Saturday: I prepare for surgery
Don’t worry—this is going to be funny, not serious like last week. I got a lot of excellent feedback on my take on Participation Ribbons, but mostly it was like, “Great post, but it didn’t make me laugh.” Thanks, Mom, lol. She also suggested last week after a particularly funny conversation about a “lady-hair ripping party” that I write about my upcoming surgery, and initially I was like, “No way—it’s too personal!” But then I thought, if I was getting my appendix out, I’d definitely write about it, and God knows I’ve already shared some pretty personal stuff on this site, so here it goes.
I’m having a hysterectomy. Yep, I said it. I’m not the first woman to ever have one, and I certainly won’t be the last. But it’s me, and it came as a shock. If you read “Christmas at the Emergency Room”, I dropped some pretty heavy hints about what was going on, but honestly, I was more worried about the promise I’d made to Russia about donating my uterus to their scientists in an earlier post about head transplants, because I had intimated—well, stated very emphatically—that my womb was in excellent working condition, or at least it had been the last time it had been used for anything. I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of implied warranty there, and I didn’t want to get sued by the Russian government for false advertising, especially since I’d criticized their war efforts. Then they’d be like, “Vat?! You think ve suck at var? Vell, your uterus is piece of shit—vorse than LADA. Ve vant our rubles back.” (I don’t know what kind of accent that’s going to play out like, so just pretend it’s Russian.)
So after my emergency room incident, I waited to see a surgeon, and in a bizarre twist of fate, he’s RUSSIAN. Or Czech, or some kind of Slavic, but I’m counting it anyway. As of next week, I will have officially fulfilled my debt and diverted an international incident. But aside from that, I discovered I was living in a dream world (which is not unusual for me, but still…). I’d had my gall bladder out in my early 30s, and I figured it would be as simple as that—the surgeon, dressed in a tuxedo, would reach into my lady tunnel, and pull out my uterus like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a top hat. “Abracadabra!” he would say in his Russian accent, holding it up triumphantly for the audience of nurses and interns, and waving a magic wand. There was also glitter, and a scantily dressed assistant who smiled in a sexy way while the surgeon bowed. And that would have been totally awesome, but unfortunately, that’s not how it’s actually going to happen, according to my surgeon, who explained all about “reconstruction” and “mesh slings” and other rather nasty procedures, according to the Youtube videos I’ve watched. Note to self: NEVER watch a video about the surgery you’re going to have. I was 30 seconds in, when I screamed, “OH HELL NO!” and desperately searched for videos about kittens.
Yet, while I’m filled with trepidation about the surgery, I’m also relieved. I have something called “uterine prolapse”, which you can look up if you REALLY need to know. And it’s gotten worse in the last couple of weeks to the point where I really don’t enjoy the force of gravity and would prefer to do everything from a horizontal position. Let me just say, there’s a real sense of betrayal you get when one of your body parts wants to abandon you and go on a road trip. Also, as a professional, it’s really difficult to have a conversation with your director when all you can think is “God, I need to readjust my internal organs.” Of course, as with most things related to female anatomy, the medical profession is remarkably blasé. When I asked what I should do if it actually fell out completely, the emergency room doctor told me to “just shove it back in”. It took several months for me to even see a specialist, since this is not considered an “emergency”. Seriously? Do you really think that if a guy went to his doctor and said, “My prostate gland is coming out of my ass!” that the doctor would say, “No worries—just shove it back in.” No—that guy would be on full bedrest, with a private nurse holding his hand and feeding him ice cream. In fact, I’ve often said that if men had to have their testicles checked in the same way that women have to have their breasts examined, the mammogram would never exist. Instead, it would be soothing music, incense, and some kind of weird-ass robot reiki. Ken says that I’m being reverse-sexist when I say things like that, but I honestly can’t see a doctor saying to a guy, “It happens to men all the time. You’ll just have to deal with it.”
The most interesting part of this whole experience was realizing that I would have to be “shorn” for the procedure, which really freaked me out. I’ve never in my life “mowed the lawn”; the most I’ve ever done is trim the hedges. But frankly, the thought of an untrained nurse attacking my lady parts with a dull Bic was more than I could take. So I called up a local spa, explained the situation, and made an appointment for the FULL BRAZILIAN. “No problem,” said the reception. “I’ll set you up with Brittany. I’ve never had it done myself, but she has a good reputation for being very quick. She doesn’t linger.” LINGER?! Why the f*ck WOULD anyone linger?! I would think we’d BOTH want it over as soon as humanly possible. I’d be like, “Please tell me you’re done!” and she’d say, “Oh my god, yes!” And then we’d give a long distance high five and never see each other again.
I got to the spa, and Brittany came out to take me upstairs. She was young, and solid-looking, which I think would be important for the expedient and determined removal of lady hair—any hesitation might result in the client simply running out the door. “Have you had this done before?” she asked.
“Nope, first time,” I answered.
“Well, I’ll be honest up front,” she said. “This is really going to hurt.”
“I have four tattoos and I’ve given birth…”
“Yeah. This is a totally different kind of hurt. But it’s over really quick.”
Did it hurt? You bet your ass it did. At one point, I gasped and started laughing hysterically. “I don’t know why I’m laughing,” I said.
“Oh,” she answered breezily. “Some people laugh, some people cry, some people refuse to open their legs.”
“Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?”
“It sure does,” she laughed. “There, you’re just about done. You’re doing great!”
