Friday, December 4, 2009
Fourth Surgery this year ! dec 4
Friday Morning – Three days later.
I have talked the darling daughter who has no college on Fridays and works every week at her coffee spot ALL day (as distinct from her dawn shifts) – into cancelling her daylong shift and coming with her mother to a far distant land in the San Fernando Valley where I have to confess I have had crap in storage for—gosh, let’s think, since I sold my Hancock Park house eight years ago. Even after selling many big pieces to an auction house AND a massive garage sale where I was utterly ruthless thanks to mean friends who made me sell things I regret to this day (like a vintage child’s coat stand I still miss that was SO adorable) there was still tons of stuff from a 6000 square foot house with a guesthouse and a pool house and two huge basements that had all been filled by yours truly, a serious hoarder - and so furniture and baby clothes and boxes of photos that I refused to part with all went to a 10 by 20 unit in the Valley eight long years ago. And then, when I returned from Australia two years ago after the four year stint to look after my dad – I had all the stuff shipped back that I had optimistically shipped there, thinking I would find HOME back in the wonderful Land of Oz but alas…it just didn’t feel right once my dad had died. Four years of hanging out at hospitals, rehab centers and retirement homes had proved less than scintillating and besides Lola my daughter dearest was back in America and so, along with Nick and I, BACK IT ALL CAME, at vast, vast expense, to join the stuff that had stayed behind in the Valley. They loved me at All Aboard Storage. Another 10 x 20 unit was filled. They were side by side. Very convenient.
And so, there we were, in blistering heat in Sun Valley, unlocking the units for the two foul-tempered moving men who stared at the boxes covered in about an inch of dust. It was pretty much impossible to be ‘in the moment’ and even remember what on earth The Power Of Now had tried to teach me as I already DREADED—with a mighty powerful dread, the unpacking and deciding of where all these reminders of bygone days would go AT THE OTHER END IN A FEW HOURS. Things I had totally forgotten I owned. Growing up poor, things I thought I desperately needed and MUST cling onto – hang the expense. As they piled it all onto the truck I tried to imagine where the big pieces of furniture would go—the lovely old armchair covered in green velvet my dad had sat in for sixty years, the loveseat covered in brown velvet that my mother had inherited from her mother and had prized her whole life….the black velvet bed from Central Park West, the gorgeous mid century sofa I had found in Sydney and had had re-covered in hot red wool, my granny’s favorite old china and the hand-carved bench her grandmother had made….where the fuck exactly would it fit? My brain hurt.
At the new apartment there are three bedrooms instead of two, because I need a bedroom for the angel pie daughter after she broke up with her boyfriend and besides, this is twice as big, much better value, and best of all, HAS A DOUBLE GARAGE out back where I can put all the stuff from storage, thus SAVING a truly embarrassing and shocking $560 a month I have been paying for two years. And half that much for the 6 years before that. Yep, lotta money. I am fool. We know this. I have clung onto tables and chests of drawers—NOT priceless gems, just weird funky chests of drawers from second hand stores and vases from Goodwill and pillow slips and blankets and towels from Target and plates and spatulas from Ikea that have now become THE most expensive pieces of crap of all time after traveling, I kid you not, from NY to LA to Sydney to Melbourne, back to deep in the Valley and now to Hollywood. Yep, that’s the kind of tight ship I run!! I realized the full extent of my sickness when the guys informed me that a second back-up truck was needed. It would not all fit in the first dirty big truck. A tiring nightmare of a day. A costly one. Lola cursed. I swore like a sailor and I nearly forgot to pick up the darling Nick Hobbs from school.
