A tale of two Garths. Chapter 28. The boob job.
I’m getting a boob job!” I proudly told my girlfriend Becky one morning while working the Sunday shift at Stanley’s.
“Why in the hell would you do that?” she asked, looking down at my rack.
“It’s not what you think. I have one that’s larger than the other,” I tried to explain to her.
“Stacy, we all pretty much have one that’s larger than the other,” She countered.
“But not like this.”
Ever since the ripe old age of ten when the Universe decided to bless me with tiny mosquito bites for breasts I have been very self-conscious of my chest. You see I was born with a birth defect. One that was easily hidden, but one that would affect the size of one of my breasts. It’s called Poland Syndrome. What the hell is Poland Syndrome? Well let’s consult Wikipedia shall we. “Poland syndrome (also Poland’s syndrome, Poland’s syndactyly, Poland sequence, and Poland’s anomaly) is a rare birth defect characterized by underdevelopment or absence of the chest muscle (pectoralis) on one side of the body and (but not always) webbing of the fingers (cutaneous syndactyly) of the hand on the same side (ipsilateral hand) mostly common on the right side of body and found more in males than females.” The cause is unknown. Perfect. Just fucking perfect. As if going through puberty wasn’t hard enough. But going through puberty with one breast a good deal larger than the other was pure torture. Hey, at least I didn’t get the webbed fingers right?
So cut to the age of 25 and the Poland syndrome had finally gotten the best of me.
“I can’t take it anymore. I’m getting them fixed!” I told my family. It was seriously affecting my self-confidence.
“I’m tired of trying to hide it. It’s exhausting,” I told my dad when he questioned me about it over the phone.
“It’s hard finding bathing suits and bra’s. I can’t wear a lot of shirts. I have to get everything padded and then remove the padding from the left hand side. I’m over it,” I told him in tears.
“I had no idea this was affecting you this much,” he said. “Stacy, I don’t want you going to some hack. I want to help you with this. I’ll pay for the procedure.”
“Are you serious?” I didn’t tell him all this because I was trying to get him to pay. I told him because I wanted people to understand why I was electing to have plastic surgery.
“Yes. If this means that much to you, then I want you to have the best doctor out there.”
I was so happy. I couldn’t believe it. Finally After 15 years of hiding and binding my chest so that people couldn’t see my secret, I was going to be free. Shirts with spaghetti straps danced in my head.
I told Garth that my dad was going to pay for the procedure and he was just as happy for me as I was. We even made jokes about missing the difference. He would put his hands out and mimic touching my chest.
“Little girlfriend, big girlfriend, little girlfriend, big girlfriend,” he said as he pretended squeezing the right and left breast.
The quest for the right plastic surgeon began. Living in La La Land and being an actress/ waitress gives you an open door to a lot of information you might not normally have. One of which is, who are the great plastic surgeons in town. The first guy I went to was responsible for Pamela Anderson’s success. I walked into his office nervous and excited all at the same time. I sat there on his exam table wondering what they would even do with a woman like me. I was so thin at the time one breast was a full C and the other one was a small B. The thinner I got the more pronounced the difference became.
“Hi Stacy, my name is Dr. Didntdothesurgery. I hear you are here because you have Poland Syndrome.” I nodded. He then took both of my hands in his and checked my thumbs and then ran this fingers through the front of my scalp where my hairline starts and moved his fingers backwards through my hair. I thought we were here for my boobs. Is this how you starts all your boob jobs? I wondered to myself.
“Please remove your shirt so we can get a look at what we are dealing with.” I sat on his table and removed my shirt along with my “Shield Of Protection.” Which was a sports bra I had manipulated in such a way that it made my birth defect almost unnoticeable. This thing was so tight and so tough bullets would ricochet off the damn thing. I think the military is currently using it in missile defense.
“I’m amazed,” he said as he looked down at my breast. Yeah, well they are pretty amazing.
“You are not only rare for having Poland Syndrome, but you’re rare because you have a second breast. Most cases of Poland Syndrome have no breast at all on the side missing the pectoral; they have one thumb larger than the other, webbed fingers, and a large divot in the scull. You have a very small divot on the right side of your skull but that’s about it. I say we implant the right breast to match the left,” he said.
“But I think I’m really more of a small breast person,” I told him. “Do you think we could just reduce the left side instead?”
“I’m sorry but I won’t do that. You have a nice breast on that side. I won’t scar it.”
So there you have it. Dr. Number One wanted an implant. My problem with that was, when I got older and my breasts started to make their natural descent towards earth my right one would be perky standing at attention, and the left one would sag. Then I would be right back where I started.
On to Dr. Number Two, then. Repeat stripping. This time I wasn’t going to make the same mistake by letting him make friends with the offending left breast. I was going to tell him up front what I wanted.
