Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Makin' Mountains out of Mole Hills

I sorta feel like the kid in the neighborhood that was the first to get a microwave/cell phone/Atari, something, well nothing that cool but none-the-less, the first in my hood. With that comes a bunch of things, like fuckin' some shit up and wishin' I would have known more going in. I am the one workin' out the kinks so that I can pass the wisdom I have gathered along the way onto you dear reader. It's like my public service announcement, if/when any of you women/men are put into a similar situation you will have more information than I did. First thing ta do, call me, then refer back to my written words here, I am not leaving much out.

Ya know how it's okay for you to call your brother an asshole but if someone else were to mutter those words you would beat the shit out've em? I can down-play things to make it easier for myself and others to digest. I can make certain unpleasant things seem tolerable since I have a guilt complex that I got off "easy" in comparison to a shit ton of others. BUT, when others do that for me, I get bucky.

I am going to take one final time to talk about my cancer. I got breast cancer and I took preventative measures to make sure that it does not come back. In two major areas, (after testing positive for the BRCA gene) I underwent pretty brutal surgeries that involved removing seemingly (a.) healthy breasts and (b.) ovaries and fallopian tubes. That was a huge and terrifying decision to be faced with but given the statistics I went with my gut and have no regrets. I did however want to go through the reconstruction process, I wanted to feel like a "normal" (loose use of the word normal) woman again so I had the brilliant doctors and nurses LITERALLY make fuckin MOUNTAINS OUT OF MOLE HILLS. (I have been waiting to use that line, thanks Marie).

During the 8 month reconstruction of my breasts, that were completely removed, I had expanders put inside my chest, think Reebok Pump shoes. That was basically the theory behind it, the doctors put these balloons inside my chest under my pec muscles where my boobs used to be and I would go see my wonderful plastic surgeon every few weeks and he would fill 'em up. I did have the misfortune of one of my expanders getting infected, which was taken out the day before my big benefit party. I was thrown, I had been marching forward all along and now suddenly was set back about 4 months and I had to be ol "one tit mcgee" for over 3 months. I wish that I would've paid more attention to the exception to the rule, i.e. "if things do not go according to plan". Then maybe that would not have been such a major blow.  I played it well and I am proud of myself that I really did it right out in front of everyone and I don't think many people even knew. When you are small chested, no one is looking so no one really noticed. As weeks went by we were still fillin' up the expanders, and they grew to be like giant softballs inside my chest, which was a total pain in the ass, they made sleep impossible and bras pointless so I finally decided I wanted to be done. I wish I would have figured out exactly what size breasts I wanted and told them that straight out as opposed to trying to figure it out as I went.

It was time to start the process of finishing up. Let us not forget that this journey of double mastectomy followed by expander reconstruction started in July, it is now February.  Now we are back at the plastic surgeons office and the nurses are prepping me for my 6th surgery (holy shitballs) which was to remove the expanders that had been working at getting my skin and muscle stretched enough to fit a silicone implant in. Not my first rodeo, they asked me my name and birth date a million times, which I answer with all the patience I can muster and then ask: "so Mary, what size implants do you want today?"   I made it abundantly clear that I do not want globes, I want a certain amount of hang-age and bounce, I mean I have seen my share of fakes and they always seem so hard and set in their ways.  But alas, I knew I was in good hands so I relaxed into my anesthesia and went to sleep. 

The one thing I never stopped squawking about from day one of this whole "rebuilding project" was the subject of nipples. I mean, don't construct me a beautiful new foot if you are going to leave off the toes. That shit is just plain weird yo. I was sorta told that nipples don't really work, and they don't really last, but I didn't care. This was my non-negotiable. I'll tell ya, my guy origami-ed me some nipples. It is truly amazing. They are a bit obscene right now but he tells me they will shrink, thank god, cause these fuckers could direct traffic.

Unfortunately cancer is a growing trend, it is prevalent and seems to be gaining momentum. I went through a scary thing, I played it down and took it like a man (well, like a woman, but that is not how the saying goes) and now I have big boobs. That is most certainly not the point, it's over and for that I am grateful but it's a weird way to end the journey. I am happy because I am healthy and I can go bra shopping and bikini shopping now and I no longer have gross drains or expanders, or concave scars, I have a body back.  When ya think about saying how "lucky" I am that I got big boobs now ya might wanna just go ahead and think about what lucky means to you.  My best pal Ann (who went through major cancer complete with chemo and radiation) only further reinforced this when after her double mastectomy, her breasts were reconstructed from fat deposits from her belly, and people would say to her: "at least you got a tummy tuck out it." I understand that people want to point out the "silver lining" I think the silver lining is that we are healthy and alive, nuff said.

