Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Musings on my present style

So, let's talk clothes & stuff...remember when I used to do that?

Fashion, I have always maintained, should evolve with a person's journey -- simply put: it should fit the lifestyle and flatter the figure. Frankly that's a tall order of late.

My lifestyle today, beyond being home with the kids, consists mostly of going to hyperbaric therapy several days a week. Along with no jewelery I am not allowed to wear make-up, hair products, nail polish, or any lotions whatsoever in the chamber. It might sound vain, but this face has not gone beyond my own property line without at least some version of tinted moisturizer & mascara on it since I was about 14. Not to mention my hair needs. But I dutifully follow orders lest I catch on fire or something.

I will say, it saves a great deal of time getting ready.

Since I'm still convalescing the only other place I go is to see doctors -- ah yes, more of those. I have a standing appointment with my plastic surgeon and am scouting out oncologists, but of course. While most of my socializing is now done in paper gowns, I do try to look presentable coming and going.

As far as flattering my figure goes, that's an even greater challenge. For one thing, my body is still unfamiliar to me. My entire midsection, while partially reduced, contnues to be very swollen and I have an incision from hip to hip. In fact I'm quite puffy all over still. So I am pretty much limited to sweat pants of some sort. I managed to find some yoga pants that are cut loose & sort of flattering.

My other issue is I can't wear a bra -- not even a sports bra. While my new boob is pretty ravaged wound-wise it nearly matches the original in size & sag, which is to say I really NEED to wear a bra in public. I am also quite lopsided, tho not anatomically speaking, thankfully. It is due to the amount of bandaging and antibiotic cream I have to wear on the reconstructed breast to protect the wound as it heals. It's a sight to behold, let me tell you -- like making half a bra every dressing change, the entire breast is slathered in Silvadene and meticulously swathed in sterile gauze. This makes it look alot plumper than it really is. I also need a bit of help keeping the bandage in place beyond just the tape...something soft and form fitting yet not constricted in the least.

Camisoles to the rescue! I live in them....something I wouldn't have done before the tummy tuck portion of the surgery I have to admit. When I realized how essential they were going to be I bought a ton from...yes, where else, Target ;) Dark colors work best as I have, shall we say, seepage issues (TMI, I know). For going out I have been wearing either printed blouses or dark colored but lightweight cardigans over my new assortment of camis. The dark shades & prints hide my asymmetry & sag while additionally camouflaging pesky seepage probs (sorry TMI again).

What about shoes and a bag, you may be wondering? Well, flats are the order of the day as I'm still a bit off center due to not being able to fully stand up straight yet...almost there but not quite. Since I'm not allowed to lift anything more than 5 lbs yet a small handbag with only the essentials is my best accessory.

Okay, okay, I know....after what I've been thru who cares what I wear. And I suppose I look pretty decent, all things considered. Style is clearly not the most pressing issue in my life right now. Still, I want to look like my old self...if not naked, then at least in clothes. I want to feel normal again. I long for the day I can just put together an outfit and go without thinking about swelling or wounds. Without thinking about cancer.

Truly small potatoes, of course, but I am reminded of yet another thing, great and small, that cancer has touched. Cancer changes parts of your life that you don't foresee when you are diagnosed. You expect certain things....really BIG things, like major surgery, chemo...marring the body, loss of hair...weight changes -- oh, but did you know that more women gain weight during chemo for breast cancer? Okay, really? Seriously? I mean, how unfair is that???

But I digress as I kvetch.

While I deal with the big things the small things leave an impact too. Looking in the mirror now a month or so out from surgery I still barely recognize myself. I am slightly stooped, wearing baggy clothes fit more for an invalid than a woman in the prime of life. I can catch a glimpse of what I thought was my distant future coming at me a little quicker than I'd imagined, albeit (hopefully) mostly temporary. On the other hand, I look better without make-up on than I thought...maybe even a bit younger, so I suppose that's the proverbial silver lining.

In light of the physical changes guaranteed to be on the horizon due to chemo and forced menopause this is all a mere drop in the bucket. And I'm sure I'll adjust, heck, I'll probably be doing a post before you know it about how to style a wig or wear a headscarf while having a hot flash, lol! But with this wound issue, aside from the disturbing cosmetic ramifications, my recovery has been much delayed and waylaid. It's getting to me a little that I'm a bit behind schedule, you could say.

But then again, let's not forget -- this is Fashionably Later...and I suppose it's better late than never :D


Sheila said...

I absolutely love that you posted this, Kayleigh! Rock on, girlfriend! So good to hear that humour back in your voice.


Jean said...

Kayleigh, you continue to amaze me. I love the fact you are writing about fashion again, albeit not in the way you would want to, but still!

And let me tell you that I look in the mirror everyday and barely recognise the face looking back at me, and I don't have cancer. So you're doing well. I, on the other hand, have no excuse!

It's so nice to hear your familiar tone back again, I hope you are taking it easy and giving yourself a bit of slack. I think you're quite tough on yourself and set the bar very high. Don't, just heal yourself because you have a novel to finish. :-)
Much love dear friend, x

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

Yay for Target camis! I am so happy that you wrote this post. I know you have a long road ahead of you but planning what shoes and bag you wear with your yoga pants and cardi is the Kayleigh we know and love!!! By the way, I think you're still probably better dressed than have the world.

Brenda said...

I can relate. I am SO tired of being ill and looking funny. I want hair and a normal body, but I still have a ways to go. At least my eyebrows have started to come back. I was putting on eyebrows first thing in the morning and I can't even tell you how long it takes me to put on makeup to correct all the flaws. But one day I should get it all back. . . .

For now I live in a front hook sports bra, loose fitting shirts and bandana's. I only get hot flashes at night so I just sleep right under a fan. Its true though, cancer really changes us.

kiltsnquilts said...

I agree that it can only be a good thing that you are even worried about what you look like! :-)) It is definitely a sign that you are starting to mend. My Mum went through chemo and put on weight - she could eat three cooked meals a day - and sometimes did Lol! Keep caring how you look but don't be too hard on yourself :-)

JJ said...

Your post made me laugh. Really, that's all we can do is laugh. I lived in shelfed camisols tho I thought Walmart has a much bigger selection.

Try maternity pants. Some of them are super stylish and the wide bands are easy on the incision.

Mervat said...

Thank you for this post as it has given us insight into your everyday life. I hope you can look back on this one day and realise how pragmatic you have been all the way through. I wonder if it is this that allows us to keep going in the most difficult of circumstances? If it is then you truly have it down pat my friend. I hope the seepage settles down and all the wounds are healed soon so you can dress in all the ways your heart desires.

And you ended this post fittingly, beautifully as only a gifted writer can!

Much love to you,

migis said...

My idea of fashion is that is should be all about the person who wears them and not what the person wears. Cheers!