Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Plastic Surgery....but not the good kind!!!
HAVE JUST HAD A DOUBLE MASTECTOMY….So some kind folk email me and ask "How's it going ?"
Well just fine and dandy I say...though part of me wants to shriek-- It's a miracle and God knows why or how I am here writing and utterly alive!!!.I mean, WAS the combo of a jet-lagged jet-setting plastic surgeon and a sleep-deprived 'new mother of triplets' breast surgeon the IDEAL combo for me and my bilateral skin-sparing, nipple-saving mastectomy with right lymph node removal and then reconstruction ?
For instance, the morning before the operation...there's the glam good-looking young reconstructive surgeon Dr Bob yawning insanely, eyes barely open and boasting of two weeks of wild nights in Ibiza till 5am every night on his vacation, which had ended just ONE day earlier ---as he asked me "Are we, (yawn, yawn), saving the nipples or not??(yawn, yawn)..I don't remember"--- and as he madly scans notes clearly trying to remember who the hell I was and what he was meant to be doing for about 6 hours the next day, I helpfully offered to call Dr Peg, the ridiculously gorgeous breast surgeon on her cell to ask if she was indeed saving the nipples since it was really her decision in her initial three hour stint before the Big Guy took over.....Alas, I couldn't hear her answer when I reached her 'cos the 6 week old twins were screaming in the background like banshees and she sounded croaky and SHATTERED and crabby...."Here, speak to Dr Bob" I said enthusiastically, since I had chosen, with questionable wisdom, two surgeons who HAD NEVER WORKED TOGETHER before...(most mastectomies are done by a team that have worked together but after meeting a heap of doctors, I had decided I liked these two, both stars in their fields, and had hoped, in vain as it happened, that they might have at least met OR spoken before this) .....but as I looked up I realized that Dr Bob had slipped out of the room....probably to get a hit of coke....so I hopped out in my gown to try and find him--but he was nowhere to be found and I figured well....they'd meet tomorrow in the operating room, and Peg had already hung up anyway..!
Hmmm. sSould I run for the hills now I asked myself, but faltered as Dr Bob reappeared, smiling.
....Suffice it to say that later in the day, jetlagged myself at about 2pm, the scheduled time for my surgery the next day--I had a mini panic attack and called Dr Bob's office and said I was NOT HAPPY about the fact that the two surgeons had never met OR spoken to discuss my case--NOT HAPPY I repeated a FEW times... and I'm afraid I was probably even fouler than that and eventually Dr B called back to try and calm me down...but he sounded like he'd just swallowed 6 valium or shot up, so was not remotely soothed by the call!
In fact, decided to pop out and buy a LOT of goodies (Chinese food, vodka, chocolate) to stuff into my face before the midnight deadline....and probably should, in the spirit of total candor, confess that realizing, as I stood in a tragic Trader Joes line that I would never have sex again, I made a quick detour on the way home to the Hustler store (they WERE having a half-off sale!) and purchased a couple of vibrators--well three actually--they were SO cheap. But coming out and finding some foul west Hollywood parking inspector giving me a dirty big ticket was VERY upsetting in my fragile state, and when I found that whipping off my trendy trilby to reveal bald head--"Hellooo, CANCER!!!' and then pointing out the Disabled Card dangling from my mirror did not inspire him to tear up ticket, (was in front of a driveway okay??) I wept, slammed doors, drove off like bat out of hell and was forced to run into 7/11 for some lovely American Spirit, poison-free fags.
An hour or two later my darling daughter came over to calm down mama....and SCREAM about the cigs and as I wondered aloud if I shouldn't have perhaps gone with one of the BREASTS ONLY dudes in Bev Hills (surgeons who only deal with breasts and nuttin else), Lola googled up Doc Bob's slick website and showed me all the stunning face lifts he also does and said "Mum, for god's sake, get a grip, faces are harder than tits...he'll be fine!" Why the hell I hadn't bargained for an eyelift as well while I was under I could not comprehend --I mean why not at least wake up with SOME part of your anatomy looking better than before--that would be a bonus, right ?? !! Note to self--am a MORON!
At 2am -after one last mouthful of cheese on toast and one last secret cig in the bathroom (I had found where Lola hid them)--staggered into bed, guilt-ridden about nicotine.....But now, just wish I had taken a photo of my rather stunning pre-op bosoms.
Anyway---I did survive the massive 8 hour saga--(they cruelly intubated me to make sure I would)...despite the South African anesthesiologist being mean and only giving me about one and a half seconds of fun before I was OUT--I had begged for a few minutes of euphoria and the 'good Michael Jackson stuff' but he was not amused--a real pill who had even tried to trick me with a casual "So how was breakfast this morning?" as he casually wrote some notes...