Suddenly it has dawned on me, I am a flat chested girl with big breasts now. Holy crap, this is going to take some getting used to. I won't be pissed if ya look. It really is fine work. 

(post op selfie)
             Okay, this is the last you will hear about me and my cancer story. Let's move on already.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sunny with no chance of children

as the second part of my ongoing aggressive proactive attack on the cancer that has attacked me, I got my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. First of all, it has been like my fourth surgery and it really does not bother me other than it takes a lot of time and I have to repeat my birthday and name like 487 times at the doctor which is a giant test of strength. It went well, I got full color photos of all of my inner organs which were all pretty in pink, and I returned home that day with nothing more than 3 bandages on 3 spots on my abdomen. Holy shit, technology is really something. I mean if I would've went through this like even 5 years ago I think I would have been splayed open, all "Game of Thrones" style from belly down. I had some cramping and bloating and I went home with a new prescription of Percocet.

It was kind of weird though, I never really seriously considered having kids of my own. I mean I did but I didn't. I thought I would make a kickass mother but I have yet to find that sperm donor that I could jive with. I spend a lot of time with kids and I have a thing with them. I cannot explain it but if you saw it in action you would be impressed. It does not happen immediately with all kids and with some it takes a minute but then it happens and they are hooked.

After having this surgery, besides the fact that I am 41 and have no prospects of love even on the far reaches of the horizon, I was sad. It is so definite. I don't like absolutes, I like wiggle room and grey areas. This was harder than I thought it was going to be. I am the crazy aunt, the funny friend, and the awesome teacher.  Was I honestly ever considering pushing an actual baby out of my body? I don't know and I guess I will never know.  At this point it is just the afterthought of not  having a choice and wondering about it.
It is interesting though as now I am tits deep in menopause (I don't feel any different), I am acutely aware of my friends with their kids; their interactions, relationships, the love and frustration, all of it. I think of the relationship I had with my dad, and the one I have with my mom. I talk to my girlfriends on the phone about their kids. I think it is amazing how insightful I can be about kids, motherhood, and all this shit even though these are things I dare not have an opinion on. Afterall, I only have a dog, I consider her my kid, but I would never say that to my parent friends.

The standards that "we" or "society" put on moms is almost as fucked up as the standards we put on women in general. Gotta look perfect, gotta act perfect, gotta talk perfect. Moms? I think they might actually have it worse right now. Everyone is telling them what their child is supposed to act like, at what level they are supposed to function at and that it is all something that is wonderful all the time and will come naturally to any "real" mother. We are shown extreme cases of "bad moms" like that chubby little girl on the reality series, what is her name again? The mom that serves her kids cheese puffs and soda pop for breakfast? Oh yeah, Honey Boo Boo. Jesus, help us all, that woman is a mother and her kids will inevitably be mothers too, probably as teenagers.

I think when moms in reality see shit like that they over compensate and think that anything even close to junk food will ruin their kids. They get bombarded by what is absoulty WRONG and HORRIBLE to do to your kids, they hear that any sort of discipline is mean and will wreck their kids. I mean it goes on and on. I talk to these lovely, smart, sensible, kind, generous, nurturing, and wonderful women telling me how hard it is. How thankless and exhausting, and how after all of it, they still wonder if they are doing a good job.

Wow, I think. I wonder if any of them have watched that documentary about babies where the mom in Mongolia leaves her baby tethered in the house while she goes out and gets the work done. The baby lives, and thrives, I think they may have left the dog in charge. I understand that in our world people would go to jail for that sort of thing but the bottom line is is that kids are hard to ruin, they really just need a good daily dose of love and all the rest is survival. Is everything they eat organic? How about some of it. Is everything they put in their mouth sanitized, c'mon! Is every emotion shown in their presence in control and laid out according to Dr. Spock? Nah, screw that.

Ladies, breathe. Then cut yourselves some fucking slack. Take it from a gal that missed that boat, you are doing an amazing job, you are strong and resilient and impressive and amazing to watch. Give them cheese balls every once in a while, get a babysitter and go get drunk and dance yer face off. Your standards are too damn high, your kids are going to be fine and if anything they should eat more dirt, fall down more and talk to a few strangers, chill out. If your kid is fed and sorta dressed and decently clean the rest is extra expectations of being a "perfect mom" and it will really truly kill you. You know that if you did suck at it I would be the first to tell you, I got opinions for days.

Everything happens for a reason and I am a happy person, I do not regret any of my decisions, well a few but mostly involving too many shots after midnight. I am going to be that cool adult that yer kids love and that is going to be enough.