Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Saturday 15th November

People fascinate me. They always have. Maybe that’s why I went into Drama. 🙂

It stands to reason then, I suppose, that I should fascinate myself 😉

Well, not exactly – but it does interest me how we react to things.

Before the mastectomy, I was not sure how I would feel about having only one boob. The idea of the actual operation freaked me, being squeamish and all that, but I didn’t have any specifically strong feelings about losing the one side. Then came the op and I did refuse to even look at the op site for a good few days. When I came home, I made myself do so and it was not so freaky – mainly because, I suppose, the site was not completely flat (with swelling and the tissue expander in), so there was some kind of presence; and because the site was covered with a dressing.

Since then, I’ve been quite comfortable looking at the op site – mainly to check up on the swelling and to see if the drain was blocking (again) and, also, to see if the signs of infection were increasing.

Now that’s all over. The dressings are all off and it’s just the site and the scars. There is still a lot of swelling that will settle down – eventually.

For the first time, though, in the whole process, it’s as though I am confronted with the fact that I actually have lost part of my body and will never look the same again. (Or will never again be ‘normal’.)

Am I an amputee? The definitions of ‘amputation’ speak about ‘the surgical removal of a part of the body’, but do seem to be confined to limbs, digits, or parts thereof. So, I have certainly had a body part removed – not a very obvious one, but it definitely has gone – but it is apparently not something that seems to mean so much. In fact, a number of people have pointed out that a breast is kind of ‘disposable’ and something we can definitely live without. Especially at my age (when I have finished breastfeeding babies 🙂 ), I suppose that this is true in many ways. It does not make losing the breast any less traumatic, though. In fact, when people say things like that, I want to answer by pointing out that it’s very easy for them to say so, having not actually experienced what it is like to lose any part of the body.

I know full well that I don’t need my breast to be able to do anything. That does not make the experience of having been, effectively, mutilated and rendered deformed in a way, any less important.

At the same time, though, I am not at all sorry for myself. I do feel that it is horrible that this has happened to me. In fact, in many ways, at this late stage down the line, I am only really beginning to process the impact of all that has happened on me. I am certainly sorry that it has happened and, specifically, to me, but I do not actually feel sorry for myself.

It is as it is. It’s horrible and I really do wish that it had not happened. It’s also ok, though, because it is survivable and doable.


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