Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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Today I Had Surgery

Today I had surgery, and I was awake during it.

And I was trembling and sobbing my eyes out the whole entire time. Plus most of the way across town driving home afterward, too.

I was a bit surprised that my heaving sobs didn't seem to interfere with the surgery, seeing as how the surgery was on my chest, which was precisely what was heaving. But the surgeon did not seem to take any notice. The nurse, on the other hand, was frightened by my behavior and kept making comments such as the following:

"Are you okay?"
"Hey, keep breathing! Take the good air in as well as letting the bad air out!"
"Are you still with us?"
"Boy, I bet she's gonna be really relieved when this is over with."
"You're so brave! You're such a brave person!"
"Are you still conscious? I thought we were going to lose you for a minute there."

It wasn't that the surgery itself hurt, for the most part. It was the Novocaine shots at the beginning of it that hurt like absolute hell, but they started me sobbing so hard I couldn't stop the whole entire time, and every time I did start to even the tiniest bit recover, then the surgeon would move on to some new spot that hadn't had enough Novocaine yet and then that would hurt, and I would have to ask for more Novocaine shots and they hurt.

Once upon a time when I was six years old, I had this dentist. He was my mother's dentist first, and when my permanent teeth started coming in she took me to him too. My permanent teeth came in with deep crevasses in them and he said they should be filled like cavities. But when he gave me the Novocaine shots it didn't feel like mere needles; it felt like he was drilling holes in the insides of my cheeks with a drill whose bit was an inch in diameter and designed for carpentry rather than medical use. My mother never understood why I cried the whole time and complained of so much pain afterward. A few years later, though, she took me to a different dentist and after I got Novocaine shots from the new dentist, I exclaimed to my mother excitedly that the new dentist rubbed some topical anaesthetic on my mouth first before giving me the Novocaine shots, and this caused the Novocaine shots to only hurt a little bit just briefly instead of feeling like a carpetry drill! And then my mother blinked at me and exclaimed, "What do you mean, the old dentist didn't use topical aesthetic on you first? He always used it on me! All my dentists ever since I was a little tiny kid always used topical anesthetic on me first! What do you mean, your old dentist really didn't use that?????"

Indeed he didn't. Because he was a sadistic evil creep who got off on torturing little kids and knew that their parents would just dismiss the fact that they cried the whole time as being due to the mere fact that they were kids.

Yes, well. My surgeon today was also a sadistic evil creep who gets off on torturing his patients, and he also didn't use topical anaesthetic first. And he responded to all of my objections by waving me away telling me that's unnecessary, I can't be bothered with that, we're going to do this the way I say that we're going to do this.

I voiced several different objections. One of them was: if he's sooooo concerned about the big huge lump on my breast being dangerous when I've had it for ten years, shouldn't he be at least as concerned about the much tinier lump in the same breast which I've only had for maybe five years or so, which is of a sufficiently small size and young age that it could theoretically actually be something dangerous and not have actually killed me yet? As long as you're taking one of them out, why can't you just take them both out at the same time? I asked him this at the very beginning.

No, he said, this one is bigger so we'll just work on this one for now. It needs to heal before we can start cutting any others out.

But why? Since you said they're just going to grow bigger, and the bigger they grow the more you'll need to cut to take them out, why can't you just take this one out while it's still little, while I'm already here and my left breast is already numb and it would take no extra time at all?

No, no, only one at a time. But next time, come back before it gets anywhere near this big!

But right now it's not that big yet! Why can't you just take it out now?

Right now it must be too small, because I don't even see what you're talking about at all. Don't worry about it. Just come back later before it gets anywhere near this big.

Yeah, right. I'm never letting them remove anything else ever again. I don't care if it grows as big around as a pumpkin, they can't have it. My remaining two cysts shall remain mine forever.

So. Right now my left breast is smeared with a mixture of orangey antiseptic solution and my own dried blood, with about fifteen layers of gauze over the top of it but the blood has bled through it all anyway and there seems to be rather copious amounts of it. And he said I may bruise (no sign of that yet) and I'm not allowed to take a shower for two days and it will probably hurt more when the Novocaine wears off (it hasn't yet) so I should have pain reliever medications handy. And then I have to go back on August 20th at 1:45 to have the stitches removed. Mikie will be here by then and can accompany me. Oh! And the one good thing about the place: the waiting room of the surgery department has magazines around, and one of the magazines was the issue of Utne that mentioned my website, so it made me feel good to see that there.