She was right—it was quick. When I paid the bill, the receptionist asked how it went. “It was fast, thank God,” I said.
“Yes, Brittany’s good like that,” she smiled.
I left a tip, which, when you think about it, was totally appropriate, if tipping is for good service.
So while I may be scared sh*tless about the surgery, at least I have one less thing to worry about. (As a side note, I’m currently one of the few people I know who can actually say, “I’m literally beside myself right now.” Unlike other people who say that when they really mean “figuratively beside myself.”) Ultimately, my plan is to stay drugged up, watch a lot of Netflix, and drink a lot of wine. Best. Vacation. Ever.
Wednesday: All the weird things
Wednesday was one of those days. I’d made plans with my sister-in-law to meet at a spa because I really needed a massage, and she really needed to work out, which honestly, is a need I’ve never been able to relate to. But I got my own workout on the way there, because I decided to walk and I miscalculated how far away the spa actually was. Also, the weather was outrageously humid, and I was dying by the time I was halfway there. I had underestimated the distance so badly that, every time I saw stoplights up ahead and realized it STILL wasn’t my street, I swore copiously, as in “Shuter Street?! What the f*ck!” But on the way there, I saw a man coming towards me. His head was down, he was all sweaty, and he was breathing hard. As he got closer, I realized it was John, one of the homeless guys from my neighbourhood. He looked up and recognized me, and we smiled at each other. “Hey, John,” I said. “Oh hi! How are you?” he answered. “Can I get some money for a cold drink? I won’t use it for alcohol.” So I emptied all the change out of my wallet and put it in his hand, which was weird because I normally put it in his hat. But it was kind of cool, like we were friends and I was just loaning him some money like I would with a co-worker who needed change for the vending machine, except if my co-worker had qualified the request with “I won’t use it for alcohol”, I might have suggested counselling. He said, “Thanks! See you later!” and off he went.
Then I met my sister-in-law, and we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner. I was going to name it here, but the manager just sent me an apology. For what? you might ask. I’d ordered gluten-free pasta because I have a gluten allergy, and it was so undercooked that it was inedible, so I left at least ¾ on the plate. When the waitress asked if I had enjoyed it, I told her “No”, and her response was this: “Well, YOU ordered the gluten-free pasta.” Then she walked away. I was kind of shocked at being personally blamed because their chef couldn’t cook. A few weeks ago, I ordered gluten-free pizza at a different restaurant, and when it came, it was burned. Instead of blaming me and saying, “Well, you didn’t specify UNBURNED,” the waitress apologized profusely and got me another one. That was at Scaddabush, which I don’t mind naming because their food is awesome, and their staff is lovely. Go there if you’re ever in Toronto. Tell them I sent you.
Finally, I was back in my condo and settling in for the night when the building’s fire alarm went off. It’s hideously loud and comes in through a PA system in each unit. I started to panic a little, being on the 27th floor, and wished I had some rope AND training on how to a) tie knots and b) rappel down a set of balconies. Which would never happen in real life, because the only way I EVER go out on my balcony is by holding onto the patio door jamb, then stepping out with one foot and leaning towards the railing only as far as I can go without releasing the door jamb. As I always say, “I’m not afraid of heights; I’m just afraid of falling FROM them.” Which means that I can go on rollercoasters, ferris wheels, and airplanes, but I can’t parachute, ride in a hot air balloon, or stand on my balcony. It’s all a matter of being strapped in. Anyway, 6 firetrucks showed up, and I was straining to see them without actually getting close to the railing, when it occurred to me that a better use of my time would be to make a pile of all the things I would want to take with me if I had to evacuate. First was the external hard drive with copies of all of Ken’s photographs of flowers, clouds, Christmas ornaments, and cows. Next came the small collection of jewellery that I keep in my condo. A piece of driftwood from the cottage beach, the wooden goblet that Ken had hand lathed for me for Christmas, and I was set, because I had doubles of everything else at home. There were several pieces of artwork, but I figured if the time came, I could throw them in my suitcase at the last minute, then run down all 27 flights of stairs like a mad tourist. Just as I was about to take the first painting off the wall, I heard someone clear his throat. It was the Obnoxious Chair.
OC: Aren’t you forgetting something?
Me: Like what? Oh right, I probably need shoes.
OC: Not shoes, you idiot. I’m thinking of a particular chair you know.
Faint voice from the bedroom: I am in here, cherie, patiently waiting.
OC: Not that French bastard! I’m talking about me!
Me: You’re kidding right? You really think I’m going to carry you down 27 flights of stairs after the way you constantly behave?
OC: Hey, the last time the men were here to service your fan coil, I was really good. I kept my distance, even though they were sketchy and were touching your underwear.
OC: Underwear, fan coil, whatever.
Me: The most I’ll do is throw you off the balcony. You can take your chances with gravity.
OC: Hah! Like you’d ever go out there. Well, suit yourself. And by the way, a little fire would do wonders for the décor in here.
Me: You’re a jerk.
OC: Screw you.
French Chair: I’m waiting, ma petite chou. We shall escape together, as I’ve always dreamed. Perhaps to ze Casbah.
Just then, the concierge came over the PA to announce that the fire department had given the all-clear, and that we could “resume our normal activities.” I felt a little letdown after creating such an elaborate escape plan, but at least I knew who I’d take with me, and what would be left behind to burn.