Happy New Year (and New Boobs)!

And here’s to posting more… or at least attempting to. It seems that this blog is starting to become my post-surgery blog. This isn’t intentional but I do feel like it’s a good place for me to talk about it.

So the end of last year was a little rough on me it went something: migraine, 1 day break, food-poisoning, 2 day break, breast reduction surgery, 4 day break, happy new year! I’m a relatively ambitious person so my partner and I made reservations at our favorite restaurant for a lovely but quiet new year’s eve celebration. Thankfully, the love of my life very sensibly made me stay in bed to celebrate the new year by cursing the people who were screaming, “woo!” as we were trying to sleep and hadn’t noticed that it had struck 12 while we were chatting with each other. Alas, the joys of being in a committed relationship where having surgery 5 days before the new year is ok because no one is upset you missed the big NYE celebration. In fact, not only is no one upset it’s actually a relief because you forgot to plan something until our server had mentioned they were doing a special menu. So the fact that we had to cancel was really not the end of the world. As a person who loves food, I was a little bummed we were missing an awesome menu but I’ll even publicly admit, she was right, I should have stayed in bed inside and I was much happier for it.

Anyway so I think I owe the people of the internets the courtesy to understand my rationale behind getting a breast reduction. I say this because I only wish I had found something like this for myself years ago. I was a horribly early bloomer in the physical sense, I got boobs at 10 and started my period somewhere between 11-12. Emotionally, I was a wreck. I had no idea how to put those two things together. I was a pretty shy and innocent tom-boy that just wanted to play with the boys or by myself.

Unfortunately for me, my first bra was a 32D and my guess is it should’ve been more appropriately a 28F but they don’t really make those sizes and trying to get me into any bra was a challenge so the thought of going to a specialty store might have made me want to crawl into a hole and die. Actually it would have made me want to crawl into a hole and die. By the time I exited high school I was wearing a DD probably more like an I/G if I had gone to a specialty store. And by the time I was old enough to actually go to a store that could size me properly I was a 32H.

I’ve hated my breasts my whole entire life. Not because they look bad, I’ve gotten plenty of comments. But because they’ve brought attention I don’t want and quite frankly big boobs get in the way of a lot of shit! My shirt eats with me all the time, am I a messy person? Not really but I also have a shelf in front of me! Which can sometimes make it difficult for food to find my mouth without also finding something else to land on or brush against. I hated trying to find sports bras, they never fit right. In fact, they fit so poorly that I just sucked it up and they have left a scar under my breasts that all my doctors ask me about.

Needless to say I have been contemplating a breast reduction for YEARS! But having major surgery, especially elective surgery, is a big deal. That said I still found having a breast reduction to be an intimidating prospect. I have to thank one of my closest college friends, who told me that it was super sucky and really painful and has a long recover but if I asked her if she would do it all again, she would. That really helped me think of just how much this surgery can change your life.¬†Having torn my ACL and needed to have that reconstructed, I can say without a doubt that surgery is not something to be taken lightly. I did a lot of research and I found a surgeon that I could trust, he’s one of the best plastic surgeons in Chicago with a focus in breast reductions and I would recommend him to anyone who is thinking about having this surgery, Dr. Robert Galliano. He’s extremely helpful and he doesn’t seem overconfident but does explain all the details about your surgery to you, which I found to be extremely comforting and helpful.

I would also say any surgery where they cut through bone, tendon and muscle is way more painful than a breast reduction. However a breast reduction is not a cake walk. Like at all. Ever. Don’t read my saying that it is less painful as “you’ll be fine in a week” because that’s totally not true. What I am saying is that when I was out of surgery from having my ACL reconstructed I felt like I was going to go blind with pain until they gave me morphine and if I didn’t take my vicodin I felt like I was going to die. So that is blindingly bad pain. With the breast reduction, I could handle being off vicodin, it was not fun and I would not recommend missing your doses your first two days but it’s not blinding pain. I mean even my vicodin doses this time are half the dose that I got for my ACL so clearly it’s just a different level.

What is really different though is your mobility. Knee surgery is annoying because you know it’s hard to walk around and move. But you can use crutches, eventually you learn to put weight on your knee and you’re still mobile. You can shower. Keeping a leg out of the shower is annoying and challenging but not rocket science. The good news with a breast reduction is that they encourage you to shower. The bad news is that you can’t lift your hands. So it’s like ok… I can shower… But HOW?!?!!??!?! Yeah, I totally asked myself that the first 4 days.

