By Laura Hotchkiss, Glasgow.
When I woke up I immediately felt the weight lifted and I breathed a sigh of relief… then quickly realised I was going to throw up
I should explain that my weight loss was entirely surgical.
During my teenage years I realised fairly early on that my breasts would never stop growing and one night they were probably going to drown me as I slept.
They were my enemy. Never would I be able to go ‘spontaneous trampolining’ without a trip home to put on a sports bra made entirely of scaffolding.
Luckily I worked in an underwear store so my half bra/half parachutes were cheap and large breasts were common. Seeing row upon row of sizes above D gave me the self confidence I needed to realise that lots of women have cup sizes in all sorts of letters. I was the same size as the glamour model Jordan however I had neither paid for mine nor used them for a career.
If she’d wanted a swap she could just have asked…
I don’t really remember the whole conversation I had with the GP when asking for a referral but I do remember my referral appointment with the surgeon.
After being told I’d almost definitely be refused and I’d have to prove I was mentally scarred by years of sepia toned misery I was ready for the worst.
Apparently the current pain and future back problems wouldn’t sell my plight as well so I should say boys were bullying me.
Having only been bullied for one full day in my life (I might have hit the girl) it was going to be a tough sell. I was certainly not ready for him to look me up and down to then go “they really don’t suit your frame do they?”
That was that. I was on the list. Easy. It’ll be ages away…
The phone call came on Monday morning at 9am. A delightfully posh woman informed me that they had a cancellation at their private hospital and even though I was a poor NHS patient they’d let me in so would I be up for being unconscious for most of Thursday evening?
My ‘Farewell Breasts’ party was quickly organised but being friends with students means you are never short of people ready to drink on a Tuesday evening.
Knowing that I wouldn’t be out socialising for a month I set out to say ‘catch you later’ to everyone. Craig decided to get drunk and organise a human chain of men to block my entrance to the hospital. Having drunk strangers try to convince you not to go through with it and give you talks on self esteem is both equal parts hilarious and unbelievably creepy.
My pre-surgery meeting with my surgeon took place in a stately manor upon a hill in Edinburgh. If you ever find yourself in a plastic surgeons waiting room you can have a lot of fun with the highly insensitive game of ‘Guess what they’re in for’. Make sure you play it quietly in your own head.
It’s weird being half naked with a strange man drawing on your breasts but when you are booked in for a reduction it’s surprisingly common.
The only pre-nerves I felt before surgery was when he insisted on showing me pre and post surgery photographs on his Macbook.
I’ve never really had any phobias, except for an unnatural fear of the film Se7en and a dislike of some heights, but I found out that stitches had just made their way onto my list.
I could feel myself getting paler as he, in charming detail, went through everything that would be required to make me able to break into a casual jog without fearing bruising.
I am terrible for making jokes to survive awkward situations. My surgeon didn’t respond to any of them. I respected him for this. Here was a serious man and if I wanted someone cutting me open it was a serious man.
This was a man that wouldn’t be making honking noises. He spent his free time performing plastic surgery on burns victims from the Iraq War for charity and I did not feel worthy to be in his presence.I found myself putting on my posh telephone voice so that they didn’t sniff out my lack of bank balance.
Thursday quickly rolled around I headed to the hospital. The receptionist asked me if I wanted a complimentary copy of the Scotsman with breakfast. Flabbergasted that this was even an option I obviously said yes.
My Dad tried to convince them to pin back his ears as a buy one get one free deal. They declined.My parents left quickly after realising their nervous energy was bouncing about the room.
Left alone I should have been terrified, instead I watched Neighbours. It turned out my anaesthetist was from my town so we gave each other pelters whilst he stuck needles in my hand. It’s cheating to make someone unconscious just because they’re destroying you with putdowns…
Unconscious is weird… but not as weird as waking up after it. I couldn’t stop shaking. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The oxygen mask felt suffocating. I’d heard of passengers on planes who, when the cabin pressure has dropped and the oxygen masks have fallen from the sky, have complained that their mask wasn’t working. I totally understand now. Oxygen isn’t a nice cold breeze. It’s nothing and I needed the cold breeze to let me know that I was actually breathing.
I wouldn’t say I was freaking out. I’d say I was raging. I couldn’t express to the nurses that I needed this mask off. My mouth was dry and my tongue had forgotten what to do. I was freezing. I couldn’t stop shivering and the nurses were mistaking my shivering for panic. All I could hear were people telling me to calm down and in my head I was shouting “I AM CALM! STOP BEING PATRONISING AND PUT THE HEATING ON!”
I will never, ever forget the next words that came from the nurse’s mouth…“The electric blanket isn’t plugged in.”
In an instant hot air began circling above me and fed up of people, noise and light I did what I do in most difficult situations. I gave up and went back to sleep.
I woke up again at 10.45pm and it was only then that I felt this beautiful, lightweight feeling on my ribcage. Okay, so it was probably due to the large amount of drugs floating about my system, but instantly I felt great.
And just as instantly I found myself reaching for the panic button as I knew I had two minutes before I was throwing up and I wasn’t sure how to use my core muscles without popping open something.
I was out of hospital by midday on Friday and falling asleep sitting upright speaking to friends who’d came to see how I was doing in no time at all.
Recovery was fairly easy. Nothing was painful, just uncomfortable. I’d fill you in on interesting details about this phase but all I really did of value was complete Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas during bed rest.
I’d love to say that having a breast reduction was the best thing I’ve ever done but I always felt bad for that time I went to the Grand Canyon or snowboarded The Peak to Creek on Whistler Mountain.
Having a breast reduction was definitely one of my better life choices. The recovery was a bit boring and I had a few miserable days but I’ve taken up running, snowboarding, kickboxing and never again will I turn down a shot on a trampoline.