It's Not Their Body, It's Yours!
“You are soooo skinny, eat a cheeseburger”
“You have HUGE boobs, you are so lucky”
“Dang girl, you thick as hell!”
Most of us have either been told, have said or have heard someone say at least one of those phrases in our life time and the person saying it usually means for it to be a compliment. Any mention of gaining weight, losing weight, or getting a breast reduction usually warrants the responses:
“You are literally slapping God in the face”
“No, you have the best problem!”
“Wow, anyone else would kill to look like you”
These are only a few of many similar scenarios and I’m here to tell you that no one gets to tell you that your problem is a good problem to have. Others’ opinions on how you should feel about yourself are irrelevant, because your insecurities will drag you down to a deep and dark place if you don’t take accountability of your own destiny and change your life. Here is my story.
In the scenarios above, I was the boob girl. I have had big boobs since I was in middle school and they just continued to grow. I used to wear ace bandages over two or three sports bras to cheerleading practice. I found myself thinking “my eyes are up here” multiple times daily. I couldn’t wear anything that fit the rest of my body because according to high school girls that makes you a “slut” and according to high school guys it makes you “easy”. Neither of which I was, so, I could either be classified that way by wearing clothes that fit or I could look like a sack of potatoes every day in baggy clothes. I hated being known as “the girl with big boobs,” but the biggest issue that arose was back pain.
I started seeing a back doctor when I was 16. The initial diagnosis was that I had inflammation in between my disks from cheerleading. According to my doctor, there was not much to do other than inject steroids that would lower inflammation. He said when I stopped cheering it would all go away. So, starting in 2010 at age 16, they started maxing me out on steroid injections every year. If you don’t know, now you knowwwwwww – steroids cause you to gain weight! The more I got steroids and gained weight, the more my boobs grew. I have a tattoo on my side that was completely visible when I got it and it got to the point where you couldn’t even see it anymore. The bigger my boobs grew, the more back pain I had. This caused all kinds of new issues during my time cheering in college. Chronic low back pain became the norm. Sciatic nerve issues and muscle spasms started to not phase me. You’re probably already wondering why I kept doing the injections. Hindsight is 20/20 and if I knew what I know now I would’ve never done them. But, I was in pain with one goal in mind. When I got the injections, the pain would relieve for a few months and I thought maybe one day it would go away all together.
In February of 2014, I got into a car wreck. When I got out of the car I noticed I couldn’t feel anything in my left leg. Call me nuts, but I was sort of relieved thinking that maybe FINALLY something was ACTUALLY wrong with me and they could do something about it. They held me at Overland Park Regional for 7 hours, injected me with painkillers, ran tests all to find that no picture or scan showed any sign of damage in my back. The doctors said my sciatic nerve was tweaked when the car crushed into my leg, which caused me to lose feeling for a few hours. I still had “inflammation” in my back that – GUESS WHAT – they could treat with more steroids. So, I left the ER with a $75,000 hospital bill (thank GOD for health insurance), some hydros (that I refused to take because drugs weird me out), and a note to my doctor to check me out and give me more steroids. After the car accident, I felt so defeated. I got more doggone injections and went on about my merry way.
I graduated college in May 2015, which was the end of my cheerleading career which is when I was told my back pain would go away. Well, PLOT TWIST, it didn’t. But, I was so used to living my life in pain that I just ignored it for an entire year. In May of 2016 it started to become completely unbearable – more than I ever thought possible. Finally, in November 2016, I scheduled an appointment to go back to the doctor. He ordered an MRI that found that my disk between L4 and L5 was almost completely torn in half. I was somewhat relieved at the thought that maybe there was something wrong they could actually fix. Guess what his solution was? MORE STEROIDS. Only this time, a different kind of steroid. This one was an epidural steroid that contained medicine to glue/repair the disc and “actually solve the problem”. Epidural steroids cause weight gain of 15 – 20 lbs. and it is really, really, REALLY hard to get off. BUT, I was told that this was the ultimate problem-solver, so I agreed to do it.
In January 2017, I was the biggest I had ever been. My boobs had grown from a D at 16 to a GG at 24. I’d be lying if I said I did not struggle with this. When you get past the letter D, that’s when, according to society, you start to be “too big”. This added an additional layer of emotional stress to the physical pain I was already battling. I wanted to work out and I did, but it became so difficult – almost impossible. I had to wear 3 or 4 bras to the gym, which was only kind of supportive, and they cut my shoulders. My mood changed and I didn’t want to do things I liked to do because I didn’t want to wear the clothes that didn’t fit or be on my feet for long because it hurt. I had lost all self-confidence. I hit that “deep, dark” place I mentioned in the intro of this post. Back pain had crept up from my lower back to my mid back and shoulders. Until September I was not in a great place physically, mentally or emotionally.
