We're late as usual as Boris turns on the engine and drives toward Cedars. "Why on earth are you taking La Cienega?" I criticize. He gives me a look that says "chill out, don't worry and you get a pass for being a total bitch since you're having surgery." After taking the worst route ever (in my humble opinion) we pull into the parking lot of Cedars. I hop out and let Boris park. When I get to the 5th floor, everyone is waiting for me. A nurse approaches me and asks if I'm Sharon Shimanovsky. I nod yes. "Dr. Slate's first surgery was canceled so he's ready for you now." Yikes. Before surgery can begin, Boris and I are asked to visit the business office to settle the bill. One of the many joys of Cedars and a surgeon who doesn't accept insurance.
I'm shuffled back into the preparation room since everyone is waiting. I hurriedly kiss Boris goodbye and instruct him to go home and play with the boys rather than sit in the waiting room for no reason. I certainly won't know the difference. I'm led to my bed and draw the curtain around me to change into my gown. Before I do, I realize that I forgot to bring the signed booklet which memorializes my acknowledgement of the horrors the implants I'm about to implant into my body may cause. Dr. Slate had wanted it prior to surgery. I run into the waiting room and tell Boris that I forgot the booklet and ask him to wait for the nurse to tell him whether he can bring it to Dr. Slate when I'm out. I change and lay down on the bed. The nurse pulls back the curtain and tells me he's going to take care of me today. He asks a few questions and fills out some paperwork, then disappears.
An older Vietnamese man in a white coat approaches my bed. "I'm Dr. Voung, your anesthesiologist," he says. I like him right away. "Are you allergic to any pain medications?" he asks. I tell him about the horrific experience I had with Dilaudid and Morphine after my mastectomies. "I wanted to scratch my skin off," I tell him. "So I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to those." He talks about some alternatives but also thinks the incredible length of my previous surgery was partly to blame for my reaction. This surgery is a fraction of the length so he thinks that I'll be fine. He takes some notes and pulls up a chair beside my bed. "I'm just going to keep you company until surgery begins," he says. "I see that you were pregnant at your diagnosis." I nod. "I can't imagine how difficult the last year has been for you," he says. "I'm so glad your journey is almost over." Me too. We talk about my boys and he tells me about his children and grandchildren. Then it's time for my I.V. I caution him to be gentle because I hate needles. "Should I use a hammer?" he asks and chuckles. I tell him how last night Miles asked me if the doctor would use a screwdriver for my surgery.
Dr. Slate arrives and before he can say anything I ask him if Boris can bring the implant horror booklet after surgery and apologize for forgetting it. "Not a problem," he says. He sends a nurse to the waiting room to tell Boris. Boris apparently ignored the wait for the nurse part of our conversation and had already left. I call him from the preparation room and ask him a) why the hell he's left and b) that he can bring Dr. Slate the booklet when he picks me up. "You could be visiting with me back here," I tell him. Of course he feels horrible and offers to turn around, but I tell him to go play with the boys and I'll play with Dr. Voung. I hang up the phone and Dr. Slate draws the curtains around us. He pins them together for additional privacy. He slowly opens his metal briefcase just like last time and takes out a dark pen. He starts to mark my chest. "I'm going to lower the left breast (which has risen up and contracted from radiation) and lift the right to make you as even as possible." Sounds like a good plan. We talk about the horrors of silicone and he assures me that it's really not so horrific but the company is just covering its ass. I don't have much of a choice so it doesn't really matter. He tells me that when I wake up, I'll be in an intensive recovery room for about an hour. Then I'll be moved to a second recovery room for anywhere from 1-4 hours depending on how fast I recover.
