Thursday, 19 March 2009

Cut some rug.

I've heard of short-man syndrome, but never realised there was such a thing as short-hair syndrome. It's been almost a week since I decided to out myself as a very-short-haired person (so much for my headscarves-until-May plan) and I can't say I very much like the tetchy girl who's revealed herself since the wigs and scarves were relegated to a bottom drawer. The overwhelming consensus, by the way, has been to throw them away in spectacular fashion. Firing them from a cannon or sending them off on a burning log out to sea or somesuch. Both of which sound very appealing, were it not for the fact that I'm completely fucking terrified that the moment I do ditch my baldness-covering devices, I'll discover that they're still needed. And not just through a cancer recurrence, either – each time I wash my hair, I'm studying the shower floor in case I lose my not-so-lengthy locks, and despite now needing to groom the hair I've got, I've not so much as run a comb through it since it grew back, for fear of it all unravelling in the bristles. (Wanted: patient hairdresser who'll ply me with champagne, make my boy-crop look pretty and remain understanding if I cry like a baby throughout the proceedings.)

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.


Unknown said...


I am not a cancer patient, nor can I claim any close personal experience of serious illness, in the body-destroying mind-buggering kind of way. But I have been reading your blog for a while now (since I discovered twitter incidently), and I wanted to take a moment to say that it has been for me, the most meaningful writing since I discovered the written word. to write so beuatifully, so honestly and so emotionally, is an amazing thing you give to us, your readers. Thank you, for the perspective you provided me at a time when I most needed it and the amazing examople of courage you show us all.

you are a fucking hero

god bless, and keep you safe.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comment above.

Your blog is amazing, you talk with such honesty and open words. You open everyones eyes to what it is like to be a cancer patient, but with such positivity. It is refreshing to read and amazing to get an insight into your world.

I am doing race for life soon and wasn't sure who to run for, and i think im doing it for you. You are so brave and an inspiration to many.

swisslet said...

At the risk of turning this into a love in, what they said.... You write beautifully, you know, grumpy or otherwise.


Nonamoose said...

I absolutely agree with the above :0) You have given me so much inspiration.

Just wanted to wish you good luck for Saturday and say that you'll be in my thoughts (M.E fucked as they are!). I hope all goes well.

Take good care x

Anonymous said...

While I would of course love to add to the well deserved praise offered in these comments, some balance is needed. So...

Lisa once made me a cup of tea and, although it was brewed for a sufficient length and had the right amount of milk, she put a bit too much sugar in it.

There, I've said what needs to be said. Now let's move on.

Anonymous said...

The tea incident would have left me disappointed too - I'm more of a coffee drinker :-)

Nevertheless, erudite, inspirational and pure roll-on headed brave are what comes to mind when I read your posts.

If I find myself whining as I try to juggle all the written work I have to do tomorrow, I'll think of you, give meself a slap and bloody well get on with it.

Go girl xx

Anonymous said...

Shit me sideways Sis, everyone loves you!! Time to restore some order on this here blog me thinks. Maybe I should tell them about the time you............ maybe not, for fear of blog backlash or shall we say bloglash.

Very nice of you to raise the profile of the upcoming award winning blog... Alright Tooth. The cheque is in the post for that little advert.

Apologies for not being able to be there tomorrow but after all Derby are at home and who's gonna update the family if everyone is down in that there London to pamper you. For the record though i'm still recovering from the agony that you eluded too from waiting around during your last operation in June. Granted it may have been slightly harder for you though and I will also appreciate how you will all feel when I go for my own MAJOR surgery in April.

Bearing in mind i've literally just got off the phone to you I best not hang around typing crap for too long however I shall reiterate your greatness by agreeing with everyone who has commented above. You know how I hate all this niceness, especially when its aimed at you but its all bloody true!! you are a true leg-end.

Love you Sis,

Big (yet significantly younger) Bro

P.S. The customary card will be in the post ready for your return home. I might as well tell you as you know its coming, such is our families excessive card sending habits.

Anonymous said...

I would like to reiterate all of the above (well, except the bit about the sugar, as you don't know me you've never made me a brew!)

My mother's favourite saying was 'Get your big-girl knickers on and deal with it', and you have done that with gusto, my dear.

Best of luck for the op - we await New Tit on the Block (or should that be Blog?)

Simon Brown said...

Hope your newly constructed breast will be as magnificent as the original was (allegedly).
Deep breaths (yes, that is spelled correctly...) hope everything goes swimmingly.

Megan said...

I would say something cool and/or supportive here, but I cannot think of a thing. The right words don't come to me easily, so all I can say, judging from the twit-pic, your ring is gorgeous!! Perfect way to toast the end of the tit-tampering! Xx

Unknown said...

By now one hopes you are up and about and proudly flashing the new conical bit. Ope it all sent fantasticaly well - you certainly deserve it as well as the lovely bling from hubby P.

best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Bloomin heck. That Duncan's alright isn't he? We'll keep him.

Thinking of you all the time, as you know. And I don't think you were at all tetchy, you completely cheered me up the other day.

Can't wait to see the new boob xx

Anonymous said...

Hope ur surgeon gives u a new boob that's as close as possible to ur old, original 'Carrie' one....
Good luck with the op!


GG x