I’m sitting on a Lear jet as I write this. It sounds glamorous and maybe it is the first few times. I use the plane to take customers to see other customers who service them. I described my job once as being like Julie on the Love Boat. Everyone who boards always has some sort of problem and it’s up to me to make sure they have a good time. I used that explanation until a few days ago. One of my younger friends said, “What’s the Love Boat?” I suddenly felt old.
This is the first time I wore my compression band in front of people who know me. Vita and I sat in front of the Museum of Natural History this past weekend and discussed what I should say. I still haven’t told those that work closely with me all that I’ve been through. She said, “Tell them you have a hint of arthritis and that you need a compression band.” I sort of told them that this morning and started mumbling half way through when I saw a glazed look in their eyes. My clients didn’t care. They were too amazed by the plane to contemplate what I was wearing. I am relieved.
In the summer, Vita and I meet up in front of the museum often. Her daughter takes classes there and she usually spends the day somewhere in the vicinity. Two years ago I used to meet up with her after my expander meetings with Dr. Pusic, my plastic surgeon. That’s when they would fill my expander and monitor my healing. I had necrosis which is a serious scab that slowly heals or doesn’t at all. If it doesn’t and the area remains dead, they have to operate. We were giving the scab, I eventually named it Maxine, as much time as possible. That’s why we enlarged my new breast just a little bit at a time. I didn’t need chemo or radiation so there really was no rush. The procedure took months longer than most people. In the end, the scab healed and I think the process was less painful for me because we did it so slowly.
Vita and I would grab a quick lunch and then we’d sit on a park bench in the shade. We’d drink iced tea from glass bottles and throw small crumbs to the birds. She’d ask me how I felt and if they had to delay a week she’d always say, “You want perfection, not something rushed.” She has that opinion about everything from new breasts to new furniture to even the food we order for lunch. She’d then marvel at how wonderful I looked. “I think this will be a vast improvement over what you had. I wasn’t going to tell you this but you were starting to look matronly. Smaller breasts give a woman a more youthful appearance.” That’s what I loved about my visits with Vita, she spoke with enthusiasm as though I was putting an addition onto my house and not reconstructing my breasts. In hindsight, I’m not even sure I could see what I actually looked like. A few months ago, I asked a nurse if I could see my before, during and after photos. The “during” photos show a very low hanging real breast next to an expanded one which sat up high on my chest. I never noticed how lopsided and strange they looked together. I guess I was just too excited thinking of my new youthful appearance.
Everyone should have a friend like Vita.