One day, I decided I’d had enough and I finally decided it was time to get out and start getting consulted for breast reduction surgery. The first doctor I saw could not take me because I needed too much taken out. I was disappointed, but not as easily discouraged as I was early on in my journey. The second doctor I saw was Dr. Cannova at Associated Plastic Surgeons in Leawood, KS. He was absolutely fantastic. He could tell I was very uncomfortable with my body and the process in general and he and his nurses did everything in their power to make me comfortable during consultations and applying for insurance’s help with coverage. Simultaneous to my waiting game with insurance, I decided that before getting surgery I was going to do everything I could to get back to that healthy mind, body and soul that I once had. I started working out with a personal trainer. I was very upfront with him that this would be temporary until my surgery, then I would be out for a few months then I was ready to kick it into gear again. He took my concerns and my health into consideration every work out and really helped me to get to a good place before I went under the knife. He was nothing short of phenomenal. Almost a month after my first consultation, I finally got my acceptance letter from insurance and scheduled me surgery – October 24, 2017.
October 24, 2017 was a day that changed my life forever. I was a nervous wreck the morning of surgery and just like that, the drugs knocked me out and, as far as I’m concerned, I woke right back up – 5 lbs. lighter! The first few weeks were a doozy as I was on lots of pain medication, but instantaneously my back pain went away. I was surrounded by the most amazing family, boyfriend, friends and coworkers that helped me at a time where I was most vulnerable. Recovery was extensive and it was harder than I would’ve expected, but I had this totally revitalized positive energy that kept me moving along.
My doctor expected to clear me during the first week of January 2018. Well, with the will power and newfound confidence to push myself and get stronger every day, he was able to clear me three weeks early on December 15. I started back with my trainer, on December 18 and am seeing him weekly. I weighed myself that day and set a goal to lose 50 lbs. this year and put a real plan in place that involves using MyFitnessPal to manage my meals, doing cardio in the mornings daily, seeing my trainer one or two nights a week and doing at least one “change of scenery” work out a week (HipHop class, Insanity, Kickboxing, Skiing, etc). Never in my life had I been able to implement a new way of living for myself that actually made a difference. I am happy to say that as of a week ago I am down 7 lbs, with 43 to go! I feel like I’m back to the “old me” but even better. I’m in the best state physically, mentally and emotionally that I’ve been in years with goals to only go up from here.
I hope this leaves you thinking about the way you treat people and how the things you say can affect people. I hope you think twice before telling someone that being skinny, having parents who have a lot of money, having big boobs or anything else is a “good problem to have”. You never know when the person on the receiving end of your back-handed compliment is dealing with anorexia, MS, parents who give them money because they’re never around, a back injury, etc. These are only a few examples. I hope when someone tells you that a problem of yours is a good problem to have or that you are incurable, that you don’t convince yourself you are making it up. I hope you never stop fighting and trying to find a solution. I hope you always get a second opinion. I hope your process doesn’t take as long as mine did. I hope you don’t have to lose all confidence before you decide to change your life. You sometimes never know what you’re supposed to learn from a bad situation until years down the road. Sometimes you never know how bad your situation really was until you are out of it. I didn’t, but my situation taught me to work harder and never stop fighting. It taught me to look at others and realize they are fighting battles every single day that I know nothing about. Because of that, I look at people through a different lens. I want to be someone that encourages positivity and happiness on others, not someone that contributes to the demons they are fighting. We are all insecure in different ways, but if we can make a conscious effort to check on people and lift them up, we can truly changes our own lives and the lives of those around us.
The most important thing I want to leave you with today is that my inner confidence did not come after I got my surgery. I found my inner confidence the day I decided was not going to continue to do the same thing over and over again that wasn’t working. The moment that I decided I was committed to start doing whatever it was going to take to change my situation – the day I started scheduling my consultations – that’s when I channeled my inner confidence. It was not the physical act of getting surgery, but the mental power it took to say, I am in control of this and I will take every step necessary to change it, even if it means finding another way. I would still be a 34 GG and probably 70 lbs. heavier than I want to be had I not made the decision to call the doctor that day. Your goals, your body, your health, your financial situation, your relationship, whatever it is that you want to change is relying on you, so decide what it takes to change your life, realize you are the only one in control of that and commit.
Written by Taylor Holmes