Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Update from Brittany

Hi everyone!

I’m really sorry I ended up disappearing for so long. I’ve been dealing with an incredibly sucky, stressful series of events, including my partner being laid off and unemployed for a period of time, my grandfather’s death, depression, a dying computer, severe hair loss (caused by anemia and fixed now, fortunately) and more.

Several of you have reached out to me personally to ask if I’m ok and tell me you would love it if I started up blogging again. I was really touched by that, and if it weren’t for you guys sticking with me and reminding me that you really liked my blog and that I’d helped many people, I might not have come back.

Thankfully, things have improved for me a great deal, and I want to start writing again. However, things are going to be changing a bit around here.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had mysterious health issues for a long time. Since I now have better insurance than I’ve ever had, and live in a much larger city than I used to, I’ve been putting more effort into figuring them out. I found out that I’m allergic to dust mites and cats, among other things, and I am going to be having allergy shots to treat that. I also found out that my hypermobile joints have probably been the source of many problems. I don’t have as much stability built in as somebody with normal joints. So I’ve been doing physical therapy with a specialist in hypermobility syndrome.

Physical therapy has done great things for me. My posture is better, I’m stronger, my endurance has improved, I feel lighter on my feet. I’m in the best shape I’ve been in my whole life. However…

I still have shoulder and upper back pain.

So, after quite a bit of research, thought, and consulting with my doctor and physical therapist, I’ve come to the inevitable conclusion- that the size of my chest is a big contributor to my upper back problems, and that a breast reduction might help me a great deal.

I know that this might be very surprising to many of you. I did not come to this decision lightly. I’ve tried so many different things over many years to fix my problems. I haven’t ever had general anesthesia before, and I’m terrified of surgery. But at this point, realizing that it’s likely that one simple surgery and a few weeks’ rest will permanently fix my problems is a huge relief.

I will still be an unusual bra size- no surgery I know of could substantially change my ribcage size, (and most people who are what is considered a “healthy” BMI have correctly fitting band sizes under 32, anyway) so you needn’t fear that I won’t be able to discuss bras and clothing as I always have. If anything, my ability to do so will have improved- I’ve outgrown most clothing companies at this point, even large-bust-friendly ones.

I’m hoping that in writing about this process from the perspective of somebody who understands proper bra fitting, I will be able to provide useful information to others who might be considering this choice.

I’ll be writing quite a bit more about the factors that led me to decide this was the right choice for me, so stay tuned.

25 comments:

  1. First of all, I must commend you for taking the time to post an update at all at what must be a very busy/stressful period in your life right now.

    Especially because I'm pretty sure I read in another post you have CFS/FM. As a fellow sufferer I empathize with the precious energy it must take to write at all. That's amazing, I know I wouldn't have bothered. That aside, I've been very grateful for coming across your blog at all. It was your blog that introduced me to my favourite bra company, and favourite clothes companies. Thanks for that!

    I pray that your recovery after the surgery will be swift. And that the surgery will actually help you recover from the back pain. Good luck!

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  2. So glad to hear from you and to learn that things are improving. I look forward to reading about your reduction journey. Best of luck!

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  3. Best wishes! Hope it all goes well.

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  4. I am glad you are back. Have you ever been tested for Ehlers Danlos syndrome? I have it, and along with hypermobile joint, I also get migraines, breathing issues, POTS, dizzy spells, skin issues (poorly healed scars and random rashes). It might be worth looking into because it shares syptoms with fibromialgia but has the defining feature of hypermobility. I wish you well and am looking forward to your posts.

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    1. I have "suspected" Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Getting diagnosed officially is somewhat difficult and confusing, and for now the treatment is the same as my physical therapist works with a lot of EDS patients. I may pursue it more in the future. My Grandfather actually died of something that's more common for people with EDS, and he had hypermobile joints as well.

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    2. I'd definitely get that organ (trying to be vague intentionally) checked, then, if nothing else. I've also heard that it can cause complications in surgery and with anesthesia, your surgeon will hopefully be familiar with it.