I thank my lucky stars every day for my partner because without her I have no idea how I would have made it through my first week. She helped me eat, sleep, take pills on time, take showers, everything. She helped me with literally everything. Oh and the other thing to note is that if you’re lucky you don’t have drains (most doctors try really hard not to have to give you drains). But if you’re unlucky (like me, though my doc had said that I was so big that there was a high chance that I might need them) and you have to have drains it’s awful. They look like weird alien pipes coming out of your skin (they are not as big as this is making them sound). It’s pretty gross: it’s blood and fluid that are draining from the side of your breasts where they perform the liposuction. Until your drains collect less than 30cc of fluid for 2 consecutive 24 hour periods, you have to keep them in. Mine didn’t last terribly long, I got them out on day 4 but still it was a rough weekend to have them in. Showering is terrible, it makes it difficult for your arms to go down to your sides. Fun fact about drains if you get a tummy tuck you also get drains except they are placed just above your pubic hair. Gross! (At least now I know why I never want to have liposuction done anywhere else ever again)

Anyway I am currently on day 9 out of surgery and I feel pretty good. I need painkillers to make it through the night but otherwise Advil does just fine. I can lift my arms mostly over my head. I can’t really carry any weight on them if they’re that high up and even when they aren’t lifted that high I can’t put too much weight on them or try to pull too forcefully. But I can do most things I need to do by myself. So that’s nice. I’ve been showering without help for the past 5 days… there are a few places that I need help drying off, like my feet because they are too far (and my arms are not very long they are well proportioned to my body but if they were only a half inch longer I could reach… and some people have longer arms than legs so who knows maybe you’ll be lucky).

So all that said and done, my surgery took 10!!!!!¬†lbs of tissue off my breasts and who knows how much fat. My breasts are still very large, I’m not sure what size yet it’ll still be a while before I know that — probably 4 or so months. But I feel a thousand times better. I can stand up straight, my back no longer hurts. It looks like I lost 40lbs but I didn’t. My knees don’t hurt anymore. There are just so many benefits to this that I am kicking myself a little bit for not having done it sooner. And here’s the thing, you don’t know until you do it how you’re going to feel about it.

So I’m not at my ideal weight. I want to lose a lot more but having done the surgery I feel better equipped to try and tackle that than I did before. I feel like I’m ready to take on my fitness challenges and not have this weight hanging over me (literally!!) anymore. I am very lucky. I have a partner who supports me and is actively helping me get through this and it makes it infinitely easier. I have a job where I can take the time I needed off and now that I’m ready I can go back. It’s definitely not the thing to do for everyone. But for me, I think this was the right choice and I really wish I had better information before. Even if I still only came around to it now. So I’m going to continue blogging about this so there’s at least a good amount of information about one person’s experience.

One of the ways that I think this surgery helps greatly is not only with just physically being able to do things but also with body image. The size of my boobs have always made me feel fat. And I think perhaps that was wrong. I’m not thin by any means, not even close. But I am also not obese and having boobs that were that big made it seem like my entire upper body was taken up by them and so it made me feel fatter than I was. Working on my body image has been a life long challenge for me but I’m hoping that I can continue to work on it and that this will help me reconcile my body with my own self image and hopefully something beautiful can come from there.

The Never-Ending Struggle…

with body-image. I’m pretty sure I’m not all that unique in this struggle actually. In fact, I’ve found that most of my female friends have many of the same issues I do. I mean we all complain about different things and have unrealistic expectations of what we should look like. And each of us carries this burden in different ways. The most fascinating part about it is also that most of us have a view of ourselves that are skewed in remarkable ways. For example one of my friends recently got married and apparently put on a few pounds after her wedding. Now she’s my old college roomie, I’ve known her for over 9 years now (wow we’re getting old) and the weight she’s gained is barely noticeable. Seriously, the only reason I noticed is because she said something and then specifically pointed out all her problem areas. I mean yes, we’re not 18 anymore. None of us look the same. That’s totally unrealistic to expect that we will ever look the way we did when we were in our teens again.

