Op. Day – 2. The Wire, Why Her?

The knock of the knot –  Breast Cancer with Lacanian Angles

Queueing behind the curtain

Soon after our arrival the first batch of patient patients were called by name. Addressed by a woman in crocs hugging a clipboard and chewing a pen. Each already signed off to their fate. Permission slips of all possible legal outcomes acknowledged in ink. I agree to… How they moved: toddling off, a macabre scene in its sombre innocence, as they were led away behind their clinical tour guide. The morning sunlight edged forward casting tubules of fairy dust, as a caretaker rhythmically mopped. Then nothing: an ellipses, ripples on still water. Time in its own dimension of now and then. An anticipation of next and another beat of the heart. Ten minutes later “our” subset were called. A mirror image where they’d gone right, we were led left. Equally obedient, six men and six women. As a member of the latter set once inside we were separated again. Our bay was female. The ladies placed their bags upon their beds. Oh cosy inmates. Each bed, made into a cubicle by a thin curtain tracked by ceiling rails. I was empty handed.

“Alice:How long is forever? White Rabbit:Sometimes, just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Confidently or cluelessly or trustingly, I’d left my “just in case” rucksack in the waiting room with my dedicated personal waiter. Yes I’m very fortunate to have my significant other there awaiting – but the choices leading to what made us “us” are another rambling story of on-line intrigue, anonymity and perseverance. Did he feel the weight of the bag or the weight of the wait? The white coats granted me permission to return – to retrace those steps through heavy security doors. Several long prismatic corridors, sometimes with glaring blinking windows, other times gloomy claustrophobic burrows. Hey I’m back, I escaped the group. My nose twitched: clinical smells. The abandonned mop waited. The rucksack which included the cell phone was held aloft. A final “final kiss” and this Alice chose to start again. Or was I the rabbit? Or was there really any choice at all? Enjoy your jouissance!

Meeting Michael my Chaperone

The curtained bay was cold. A draught from the adjacent window. I watched as my legs took refuge under the blanket provided. Automaton. Self preservation. A nurse came by to take blood pressure and I asked if I was going to have the blue-dye injection or the wire insertion. Blinking I knew the protocol by heart, in theory at least. Ah yes she said, yes, Michael will be here shortly to escort you. I had time to locate the loo and then meet my anaesthetist (another tall white coat) and then Michael arrived, flying in from a previous quest. I imagined him as an invincible Icarus sweeping down valiantly as the plot twists in a medical dystopian version of Brazil.

Magazines Out of Time

In a jot we’d left River View and had entered the specialised breast clinic zone. Michael said to wait. He’d be back. So here I waited. Waiting again but that was fine. It was part of the conveyer-belt process: not too fast. I did what I was told. No need to think. At 8:40 I was spotted and given another blanket. As I sat I fed it between my knees. Me myself and I. I studied the corridor. There on the side table lay magazines. I never had been a fan of those glossies out-of-place in a clinical world. So much for anti-bacterial gel when some of those magazines obscenely revealed their date of issue as being five years previously. Five years. The golden aspiration of those who hope to be survivors or in remission after this bleak diagnosis. Those magazines ensconced in their own timeless gasp of horror.

Rabbit in the wire

Led to the ultrasound and wire insertion room. Upon the surgical couch they discussed how I should lay. The cancer being situated high up, situated in an almost under arm area of breast tissue. This meant that lying flat was not possible. How can they view the eleven o’clock flesh? Those of you who understand or have observed the behaviour of the larger breast will know that once prone they don’t sit pert and neat, aloft on the chest. They relax out and downwards sinking with gravity into the arm pit. They sank and took eleven o’clock along with them, daliesque. As my accused breast sank, so the clinician realised a sideways stance would be the only way. Wriggled into a “recovery” type position my face was still able to glance behind. The ultrasound screen was in view. I wasn’t going to turn into a pillar of salt…frozen in time, that would be too easy an end. This adventure required a willing participation in the suffering ahead. But at least I had a front row seat to view the performance. Let’s repeat: Enjoy your jouissance!

Wire Wound

With plenty of reassurance the area was numbed. A local anaesthetic needle glinted and was applied around the areola. Fortunately I’d been quick to ask exactly where that “sharp” was going in. This was déjà vue, I was here only yesterday and I’d read the blogs. I knew the lesson and this lessened the shock. Sharp scratch and it stung like a bee. For those who need details of the level of pain: the depth reached by the needle filled anaesthetic was barely felt, before even more anaesthetic was introduced. The area was numbed, comfortably numb and then came the posturing for the wire. Compliant I was shifted leg and buttock. Next the re-posturing of the breast. The professional with her hands-on-job to move mountains. Like Muhammed if that mountain didn’t come to her she would grasp “it” with more vigor. The guilty “it” that numb part of myself that had betrayed me and led me to here. That apologetic breast which so carelessly, innocently, flaunted cleavage on the beach less than only a month ago. Placing the wire in the flesh of course required some manhandling of the floppity yet fibrous tissues. Manhandle is that an outdated term? Handled like a man, by a woman? Floppity and yet not so floppity. This is dense tissue we’re dealing with here. A lollipop figure. This is tissue with a mind of its own. Tissue that fills tensely according to the hormonal tides. The hands on approach with a push-pull pressure increased to extract the needle after the wire was in place. The experts apologised for their exertion. Almost straddling my body and heave-ho! My, my that was a struggle to retrieve. In my googling I’d already read about this possibility. The shared experience put me at ease. It was a physical effort to achieve and retract but now with the wire in place the needle was out. Pretty painless. The ends of the wire were flattened and taped across my skin. A brooch but not one of valor. I was the receptacle. I contained the treasure, I was the x that marks the spot. I was the prize ready for the next monochrome photo shoot. I didn’t pay much attention to the what, nor the why. No bravery just obedience.

Enjoy your jouissance!