Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Wednesday 8th October

Operations and hospitals are such alienating environments in so many ways. In others they can become so familiar and, strangely, comforting.

Sandton clinic has always been such a familiar and safe environment for me, because Mum was always there. Whenever we went to a doctor, or to have an x-ray, or were hospitalised, it would involve Sandton . It was logical. Mum was always there.

Now that she no longer is there, it still seems to be the hospital of choice.

Morningside, on the other hand, was kind of like the ‘poor relation’: the hospital that Mum had sessional rooms in for a while and which we visited occasionally.

Then Mum was sent to Morningside for her angiogram. And that is where she died.

I will never, ever forget the feelings as we rushed through the foyer to the ICU on May 22nd this year. I will always remember the tears and feelings of terror as we all gathered.

I will also not forget the feelings of concern (not anxiety, or trepidation) when we made the first visit to the surgeon (who is based at Morningside) that there would just be too much angst associated with the hospital.

Almost immediately, though, it was obvious that a hospital is just bricks and mortar, just a shell – populated by many, many different people: professionals and patients. It will ‘see’ its share of loss and pain and tears; of arrivals and of joy. And it will also be a place where many different people are treated all the time.

Including me.

I’m home now, after what seems like a  very short stay in hospital. The operation took quite a while, of which I was, of course, blissfully unaware. The last two nights and day-and-a-half seem to have gone so quickly – in a  smooth run of lying in bed, being supported by the family – and by my new ‘ward captain’  and the very capable staff.

I have come home to my own ‘recovery corner’ – everything I need to hand and reclining in Dad’s Lazyboy, fetched specifically from 55 this morning by the kids.

I have confronted the op site briefly and have looked what has been done to my. I have not been completely freaked. Partly, it just feels like there is no other choice. Partly, also, though, it seems as though this is how things have to be.

There are very few choices that I can make in this journey to beating the cancer. Everything is on a path and so much must happen: some of which affects me dramatically; and some of which is almost run-of-the-mill.

What I can make, though, is the most fundamental of all choices – how to face the journey, with all the different stops along the way.

I can accept being without the one breast, because that is how it has to be – because I have made the most important decision of all: to follow the road where it leads and do what has to be done to win.


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