Op. Day – 1. The Curtain Call

The knock of the knot –  Breast Cancer with Lacanian Angles

No Universal Reality

We arrived on the day of surgery, October 8th at 7:30, pretty much on the dot. Dot dot dash dash, yes it seemed a bit of a dash but no elaborate preparations were made. The appointment was for a “speedy” out-patients operation so no toothbrush, only my cell phone and a choice of after-op boneless non-scaffolded underwears. Despite doubting their efficacy they were purchased precisely for their purpose and weren’t that easy to hunt down. Bravisimo was the chosen retailer for obvious reasons. Although there is still little out there informing about fit and comfort for pre-op purchasing. In September Stella McCartney, whose mother passed away from breast cancer in 1998, launched her “Louise Listening Bra” sizes S/M.

Louise Listening Bra by Stella McCartney

 Quite a snazzy front zip fastening mastectomy compression bra, the proceeds from which will help benefit the Hello Beautiful Foundation. After much deliberation I chose a 32G maternity model the Royce Ava Bra (1154) that promised to accommodate my post lumpectomy breast. Without underwires it had a release catch (for breast feeding) but this seemed appropriate to relieve possible pain from pressure along the top of the chest and to give space for the surgical

maternity bra
Royce Ava Bra

gauze. The second design I preferred had a padded shell design. The cup was scaffolded to enable the breast to nestle in supported elevation and the side wires were set back more laterally against the ribs. Both of these bras needed customising with a scissor snip to cut away material under the arm. This was to avoid any clash and rub of stitching both animal, mine post surgery and mineral, the hemmed elasticated zigger zagger fabric in the underarm design.

Only a week ago I’d optimistically booked a batch of five yoga classes. Shockingly I managed just three on my “old-self” schedule: Wednesday and Saturday were part of my old-normality but the night before my hospitalisation the call to yoga was just irrelevant. So, essentially the guru yoga instructor is still in the dark as to the gravity of my seemingly casual absenteeism. This “mind before body” pre-op karmic choice, brings me one session closer to losing my toned arms and fitness. So instead of the chaturanga and chanting, the evening before the morning after involved a nice supper, easy chillax and a good grateful sleep. A clinging to just being. I’ve always, since birth, slept on my front so this too was a last chance to retire freely bellydown. A last sleep without pain. The last chance to be me before an unknown “x” that marks the spot. Nope, not even a pre-hospital hair appt. Neither preparation of an over night bag. All optimistic details, swamped out by just sucking in the last hours of normality, my normality…because is there ever a universal reality?

Zero Hour Arrives

The morning arrives and the taxi has little traffic to navigate. It all seems so ridiculously early. Up and active far earlier than a work day. Our timing was impeccable and we sat. Sitting in public. Sitting in the waiting room. Waiting to begin. Waiting as a pause. But isn’t sitting usually about waiting? Sitting involves anticipating, feeling the time, being “immersed in” the moment, whether it be travelling from here to there, driving or being driven, or taking in the time: sitting to relax, sitting back embraced by the hands of time, engulfed in the lap of time, gazing into the watch-face. Using the minutes to breathe, to be, to pause. Sitting as one waits: to eat, digest, or to hear the other person who sits and shares that time with you. (If you are, of course,  fortunate to have comfortable company). A companion to weigh the time with. Oh heavy hour. Be light with me.

Sitting, waiting: it’s actually unlike me not to make eye contact with others, but looking here into the eyes of those who reflected the same situation as me, looking at them seemed so inappropriate. An intimacy shared in a moment seared and pierced by the obscene audacity of gaze, of daring to look them in the eye. Risking seeing myself, my fears, my doubts, mirrored back. Stepping in, making that advance, that cut in their reality, invading the moment of the other. I didn’t look. The power of the “gaze” and the gaze-returned. The gaze of the other freezing us in time. Seeing myself perhaps as another rabbit willingly waiting to see where this road will lead. Not yet trapped in a path of no return but given hope to cross and continue. Let’s face those lights, it’s not bravery, but a combination of ignorance and trust. A faith in science. A belief in statistics. Each person waiting was mentally and emotionally preparing for a scalpel that could prove to save their life. In the headlights, the footlights, the theatrical light, waiting for the curtain to move and for their newly assigned role to begin.