I had just over a week to get my head around the fact that I needed heart surgery. The photos online showed babies or older men proudly showing off chest bandages… topless. I was about to be cut open along the entire length of my sternum. So, of course I started panicking that my breasts would be on display for my whole hospital stay.
At the time I only knew one person who had experienced open heart surgery – my dad’s twin brother. I was pretty embarrassed to bring it up while talking to him about my concerns around surgery. He actually just got his wife to talk to me about it. She suggested button through pajama tops and henleys, for easy but discreet access.
Honestly, by the time I was post-op and recovering in ICU, I didn’t care who saw me naked. A male nurse gave me my first bed bath and from there, I was just grateful to be clean. Fortunately the nurses where more concerned with monitoring my vitals than checking on my incision, so I was decent for my visitors. I don’t know why I was worried, no one was out to humiliate me. My pethidine fueled hallucinations almost convinced me the contrary, but more about that in another post!
I don’t remember any undue breast discomfort while in hospital, but as indicated, I was heavily drugged. Look back I think the thick stitches and wide bandage kept everything together. I did notice that I had a numb patch on my left breast, but was assured that it was totally normal. This cleared up after about six months.
Back to reality
Once I was home, stitch-free and sporting a very narrow strip of micropore tape along my scar, the discomfort soon set in. Being mostly forced to only lie on my back, the weight of my breasts started pulling at my scar. Badly. For the first week I just wore vests with light built in support. They weren’t enough support for my c-cups, especially once I started walking for fitness. I knew that there was no way that I could tolerate an underwire bra. I researched online and find a grand total of zero information on bras post surgery.
My mom and I hit the local shopping centre and I tried on as many soft control bras as I could handle (keep in mind that my chest and arm movements needed to be kept to a minimum). Eventually I found a racer- back bralette with fairly good support and a very narrow band between the cups. Honestly the sexy factor was pretty low but I felt so much better. I set off with a two pack. These bralettes were totally my saving grace and I even started sleeping in them. I soon invested in two more.
I don’t think anyone really thinks about these things, but as a women in my thirties, it was so important. So I hope this information helps other women post surgery.
Photo credit: Gabriel Nunes via Unsplash