“I would like the left one reduced,” I rapidly told him. And I wasn’t taking no for an answer.
“I can do that,” he told me.
“Really?” Aahhh, a man that shares my vision.
“You will however have a rather large inverted T scar,” he explained. Large inverted T scar. How large? Look buddy I have big plans for theses babies. I’ve been hiding them for 15 years and I might just want to take them out for a stroll and I don’t know if a huge inverted T scar is in my plans. And that’s when Dr. Number Two took a sheet of paper with two black and white breast’s on it and showed me how the surgery was going to play out. If you are squeamish do not read this part. He was planning on cutting around my nipple and moving it higher. Then he was going to cut from the nipple down to the bottom of the breast and then from right to left to remove excess fat and breast tissue. Leaving, you guessed it, an inverted T scar. *Sigh*
I went home and thought about it and thought about it. The idea of the scar wasn’t really making me all that happy, but neither was the implant.
“What do you think?” I asked Garth.
“It’s not about me. It’s about you. What do YOU want?” I knew what I wanted and I was going to have to accept the scar to get it.
“Will the scar bother you?” I asked him.
“I will love you no matter what,” he assured me. So that was it. I had made my decision. I was going to get a reduction. Smaller breast to fit my smaller body. Women all over Hollywood were screaming out agony. NOOOOOOOO!!! All the while they were paying tons of money to make theirs larger.
I can’t really explain what it was that kept me from making the appointment right away. Was it fear? I don’t really think so. I guess I would call it fate. Because before Dr. Number Two could screw up my perfectly nice, normal, larger breast I spoke to one of our customers at Stanley’s.
“Where have you two been?” I asked this mother and daughter duo who hadn’t been in in months.
“Heather here got hit in the face with a golf ball,” her mother Terri told me.
“What?!” I exclaimed.
“Yep, shattered my nose,” Heather said. But I looked at her and she looked perfect.
“You look great! I can’t even tell.”
“We have an AMAZING plastic surgeon,” Terri told me. “His name is Dr. Semel. He’s in Beverly Hills. The man is a genius with scars.” Did she just say scars? I looked over at Heather’s nose and sure enough, I didn’t see one scar on her.
“Do you think I could get his number?” I asked Terri. Of course she asked why and I gave them the run down on my big plans on my quest for perfection. And as soon as the lunch rush was over I made the call to Dr. Semel’s office.
I walked into Dr. Semel’s office and immediately knew he was good. I could tell by his decor. Oh crap. I wonder how much this is going to cost? I sat down in his plush waiting room where his beautiful receptionist offered me something to drink.
“I’ll have some coffee please,” I said nervously. I sat there drinking my coffee waiting for the man, the myth, the legend to honor me with his presence.
“Stacy, my name is Dr. Semel what can I do for you today?” Dr. Semel said as he entered the waiting room. Considering he and I were the only ones in there I guessed it was okay to tell him my little and big problem.
“I have Poland Syndrome…”
“Let me stop you right there, I don’t do Poland Syndrome cases.” My heart dropped.
“Will you please just take a look at me?” I pleaded. “I drove out here…” But before I could get on the ground and really grovel he sighed and said he would take a look. We went back into one of the rooms and I did my usual strip tease minus the tease and stood there for him naked from the waist up.
“You have a breast on that side!” he said pointing to my right breast.
“Yeah,” I said, confused. What did he think the lump in my shirt was, a snake?
“I’m sorry,” he said shaking his head. “Most people with Poland Syndrome don’t have a breast on the missing pectoral side. I can totally do this!” I think at this point he was more excited than I was and I was about to find out why. Dr. Semel did an experimental procedure. Yes, experimental. His reduction technique was one of a kind. He would make a tiny incision around the nipple and go in that way to get the tissue out. There would be no T scar. In fact there would be no scar at all.
“You will be lucky number 13,” he said as he smiled at me. He was getting a little too giddy about this. “And my only Poland Syndrome case. You are going to be in the medical journals my dear!” Oh goody. All I had to do was agree to sign a release saying that if I came out disfigured I wouldn’t sue, and to let him photograph the before and after pictures for the American Medical Journals, keeping my face and head out of the pictures of course, and we had a deal. Don’t get too excited I was still going to have to pay for it, to the tune of $6000 (Thanks Dad!).
The day of the procedure I was feeling a mixture of fear and excitement. But Dr. Semel and his staff did their very best to make sure I was comfortable and relaxed. They started me out in a really tastefully decorated nice white room. It had magazines and cushy seats. I, however, got to sit in the wheelchair. But it really was a nice place to start my journey. The anesthesiologist came in and introduced himself and then shot a needle into my IV. Before I knew it I was high as a kite. I don’t even remember the trip down the hall towards the operating room. Actually the last thing I remember was a bright white light shining down on me.
And… I was out.