I was recently thinking about this because my mom came to visit. And as usual she had a comment about what I looked like. Now last year I went through some major ups and downs which caused me to lose a drastic amount of weight. This is me in January:

This is me on Memorial Day:

So perhaps I have gained a little weight. And yeah the two photos are two totally different contexts so they look drastically different. But the main idea is that in all honesty, I haven’t gained *that* much noticeable weight. Even without the added input from my mom, I have noticed a certain unhappiness in myself with my weight and the way I look. To counter this I’ve used a few methods from my best fried, Ev, where I was taking status photos every week (now every month) to see where my body is at and give myself a more realistic view of what I actually look like. The problem is that I know I don’t necessarily see the right me even in photos. A lot of it is dependent on my mental state and how I think I should look. It’s amazing how frequently it interferes with my own well being. I know that I may be a little extreme but I don’t think I’m the only woman that beats up on herself over a pound here and there. The thing is I used to do this when I was 107lbs. I was teeny tiny and I thought I was horrifyingly overweight. I think it’s something that you have to really take with a grain of salt and start to appreciate your body for what it is and not for the super stick thin images that we’re presented with in magazines and on TV. I have a friend who has started to do that and I’m not sure how she does it yet but boy do I hope to get there some day.

If Only I Could Move Like That…

Actually in all honesty, I’m perfectly content to not be a ballerina and to simply admire the grace and beauty of those who can perform like that. A couple of weeks ago I went to see the Joffrey’s spring performance, Eclectica, and as always it was absolutely stunning. Though I have to say the older I get the more I accept that I just infinitely prefer classical ballet. I love the lines and the grace and beauty. My favourite out of the three pieces was “Reflections” which was choreographed by Gerald Arpino. The name of the choreographer struck me because I recall in the 2009 Spring Program there was also a piece by him that I also liked quite a lot called “Round of Angels”. I think he has an incredible knack for putting beautiful lines together.


Although last year’s favourite for me was definitely Valses Poeticos, choreographed by Helgi Tomasson. I can’t help but feeling like a child looking at the simple beauty of music and two people dancing so beautifully together. It’s novel for me every time.

Serendipity

Sometimes life can be so totally serendipitous. Today has been like that and I try to cherish these little moments.

The most serendipitous moment today was when my friend, Jason, and I were interested in a chamber concert that the CSO was putting on at the Art Institute. Well let’s be honest, we didn’t know it was at the Art Institute until we showed up at Symphony Center and they were looking at us a little crazy and sent us across the street to the Art Institute. The show was supposedly sold out but we decided to ask at will call anyway. Luckily (or serendipitously) for us there was this woman there with 2 extra tickets! And 1 was even a student ticket which I can totally use since I’m still in grad school. It just worked out so beautifully. It’s like the world intended for us to go to this concert. I even had the exact amount of cash for the student ticket and totally not enough for a real ticket. Sometimes it’s great how life works out.

So Jason and I got to see the Burnham Trio perform Shastakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 67 and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A Minor, Op. 50. It was incredible. The Shastakovich piece was absolutely heart-breakingly beautiful. The theme for the afternoon was Mourning and Memory. And the concert was followed by a short tour through the museum of several pieces that tied in with the theme. It was actually quite a lovely afternoon. I seriously love that the CSO and Art Institute sponsor series like this that promote beautiful music and modern art. It’s just another reason why I adore living in Chicago. Finding little gems like this that the city has to offer.

If you know me well, you know…

So my lovely friend D wrote this post the other day that I thought was really interesting. Apparently she found it here, and I also loved that post too. So here I am playing along… on my not-so-personal-but-getting-to-be-rather-personal blog.

If you know me well, you know that all my tattoos have significant meaning to me but my piercings were done on a whim, i love physics (and philosophy), am a super liberal feminist but I totally use the “I’m a girl” card to get someone to change a tire or the oil for me even though I’m perfectly capable of doing both myself.

If you know me well, you know I am a sucker for romantic comedies, I live for chocolate and I have the willpower of a gnat when it comes to things I want.


If you know me well, you know I *love* cooking (seriously, I have a slight obsession with food), decorating (and redecorating) and arranging flowers. Seriously every once in a while I contemplate putting myself up for sale: “Fantastic housewife available to a good home. Will cook, decorate and keep a lovely home. Contingent on a large budget. (Let’s not lie, I’ve got expensive taste).” or you know changing careers to be an event planner… or wedding planner.

If you know me well, you know I’m so obsessive about my hair that I cut it myself because I don’t think anyone else can do as good a job, I love chai (the fake Starbuck’s kind even though it’s totally not right) and I hate running but love soccer.