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    3. The diagnosis is definitely the hardest part. I finally got diagnosed after 16 years of confused doctors suspecting Lupus or saying I was making it all up. I'm happy you have an experienced PT, I've been having issues with that lately. Right now I'm trying to find bras that are sized correctly 30FF/28G that don't shift my damaged rotator cuff. Even my favorite most comfortable styles hurt right now (I normally wear Freya's Deco line t-shirt bras).

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    4. It's nice to run into similar people online! I have a hitherto undiagnosed auto-immune disorder, and it's been especially frustrating lately. I've always had the hyper-mobile joints and temporary but acute joint problems (probably as a result of the hypermobility). This past year, I'm experiencing two scarier symptoms--moderate hearing loss in one ear and severe in the other (caused by cranial nerve enlargement, now treated with hearing aids) and polyneuropathy that has made both of my feet and part of one of my legs completely numb for the last three months. I'm also having dizzy spells that doctors have told me are migraines. I'm in my early thirties, and I'm still in otherwise good health. This is all so baffling to me.

      I go back and forth on how much I want to push for more tests because I may just have something that hasn't been discovered yet. Every doctor that I see (a gp, ent, rheumatologist, and neurologist) seems very concerned at first, runs a bunch of tests, tells me that everything looks great, and then sends me away. It's disheartening. My grandpa had Guillaine-Barre, so I'm thinking I should probably get a spinal tap to see if I have something related. I'm going to start looking into the Mayo Clinic waiting list just to check out my options.

      Anyway, this is partly to vent but mainly to say that I know how frustrating it is to have a condition in this ballpark of things, especially because it's not easy to explain to people in, say, a blog but also in real life. Therapeutic measures that work are so few and far between that you're smart to latch onto the ones that help. I can't blame you at all for considering the surgery, especially if the experts around you are telling you that it really does seem to be an issue.

      I wear a 30H, and with the come-and-go joint issues, I've always worried about back pain. Strangely enough, I've avoided it for the most part, aside from the computer slump side effects that plague us all. For that, I get massages. All sorts of friends and medical professionals have, unsolicited, suggested breast reductions "for my back," and I'm actually pretty snippy in response because I see it as attempting to police my body type. Nevertheless, if I felt that my chest was causing me actual pain, I'd be approaching the surgery as you are--with trepidation but appropriate consideration. It would be nice to read a blog on breast reduction surgery from someone who is body positive on all sides of the spectrum. You certainly have all sorts of ways to continue to contribute online, and I thank you for being so generous with sharing your life experiences.

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    5. I just remembered that I'd put up this rant before when I was at the height of my frustration. I've since been diagnosed with Small Fiber Neuropathy. There aren't a lot of treatments, but it's nice to at least have a formal diagnosis and a general idea of what's causing the pain and numbness. My hearing loss will probably always be a separate mystery.

      This blog has really been there for me in a lot of ways in the last few years. The process of truly accepting and not being ashamed of my body has come at the same time that I have decided to be more upfront and proactive about treating and dealing with my hearing loss. It's easier to accept that you're different as long as you know some people out there who are different in the same way! The internet is good for that. Thanks again for sharing, Brittany. You're a great role model for women trying to navigate both the retail and medical worlds!

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  5. Britanny, so good to hear from you! Take care honey and hopefully all will be well. WisHing you best and already missing your future posts.

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  6. I'm sorry to hear about your health issues and family troubles. I had wondered what happened to you.

    This, however, is pretty unnecessary: "(and most people who are what is considered a “healthy” BMI have correctly fitting band sizes under 32, anyway)"

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    1. What bothers you about it? How would you have phrased the same point?

      (FWIW my use of the word "healthy" was not intended to be a value judgement, nor is it the word I'd ideally prefer to use, it just happens to be the word that is commonly used to refer to a specific size range. That's why I put it in quotation marks.)

