Last Saturday I wore my wig for the very last time. And, just like the first time I wore it, it was all a bit of an anticlimax. I had visions of strutting out of the pub and getting a mate to animatedly tear it off my head in the middle of Soho, freaking out the drag queens to the sound of trumpets and adoring applause from the revellers of W1 (seems I'm more drama queen than drag queen). But in fact, it wasn't quite as liberating as I'd have hoped. Instead, I was narked and sweaty from a hot-flush-filled evening, and struggling to hold myself upright in my sky-high peep-toes, so out of practice am I at the business of central-London socialising. Instead of ripping off the rug to an emancipatory, horn-section soundtrack, it was instead done in a huff to an exasperated, car-horn chorus as I attempted to three-point-turn my way out of a tricky parking space. Which pretty much sums up my experience as a wig-wearer: clumsy, begrudging and not a little embarrassing.
So now I'm just a normal girl with a very short crop – if by 'normal' you mean snappy, easily offended, whiny, irritable and picky. (Actually, I took picky to extremes a couple of days ago when a very handsome bloke came round to quote for some work on our flat. He had piercing eyes, a terrific physique, film-star teeth... and visibly thinning hair, which I allowed to put me off a bit. This coming from the girl who, just three months ago, was so bald she couldn't wear a polo neck for fear of being mistaken for a roll-on deodorant.) I reckon I've had a go at everyone within a 500-yard radius this week – P, my folks, even Sgt Pepper got it in the neck for her messy eating habits. The slightest thing is getting on my wick – the ticking of the kitchen clock, the fridge door's refusal to stay shut, my Wii Fit trainer's insistence on telling me how crap my balance is (he should have seen me in heels last Saturday). I am simply not fit for human – or animated – contact. If I've been ignoring your calls/emails/texts, this is the reason. But of course it's more than just the boyish haircut that's got under my collar.
Operation New Tit: Phase One is scheduled for Saturday morning, and I've gone from kid-on-Christmas Eve excited to night-before-exam-results brick-shitting. This is the part I've been waiting for – the chance to finally get back the beautiful breast that cancer took from me. It's the finish line I've been heading towards; the chequered flag at the end of my race to reconstruction; the chance to neatly bookend my cancer treatment with the surgery that will, at last, level out my playing field (well, P's playing field – no amount of handsome builders can change that). And yes, I understand it's nothing like as serious as the surgery I was in the same hospital for last time around, that the reason for this procedure is a more welcome one, and that the hospital stay won't be as long this time. But it's still an operation, dammit, and it's still something I'm having to have as a result of last June's diagnosis. But whether it's for the removal or replacement of a tit or of a tooth, surgery is surgery and it's only natural that nerves are part of the deal. (Speaking of teeth, my brother J's got to have a wisdom tooth removed soon and, in his usual piss-taking fashion, insists that my mastectomy's got nothing on his op. He's even talking about starting a blog in its honour. Alright Tooth, anyone?)
I fear my nervousness is bordering on the irrational, though. The last time I came around from my anaesthetic, Smiley Surgeon came to my bed with the news that my cancer had spread. And, while I know that Operation New Tit isn't an investigative procedure, I can't help but prepare myself for bad news when I wake up this time, too. I hate not knowing what's going on in my body. I appreciate that I didn't know what was happening in there pre-Bullshit either, but now it's driving me to obsession. Smiley Surgeon discovered more in there than either of us had bargained for last time, so heaven knows what surprises might be in store ten months later. It could end up like that scene from Alien where a gross-looking creature bursts out of that guy's stomach. (In my mind, that's what tumours look like.)
Everyone's quick to tell me that it'll be okay, that there's nothing to worry about, that I should just focus on the end result. But, as well as trying to avoid the surgery-subject by snapping at people instead, I'm actively trying not to think about the end result. I don't want to get my hopes up, like I did about the wig-buying. Back then, I wanted the perfect replica of my original hair. Now, I want the perfect replica of my original boob. But I've learned my lesson; I know I'm not going to get it. The wig may have been poker-straight and frizz-free and kink-proof, but it wasn't my hair. And I'm worried that I'll feel the same way about the specially constructed, all-singing, all-dancing Super Tit that Smiley Surgeon's going to spend his Saturday crafting. Remember when Carrie Bradshaw lost her treasured 'Carrie' nameplate necklace and the little Russian dude bought her a diamond one to replace it? Now substitute the 'Carrie' necklace with my old tit, and the diamond necklace with my new tit, and you've got the idea. (Note to self: Sex And the City = not. real. life.)
Sgt Pepper went in for her own surgery recently, when I took her to be spayed. And even that was traumatic. It was a window into what it must have been like for P and J and my parents during my seven-hour mastectomy. I was a right bloody mess while she was at the vet's – waiting nervously by the phone, trying to keep busy by writing a blog post (which I later binned, utter shit that it was), spilling my tea down the side of the sofa, chewing off what was left of my fingernails. (It got more entertaining later, when the poor mite came home and, drunk from the anaesthetic, staggered around the living room bumping into walls like a stilettoed teenager who'd had one too many WKDs.) So I suppose in many ways I've got the easy part this weekend. I'll be knocked out, none the wiser while my family count the minutes, drink endless cups of tea and try to busy themselves. Fortunately, unlike Sgt Pepper, I won't be coming round from my operation to find a plastic cone around my neck. Though I'm hoping I'll find something rather cone-shaped beneath the left side of my T-shirt.