Dr. Semel had told my anxious father and my aunt that the procedure usually only lasts two hours. But mine lasted a little over four hours. I heard it from my aunt that my dad was pretty much freaking out and ready to pass out from worry.
“Why is she still in there?” he kept asking over and over again.
When I came to I saw a really nice man standing over me.
“Hi,” I said as I smiled at him.
“Hello, how are you feeling?”
Oh wait, I’m not good. I’m not good at all! And that’s when my smile faded and my face twisted into a ball of utter pain. And then the nice man ran out of the room. Where are you going nice man? Oh my God! Is someone stabbing me? I think someone may be stabbing me! The pain I felt was excruciating. On the great scale of pain, childbirth weighs in at a whopping 10 out of 10. But this was an easy 9.5.
“Hel…” was all I could get out. But before I could even get to the “p,” the nice man had come back with the anesthesiologist who shot me up with some happy juice and the pain was gone. I feel pretty, oh so pretty.
“Stacy, you’re going to feel much better now,” the anesthesiologist assured me as I played with his bottom lip. The nice man stayed with me for a long time before he suggested I try and use the bathroom.
“Do you think you can try and go potty?” he asked.
“Sure-ly, Ha ha ha. My name’s Shirley. Shirleeeey,” I giggled.
“Ooookay, let’s try and use the bathroom. What do you say?” he said patiently as he helped me up out of the bed. As he walked me towards the bathroom all I remember thinking was. Is my ass hanging out of this hospital gown? The nice man can see my ass. Oh fuck it. Who cares? Maybe it was the drugs, maybe it was the man standing there in the bathroom, but whatever it was, I couldn’t go pee. But I felt groooovy.
Finally the nice man helped me get dressed and put me back into the wheelchair to roll me out to my family.
“Well hello there,” I waved and smiled at them. My aunt smiled back but my dad turned a shade of green that Crayola has yet to create.
What’s the big deal?
“Is she going to be okay?” My dad asked.
“She’ll be fine,” the nice man reassured me dad. Just giver her lots of liquids and get that vicodin prescription filled ASAP. She’s got a good pain reliever in her system now, but once that wears off she’ll be in a LOT of pain.”
So into the car we went. About half way home I was really wishing I had peed because all of a sudden I had to.
“Dad, I REALLY have to go to the bathroom,” I slurred.
“Stacy, we are in a really bad area. I don’t want you to go to the bathroom here. Can you hold it?”
“No, I can’t! I really really can’t,” I told him. So he pulled off the freeway and he was right, we were in the hood.
“There’s a hospital. We’ll go there,” he said as we drove up. He helped me get out of the car and walked me into the hospital where the woman at the front desk tried to check me in.
“We’re just here for the bathroom,” my dad told her. She pointed us in the right direction and my dad escorted me as far as the door. The rest was up to me. Once inside I swore I was going to hit the floor. Oh please, just let me pee before I pass out, I thought as I wobbled to one of the stalls. I don’t want them to find me passed out in my own urine. I had made it. Yay, sweet relief! As I came out of the stall to wash my hands I ran into a sweet old lady who stared at me in horror before turning around and shuffling her little ass out of that bathroom as fast as she could go.
Seriously? What’s wrong with everybody? How bad can it be? I looked in the mirror over the sink.
I looked like a zombie after a three-day coke binge. I was, simultaneously, both the whitest shade of white and the greenest shade of green. My hair was plastered back over my head and my eyes were hollow and sunken above big gray bags. But my mouth was grinning from ear to ear, partly because of the pain medicine, and partly because I couldn’t stop thinking “Brains… brains!” That’s when I started laughing like an idiot, and that’s when another hospital guest walked in and quickly decided to find another restroom or just hold it.
My dad got me back in the car and took me to his house where my stepmom had made lasagna for me in case I was hungry. And I was. The Doctor told them I would probably just go to sleep for the rest of the afternoon. But of course I didn’t. I drank a glass of chardonnay while shoving my face with Lasagna and talked on the phone while my dad and my stepmom looked on in amazement.
“Should she be drinking that?” my stepmom asked me dad.
“Who knows? She’s not even supposed to be awake right now.”
I stayed there for days. I was bruised from my neck down to my thigh on my left side and was in a ton of pain but the vicodin mixed with wine helped a bit. My dad took me back and forth from his house in Orange County to Dr. Semel in Beverly Hills so Dr. Semel could check on my progress. The bruising and the added time for the surgery was due to my weight at the time. I didn’t have enough body fat to liposuction tissue out of my breast, so Dr. Semel had to cut the tissue out by hand. Which meant they had to strap me down and rotate the table so he could move me around and completely upside down at one point. Something I would have loved to get on video. Through this whole ordeal, Dr. Semel, my dad, my stepmom, and my aunt were there for me.
He didn’t show up or visit me. Not once.
To be continued…
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