Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Being Superwoman

(Written Monday night, in the absence of internet. Girl, disconnected.)

The last few days have been characterised by what my mother would have called 'sick trepidation'. I think I've probably had to wait about two days too long for the mastectomy. Having time to adjust to the thought of losing my breast completely is fair enough, but honestly, having too long to dwell on it just makes everything seem bigger than it really is.

Yes, yes. I'm lucky, I know, that things have come so far in breast cancer surgery. Yes, yes, sure, I can have a reconstruction of some sort later on, if I can get my head around the idea of more major surgery just for vanity's sake. But you know, it just won't be the same. It was a lot easier to think about having one breast reconstructed to get rid of the Freeloader, followed by the other being downsized to match at a later date, than it is to think about having both sides mucked around to hell at once plus a bloody sore graft site somewhere else on my body. How do you get to sleep at night with that many wounds?

Nah, I'm not sure that I'm that vain. (A surprise to me, because I've always assumed I was as vain as hell.) Really, who'd go through surgery by choice? Pain, dependence and Nescafe? Pass.

Knowing you're doing something for the last time is really, really sucky. No breast-pun intended. I had my last shower with two boobs, checked out the view in the mirror for the last time, cooeed the Bear to come and say goodbye too. He's been amazing for the last few days; I feel like he's crawled up Everest, scraping his knees to the bone in the process, and is starting, at last, to see that there's a view on the other side. And if the view is better with an Amazon for a partner, well, so be it. He was less affected by the Last Rites for my breast than I was.

Bye bye, cleavage. Bye bye, short-lived perky D-cup fantasy.

Bye bye, nipple.

Even in the midst of feeling rampantly sorry for myself, though, I was sad for Dr Goodguy too. That remodelled breast was a work of art, healing up beautifully to boot, and now he had to cut the whole damn thing off. What a bloody waste.


Mind you, it's impossible to feel negative for long with Vi around. I was well-medicated with helpless laughter by the time we all set off for the hospital, what with us both making stupid jokes about Amazons, and one day only, 50% off sales, and losing a kilo and a half of ugly fat the easy way. And the Bear was too busy chortling at the pair of us to remember he was heading for a hospital, yet again.

Predictably, the waiting once we got there was a pain in the butt. Fortunately there was an improvement on 11 ½ hours this time, but entertaining ourselves for three hours with decade-old Readers' Digests and a TV screen full of ancient cricket stars trying to be funny was still a bridge too far. Vi booked herself a room in the hospital accommodation so she could be waiting for me when I got out of surgery; the Bear got a kiss followed by marching orders as soon as his eyes started to get that glazed and desperate look.

I'm not good at fasting. After nine hours of nothing to eat, I was starting to recall the time some girlfriends and I went to a health spa and resorted to playing food Scrabble in a desperate attempt to distract ourselves from agony of the 'juice fast' (shudder). That time we gave up and all snuck out early, pouring our pre-paid accommodation fees happily down the drain- not a choice available to me this time round.

I wasn't scared- Dr Goodguy's far too good at instilling confidence for that. Just hungry, and tired of waiting. It was a total relief when my turn came. 

And so to oblivion, and the chopping block.


I surprised myself by feeling nothing but relief when I woke up from the anaesthetic. (Oh, except for the pain in my shoulder where Dr Goodguy had had to secure it at some weird backward angle to get at my armpit.) There was no sense of loss. No sadness. Just total, complete, utter relief.

Seriously, muscle strain is as bad as the discomfort's getting right now, though that could have something to do with the transvertebral block that I'm using to shoot myself full of local anaesthetic every half hour or so. No doubt I'll find out when they take it out and wean me onto normal pain killers.

By the time I was delivered back to my room on the ward, I was as chirpy as can be. My gut said the Freeloader was well and truly ejected; I felt light, and airy, and in control. Me? Sick? Nah!

Mind you, that might all be down to the drugs.

And now the clock's ticking round at half speed. The boredom's a killer. The dependence is worse. I'm not much good at sitting here doing nothing; I'm wired up to drips and drains and puffy stockings, I'm not allowed even to wee for myself let alone reach for the books and tech gadgets in the bottom drawer, and my promised internet access hasn't eventuated. 

So I'm spending a lot of energy being a model patient, pumping my left hand to keep the lymph moving and convincing everyone that I'm superwoman before reality sets in. Seriously, I AM well. I'm not in terrible pain right now, I'm not feeling miserable at all, and it's kind of nice to have absolutely nothing expected of me. I can afford to be gracious and polite, even to the grumpiest member of the night staff (I got even her cracking a little smile within a few hours).

One part of me, of course, just wants to go home. I miss my dog. I miss the quiet. 

I miss my frickin' internet connection.

But the other part of me knows that going home too soon would be a terrible thing to do to my Bear. The last thing he needs is to be thrust into a carer's role again, just because I'm bored and frustrated and homesick. 

I know the bubble will burst. It's probably just as well I'm restricted to bed. I really don't want to look in the mirror yet. I'd like to enjoy being Superwoman just a little bit longer.


  1. You are, most definitely Superwoman! So glad that all appears to have gone well and that you are in good spirits. xo

  2. Great to see you come out the other side with so much positive Superwoman!! Best way to beat the freeloader :-) HUgs xxx

  3. Glad to hear it's gone well and you are in a reasonably good frame of mind. Yes, the drugs are wonderful. I just felt glad to be alive. Keep being a model patient!