If you know me well you know that despite being a jeans and t-shirt girl, I love love love dresses and skirts and makeup, and if you make it past the tattoos, piercings, sarcasm and cynicism, I am a hopeless romantic and I view the world in hearts, stars, rainbows and puppies.

If you know me well, you know that despite my self-professed geekdom I am really not that geeky. I mean I work in IT but I have never owned a gaming system, nor do I play computer games and for an extended period of time I thought WoW was just people spelling wow rather enthusiastically. Apparently one shelf of fantasy novels does not equate to actual geekdom.

If you know me well, you know I love playing sports but can’t watch them to save my life, I am in a serious long-term relationship with Grey’s Anatomy, I move cities like it’s my job (though Chicago does seem to be sticking pretty well so far) and I desperately miss Texas.

Just What You Need…

And sometimes when you let yourself believe, life gives you just what you need.

I spent 12 hours at work today and I came home to my roommate and his date watching tv in our living room. I had completely forgotten that he told me he had a date he was bringing home. I only remembered once I walked in and saw a strange guy watching tv on our couch. I was totally expecting to not want to talk to them at all and was ready to be annoyed at having to deal with people after an exceptionally long day at work, especially after the last couple of weeks I’ve had being nice and making pleasantries was the last thing I wanted to do. However, I was pleasantly surprised while saying hello to the two of them when my roomie’s date just spontaneously said, “You’re beautiful.” It was even funnier when my roomie vehemently denied putting him up to it, which I believe because Adam never lies. And quite frankly I’m not even sure he would think of putting him up to it. Regardless, it completely made my day.

I guess I’m just a sucker for flattery. And gay men. Though in all seriousness sometimes life can surprise you just when you thought everything was going all wrong. In just the way you need and you didn’t even know.

I Believe…

Well, ok, so I tend to try to keep this blog relatively impersonal but due to my life being a crazy mess at the moment. But this is about things that I think are really, really important to remember.

I believe in love at first sight. I believe in fairy tales. I believe in miracles. And I believe in “meant to be”. I believe in rainbows and fairies and kittens. I believe that life works out for the best even though sometimes it feels like it just can’t get any worse. I believe that sometimes the world just doesn’t know what’s good for you. I believe that the best things in your life could be something that at one point you thought was horribly wrong. I believe that something good can be taken from any situation. I believe in hope. I believe in looking at the sunny side of the street.

I realize that a lot of this sounds ridiculous and excessively perky but it’s how I make it through the hard times. Cynical as I am about the world at large, I have to believe the best in people because otherwise I don’t think I would be able to get out of bed in the morning. I believe that the world is a beautiful magical place and it’s up to us to find the beauty in it. I think that so many people forget that. Especially during the hard times. I know I certainly have struggled with it at times.

In fact, recently I forgot how much these things meant to me, which is why I’m writing them down here. I think that often people overlook the power of positive thought and optimism. Just because you’re an optimist doesn’t mean you aren’t in touch with reality at all. I think I have a pretty decent sense of reality, I just happen to think that taking the good things out of any situation is just far more pleasant than remembering the bad. I guess I just wonder about pessimists because if all you ever notice are how wrong things can go then what is the point of living? For me, I think even in the worst of times there is something out there that can make you happy. And if nothing else there is the hope for the future and all the possibilities that may bring.

And so, I believe. I believe that everything happens for a reason. And that life always works out for the best. I believe in hope and possibility but also in reason and science. I believe that rose colored glasses make life a little more bearable. I’m sure many people will think it’s weird that I consider myself to be a physicist and still say that I believe in miracles but I do. In fact, I think many of the things that physics proves are little miracles and that progress in and of itself is a little miracle. I believe there is magic all around us, if we just keep our eyes open we might just catch a glimpse of it. And I believe that the world is full of love, we just have to open our hearts and you’ll be amazed at what you can find.

Forget All Those Diets, This Is Really How You Lose Weight

So I’ve lost 27lbs this year and really the bulk of it, 17lbs I lost in the last two months. I lost them strictly due to stress and anger. It’s amazing what the body can do when you put it in a stressful situation. And if you reduce your eating to about a tenth of what you normally eat and you don’t sleep for more than 4 hours a night (and even then that’s if you’re lucky). You’re really changing your body’s patterns. Not to mention that stress and anger burn calories all on their own like you couldn’t imagine. Combine that with a need to release tension and add a good several hours of exercise a day just to work off all the excess energy you have from stress and anger and you’ve got a sure fire way to shed pounds very very seriously.

