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Archive for November, 2009

Birthday

The thing about a birthday is that one tends to view it in isolation, as though it stood for the whole year, or where one is in life in general, or something. As my days go, today was fine – I didn’t get any parking tickets, I ran, I worked on my comic book, I watched some Buffy, I had a nice dinner with my parents. As birthdays go, it wasn’t my worst.

Next year I’ll be twenty-five, and I’ll live in New York and people I know who aren’t my parents will buy me drinks. Twenty-four will probably be okay. And God knows it won’t last forever.

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An interesting article on mastectomies and their effects on women’s sexuality. I don’t really see the point of having implants without nipples. I don’t mean that women who get mastectomies should opt to have their nipples spared, since cancer can develop there and that would defeat the whole purpose. But without nipples, you’d look like a Barbie. It would look more disturbing, I think, than just having scars. But I suppose that’s really a matter of taste.

The article isn’t really about that, of course – that’s just my fixation on mastectomies showing. Really what the article is about is, why don’t the whitecoats prepare women for the impact their treatment will have on their sexuality? In my case, it is probably because I almost never see doctors without my parents in the room. And, of course, I’m not married. Doctors have talked to me about the possibility of someday getting pregnant (I probably can) and breastfeeding (probably not with the right breast, but Edge says the left will compensate). But I’ll be on Tamoxifen for five years – until I’m 28 – and I have no idea yet how that will effect me.

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Every day at 11:20 I go to Roswell, park in the special parking lot, scan the bar code on my Roswell ID card, and change into a “breast gown” in one of several flattering shades of teal. (A breast gown is a hospital gown that wraps around, so neither your back nor your front is exposed, and it doesn’t need to be tied.) I poke my head in at Machine 1 to tell them I’m there, and then sometimes they send me to read a 2006 issue of Seventeen or the issue of Self with Kelly Clarkson on the cover. (The Self is especially annoying because it has a long article on women who are worried that they may some day get breast cancer. My heart bleeds for them almost as much as for the woman who wrote in to the Buffalo News the other day with a story about having to get a biopsy one time, which turned out to be a false alarm. To celebrate, she bought a $400 purse.)

Where was I? Right, so before long they call me in, and I lie down on the hard metal table. They line my tattoos up with lasers to make sure I’m correctly positioned, then they leave the room. (This is a two-to-four person job, and it can feel a little bit like an alien abduction, although they are all very nice.) Usually there is classic rock playing, and there’s a large picture of a craggy shoreline on the ceiling. The machine does its thing, and a minute later the techs come back in and we’re done.

It’s pretty dull, and at this point I do it on autopilot. So far I haven’t had any real side effects, though my skin there is starting to get a little darker. It doesn’t hurt. It’s much less exciting than chemo.

Recently my hard drive melted, so I’m less wired than I’d prefer. (I’m typing this on my dad’s laptop.) You might think that after having cancer, things like computer trouble would just roll off my back. It’s just a thing, after all. That’s not how I react. Nowadays every new bad thing that happens, no matter how trivial, is liable to plunge me into the deepest despair. “First cancer, then loneliness and exile, and now this! Truly I cannot go on.” Of course, so much effort has been made to ensure my continued existence that I have to go on, no matter how tedious everything seems. I just have to make the best of it.

And speaking of making the best of things, behold my Halloween costume! Can you guess what I am?

Halloween 007

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