Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Goofy Chests

X-man was born with Pectus Excavatum (aka: a funnel chest). So far as we know, all of his inside parts are functioning okay and aren't horribly displaced by having less space than a person with a "normal" chest. But X-man has started asking questions about why his chest looks different, and lately, when we go swimming at the indoor pool he wants to wear a rash guard. The truth is that if he lies on his back, his little chest dent could hold about a half cup of water in it. It's much more noticeable now than when this photo was taken at 2.

Our pediatrician let us know when he was an infant that it was mostly a cosmetic situation as long as the organs had enough space to operate regularly. Usually, children become worried about it in middle school when the depth of the chest can actually worsen due to the adolescent development. The operation to fix it, currently includes putting a rod made of metal into his body to bend the chest back out over a lengthy period of time (12 months or so), and is recommended to be done between age 12 and 18 for children with moderate to severe indentation, which doesn't sound fun at all.

But he's not the only one with some kind of chest deformity. Since I lost my weight, I've noticed that my xiphoid process sticks out and is crooked. I'm going to blame the crookedness on X-man and his giant feet pushing at my ribs every moment of every day from month 7 of my pregnancy on because I have no memory of having it protrude before, but when I lie flat on my back, this nub of a bone sticks out. Kind of like how I discovered when doing pilates that my coccyx is a bit wonky and pointing out (I'm going to blame that a little on X-man and his giant infant body, too), which makes certain exercises difficult or too painful to do. But other obese folks have also written that after losing a lot of body weight, theirs started sticking out, too. The idea being that the excess fat might have also helped push that part of the cartilage forward.

I don't have a neat o'keen photo of my chest condition (and even if I did, I probably wouldn't share). So I'm going to use this lady with like zero percent body fat. I have no idea who she is. And please don't think that anything on my body looks anything like hers, particularly in a bikini, other than the fact that her XP sticks out as much as mine does. I wonder if it hurts her to lie face down on a yoga mat, too? 

X-man understands that everyone looks different, and that being different is what makes us special. But he also understands that children have a tendency to point and stare at what is different. He knows this, because we've had to have the conversation about being sensitive and not blurting out comments about how someone is different even to ask questions. (Calling a man a she for having long hair, asking questions about why a man looks pregnant, asking why someone's legs don't work when they're in a wheelchair, etc. He can ask all the questions he wants when we're alone together. ) I'm hoping that by getting pool passes this summer, he'll grow more comfortable with his own body. I'll probably still have him in rash guards most of the time, just simply because I did marry the whitest man in America, and he totally passed that virgin snow skin onto our kid, but at the same time, I'm going to see if I can get him out at the pool for swim lessons without the guard, and work on some self acceptance. 

So if you see his sunken chest or my sticking out xiphoid process at the pool from my (hopeful) attempt at wearing my first bikini this summer, please don't stare at our chests. 


Debra said...

My brother totally has the sunken chest thing. Although I never knew what it was called. The drs just told my mom that some people have that and he would be okay and he is. Hoping that it is as minor a thing in the long run for X-man. And poor buddy, he has such a sensitive and sweet heart. It serves him well more often than not but sometimes being sensitive can be a bit painful. *hugs* to you both as you are learning how to teach him how to accept himself.

Vanessa said...

My son is 3 yrs old and has a minor condition. Drs didn't even say anything until recently casually stating "we'll have to monitor" of course I did all of my research. Your perspective is refreshing! I was worried at first but I no longer am. I prefer to stay positive like you. Have a great day and thanks for this blog.