two women fussing with their uncomfortable bra straps

On Wearing a Bra

Men can’t really know the pain and discomfort of wearing a bra. From the time I was a child, I could never find a bra that fit properly or was comfortable. Being large-breasted didn’t help, and to top it off, I have what is referred to as a pigeon chest. It is a condition where the breast bone is pushed up and so my cleavage starts extremely high in my chest. It is a nuisance especially for those with larger breasts.

One of the youngest clients

My first bra fitting was when I was only 9 years old. By this time, I had grown rather large breasts and the boys at school had noticed. My mother took me to a lady’s boutique to get fitted for a bra. The lady was truly kind but certainly not used to dealing with kids like me. You can only imagine the tucking and fitting it took to get my jugs into a bra made for 25-year-old women.

Teen years

As the years passed and I grew into real bras, I tried them all. Sports bras, underwire, and those that were padded to hold their shape. In my 64 years, I have never found a bra that was comfortable or fit me properly. I wished all my life for small enough breasts so that I wouldn’t need to wear a bra, but alas that never happened.

The role of COPD

Barrel chest

As COPD set in, I began to develop a barrel chest. Not knowing any better, I thought I was gaining weight but that was the furthest thing from the truth. A barrel chest is from overinflated lungs and the rib cage stays slightly expanded all the time.

Shortness of breath

Now I had an even harder time getting a properly fitting bra and began eliminating a bra as much as possible. In the morning, the bra felt good, roomy even, and like it would be okay. Come the afternoon, it would begin to pull and tighten.

The band around the bra made my shortness of breath worse and no matter how many times I adjusted it, used spacers, or how big a bra I got, by afternoon it was cutting off my breath. The minute I got in the car after work, I would undo my bra and that was that for the rest of the day. Weekends were spent bra-less, and I loved it.

My first exacerbation and today

After my first exacerbation, I was bra-less for the entire two months while I was in the hospital. It was the first time that I didn’t have to worry about anyone caring if I had my breasts covered up or not. It was pure freedom.

When I went for my first pulmonary check-up, the physician's assistant had a frank talk with me about wearing a bra. She said that if I started to wear tops that were a little looser while also using a camisole I would easily be able to go without a bra. She pointed out that having a band tightening around my midsection could impede my breathing.

While purging and cleaning last spring, I donated all my bras sans one. I had many nice ones, but I didn’t feel bad about giving them away. Today I am bra-free mostly every day.

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