To paraphrase Monty Python, I no longer have breasts; I have ex-breasts. The area that used to be inhabited by my breasts is completely numb. Numbness is strange. It’s not just an absence of feeling, it’s much more active than that. Much more present. So my chest is in a very present state of numbness. Each breast has been reduced to a red horizontal line about three or four inches long. The skin is a bit baggy, waiting to be pumped up from behind by sacks of saline, to be replaced at some point by sacks of silicone. Under the horizontal lines I have plastic tubes emerging from my body, two on each side. These long plastic tubes – they’re like small versions of the tube Dad would use to siphon petrol out of a petrol tank – terminate in four bulbs that look like toy hand grenades. They look so like hand grenades that Dr French even described them thus. When I was still in hospital, one of them actually exploded! There was blood everywhere! Nurse after nurse, as she came on shift, would examine my faulty grenade and add more sticky tape to it. Then there’d be a loud, industrial sort of squealing noise as it died, or a silent popping and leaking of its contents and another call to the nurse and more sticky tape. Eventually we were able to get someone to give us a new grenade and there have been no problems since. The colour of the fluid in the tubes is a little bit like the colour of petrol. The same sort of air bubbles.
Anyway, I’m back at home now, nicely set up on the couch. Every six hours we’re measuring the contents of the grenades and squeezing them out into a stainless steel bowl, then emptying the brilliant red dye into the toilet and flushing. And recording the measurements in a Numbers spreadsheet that Steve has set up on the iPad.
I’m taking it easy here, surrounded by i devices. There’s Apple TV, the iPad, the iPhone, a Macbook Pro. There’s a Kindle, too. I’m sure Steve Jobs lay round dying of cancer with devices just like these.
I don’t have cancer. Now that I’ve had my tits off, I’ll never have breast cancer (unless there’s one stray cell that has decided to be very, very mean). Take that, BRCA1!
There’s lots of other “stuff” around this, not just bright pinky orangey reddish fluid leaking out of my midriff. The whole thing has brought up “issues” – the things that counsellors love. I can almost feel counsellors across the land prick up their ears, lean forward. Look at all these issues that have risen to the surface, like scum! Look at ’em all! I’d love to enumerate them here but there’s a red light flashing on the horizon. It’s saying, “Don’t overshare, even though you are feeling weak and are surrounded by i devices.”
So I won’t.
Anyway, overall, everything has gone very smoothly. I’m back at home with Labradors reposing at my feet, a gentle fan over my head, someone to run and get things if I so much as call.