Two weeks later
Okay—so it’s been grueling period. I’ll try to keep it brief as even recalling it makes me want to slit my wrists. A week after the hellish move out of the storage joint to my new digs near Beverly, I then hired the same surly moving guys and we moved everything out of the apartment on Rossmore to join the stuff at the new place. The double garage I had loved so much was already UTTERLY FULL and when I tell you that discovering I had cleverly managed to HANG onto two large filing cabinets filled with fascinating things like AT&T bills from 1997 along with treatments and faxes I had sent to about two thousand producers, was one of those major self-loathing moments. I think you know what I mean.
Boxes of thirty seven different drafts of a script I had spent just six or seven years of my life on—a script that was as close as two weeks from shooting in Vancouver with Howard Stern having actually taken two weeks off his show to come and play a sleazy record producer and me and Lola and the entire crew all there in hotels totally overexcited as script, sets, locations were all locked!!!…..Before the dickhead producer had a meltdown and pulled the plug for NO good reason. And then lovely folk like Melanie Griffith refused to lower their fees to help get it back on its feet again and the adorable Howard Stern sued us for his lost two weeks wages and well…despite another six months of blood sweat and tears, it went down the gurgler and my second directorial effort never materialized.…
Love seeing those shooting scripts and music cassettes of all the fabulous gospel music that we had selected for my wonderful romantic comedy again….good times….years and years of my life down a very disappointing drain.
And then there were the boxes of Nick’s heavenly baby clothes plus an entire box of all his Batman costumes (he was a truly obsessed Batman and called me Robin for at least twelve months) and photos of my dad in his Spitfire and stupendously sad and brave letters from his days as a POW on the Burma railway that seemed to come hurtling at me like missiles out of the dust. And old passports of my mother and postcards she had sent me from Crete on her way to join me for the European holiday of a lifetime back in the days when I had it all and was a young whizz kid TV reporter fresh from Australia living in London with a glamorous and successful theatre producer. And BETA tapes of me on my TV show Hobbs’s Choice in London and huge one inch cassettes of short films starring Rowan Atkinson and written by Richard Curtis that I had directed—but NO machines in existence to even play them any more, They had to go. It all has to go…
But not the twenty five boxes of fantastic albums from my former life. They could become a book, perhaps. Photos of Jack and Anjelica and Roman and me and Mick Jagger and all of us at the Red Ball in Paris or lying on the beach in St Tropez or going to see Bob Dylan with Diana Vreeland or at the bull ring in Ibiza on acid watching Bob Marley and the Wailers or having Prince Charles to dinner in our swanky Knightsbridge home or interviewing Andy Warhol for my TV show…..
I yi yi .These memories rushing at you as we stuff yet more boxes into the garage and try to put them in some kind of order, TAKE THEIR TOLL. They can sap the life out of you. I have moved about 18 times in twenty two years. It’s too much.
The unpacking….I feel ill and hot and sweaty and still toxic and poisoned after a year of mammograms and missed diagnoses and botched biopsies and waiting and being told I am fine and then being told I am not fine and then more biopsies and guilty, lying gynacologists and a lumpectomy and chemo and steroids and four general anaesthetics and three surgeries and ten weeks of antibiotics and the electric sessions and the oxygen treatments and the Vitamin C infusions and the expanders being expanded and the needles and IV’s—so many needles….I just don’t feel too good. I don’t have a lot of zip in my step right now.
As far as the surgery decision is concerned, I have no more energy to give it and so very simply I decide to continue with Dr Bob and he schedules the surgery to try and restore my breast for ONE week later.
But I am just so deeply, madly tired that I do something I seldom do. A few days later I put the surgery off for two weeks so that it will be eight weeks from the last surgery and I can be uncommonly SENSIBLE and rest and do yoga and eat well and go to bed early and meditate.
NONE of which I do, naturally. I feel compelled to unpack every last idiotic possession and get the place totally together for the sake of my sanity and that of my kids. How can I come back home from yet another surgery with drains and pills and have to fight my way past boxes and suitcases full of clothes I forgot I had?
