I decided it was time to go get fitted for a prosthetic breast. I have been using the inserts that the hospital gave me which are made of quilt batting and a piece of Velcro that slip into your camisole or bra. The problem with the inserts is that they don’t stay in place and tend to wander to your shoulder or under your armpit when you sit down. My daughter has a sign she gives me when we are in public that means, “Mom, your breast is on your shoulder.” There have been occasions when I have been tempted to fake an Alzheimer’s moment and ask loudly, “What? My breast has gone AWOL?”
So anyway, I arrive at Fittings Unlimited and take a deep breath and walk in. The nice lady asks how she can help me. I kid you not. I’m so tempted to say, “I’d like a breast to go.” But I behave myself and tell them that I’m there for a breast prosthetic. I provide my insurance and prescription and they show me to a large fitting room. I’m told to remove my shirt. Here we go again. Yet another in a series of strangers who gets to look at my chest. I have shown my chest to more people in the past 2 1/2 months than in the previous 50 years! Someone once told me that when you have cancer, the indignities never end.
I’m not sure what to expect at this point, but I suspect there will be a lot of measuring and maybe a mold of my other breast. Not so much. It turns out they have take out! The lady checks to make sure my incision has healed sufficiently to wear a prosthetic and asks my bra size. She hands me a robe and leaves. I don’t know whether to be disappointed that I don’t have “special breasts” or to be grateful that I might actually be able to leave looking normal. I sit down to wait.
We all know that waiting isn’t my strength by now. As I look around, I notice a breast sitting in a cup next to me. I glance at the door. I glance back at the breast. Yep, I’m picking it up. (You know you would too!) It feels amazingly lifelike. And I’m intrigued by the little “massage bubbles” on the back side. They look remarkably like the air pockets in my shoe inserts. Cool! I hold the breast up next to my chest and think that this might work better than I thought. I look around to see what other toys they have left within my reach and find . . . nipple expanders. An eyebrow goes up. That sounds painful. The door opens before I can explore further.
The nice lady walks in with an assortment of bras and a hat box. I’m intrigued. My new breast comes in a pink hat box? How cute is that? The lady opens the box and the prosthetic looks huge. I guess that I hadn’t thought about it, but it wasn’t just the breast they removed, but all the tissue on the chest wall and under my arm. She inserts the form in a special pocket in the bra and helps me try it on. I say helps because this thing now weighs quite a bit. We walk to the mirror and she asks what I think? Now that is a dangerous question.
My standards are pretty low at this point. For two months I have been chasing quilt batting around my shoulder and chest or simply been going lop sided. I tell her that I think the breast is in the right general area and I’m happy. Not so fast. These people are professionals and they aren’t going to let me leave without perfection. She calls in an assistant. Back to showing my chest to strangers. They decide I need a different bra and leave. Fine by me. More time to explore.
Now there are two ladies shoving ballistics gel into a bra and asking me to try it on. They seem happier. They take the satin robe and put it on backwards and pull it tight against my chest and we all stare at my chest line in the mirror. I manage to keep my mouth shut. They tell me they want to make sure I don’t “muffin top” out. Sounds good. Mouth shut. I’m dying to entertain them. They keep commenting on how good my attitude is, and I want to tell them they haven’t even seen my attitude yet. So I start joking around with them and it turns out they have pretty good sense of humors.
We talk about what insurance will cover. A breast prosthetic runs $425 regardless of size. They are good to help with insurance. They tell me that my insurance will also cover a wet prosthetic. Oh boy, uncharted territory. I decide to hold off. After all, it is -2 degrees outside and it is a bit much to think about swimming. And why have all the fun in one day? My sister is coming and we could really tear the place up with laughter over “wet prosthetics.”
So it turns out that my new breast is suppose to sleep face down in its hat box over night and be washed after wearing each day. But, it is a “massage form” so I get a free massage every day and the gel is suppose to make it cooler in the summer. I will have to let you know.
My friend, Teri, asked me if the hat box was more Top Hat or Sombrero shaped, so I took a photo and reserved comment!