Both surgeons were LATE by the way. Over one hour !! It couldn't start till both were there and so I had to lie in dull room till 3pm (peak jet lag time for those recently returned from Spain !!) while annoying nurses changed shifts and asked the same deeply aggravating questions like "What is your understanding of the procedure you are having today? Please tell me in your own words.. "
Foul curses under my breath with Lola giving me filthy looks and the one to whom I said "My understanding of it all?? Two people attacking me who have never met !" then got all uppity...and discovered that I hadn't taken my undies off as instructed for the friggin bloody buggery catheter ! She was really vile and said nothing could proceed till I took them off. Bitch !! So, a cold bloody bum as well as everything thing else, including white tight spanx like tights to stop swelling. Like HOW?? (NOTE--LOLA is cranky now cos she says I stole these bits from her recollection of it all and that I am drug-addled fooI ---and don't remember all this but I really do)
Three days in hospital---all a blur and guess what? Doc Bob took off on holiday again the next morning and the breast surgeon had a three day weekend to hang with her twins, thus alarming several nurses who were shocked to discover there were NO instructions...but darling Lola had grilled them both when they each finished surgery the night before and was very in charge and together.....I barely remember a thing except for the big giant white Labrador some old couple brought in for 'healing purposes' who was trained to get up on the chair next to my bed --but NOT trained to show a whit of interest in me as I patted him. He wouldn't even look me in the eye--bastard!
Drug-addled days lurking in bed and stumbling round the apartment. I have rediscovered Jon Stewart and am in love with him....
--till the brilliant, sweet divine Lola Nightingale (who has looked after her mom so DIVINELY and well) took me to see Doc Bob ( finally back from his mini-break) yesterday and he announced that the witty ol’ drains have to stay in another week- cos there's so much bloody BLOOD still flowing from the wounds down lovely tubes into two huge plastic bags that are pinned to the witty mastectomy bra contraption I am wearing.....drains that unless you are some kind of friggin technician and close so they are airtight and very, very carefully shut them, tend to leak out onto your very best 800 thread count sheets you have been saving for fab hot date--or, in my case, the day you return from tit surgery. Also, note to sheilas who may have to endure this gorgeous surgery one day soon...when you wake up so out of it and practically comatose from so many drugs and sleeping pills that you decide you HAVE to defy doc's orders and drive yourself just a couple of blocks to Starbucks for delicious Venti Latte, then make sure bloody pouches are neatly tucked into sweat pants so that other folk walking in don't look at you, look down and then practically gag before politely looking away...
As I was saying....the Doc took the sticky bandages off the revoltingly lumpy excuses for tits and inspected the tragic fading blackened nipple that may or may not survive---his eyes GLUED THE ENTIRE TIME TO LOLA'S lovely FACE. He then started to ignore me as if I really was a disfigured old mother and grill the stunning Lola. Before long they were discussing Lola's life in detail, her college, her interests, living conditions. boyfriend etc.....
and as Lola says "He was giving me the eye and it was definitely the sex eye..." He finally got a grip and turned his attention back to sad old mum sitting there half fucking naked...and to really cheer me up he told me grisly details of what he found in my chest cavity...NO muscle for a start--it had been cut out by previous butcher/plastic tit guy and he ‘fessed up to fact that I have dead people's skin in my chest now to support forthcoming tits...Lola claims she told me after the surgery but I told her I wish she wasn't a liar..
I then asked him if he thought Dr Peg used airbrush makeup cos her skin is so flawless and whether he thought she has used Botox but Lola, deciding we WERE ALL on drugs, very promptly tried to refocus the discussion to healing, bandage changing and when the next procedure will be.
Okaaaay---enough rambling for now--time for more sweet, kind pills....Decide I love both my surgeons and it's off to sleep and dreams of running in fields bare breasted...or something.....about to have sex maybe ???
One Week Later
The initial buzz of popping Vicodin, Xanax, Ambien CR and Ativan--guilt-free ('take what you like--it was a 7 hour surgery' they told me) whilst lolling in bed 24 hours a day has worn off! Besides--failed to find the combo that would prevent the searing pain of even turning over in bed or opening a tamper-proof pill bottle and I now feel vile beyond belief.
A toxic antibiotic-filled wreck. (And let's not even discuss how the codeine in pills like Vicodin slow the digestive system down -grinding it to a hideous halt. Memo to Self-stock up on Fibre Pills!)
I do believe that some people enjoy having a perfectly genius excuse to stay in bed, read, sleep and do nothing ! I am NOT that person. I'm restless, agitated, loathe my own company and by about 1pm as dust motes drift lazily in the light that only comes in the AFTERnoon (reminding me of the same dusty particles I encountered in the Southern hemisphere as I tended my darling old dad for four years in Melbourne as he struggled to stay alive ), you realize with perfect DISGUST that only pathetic, sad, TRULY ILL folk are STILL in bed at this hour.
And besides, I ask you...how fantastically relaxing is it to lie there feeling as if two heavy, scalding HOT rocks have been freshly scooped from an active volcano and roughly sewn into your bosom cavities by A VERY HEAVY-HANDED GOBLIN who doesn't like you very much??
