This story talks about surgery and my personal choice in undergoing the procedure. Like all things in life we make choices that work for us. I am not giving advice but simply sharing my story and the impact the surgery has had on my life to date.
First off I’d like to apologise for how quiet I’ve been. Seawheeze training was going well then Strep throat..then Iceland…Seawheeze happened! It was hot and the haze did lift and I ran walked to my hearts content and despite it all I had quite an amazing weekend with this event. So maybe the PR is still in the works(Life allowing looks like this fall I can stop worrying about job hunting!)..but Timehop reminded me of something very important this past month.
5 years ago in August my life changed one evening.
Let’s start from the beginning. I’ve always wanted to tell this story but wasn’t totally sure if I was ready to share it online because as we ALL KNOW once it’s on the internet..it’s there forever.
5 years ago I made one of the toughest decisions of my life. I underwent breast reduction surgery.
“Melissa…you’re 25…you had this surgery when you were 20? that can’t be right!”
Yes I was and Yes I am.
In high school I was not known as an active child. I played sports sure but there wasn’t a strong connection to athleticism. I had low marks in PE up until high school when the majority of your mark was showing up with gym clothes and trying. I did always make an effort and I can still see myself running around the track with two sports bra asking myself “When? When will this end?”
I developed rather early. Between the summer of grade 5 and grade 6 my feet grew 3 shoe sizes and my chest appeared. I was the girl that came back to school..looking a little different. I always had a more developed chest to say the least. As I got older activity got harder. I am 5’5 and a half (a well known fact since it’s the reason I’m dating Mr Tall) I have been this height for quite sometime so despite the rest of me growing I didn’t get any taller as some girls do at this time. (I’m sure you can see where this is going..). I did maintain sport. But it wasn’t without challenges. I have distinct memories of running laps in gym with two sports bras and still feel uncomfortable.
Anyways…I remember my first jamboree 10 years ago and getting frustrated with how I looked because no matter what I did I always had cleavage in my tank top. So before anything else really began ..I was already unhappy with my looks. Sure I liked looking older because of my body but I didn’t always want the attention. I still remember grad dress shopping and getting upset when I couldn’t wear certain styles.
Time passed..I seemed to get bigger. At my biggest bra size I was a 34G. Now keep in mind EVERY BRA place has different sizing. But at the end of the day my band size was small and my cup size not. And given my height…there wasn’t a lot of room for the weight to shift…I began to realise how uncomfortable I felt. Bra straps cutting into me…headaches, neck pain and over all discomfort.
High school ended, boyfriends changed. It didn’t seem to bother me for awhile…until I finally went to my doctor and said enough is enough. I told myself I could just..hold out. Maybe wait till later in life. But I knew that if I didn’t do something soon it was only going to get worse. I could feel my posture being affected even just as I was sitting in class. However there was the fear..the fear that once this changed no boy would ever like me again….because I truly felt this was THE MOST attractive part of my body. Not even red lipstick would help if I didn’t have a big chest.
At the time the current boyfriend was extremely understanding when it came time for surgery. Fun fact it’s a cosmetic surgery so there is a wait list but you only pay for the bra afterwards and prescription medication. (Which by the way at time was all together under $100 dollars!) I had seen a doctor to discuss my options take some photos and then wait. Eventually after a few months of waiting I received a call in February 2012 saying a slot had opened . June 11th 2012 I went in for an 8am surgery. I was crying. I dislike tubes in my arm and this was my first major surgery of any kind. Barring my wisdom teeth removal (the dentist gives me more anxiety then driving !)
“We still want to get the surgery..?” Asked the doctor.
I nodded with my lips pouting and my eyes red from crying. My mother chimed in saying I was very nervous about the IV being put into my arm. Dr Reid politely asked if he could draw on me. But before he did he asked me “So what size are you thinking?” I shrugged. I really didn’t know. “…C ? D cup. Let’s do D cup you’re young and will make them look proportioned ” This comment to this day still makes me smile and giggle.
A few hours later I woke up very disoriented. Healing time is between 3-8 weeks. You aren’t allowed to lift anything heavy and you can’t wear any bras with underwire for at least 6 weeks…(Wooo sportsbras) Work at the time was challenging as I was on the trams at Grouse so no door opening for me. But even in that time…I noticed a change.
All my shirts fit better. I could buy smaller cheaper bras (Hello bay clearance section!) and most of all I felt better. Not to mention gravity wasn’t being so cruel. Let’s just say I finally have the body of someone in her mid twenties!
One night Tristan suggested I come to the track and try running. I threw on what running clothes I had and took the track and started. It was amazing…! I barely felt any bounce! I got too excited ! I sprinted! and then spent the next 5 minutes dry heaving.
From that moment on..everything changed. Running became an outlet for me. It helped me diagnose my depression and anxiety it’s been a pretty consistent thing in my life these past 5 years. I can’t believe it’s been that long since my surgery and since that night at the track. It feels like 2 seconds have passed since that evening.
If you had told me 5 years ago I would run a half marathon (let alone 10!) I would have called you crazy and started laughing hysterically. I didn’t know that I could addicted to such a fun sport. Heck even now Mr Tall is my running partner and we’re gearing up for another Seattle road trip for the Blerch. I love chasing him and he makes a great running partner.
Although the surgery altered my appearance it also helped alter my mindset. I have pretty low self esteem on a good day but the minute I let go of my chest being my only attractive quality…things got a little better. I still have work to do when it comes to my body and how I speak to it..but this surgery played a huge part.
Even this past year I’ve gotten stronger and during a camping trip in Iceland in which I summited some interesting hikes. Last moot in 2013 I wasn’t as confident in my athletic abilities and I had been running for a year.
I’d like to say surgery isn’t for every one. But it’s definitely an option. I had been warned that the weight might come back but I for one..consider it to be the BEST decision I ever made. I sometimes wonder late at night..what would have happened had I not had the surgery since it ultimately was a catalyst for a lot of events.
It lead me to running, which lead to a job at Running Room, then a job at Forerunners, then eventually a trip to Ireland….a lot of free shoes and friends , travel to Banff , Blerch the list goes on really.
I am finding my fitness is going through a major shift right now and although it’s only September 1st, I look forward to the fall. Autumn is such a great time of year to run.
But for now I will try and enjoy the sunshine and heat while Vancouver still has it.