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Catching stares at my scarred breasts

Updated on October 19, 2011

A new dimension after double mastectomy

I used to be a person who could care less about changing in front of other women in a gym’s locker room. After all, I was raised in a household where it was natural to walk around naked and my children are the same way.

My mom is an artist who paints nudes and I used to go to her drawing classes with her when I was young. Moreover, her aunt lived in a nudist colony, so you get the picture (but don’t try too hard because it generally wasn’t a pretty sight…most people are much more attractive with their clothes on).

After too much time passing since I maintained a regular workout after breaking my foot resulting in more surgery – both kept me off my feet for many months – I’m finally getting my ever-widening ass back in the pool. But because of my shoulder injury from that damn plank position in a pilates class when I was preparing for my TRAM Flap/double-mastectomy surgery more than two years ago, I still can’t raise my left arm without pain.

That means I am pretty much restricted to the back stroke and using my own oddly-designed arm strokes until my shoulder motion returns. My stroke is especially comical when I swim a normal back stroke, but only using my healthier right arm.

My bathing suit has better boobs than I do

I look like a stroke victim

After having surgery on my foot several months ago, the pain in my foot remains, so when my injured left foot begins hurting, I tend to kick more with my right foot. Therefore, when I swim my absurd stroke, some might mistake me for a stroke victim when I give my left side a break. Doesn’t that sound attractive?

These days, it would seem the most attractive thing about me is the cane I need to get around. I’m hopeful the swimming will change that. It’s rather surprising how often I am complimented for my purple cane that has red and violet flowers on it. Yes, it’s a real ego booster when the only thing people notice is the stick that assists your pedestrian travel.

Sadly, I’ve even reached the point that when a friend I hadn’t seen in many months offered a hug and remarked that I looked good, it took me by surprise and in my own anti-social, awkward way, I whispered in response (we were in synagogue for Yom Kippur), “No I don’t.” She smiled and walked to her seat.

I felt really bad. What a bitchy thing to do. I wanted to apologize to her after the service, but my dad was tired from dialysis and wanted to leave (not soon enough, I asked for forgiveness).It’s all part of my “I feel like shit, I’m a failure and my life is going nowhere” pity party.I think I’ve hit another wave of my mid-life crisis.

Sorry…back to the gym.

I usually change into my bathing suit in the privacy of my home before heading over to the gym to swim a pathetic 26 laps; down from my former 80 to 100 laps, 26 seems to be my body’s limit before my foot begins to swell and throb with pain.

After a few minutes in the Jacuzzi, I returned to the locker room hoping there weren’t too many women in there; especially the young and fit women.

Still wearing my swim suit in the shower, I only rinsed off the chlorine and waited to take off my suit at the locker wherein my towel awaited. Lately, I’ve noticed I tend to hide my body under my towel as I peel off my wet swim suit.

What's the use of hiding?

I finally thought, this is ridiculous. Just take off your bloody suit without trying to hide. It’s not like I was trying to show off my body; I faced the lockers like I normally do and began the usual battle to escape the tight lap suit and its crisscrossed back straps.

Sitting on a nearby bench was a middle-aged woman who was spreading lotion on her legs. As I pulled down my black suit exposing my breasts, the woman’s expression altered when she took a second look at my chest.

With furrowed brow, she made no effort to conceal her shocked expression as she cocked her head and stared. She was looking directly at my scarred breasts, clearly noticing their absence of nipples and areolas.

Her reaction wasn’t quite the shock factor from seeing the “Elephant Man,” but certainly more than looking at Michael Jackson’s final nose creation.

I finally managed to step out of the one-piece suit when she noticed I saw her expression as I grabbed for my towel. She finally turned away, looking down at her own legs again trying to act like she hadn’t noticed anything. I caught her looking again, her head down and her eyes momentarily glancing upward at my breasts.

I just wanted to get out of there. I got dressed as quickly as I could and felt like I was being watched by the other women in the locker room as I rushed.

These are the times I wish I didn’t have to deal with. I don’t want someone gawking at me. I’m actually surprised she didn’t ask about it. I think that would have been better.

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    • Joelle Burnette profile image

      Joelle Burnette 6 years ago

      @ALUR...thanks for the comment. Please don't steal my's already being written into a novel.

    • ALUR profile image

      ALUR 6 years ago from USA

      I stumbled upon your writing about this subject and found that through the pain you still main dignity and a knack for humor. I have to tell you that someone staring or being startled by what you feign or think of as a disfigured state may remind women the horror of what may come about. Being broken sometimes heals others though we are the ones to walk through the pain before them.

      Thanks for this hub. Check out my new ebook on either or called "Taboo Nation" You may have inspired another good fiction story.


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