And then there's the one other good thing, the one good thing about the surgery itself. They let me take my cyst home with me!!!!!! I'm very excited about this. It's in a little plastic container immersed in solution of some kind, and it's very very very very very very strange to look at. But I am immensely pleased about getting to take it with me. I mean, if I go through all that pain to have something removed from me, I ought to get to see the product of all my work. Otherwise it would be like giving birth only to have the baby immediately whisked away and never seen again! I want to get to know this thing that's been living inside me ever since I was seventeen years old.

It's mostly white, the exact color and exact squishiness level of a head of cauliflower. Somehow I always expected it to be white. I'm not sure why I expected it to be white, since I've seen photographs of other people's surgically removed cysts and some of them are more pale yellowish-tan, like the color of some rubber bands. But I always pictured it as white and indeed it is mostly white. But I also pictured it as being all unified and smooth-edged whiteness, which in fact parts of it are, but other parts of the whiteness are like a bunch of layers of paper-thin white sheets wrapped one over another into a ball like a head of lettuce. And there is a thin layer of that yellowish-tan rubber band color over the top of one side of it - I think that's where the skin was in contact with it. But mostly, yeah, it's more like smooth cauliflower than anything else. I grow cauliflower inside me! Heads of cauliflower the size of golf balls!

Apparently the original plan was to take it away from me and send it off to be biopsied to make sure it wasn't a tumor, and if that plan had been followed I wouldn't have gotten the pleasure of taking it home with me. But the surgeon said as soon as he saw it, "Oh, that's definitely a cyst, we don't even need to biopsy that" and then he asked if I wanted to take it home and I said yes. Of course, I really wanted to say "yes" in a normal confident speaking voice instead of gasping it through heaving sobs, as in fact I really wanted to be able to do every single time the nurse kept staring at me worriedly and asking whether I was going to faint of fright. But a faint little sobbed-out yes was all I could manage each time, and the nurse was sufficiently disturbed by it that he asked whether I was sure I really wanted to see this thing after all. But yes, yes I want to see it, and so he gave it to me. And then he told me to sit up and get dressed and take my time about leaving, don't worry about rushing, but then I found that both my hands and feet were all weirdly numb (I mentioned this to the nurse and he suggested that it was just from lack of circulation from not moving them, but I think it was more of a fright response, because when you're panicked all the blood goes to the center of your body to keep your vital organs prepared to handle emergencies, and that's what my blood did and it left none for my hands and feet. Anyway, I got dressed and took advantage of the repeated exhortations to "take as long as you need" by standing around in the surgery room trying and trying to stop shaking all over and sobbing before going out to the waiting room to make an appointment to have the stitched removed next week. But apparently I took longer than they were expecting, because the nurse came to look for me and so I left then and just scheduled the next appointment with the receptionist while still red-eyed and shaking uncontrollably. And then I went down to the parking garage and retrieved my car and drove home, at the beginning of which I had stopped crying but then I started again and sobbed most of the way home. Oh, and I was stopped at an intersection behind a car with a bumper sticker that said "My child attends St. Francis High School in Sacramento" and I found myself thinking, "Hey, what a coincidence! The person in that car is from Sacramento just like me!" and then I stopped myself and realized, "Er . . . I'm in Sacramento, everone in all of these cars is from Sacramento, where the hell did I think I was anyway???" I don't think my brain was quite at peak efficiency. But I did get home, so all is well.

Oh, and from what I can see through the bandages, my left breast seems to have somehow just automatically filled in the space where the cyst was and not left any hole behind. Which seems a little odd to me, since the cyst was mostly buried in my breast and only caused a slight bump on the surface, so you'd think there'd be a big hole where it had been sitting. But I guess breast tissue is squishy and can just be squished into taking up less space if there's a cyst to make room for, and afterward it just all bounces right back.

Also, I want to know how Sefaiden is doing, because Sefaiden had surgery today too but it was the unconscious kind and perhaps I want to find out just how worthwhile it really was for me to remain conscious only to sob uncontrollably the whole time.
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