Tissue expanders are very strange. They look weird and feel weird. Mine was also placed right under my skin instead of beneath my pectoralis as is usually done. That made the strangeness even more obvious. And for extra credit, my tissue expander freaked out my cat!

10/27/12: Undercover Piroshky

Or “undercover empanada.” Or “under cover calzone.” For a sweet option, “under cover apple turnover.” I opted for piroshky in the title because “under cover piroshky” reminded me of Boris and Natasha from the Bullwinkle and Friends cartoons. And Boris and Natasha were cool.

I speak of the shape of my newly expanded breast. The primary purpose of the tissue expander is to expand tissue and to encourage new skin growth. Looking like an actual breast is secondary to this goal and now that the expander is almost totally filled with saline, I realize that it looks like an upside down filled bread product. And all but the apple turnover are made with yeast so I am getting closer to a leavened breast after all. The fold part of the empanada corresponds to the top of my breast. It curves on the ends so it is not totally horizontal. The middle of the fold, however, makes a handy shelf. I could probably balance three shot glasses there. Party! If you are in more of an afternoon partying mood, I could balance a tea cup (without saucer) or for you coffee drinkers, a couple of demitasse cups.

Just thought you’d want to know about this development. You’re welcome!

11/1/12: Ravenous

My cat has hyperthyroidism and we are still trying to get it treated successfully. This gives him a large appetite and also makes him run around the house at times, in a seemingly manic state. This morning, he climbed into bed with me. He was sweet and snuggly. I gave him a lot of attention. Then he put his paw on my breast and put out his claws slightly, like he does when he wants to play. I thought, “I wonder if he could get through my nightgown, my skin, and the plastic tissue expander? I thought that he probably couldn’t but was not entirely thrilled with the idea of springing a leak in the expander. So I shifted my weight a little and remonstrated, “Kitty!”

You will not believe what he did next. He took a playful bite at my breast, not just once but twice! He’s never done that before in the 11 years he’s lived with us. I wondered why this was the first time. Maybe this is crazy, but I think when he reached out his paw, he was confused by how hard my temporary breast is. It’s a bag full of saltwater, under my skin, after all. Maybe he thought it was my elbow or something.

Now Ollie’s eating greenery from a vase of flowers on the table. Now that’s something he’s done many times before. But a fake breast? Maybe he has another illness. With humans, habitually eating items that are not food is called, “pica.” Maybe he has pica. I’d leave you on this note, but I have a funny pica story.

When I was on internship (a one year clinical position that was required to finish my Ph.D. in clinical psychology), we had a morning meeting one day to assign cases to the interns. This was a normal thing that we did every time we had clinic duty. The referral questions were written down on a phone message by the clinic secretary, along with the patient’s name and age. There was a 4 year-old coming in for an evaluation. The supervising psychologist read the secretary’s notes aloud, “Eats couch.”  I said, “I’ll take the couch eater!” No one else in the group liked preschool aged children like I do, so my preference was uncontested. Yes, it was my first and only pica case.

Chew on that.

12/1/12: I wonder if Napolean had a unilateral mastectomy?

I notice that I often unconsciously place my hand on the spot where my breast used to be. It’s sort of like a breast, at least more so than right after my mastectomy. As I’ve previously mentioned, there’s a calzone-shaped tissue expander in there right under my skin. I do it so often that I’ve begun to worry that I’ll be talking to one of my patients and suddenly find that I have put my hand under my bra without even realizing it.

I have to admit, it’s a pretty good hand warmer. Since I don’t go around topless, it’s well insulated by clothing. Plus, it’s located near the nuclear reactor part of my body, where the hot flashes seem to originate. And since the skin over the expander has no sensation, it is not unpleasant to touch it with an ice cube cold hand.

But mostly, I think my hand is just doing it’s version of, “What the Hell are you? Why are you shaped like a savory turnover? Why do you feel like a Tupperware lid?” Followed repeatedly by, “Oh my goodness, are you still there? What are doing here. Are you still shaped like a turnover? Yes, you are. Do you still feel like a Tupperware lid? Why yes, you do.”

It’s kind of like the relationship between my tongue and a crown that was put on one of my teeth about five years ago. When it was first placed, my tongue was on it constantly, like it was a foreign object that didn’t belong in my mouth. I still find that without realizing, that my tongue has a little habit of checking it out, probably at least once per day. And I think my friend, Lisa was right about my cat doing the same thing when he took a nip at my right breast some weeks back. It was his way of saying, “What the Hell is that?” My cat is about as smart as my tongue so I think this is a good hypothesis.

So now I think I’m going to do an Internet search for portraits of Napolean and see if he’s wearing a little pink ribbon in any of them.

No pink ribbon but based on the hand position, I surmise that Napolean battled sagginess in addition to Waterloo.
No pink ribbon but based on the hand position, I surmise that Napolean battled sagginess in addition to Waterloo.