And here’s the one bonus for me with moving. I get to go to one of my favorite haunts – IKEA—where I can navigate the place like a pro and dart hither and thither quicker than anyone I know. Here’s the secret – go online, cruise the catalogue for about sixteen hours, make a shopping list, print it out and then enter through checkout, go straight to the gigantic shelves and JUST GO CRAZY. I decide to punish Nick for nothing in particular and drag him to Ikea with me on the way back from picking him up from a party. But because he is so cranky (it was a girl’s party I made him go to because I said yes on the Evite without asking him and he is livid but I feel bad and don’t want to let the gal down) and because he has been going to Ikeas on different continents since he was a small boy in his Batman outfits (try London, Melbourne, Sydney and Burbank) he has a hissy fit outside the store and insists he needs to skateboard for a while and he will join me in there. So I give up and rush on in and he finally remembers to join me hours later when I have heaved great boxes down from shelves and am now in the checkout line. He’s become an annoying clone of his cheapskate, miser sister and thinks he can bitch about my spending and guiltily I realize he is right about certain things and I angrily take them out of the trolley as he says deeply irritating things like “It may be only ten bucks but it all adds up mom !!” And by the time we are in the car I scream “It’s funny how you didn’t mind me spending SEVENTY dollars on your brand new purple suede skate shoes yesterday Nick ! Funny about that but I’m not allowed to buy a ten dollar plastic grocery bag holder from Ikea to help me save the environment !!” and then we scream at each other for awhile and like a very bad parent I even mention the money I spend on tutors which is unforgivable but I put it in the context of “You need to take some responsibility and do your share of the homework on your own” and then he screams that he doesn’t care about school and tutoring and he’ll “just live in a sewer” and then I decide to cool it and we don’t speak the rest of the way home. But I adore him and he helps carry everything inside and then apologizes later for not coming in to help me in Ikea right away and I am touched as I nearly always have to ask him to apologize but soon I realize it’s just because he’s sucking up and his beloved big sis has offered to take him and hear a band she knows because he loves music and he’s a drummer. And I don’t have the energy to say no and they go with a few of her friends and they have a ball and even drop into a black light party on the way home and apparently Nick dances like a mad thing and is very cool.
So anyway, about eight trips to Home Depot, Target, CB2, West Elm and Kmart later (a lot of it just research-not ALL compulsive spending) and I have bought yet more extension cords and picture hanging hooks, hammered and assembled and glued and stood on ladders and hung mirrors and fought with my kids and made their rooms look pretty darn great. I’ll be honest- I do sometimes wish there was a good man who found me gorgeous even with my ludicrously short hair and who would have the keen, cosmopolitan intelligence to appreciate my manic ability to make a wildly stylish yet COZY home. I mean it’s not everyone who has the foresight to bring their Aussie electric pizza maker and seven fabulous old lamps to America and then find the cunning store on Third that sells Oz to USA converter plugs. Am I right? Frugal AND a connoisseur of good lighting!
So at Sunday night at nine pm after running to get a Gift Card from Forever 21 for the girl who had the birthday party and then running to Office Depot for a math graph notebook and then hitting the Cactus Taqueria on Vine for our dinner and after barely stopping for two weeks straight, the gorgeous new Spanish-style apartment is looking pretty together and I relax for the first time in a fortnight as I watch Curb Your Enthusiasm with my kids in the living room with a fire blazing and stuff myself with toast and peanut butter (I HATE tacos) and hit the hay by midnight. Take the heavenly teenager to school and INSIST ON A KISS IN THE CAR – not usually granted - because he is staying the night with friends as his silly old mother has her FOURTH surgery for the year coming up in a few hours. I thoughtfully do extra nagging about homework and teeth brushing so he doesn’t think anything is different.
MONDAY NOV 23rd– 3pm A very kind friend Diantha brings me back to St Johns where I lie through my teeth about the last time I ate. It was 10 am not 9—what the hell—I’m an old hand and I was determined to finish my Starbucks. So here I am again and my dear friend Richard is here because he insists that there be someone with me during this time leading up to being put under the knife which is just so touching since it has occurred to no one else in my life..