We're ready to go so Dr. Voung tells me he's going to "relax" me. Dr. Slate says I won't remember anything past this point including our current conversation and he'll see me when I wake up after surgery. I feel totally alert and remark that I will definitely remember this conversation. "Tell me something now and we'll see if you remember," he challenges. I tell him the Miles screwdriver story as they wheel me into the operating room. And the next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room. I have to pee immediately and call out to a nurse for some help. She hands me a bed pan. Ugh. "I can't do this laying down," I tell her and promptly help myself up. The nurse looks stunned. But I feel totally fine and pee sitting up with no problem.
When Dr. Slate comes to check on me I tell him I'm ready to go home. I also tell him I remember our conversation about Miles and the screwdriver. "Hold on. You have to be able to go to the bathroom and walk first," he says. "I've already sat up and peed," I inform him. "Let me walk," I demand. I think I've been awake for 10 minutes. He also looks stunned. He sends the nurse to the waiting room to get Boris. "I'm ready to go home," I tell Boris as he kisses me on the forehead. Dr. Slate laughs and says I can't leave quite yet but he's going to get me moved to the secondary recovery room as soon as possible. Just a few minutes later Dr. Slate and a nurse are wheeling me up and Boris is walking beside me. I think I ask Dr. Slate 38475 times if I can go home.
A few minutes later Dr. Slate says I can get up. He wants to show me my new breasts and I follow him to a small room with a mirror. He unzips my "special" bra (his term) which is a very tight and very strange jog bra, that I'm to wear for the next 3 days. Now I'm the one who is stunned. He starts explaining what he did and says they're still a little swollen but I interrupt him and ask him to get Boris immediately. "Boris has to see this," I exclaim. My tits are unfuckingbelievable. Seriously. Get the cameras out for a close up. They're perfection. I'm ecstatic. "Aren't they amazing?" I ask Boris when he arrives. He smiles and nods his head up and down. "Now can I go?" I ask Dr. Slate for 38576th time. I can!!! Dr. Slate cautions me to watch for any extreme redness, especially on the left side because it could be a sign of infection and the left is more prone to infection because of radiation. I leave with prophylactic antibiotics.
Boris drives us to my parents' house where the boys are eating dinner. They are so happy to see me! I hear Miles yelling "mommy!!" as I'm walking up the stairs. Apparently he spent all day asking about me and my whereabouts and informing everyone that I was at the hospital. I am so sad to not put Baron to bed. I have put him to bed every night for the longest time and generally, when others try, it doesn't go well. He cries at them. He wants his mommy and I just love it. Our new game and my favorite thing in the world is our kissing game before I put him in his crib. That and he still nuzzles into my neck and sleeps on me for a few minutes before I lay him in his crib. So tender. And sadly not me tonight. Boris goes to put Baron to bed and I play with Miles. It's of course, the first time ever in the history of our lives when I announce that I'm going to leave the room so he can snuggle with daddy and he responds, "stay mom, I want to snuggle with you." I die of happiness.
Boris and I go home to eat and sleep. I'm exhausted. I take a look at my new boobs before bed and notice a small dent on the left side. Boris and I hypothesize that it's from the "special" bra but it can't be that clothing can dent my boobs! Boris asks me what he can say besides 1) he doesn't care what they look like and 2) anything can be fixed, that will make me feel better. Hmmm...
Despite my exhaustion, I can't sleep at all. I don't know why and I'm pretty pissed off about it. Surely I wasn't given anything that would keep me up. But I watch each hour roll by for 12 hours. At 630am I can't take it anymore and finally get up. Boris is up, too. I unzip my bra to have another look. The dent is still there and the left side is red. Not flaming red, but redder than yesterday and much more red than the right side. I don't know if it's "extremely red" or not but I'm concerned. I page Dr. Slate's office around 730 and then get dressed. Boris and I will go to breakfast and the farmer's market before getting the boys. Because that's what normal people do less than 24 hours after surgery. Right?
