Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Against All Expectations

Against all expectations, life without breasts is almost indistinguishable from life with breasts. I'm sore and doing physio to regain mobility as my skin tightens around the scars. The drains were a pain and so disabling (although Pickle did appreciate me having tentacles like an Octonaut character) but they were out on Day 4. I'm still waiting for big emotions. Maybe they'll come. I know for some women it's months before they grieve their breasts. Of course I'm hoping I got sufficiently angry and sad and self-pitying and frightened when I first knew I would lose them, so that work is done. I've hoped that before and generally found I've just completed Stage One. Watch this space.

I've been to a couple of parties in a low-key way. At one, my first time with a group of my friends, I got hot in the sun and felt self-conscious taking my cardigan off to reveal a figure-hugging top underneath, swollen only by bruising and a little fluid under the skin. The moment turned out to not really be A Moment at all. I sat in the sun. I talked to my friends. I got tired and walked home, Pickle stoically carrying everything in her backpack. I made a simple tea and we went to bed. The next morning I was pleased to note that my yellow and purple stripy socks were perfectly matched to the colours on my chest. It's always good to accessorise.

Even the actual surgery was okay. I lay on the most wonderful mattress of heated gel (appparently it's really cold in theatre) and wished I could hang on to the sensation of being so warm and comfortable while the cold white anaesthetic burrowed into my arm. Bliss...

I was in a child space when I woke and spent a minute crying for my husband. A lovely nurse assured me we could phone him when I was back on the ward and I think welled up herself when I said (sobbed) that we couldn't because he died. Then that passed and I was more concerned with what the HELL was happening to my legs! In my drugged-up state it felt as though they were being alternately squeezed in inflating tubes. Turns out that was actually happpening (sometimes life is so weird) to prevent blood clots. Then I decided it felt quite nice and drifted off again.

I could have come home the same day but was still needing a steadying arm to get to the loo, so stayed in hospital reading and eating crisps. (Honestly, I'm not sure I warrant any sympathy at all.) I didn't need any painkillers for the first 24 hours because I still had anaesthetic in my system. I've been on regular paracetomol since but am wondering if I really need it. Might wait and see how it is with my dressing off. The hospital are too busy to take it off this week as planned, but my lovely nurse friend will do it with me. There's only so long it can be a good thing to wrap a wound in plastic in the summer.

So now I am pretty functional. I can't carry much or hoover or iron (I don't actually own an iron) and I can't open or close my windows. This morning I feared a stiff jar lid might get the better of me, but it gave up before I did. Pickle is wonderful. The day I came home she placed, with exquisite care, a row of kisses across my jumper. How could I not heal after that? Plus, I am surrounded by helpful friends and family (my sister stayed for a couple of days and even folded my pants!), the sun is shining and roses are blasting out of the green in my garden.

The most surprising thing for me is how instantly I felt normal in my new streamlined body. I had wondered beforehand how it would affect my dance to be a different shape. I imagined it would perhaps be awkward, that I would always feel a lack. I can't dance much yet, but it feels fine. This is just the shape of me and I like it. I like me.

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