Why, yes, I have lost a few pounds...

I've got several cons on my schedule this year, a few that are new to me and a few that I'll be attending for the first time. I'm looking forward to all of them. I love connecting with readers and talking books for hours on end. Nothing makes me happier.

Except writing. I love to write. Can't imagine my life without it. But last year was a bad year. The neck pain I'd been experiencing off and on became a constant, nagging ache. Then it became a constant, aching pain. It moved from my neck, which became so stiff I had limited range of motion, to my shoulders and down my back. I couldn't turn my head more than an inch or so in either direction without pain. My shoulders were so tight, I had to consciously roll them every few minutes so they didn't hunch and my back would seize to the point that I couldn't breathe. I couldn't sit for long periods of time and, for a writer, that's terrifying. Physical therapy didn't help and the exercise I relied on to keep me sane was fast becoming impossible. Ibuprofen and naproxen sodium worked for a while. Then I moved onto prescription muscle spasm medication, but the side effects were miserable. The alternative was just as bleak.

Then I saw this Buzzfeed article.

I'm 5'2". I wore a C cup in 7th grade. It escalated to a D by 20. After kids, DDD and that's conservative. I should've been wearing a 2E but where the hell do you find a 2E bra to try on or that costs less than $100 or is remotely comfortable? NOTHING was comfortable. Not one fucking bra I wore EVERY SINGLE MINUTE OF EVERY DAY or the ones I had to wear at night because you can't sleep comfortably unless those puppies are contained. And have I mentioned the ridges permanently cut into my shoulders or the constant rash under my boobs or the absolute hatred I came to have for the damn things. Yes, I hated my boobs. Hated, hated, hated them. They became the bane of my existence. I could barely write, I couldn't run, I couldn't bike, I was in constant pain and I was miserable.

And then I was done. With the help of my wonderfully supportive (small pun intended) family practitioner, who described the strain my breasts were putting on my neck and shoulders as hanging a ten-pound dumbbell around my neck, and an amazing plastic surgeon, I got rid of at least three cup sizes. My shoulder pain vanished almost immediately, as did my back pain. My neck is taking a little longer to loosen up but I have almost full range of motion, something I haven't had in years. Not a year or so. YEARS.

By now you're probably wondering why I'm spilling my guts. I go to a lot of cons. If you've met me before, you're going to notice I'm not as busty as I used to be. I'm not offended if you notice or look. I am more than happy to talk about how happy my new boobs make me. Please ask questions. If you've thought about surgery but want to talk to someone, talk to me. Hell, if you're seriously considering the operation, I'll show you my scars (in private, I'm no exhibitionist, and they really aren't that bad) and tell you that the day after surgery is miserable but every day after is a gift.

And I'll tell you how much I love my new boobs. I'll tell you how amazing it is to look in the mirror and not cringe at the image.

There will be people who gasp and say, "You never looked that big." I learned to camoflage at a young age. There will be A- and B-cup women who say, "I wish I had your problem." No, you really don't. You don't want to consider bra shopping the eighth level of Hell and bathing suit shopping the ninth. You don't want to have to struggle into two bras to run. And there will be someone who says "Why put yourself through that? Learn to live with it." I did. For decades. And then I got smart.

And happy. And yesterday, I ran for the first time in months. Not far and not long and my thighs hurt and my knees ache and my ankle's a little sore but I'm smiling as I write this because...I ran yesterday. And today, I'm going to write for hours.
Stephanie Julian