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    2. You could have said something like "a lot of people have correctly fitting band sizes under 32" without referencing BMI or health.

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    3. That is a somewhat silly stance to take against a perfectly reasonable statement. A "healthy BMI" is an objective medical term, not subjective or judgmental language.

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    4. A lot of people still believe that sub-32 band sizes are limited to undeveloped teens or "starving, for sure" anorexic adults. So there is nothing wrong to mention that healthy ones might "have correctly fitting band sizes under 32, anyway" as well.

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    5. Get over it. There was nothing wrong with Brittany's comment. Check your hypersensitivity especially at the door. She has always been a great source of information and I applaud her for that and feel sad for what she is facing.

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    6. @Anka -- it is absolutely NOT an objective medical term, hahaha. Please do some research on what the BMI actually is, what it was created to do, and how it has been rejiggered in recent decades so that it no longer even slightly serves as a barometer of health.

      Among many other things, even if you're stuck on the entirely mistaken idea that skinnier == healthier, my "BMI" is higher now that I exercise regularly. I wear 30 instead of 34 now, and I went down a dress size, but I also put on muscle, and weigh ~20 lbs more than I did before. The BMI is a pure numbers game of height vs weight, and is famously, hilariously bad at actually even determining whether or not someone is fat.

      Brittany's comment was a bit unnecessary -- all she needed to say was that she'll still have a ribcage that is too small for department store bras, since I think that's what she was trying to convey anyway about not being a standard size.

      But you are misinformed, and the anons under you are incredibly rude. "Check your hypersensitivity at the door," indeed.

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  7. Hi Brittany,
    I have been a long time follower of your blog. I was elated to see your post since it's been quite awhile since you've been gone! I'm sorry to hear about all those medical issues but am also happy that you are getting things treated. Best of luck and hope to hear from you more soon.

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  8. Oof, I'm sorry about that. I can absolutely empathize with the health issues - I have hypermobility-type Ehlers Danlos which used to be worse. (I once subluxed a rib and couldn't exercise for a year, and so lost the muscle tone I needed to compensate)

    This was compounded by my UK 28H boobs, which also prevented me from sitting up straight, breathing properly (they pulled on my neck muscles and no bra helped that), exercising effectively, and gave me frequent headaches and shoulder pain. I got a reduction and lift (EDS stretchy skin, whee!) a few years ago and my life was definitely changed for the better. (Of course, insurance didn't cover it because it was "cosmetic" and I didn't take enough off for their tastes.)
    I now wear a mainstream US 32DDD (UK 32E?) - my ribcage is actually a bit larger, but also I've found that (some) US brands actually run tighter in the band than the brands I was wearing pre-reduction! I compared.

    I still have lots of weird health issues including dust (and pet and pretty much every category of plant) allergies... Trying to sort out what's what and get it all treated. It's no fun. Allergy meds do seem to be helping a lot. Good luck with the shots! I am trying to work out if that's an option with so many allergens.

    If you do have EDS, do you have stretchy skin? They warn that it might be a problem with healing from surgery and scarring, though I didn't have any issue, thankfully. I hope everything goes well and you heal quickly and your insurance covers you!

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  9. Just stumbled upon your Blog. I had a breast reduction in 1994 when I was 16. I was measured at the time as a 32 DD. (I probably wasn't in the correct sizes then either but my mom had no idea of where to take me) There has been tremendous size inflation since then and I have no idea what it would be considered now. I now have 32 DD and DDD Bra's that fit and I am nowhere NEAR the size I was then. Anyhow, I was very active/ athletic growing up and I would get these horrible back pains & spasms, especially after Field Hockey practice. The sports bra's then were not even close to the quality there is now. I had to wear my regular bra under then generic style sports bra. Still not that effective.

    The breast reduction was THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE FOR MYSELF! I could move without pain, the callouses/ cuts / bruises along my ribcage went away. The grooves in my shoulders went away. I could fit into things and exercise without pain. The list goes on. After my surgery two of my cousins got it done as well. I have met many women over the years who have made the decision and ALL are very happy with it.

