!

Lest you think I've forgotten why I get this little extra boon and what I have to sacrifice for it, I have not. But still, I can't believe that after all these years....almost 8 years since I lost the weight, I will have a normal looking stomach.


And yet...I find myself nostalgic. I earned that belly. True, that belly began to grow from my depression and discontent, from self-medicating with food a life full of pain and malnourishment. But it also expanded and welcomed my two precious babies, accommodating them safely, proudly, until they belonged not just to me but to the world.

What's left of my former girth is now a flopping, sagging badge of determination...to live, to be healthy, to lose the weight that once filled it up -- no small task, I assure you. It is deflated evidence of how far I have come.

So in closing, perhaps a moment of silence for my soon-to-be-gone belly? It was the best of times it was the worst of times. Thanks for all you've done...and perhaps most importantly, thanks for still being there, for without you I would not be able to fill the empty space left from my mastectomy. If it weren't for you, I'd have no right breast.

So gee, I guess it's not really goodbye after all...more like see ya later. In fact, you'll be closer to my heart than ever before.


~Tessa~Scoffs said...

K - thank you for sharing this part of your journey. I was glad to read that (did I get this right?) some of the skin will be saved for reconstruction. I'll be thinking of you this week as you recover from this surgery.

La Belette Rouge said...

It is amazing that something you thought about doing away with via a tummy tuck is what is now allowing you to have a breast.

Did your plastic surgeon tell you about the reported positive sexual side effect of a tummy tuck? If not, ask him or google it.

LOL @"you'll be closer to my heart than ever before.":-)

Kayleigh said...

Hi Tessa, thanks! Yes, I will be having a "skin-sparing mastectomy"...all the skin of my breast except for my nipple/areola will be saved, it's only the inner breast tissue that's removed. They actually tunnel the "flap" from my stomach up and under the empty breast "envelope". It's pretty amazing.

La Belette -- lol, I'll have to google that! It is truly serendipitous that the excess belly I was looking to remove is now what allows me to look "normal"...like what if I'd found the cancer AFTER the tummy tuck? It totally could have happened that way. Amazing, huh?

Brenda said...

lol! Thats cute. If I do end up having a mastectomy, I will look forward to the tummy tuck. . .

Sheila said...

Talk about finding a silver lining! Kayleigh, your humour is so irrepressible, I love it. You are an inspiration to all of us who struggle with our bellies. Thank you!

sallymandy said...

You're such a good writer. Really. This was beautifully written and heartfelt, and so real. Mostly that--authentic. Thanks, Kayleigh.

Jean said...

And they say you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear?! This is a brilliant bonus for you, great news.

Btw, if you need any more tummy fat for your breast reconstruction I could supply enough for you and several other patients. Let me know!

Mervat said...

You are such a brilliant writer, communicator. Plain and simple.

You have allowed us to appreciate on a much more deeper level the change your body will be experiencing. And in learning of what you, dear Kayleigh, are going through, I am now selfishly (and in a guilty way) accepting my body and appreciating that it has seen me through in my lifetime. Thank you for expressing yourself so openly and honestly.

I am so proud and heartened to hear you say that you 'earned' your tummy. Your children and (daughter especially) are very lucky to have you for a role model and we are the better for reading your words, for being influenced by you.

And your last sentence is just priceless.


Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP said...

I love that there is an upside to everything.

Hope you're feeling OK about it all.

JJ said...

I'm a new reader but also in the Mid-Atlantic and underwent the DIEP in Jan 08. I had a fabulous surgeon and blogged about the procedure and recovery. I look forward to reading more.

Kayleigh said...

Brenda -- I hope you don't need one, but if you do let me tell you, I've actually heard some women say it was worth it just for the TT. Not sure I could say that, but it's comforting in a way, you know?

Sheila -- and so many of us do struggle, don't we? There's even a book out there called, "The Women's Belly Book" that's all about our attitudes and how we can make peace and find the sacred in our bellies. I read it years ago and it really resonated with me.

Sallymandy, I have to tell you that since I deeply admire YOUR writing this meant a great deal to me -- thank you! Your style seems so effortless and yet amazingly rich; I always look forward to reading your posts. I am very flattered by your praise :)

norSupermum, too funny! Listen, I already offered to donate to any other women who might need it, I have quite a bit extra myself, lol!

Wow, Mervat -- you blew me away! For one thing I admire you as a writer as well, you are very gifted so high praise coming from you always sends me over the moon. Secondly I am thrilled that you are appreciating your body, no need for guilt! In fact, I'm touched that you've been inspired :)

JJ, thank you so much for stopping by, and for telling me about your experience. I'll be checking out your blog ASAP!

Kayleigh said...

Oops, Imogen, didn't mean to leave you out by any means! Thank you, you are right, there is always an upside...I often think our task in life is to constantly seek that.