And here we are at Admitting…again ….the taking of the vitals, the off with the undies AGAIN, signing many, many forms I NEVER read, remembering with guilt that I have yet to make a will, hoping that the letter I wrote to get out of that parking ticket will do the trick and that they’re not clever enough to check and work out that my Disabled Sticker has expired and I really should pay it….
And Dr Bob is late again and I run to the toilet to drink from the tap just cos I’m thirsty AND a rebel…but I’m really an idiot and have taken two Ativan—I thought it was one but I forget everything these days and I think I took another and I feel so groggy and out of it that I may vomit any minute and I just want to get on down to that operating room guys…Here’s the shocking truth. I look forward to the drugs and being put out. I NEED THE FUCKING REST. A quick cell phone call to my Nick and Lola and that’s all I remember folks.
WAKE UP AT 12.30 am and there’s my divine smiling daughter who’s been waiting for hours for her mother to wake up and be brought back to the hospital room. A daughter is a very wonderful thing and I am deeply grateful for having such a complete gem. Realizing where I am and what’s just gone down, my hand goes to my chest and yes, there’s seems to be something resembling a breast there. I sure as hell am not about to look under the bandages and the bra contraption they put on you but just feeling that fake titty mound makes me quite happy. If not drugged out of my mind and completely devoid of anything resembling a singing voice I could even be tempted to burst into song. Something corny. ‘I ENJOY BEING A GIRL” comes to mind. Lola tells me that she spoke to Dr Bob on the phone and he said it went well.
I feel great relief. It’s moments before Thanksgiving - a year since I recall feeling that small but quite hard lump in my breast. A really chilled glass of good French champagne would go down well right now, I chirp brightly, delirious for about 18 seconds before I realize I’m in some serious pain here. But bubbly is not on the menu and after about half an hour of chatting with my darling that I now cannot remember- I suddenly see that my poor angel who started her day at 6 am at the coffee joint and then had a full day at college till 10pm, is ready to schlep all the way home to Hollywood. She looks shattered and I wish to goodness I’d come round a little sooner for her sake. I kiss her goodbye and she’s gone. Lie there feeling guilty that I left home in Melbourne at 20 and never went back. Never hung out with my mother again. Except for stressed, tense, unreal periods during holidays. The guilt is monumental and seems to be fade-resistant.. And then I remember – or did I dream it—that whilst coming out of the anasthetic, I agreed to use a bedpan to pee – but couldn’t once they put it there and they took it away. THE HORROR…THE HUMILIATION. I despise bedpans and do not believe in them. I think it was the reason I had a baby at home—someone told me they had to use a bedpan after giving birth..I really hope it was a dream.
I also wish that for the love of God Dr Bob had been kind enough to give me that doohickey you just press and pain medication floods your veins. But noooo—I’m now in searing pain and here we go again with the pressing of the red nurse button which means you WILL be ignored for a good ten to twenty minutes before a grim night shift nurse appears and invariably expresses shock and confusion when you ask for your pain medication. I am not disappointed but eventually, two percocet are given and things calm down. I go to sleep –wishing to goodness I was capable of following orders and sleeping on my back but I simply cannot do it—my back starts to ache after about ten minutes and gets worse as time goes on which is why I can’t even enjoy massages. Sleep on my back is simply not an option—though I regret it even more when I read in Us magazine that Tom Cruise sleeps on his back to avoid wrinkles around eyes and neck.
Wake up in stunning pain and beg for the Percocet immediately. It’s only 6 am, have eaten nothing for about 24 hours and would love to have some food in my stomach. But no breakfast in sight.