    As for the surgery itself, it wasn't too bad. The pain felt like I had done a tremendous amount of push ups. (It didn't help that I actually did a ton of push ups the night before figuring that it would be a while until I could do it again.... not my brightest moment). There will be some weird bruising but don't worry about that it will go away.My scars are not bad at all. I imagine that there have been advances in technique in the past 20+ years as well. Good Luck!

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  10. Brittany,
    a long time ago (it feels like, anyway), you wrote that curvy is not a size, it's a shape. Thing is, it's not a particular shape, and it's definitely not necessarily an extreme shape. You should do what you decide is good for your own health and comfort, first, and then I hope you will continue to feel good about being curvy. I have missed you, at times I have envied you, and at other times I have been happy to be who I am -- all normal, I think.
    I am very glad that you have posted again. There is so much positive energy in your writing, and you seem to meet your challenges head-on. I hope you will continue sharing the challenges and the triumphs of your life; community helps (both ways).
    All best wishes.

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  11. Hello there,
    I've been reading your blog since the beginning, well nearly, and was very sad to see it discontinued. I am not a large chest lady, only have a small back with an "average" D cup. But I am also very petite and thin and hourglass shaped. But I really thought that your blog was great for any woman with issue finding bras and clothes that fit, be it large or small chest. Reading your blog also helped me in finding at last my right bra size, when I was starting my journey to have a true better fit. Even in France we have huge issue to find a wide range of bras. So yes now I shop mostly in the UK. So I would be more than happy to read you again. I wish you good luck for your surgery and your health issues: you took the right decision. Between a large chest (which is very often so much glorified in our societies) and your comfort and your health, of course it had to be done this way. Your body and integrity is more important. Your well being as well. Hope to be reading you again soon.

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  12. Hi Brittany,

    Great to hear you're doing better health-wise. I hope your partner has worked out his job situation as well. One thought for you if you're really scared of surgery is that you might try doing some strength training to build up your core, upper back and shoulder muscles. That may solve your pain problems without surgery and without reducing your breasts. I used to have all kinds of issues with my back (both upper and lower) and with my shoulders but I've been doing strength training for a couple of years now and they are vastly improved. Happy to provide more tips if you think it's helpful.

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  13. Oh my goodness, I only found your new post now! I wonder how you have been since. I am glad you're back! I hope you will keep blogging. I love your blog! There aren't many skinny but busty bloggers like you!

    I have to admit that my chest tightened when I read the part about you getting a breast reduction surgery. I have around the same bra size as you do, and am also experiencing continuous growth in my chest area (due to my birth control pill usage). My first thought was, "Could a breast size like this really be so big that it could cause someone such suffering?" But then I am not you and I am not going through the same things you are. Boob-wise, I may have big breasts, but I only recently understood the concept of shallow and projected breasts and realized that I have shallow breasts. This explains why my breasts, when viewed from the side, have never looked as big as those with the same size as me, while when viewed from the front they looked really big. I also found out that shallow breasts seem to be able to support themselves, and this is why I have never felt back pain.

    From one big-breasted, sub-28-backed woman to another: I give you my wholehearted support. I hope things get better for you from now on. I wish you a speedy recovery from the surgery and from all of the other ailments you have. Again, I'm so happy to see that you are back! More power to you!

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  14. Hi Brittany! I've followed your blog for a while. I, too, have hypermobile joints (my orthopedic surgeon has told me that if it existed, I'd score a 10 on the Beighton Scale). Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (aka Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility) sucks. You're probably feeling a lot of pain because of the muscle, tendons, and ligaments that have extra weight to support. I remember constantly having back issues when I was a nursing mom with a 28GG bust.

    I just wanted to let you know that I support whatever decision you make, and wish you well. If you want, I can PM you my personal email if you want to keep in touch, ask me about my experience with JHS/EDSH, etc.

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