It was the lights.
It was the lights. They were bloody huge. I think the last time I was in a spotlight of focus was on a stage, probably dancing knowing me. This time it was in an operating theatre. I walked there from the day surgery cubicle, in my soft pink fluffy dressing gown with a very kind nurse. Then the doors opened and I entered into the scene of a hospital drama. I dreamily noted the machines as I was led to the bed. So many of them. Somewhere I had a thought about them being all for me, it seemed a funny thought. Only funny up until I lay down and had 3 faces above me. The anaesthetist was so young, I almost hysterically asked him when he had qualified, but I didn’t, I kept quiet. My breathing started to get shallow as a cannula was put in my arm and I had the thought that this was the last moment I would have my breast. I cried then and the nurse wiped my tears. Not missing a trick the anaesthetist put the mask on my face and said to breathe in the oxygen. Oxygen my arse, this is it, this is me going under. Then I was gone.
After the diagnosis is given things move super fast. And you feel super slow, detached somehow. Keeping it together until another wave of anxiety sweeps the floor away. I mean I’ve had panic attacks before, but not like the ones after diagnosis and before the treatment options are given. The waiting room of terror. I was literally unable to be off the phone or seeing someone 24hrs a day for a few days. I feel very grateful to those who took my desperate calls in that December. My God you saved my life, all of you. I’m very in my body, or so I thought, but that 10 days I tried to run away from myself. Its the strangest sensation trying to leave ones skin and bones behind. Edvard Munch’s iconic painting ‘The Scream’ makes such sense, because that is the sound track under it all. All the time.
So, the operation. Yes. Stark choices I recalled thinking in that appointment weeks prior. The consultant surgeon in her matter of fact way gave me three options. Chemotherapy, mastectomy or more tests and a lumpectomy. It was a sizable tumour, 50mm and 6 lymph nodes. That’s golf ball size. I have some odd thoughts at odd times and the one that came right then was from my dear friend, saying I was about to earn my pirate name: Wildy one tit. Yeah the pirate with the arsenal of golf balls to pelt at anyone she liked, all etched with thick black writing that said ‘Tumour’. I know I told you I have some odd thoughts. But somehow that helped me to make the choice of mastectomy. After all, who can refuse the call to piracy?
I didn’t feel much like a pirate when I woke up though. More like I’d been in a road traffic accident. A juggernaut had definitely hit my right side. I was crying too, a recovery nurse was there beside me. She wiped my eyes and pulled up what I thought was a blanket. It was so soft. I didn’t know hospitals had such soft blankets, how lovely. I lifted it up to look at it and was confused that it was pink. Strange colour. The nurse then said my dressing gown looked warm. And I remembered walking in there with it. Odd what you forget. Her job was to chat with me and monitor my recovery out of anaesthetic. She was so kind. I even agreed to write her a review for her studies and she slipped her email address in the fluffy dressing gown pocket. I was utterly off my head and I only found her note weeks later. I did write her that review. It’s the little things that matter. She made it all more bearable in that waking moment. We all make it more bearable for each other, kindness is the best currency for life.