What a decision. Risk feeling ill with the Percocet on an empty stomach or put up with a couple more hours of scorching pain? I go with the pills and when breakfast finally arrives I find it hard to hide my disappointment upon discovering that my two pieces of French toast are cold, grey and preposterously rubber-like. Now we all know that in 2009 hospitals have yet to equate nutrition and health in any way shape or form ---but this is taking ignorance TOO FAR. Are they SERIOUS?? This is my third stay this year at St Johns and I should know the score but I’m tired and grumpy and hungry and sore and I press my buzzer and ask if any other food can be found for me—food I could EAT. Well, about forty five minutes later a really mean, mean woman comes and yells at me that I hadn’t filled out a menu and I point out that I was in surgery and not offered a menu to fill out and she says well that’s not her fault and I LOSE IT AND YELL THAT IT’S NOT MY FAULT EITHER AND IS THERE ANY THING AT ALL I COULD EAT ? PLEASE ??
An hour later she brings eggs that have been poisoned I think—they taste like fucking dog food and they too are grey and I cannot possibly eat them and they’re cold and suddenly I am very sad.
But what makes me even sadder is that I have a raging thirst and have been drinking lots and lots of water and so about every ten minutes it seems I have to pee and that means I have to unhook both the pulsating, inflated leg cuffs I am wearing that prevent leg clots and then I have to unplug the IV stand and hook up the cord so it doesn’t get caught on the bed, like last time, and unplug my computer so I don’t trip over that cord, like last time, and put on my Ugg Boots since I have a thing about bare feet on hospital floors and and then drag the IV stand into the tiny airless bathroom and them empty the heavy dangling drain filled with blood and then pee and brush my teeth and put on some moisturizer cos I have a theory that having a general anaesthetic is ageing and then I have to shuffle back into my messy room to plug everything in including my legs and get into bed and drink some more water…and do it all again. EXHAUSTING. Well at least I am getting some exercise and it beats a catheter. I think.
Dull day. But blessed pills make me sleep for a lot of it. When I am not sending psychotic emails to folks.
7 pm The angel posing as my daughter brings delicious salad from Wholefoods with tuna and mint and beans and all sorts of goodies and I feel better immediately- (note to hospitals all over the globe—good healthy food makes you feel BETTER)—and even she nearly gags when she takes a bite of my turkey dinner and agrees that I’m not being paranoid and that someone’s trying to poison me. I soon send the baby girl home to hang with Nick who’s been shockingly sweet on the phone and has told me made himself Trader Jo’s Piroggi for dinner and is doing his math homework. Wow. Amazing how easily they just straight out lie. (I know this because math teacher has since emailed to say it was NOT done ).I give him about ninety two instructions for packing as he is being collected tomorrow at 10 and taken to LAX for flight on HIS OWN to NY to spend Thanksgiving with his godmother but he doesn’t listen as closely as I hope. If at all. I tell him to study my typed packing notes and the itinerary –and he knows enough to agree- but I would bet anyone now that he ignores them completely.
9.30 pm A VERY exhausted looking Dr Bob shows up after a day of surgery – he seems to be very popular right now—and he helps me off with the bra contraption and I suddenly realize it’s the MOMENT OF TRUTH as he takes off the bandage. Not completely but enough to see that IT COULD WELL BE A MINOR MIRACLE. HE DIDN’T LIE..MY BREAST SKIN SEEMS TO BE UNCRUMPLED AND IT LOOKS LIKE A NORMAL BREAST AND I AM VERY, VERY HAPPY.
“You are a genius “ I tell him and he smiles….”I told you…” he says..
I asks if he put Alloderm back and he says “Yes, just a little. I want to put more in later..”
Whatever…this is a GOOD OUTCOME…..I LOVE DR BOB…
He looks very tired and I tell him to go and get some sleep while I tidy my room again and try to straighten my bed. GOD FORBID they could ever make it. That’s what nurses are meant to do. There is little more pathetic than making your own bed in pain at 10 pm at night. But smooth tits are good too. BE THANKFUL I tell myself – and I am.