Now in case anyone missed the sarcasm in my tone, I do not actually believe any of this is a good or healthy way to lose weight. Effective, yes. Healthy, not even close. However, the first 10lbs I lost the old fashioned hard work way and I really believe that is the way to go. I mean yes, I am happy to have a better body image due to my circumstances but I can promise you I felt much better about how I got my body to start changing when I did it the right way. It’s not by following some miracle diet. In fact, I didn’t follow any diet. I simply ate when I was hungry and an amount that lead me to feel full but not overly full and to institute exercise in my routine. I go to the gym (or play soccer) 6 days a week. I’d like to do it 7 but I know that realistically I have to allow myself at least one day off. Seriously, diets are not effective it changes your patterns for a short period of time and the weight will come back. If you just make healthy changes in your lifestyle and commit to raising your metabolism it will work. It will just take time. It took me 3 months to lose 10lbs but man did I feel really successful when I did it. I’d even say it feels much better than losing nearly 20lbs in less than 2 months because I know that the first time around I was trying and I was taking care of myself. The second time around was due largely to external factors. And of course, I’m a girl so I have my own set of body image issues but it really is far better to do it the way you feel accomplished as opposed to a way where you feel like you cheated the system.

Fabulous Not-So-Obvious Find

So perhaps I am extremely vain but I go for a full body wax once a month and have been doing so for some time now (a bit over two years). And just recently my old waxer, Jane, decided to go back to school and so I had to find myself another salon. Now thankfully, Jane knows Chicago extremely well and since she wasn’t planning on continuing any of her services at all, not even by getting space at another salon she gave me a couple of recommendations. So I just chose one at random, it seemed like the one that was closest to me that she had mentioned by name. When I walked in to Deeba’s Salon (2752 Devon Ave, Chicago, IL 60659, 773-465-9685) it seemed like any other salon in the Little India section of Chicago. It was clean but nothing terribly fancy and lots of women busy with their threading, which is probably the most popular service they offer.

Now I can’t say that I have ever had such a great experience in my life. My waxer, Saleha, was very young and still in high school but she was quite friendly and helpful. She was extremely professional and I would recommend her to anyone who would choose to walk in. I cannot explain just how thrilled I am with the level of service. I have never had such a painless and comfortable wax ever. And the threading services they offer are simply superb. I certainly think it’s worth the trek out to Little India just to go here.

The Spring Program at The Joffrey

This past weekend I saw the Spring Program at the Joffrey Ballet and I think what I was most surprised about was that the theater was half empty. I mean it was just unreal. It’s amazing to see how significantly the recession is effecting everything. The part I found most amazing was that the least expensive seats in the house were completely empty. It’s fascinating that everyone has cut back so much. Even with the bailouts, there is such an impact to the arts. I find it quite tragic because I thought the performance was quite stunning.

I have to say I wasn’t a huge fan of the first piece which was Les Noces – choreography by Bronislava Nijinska, music by Igor Stravinsky. The music was stunning but I wasn’t really into the way Nijinska choreographed the piece. I think I tend to like dances that flow a bit more. To be sure the dancing was beautiful and the choreography was certainly dramatic, just not my style.

Now the second piece, Valses Poeticos – choreography by Helgi Tomasson, music by Enrique Granados, was absolutely stunning. I loved it. It was a piece between two dancers with the pianist on stage with them. It was so simple and delicately done. It was literally like watching a love story played out in front of your eyes by these artists with no words needing to be said.

I also loved the third piece, Round of Angels – choreography by Gerald Arpino, music by Gustav Mahler. I wasn’t really expecting to love this piece at all because I thought it was just some art-house thing about angels. But I believe this is what they call poetry in motion. Literally. It was so visually stunning. It was a piece all about lines and how bodies in motion can look so artful together. I think this was possibly the most visually appealing piece I have ever seen.

The last piece, Carousel (A Dance) – choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, music by Richard Rodgers, was quite good but nothing in comparison to the two in the middle. It was certainly interesting and beautifully danced, just not quite the same dramatic effect of Round of Angels or the incredible simplicity of Valses Poeticos.

I would recommend that if you have the time and the finances and if these pieces are performed anywhere you can find them. I would recommend going to see them. I know that the economy makes things difficult right now but I have always believed in supporting the arts. And I get calls from the opera, symphony and ballet in Chicago, so I know they must be having a difficult time. While I can’t commit to being a subscriber, I certainly do try to make the performances I can budget in.