Sunday, January 08, 2023

I didn't have a banana for scale so I used a dime

I put the photo of the biopsy site (bandaged) in the post below so I could warn you not to scroll if this will bother you.

Now you know.

To start, I'd like to talk about generosity.

Before I post something personal I always wonder if it's too much. This may sound unlikely for someone who talks about suicide and depression and imaginary penises, but it's true.

A friend told me I was brave to share my biopsy fears, and I said it's not bravery (although I had to search for the word, and mentally scrolled through bravishness, bravura, bravity before arriving at the bravery), it's relief. 

I think because I grew up with such heavy secrets—and in some cases not even heavy, just stupid, but still secret—I feel such relief when I write them down. The fear doesn't evaporate completely and immediately, but it dissipates.

(On a side bar, I still think I could be an excellent spy, because I'm stellar at holding secrets of others, and how would you blackmail someone who talks so publicly about her shit?)

But back to the topic at hand.

So many, so very many friends reached out to offer support. Love. Virtual hugs.

Friends who have had breast cancer have messaged and called to share their very personal stories. And so many have said that they reached out because they wanted to make sure I knew that no matter what, I was going to be fine.

One friend called me immediately upon reading my blog and shared her own journey with breast cancer. And then she offered to tell me everything she has learned, both from her own experience and those of friends.

Yes, I said, please tell me everything. Everything.

She did. We talked and talked, and it was wonderful.

Afterwards I felt like even if it is my idea of worst case scenario, it will be OK. I can do what I need to do. I'm not afraid of pain or scars, and frankly after nursing, I don't even have any particular attachment to my nipples.

What I want most is to be here for my family.

So by the time I walked into my biopsy, I was ready to say, "Take them both and the nipples! I'll get tattoos!"

Obviously, this isn't what I said, because it was a biopsy.

And I wasn't actually cavalier. I was super anxious.

I didn't sleep the night before, and I was saving my last Xanax for the procedure. Nick drove me to Fairfax while I sipped tea and tried to breathe calmly.

I was prepared to have to lie on a table (pictured above in case you have no idea what the F that drawing is). 

If you've not had this done, traditionally they have you lie face down on a table. Your boob pokes through a hole, and they raise up the table and work from underneath.

This is older technology, apparently, although they told me they still need to use it sometimes, depending on the area they need to access.

A friend told me the table was extremely uncomfortable and left her bruised, and it was hard to breathe. I should see if they had a chair.

As it turned out, they offered me the chair.

The Chair. Sounds like electrocution. 

Honestly, the chair itself was extremely comfortable, and I'd enjoy having one at home. It reclines very quickly and quietly, and you can raise it and lower it mechanically.

The whole thing is still a little uncomfortable in that they put your boob in a vise, and they move the chair so your back is absolutely straight and even a little forward, and you have to turn your head at an angle and then not move.

They need to make sure they have the exact right spot, so when they do scans you have to hold your breath as well. 

Also, they inject you with lidocaine, and the injection stings, but after that, most of the discomfort was  pressure and the angle of your body and the trying not to freak out and breathe evenly while wearing a mask.

I couldn't take the Xanax until I'd signed the forms, and I really should've just taken it when I got there so it had more time to kick in, but I am a first-born rule follower, so.

If I had to choose between biopsy and root canal just as isolated procedures, without the cancer fear, I might actually choose biopsy.

Everyone was lovely. The nurse who was in the room held my hand. And the doctor was absolutely lovely. The nurse who did all the forms with me and then escorted me out was also so kind.

Interestingly, when she was asking about medications and conditions, and I said, "Ooh, I forgot about ADHD because that one's new," she was like, "yeah, the only ones we care about for this are the physical ones."

And I was all, "Even though the brain ones can be a much bigger deal."

But I did understand what she meant. Heart conditions and such.

Anyway, all this to say, it was OK. Much quicker and way less terrible than anticipated.

I came home, changed the ice pack on my boob, and slept. I was assiduous about keeping it iced.

They said the ice would help a lot with swelling and bruising, and it did.

They said I had to wait to shower until the next day and I refrained from telling them about my ability to hold out on showering. They also said not to submerge it, like in a bath or hot tub, because of the risk of infection.

Much like the medical staff who told me not to do things like clean the house vigorously or vacuum after my amnio, I assured them there was zero need for concern.

And when I finally took the big bandage off yesterday, I realized that it's kind of a big hole, no?

Mostly I've slept through weekend. Nick has done pretty much everything, and I'm thankful.

In my pre-zen(ish-ish) anxiety frenzy, I may have purchased a variety of truly fabulous vintage items of clothing online.

When my groovy purple Pierre Cardin coat arrives and my charming orange Courrèges dress comes back from the cleaners, I may pair them with my $50-on-eBay Lanvin boots and revel. I will post photos.

So it occurs to me that I do have a resolution for 2023 and beyond. Except for undergarments, I'm done buying new clothes. I'm going to buy used, or at any rate pre-owned.

(Except for the occasional Jordan Piantedosi, but I consider that supporting the arts.)

This winter, no matter what I have to do health-wise, I'm going to wear my 60s and 70s vintage and feel fabulous.

And I'm going to be so grateful for my amazing community of wonderful humans. 

Thank you over and over for your loving kindness and generosity.

While I'm not a Dave Matthews fan, he's right: Life is short but sweet for certain.


  1. Thank you for sharing about this procedure and the ADHD. Continued good thoughts for you. Olivia, reader.

    1. Thank you so much, Olivia!❤️ (I haven’t figured out how to double log into gmail on my phone, so I’m commenting anonymously, but this is Lisa)


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