Dr. Slate returns my page an hour later. I tell him that my left breast is pretty red and that it has a dent in it on the side. "A dent?" he repeats. "I don't understand what that means." I try explaining to no avail. He says I should come in. He beats me to his office, of course. I don't know why I'm never on time for him. He insists that we go in to a proper exam room even though the lobby is completely empty and I have no problem exposing myself there. I unzip my bra and he takes a look. "It's red, but not too red," he says. "I think the bra is too tight so stop wearing it. Just wear a jog bra." I show him the dent. He hypothesizes that the implant doesn't fill the "defect" as he calls it the same way the expander did. "The implants are smaller than the expanders so there may just be some extra room." Nice. They're still pretty perfect and amazing even with the dent. Minus the 2 searing scars slashing through each breast, you might even be jealous.
I take a few pain killers each day but really am not too uncomfortable. I've been pretty good about not picking up the boys even though I swear I'm perfectly capable of it. In the morning when we wake up, we get a call from friends who have decided last minute to drive up to the snow. Miles went through a brief period where he asked to go the snow every day. Boris and I couldn't get it together and decide that this is probably our last chance before the snow melts. "What the hell?" I think and tell Boris that we should go. "Really?" he questions. "Are you sure you're up for it?" Maybe I'm too medicated but I think I am. We borrow some snow clothes for Miles and pack 100 layers for Baron and pile into the car. It's our first long drive together but we all do fine and in a little over an hour, see large patches of snow on the ground. We pull over where we see kids sledding. Miles is ecstatic and fearless and bolts out of the car. Sloshing though the snow he's yelling "it's cold! Mom! Come here! It's snow!" Baron and I are less enthusiastic. Without proper attire, snow is freezing. And wet. When Boris sits Baron down in the snow, he looks up at us with a look that says "are you fucking crazy? Pick me up immediately." He actually screams that part. I'm pretty miserable and realize I actually hurt a little so against doctor's orders, I pick Baron up and he and I play in the warm car.
We get home in time for dinner. I'm getting the bath ready for the boys when Miles wanders into the bedroom. He's talking to his monkey blanket (affectionately referred to as "mono" - monkey in Spanish) which he often does. He tells mono everything. Today he says "mono, I don't have cancer." I almost yell that it's true, he doesn't. He doesn't. "Neither does mommy, mono," I add. I can't put Baron to bed (aarrrggghhh) so Miles and I go into his room to read and snuggle. Miles is leaning against my chest. He lifts his little head up and says "mommy, you should go back to the hospital." I ask him why. "So the doctor can fix you with a screwdriver." "The doctor has already fixed me, Miles," I say. "No, mommy. Tell the doctor to make your boobies softer." Nice. "This is as soft as they're getting," I tell him. "Oh," he laments. I can't believe I'm having this discussion with my 2.5 year old.
It gets even better the next day at the park. I had told Miles that for the next few weeks I couldn't pick him up. "We can snuggle and read and laugh and dance, but we have to be gentle with my body." He runs over to the swing set, Baron takes 2 steps in suit then crawls the rest of the way. They're both waiting patiently in front of a swing. "Who will pick me up?" Miles asks. I ask one of the nannies who of course obliges. I think it's not so bad. My mom meets me at the park to stroll the boys home. Miles is jumping on his bed like a maniac and I'm washing Baron's hands. He often jumps on his bed, or mine like a maniac, and we discuss whether his body "feels safe" and as long as it does, he's free to jump. This time he falls backwards out of his bed and my housekeeper makes it into his room before me. He is screeching at the top of his lungs. I run into his room and he whimpers "um, mom, will you still help me if I hurt myself?" I almost cry as I tell him that no ouchie will ever stop me from helping him if he needs me.
We snuggle in silence for a long time. Miles strokes my arm and plays with my hair. "I like your face, mom," he says. "I like your face, too, Miles," I respond. "I like your hair." "I like your hair, too." He goes on to tell me that he likes my shirt, my necklace, my mole and even says "oh, I like these buttons, they're so cute." Swear. He's since told me that my ring is "gorgeous." Swear. Then he looks me in the eye. "I like your new boobies mom," he decides. Me too.