So today I did something I hadn’t done in a long time. I went swimming. With regard to swimming after breast reconstruction, I’d been told by my surgeon–quite emphatically–that he would like me to avoid public pools. He said that the ocean was a better choice, but to be aware that anything could happen, as one of his patients was an avid scuba diver and recently had to have her implants removed due to infection from bacteria contracted while in the water. She was two years out from reconstruction.
How you ask? Well, nipples have openings, folks. Things can get in that teensy little opening. I had a nipple sparing mastectomy, which means I kept mine rather than having them removed.
Did I have to avoid water forever? His advice was this–you have to live your life. You have to assess what is right for you. No one knows what will or will not happen. You could get hit by a bus crossing the street. So while I avoid submerging my breasts in the ocean as well as public swimming pools and hot tubs, I decided today to visit one of the springs we have here in Florida. The waters are very cold. I hadn’t been in a freshwater spring since I was a child. It’s a lovely, vivid memory. I wanted my kids to experience the same thing. So, off we went.
Despite the fact that my reconstructed breasts are ripply and the right one still hasn’t righted itself, I felt confident enough in a bikini top to not wear anything over it. Was I worried about submerging my breasts? Sure. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have some concern. But life must be lived, and I don’t want to be so cautious that I miss out on making memories with my children. I haven’t swam since before the mastectomy. To swim in such a lovely, natural setting was wonderful. I felt like a normal person again. I haven’t felt normal with regard to my breasts in a long time. I was just another mom, swimming with her kids.
It was glorious. The water was COLD and such a welcome respite from Florida’s ridonkulous heat and humidity. I jumped in and we had a great afternoon. I was even caught off guard by two young men ogling me in my bikini top. After everything I’ve gone through and the beating these poor breasts have taken, it was nice to know that I could still appear “normal.”
It was a good day.