So up I stagger, swapping the Vicodin for three healthy Advil and a frantic search ensues amongst the dozens of pills and supplements for my son's ADDERALL (doctor-prescribed, as is the way in the USA) and I quickly swallow one of the little blue beauties for some sorely-needed pep.
Unfortunately the resulting burst of energy means I have the courage to finally turn on the overhead light in the bathroom and inspect the post-chemo growth of hair on head. (When I first went bald, I popped a ridiculously low-wattage lamp into my bathroom deciding that without eyebrows, lashes or hair, mental health could be best maintained in complete gloom.)
Like a mole up for air, I blinked repeatedly in the foul ugly light but as my eyes finally adjust and I get a good gander, I nearly faint on the spot. It wasn't just the mousy brown fuzz- patchy, thin and dull - (let's be frank girls twenty years of dyeing one's hair blond can make one's TRUE hair color seem alien and QUITE hostile) --no, it was the healthier thick patches of grayish white hair glistening gaily and practically shrieking at me, in some heinous sing-song..
"You're old, you're old, a cancer victim and OLD !"
I was not mistaken. My temples and sideburn areas were sprouting healthy tufts of GRAY HAIR.
Just like my dear old dad.
On him ? "Heavenly--sooo distinguished!"
On me ? "Foul--ageing lesbian!" (And I love lesbians)
Okay, I admit it. Am SHALLOW, VAIN BITCH - what can I tell you?
But when even the doctor tells you not to look at your own tits -"It's best " he explained cryptically, surely to goodness your hair, in sympathy, could at least refrain from overnight graying!
I collapse in tears on the bathroom floor and then, realizing that Advil don't cut it, hit the hard stuff and crawl back into bed, leaving the TV on MSNBC...When I wake up many hours later, programming has dwindled into some marathon of shows about prisoners and their lives. I weep again--why do I always feel sorry for prisoners- and wish most of them were not in prison. Possibly because America has the highest per-capita number of prisoners in the world and many just come out crankier than before. Okay---moving right along. I successfully ignore the healthy kale and broccolini salad in the fridge my daughter has brought me and devour almost an entire block of Green and Black dark chocolate. Full of anti-oxidants. And fall into Ambien-induced coma at 3 and dream I am in prison....
Wake up and along with my daily regime of pills, take another Adderall--but soon, I fear the Adderall effects are being dulled by the antibiotic/painkiller cocktail and so, feeling like my head might explode if I don't get out of suffocating apartment where walls are closing in on me, I struggle into sweats and baggy old shirt (arms cannot move above shoulder level) to make my second big escape...
I purchase a LARGE Mocha Ice Blended--only about 900 calories. WHATEVER!! Yes indeedy---that tastes good.
Well, one reckless act leads to another and just moments later I'm skulking down the Men's Grooming aisle at Rite Aid- quickly grabbing what seems like a cunning product before slipping out with my purchase.
I smile graciously at the parking inspector as I calmly approach my car at a long-expired meter- no fear of a ticket whatsoever and yet dreading the day when the small cancer-sanctioned mercy of a 9 month DISABLED Parking Tag ends! (Disabled means never having to feed a meter.)
My calm is shattered though as a small child points at me and then shrieks at it's mother - "Is that a man or a woman?"
I realize, to my horror, that it's been a hatless sortie!
' You're lucky I'm not topless,' I want to shriek back 'then you'd have something to holler about.'
Get home and marvel at how my chemo-addled brain thought it was appropriate to go to the MEN'S section for hair coloring products. After all, am a woman. So, doesn't really make sense. Did breast tissue removal make me subconsciously think I am man now? Interesting...
And am especially livid to find that JUST FOR MEN'S Touch of Gray actually promises to NOT ( I repeat NOT) get rid of all the gray so that whilst enhancing your vitality, "your experience will still shine through."
Hello!! We're in Hollywood ! Since when did experience count for anything? Youth RULES baby---don't even get me started..
Collapse back into rumpled old bed. A day before a friend has very sweetly offered to come by at 6.30 with a "gorgeous healthy, surprise dinner " for me. I have sent three emails thanking her for such generosity and thoughtfulness.
At 9.10 I check my texts, email and calls. Nada. And it's clear I've been stood up. ("Surprise! I forgot!")
and actually feeling faint with hunger, I decide on a mad dash to the IN 'N OUT on Sunset.
By about 10pm, after a 25 minute wait in the car line, I'm eating my cheese burger in my car in the good ol' Disabled Spot. I have a great view of the jolly families and couples inside chowing down with gusto. I search but can't find a single fellow loner in the place.
Suddenly I realize there's a huge wet patch on my thigh. Checking my drain I realize to my horror that for the third time this week, I have not replaced cap properly and it has emptied it's witty, bloody contents onto my nice clean sweat pants.
The fun just never stops...
Silent tears spontaneously fall onto the waiting fries in my lap. I try to quickly find the humor in the ‘Tragically Alone on Saturday Night at In 'N Out ‘ episode- but come up empty.
As Bette Davis might have said---"Having cancer, without a partner, ain't for sissies".