Saturday, November 14, 2009

Arch(ery) Comments on Whipped Silicone

No archery!

That’s what a Pat Sitter squealed a couple of days after my mastectomy. Okay, I was prancing around the living room, pretending to shoot arrows at the neutral-colored walls.

“I’m being an Amazon,” I explained. “You remember – the Amazons purposely cut off one breast to make themselves better archers.”

The Amazons, in case you don’t remember, were a nation of all-female warriors in classical and Greek mythology. Legend has it that they cut off their right breasts so they would be able to use a bow more freely and throw spears without the physical limitation and obstruction of a pair of 38DDs.

Ruled by a queen named Hippolyta, the Amazons spent a lot of time making war (not so much making love) but they also were said to have founded many towns, among them Smyrna, Ephesus, Sinope and Paphos.

My friend reminded me that I am not now nor have I ever been an archer, much less an armed warrior. Besides, taking part in a war (or even founding a town) was not on the list of permitted activities during my recovery from surgery.

Replacing the stretchy post-surgical camisole was permitted, and I made that a priority. Shopping for a temporary front-close bra was straightforward enough, but learning about the array of “breast forms” (which is easier to say than “prostheses”) turned out to be hilarious.

Breast forms – and may you never have to know this from personal experience – come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Here are just a few of the options:

• polyester-filled cotton pouches

• foam forms with nipples

• foam forms without nipples

• silicone triangles

• silicone ovals

About those foam forms without nipples -- if you change your mind later, you can buy spare nipples! One Internet shopping site gave the nod to handcrafted breast forms made from soft fabric pouches filled with bird seed or millet. “In warm climates,” the site cautions, “the seeds may sprout.”

Just what you want – delicate green tendrils snaking out of your cleavage!

Some of the silicone breast forms are heavy. Some are made of “whipped” silicone, which is said to weigh as much as one-third less as the heavier models. The one I brought home weighs about a pound and a half.

(Worrisome thought: Will they believe me at Weight Watchers when I blame my breast form? Will they believe me even if I leave it at home?)

For now, the temporary bra and form allow me to go out looking normal, as long as no one looks too long or too hard. That’s because I am not good at this yet. Occasionally, I peer down my shirt to see if everything is where it should be. When it’s not, I head for a restroom to pull down what has scooted up and push back what has scooted forward.

The “patient care coordinator” I worked with at Medical West assured me that a few weeks from now, when I am fitted for a “real” bra and a breast form that suits me perfectly, I will be able to put them on and go about my day without giving either a thought.

I look forward to that.

P.S. I also look forward to moving to San Francisco -- the condo goes back on the market Monday!

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