Saturday, April 30, 2011

Showering Joy

In the book, Valley of the Dolls, which I read in my twenties, there is a woman character with breast cancer who kills herself rather than have her man see her disfigured because he so worshipped her breasts.

At the time weighing about ninety pounds, none of which were in my breast tissues, I thought it stupid. That if all he cared about were her breasts, than he didn’t care about her. And sadder still was the fact that so much of her identity was in her breasts. The essence of her was only her body, not her intelligence, not her personality, not the things she did. She was only a breast.

A few more decades of living has not changed my mind. My body is something I occupy, the physical form that other people use to recognize me and keep me separate from other people. And although I like to make it as attractive as possible, each year it is a little less so. I’m no longer a cute, adorable 20 year old. I may be holding my own at 68 but for a 98-year old, I look damned good.

Maybe I should like about my age in the other direction. Then people will say, "Isn't she remarkable for 85?"

My surgeon was not totally satisfied with the appearance of my right breast.

When I fully showered for the first time after the surgery, I had the first chance to closely examine the changes (I deliberately will not use the word damage).

Yes, there is a slight indentation. My nipple is tipped at a slightly jaunty angle. I suppose you could think of it as winking or saluting the other one.

I really don’t care. Maybe if I were 20 and man hunting I would.

Maybe not.

It certainly is not worth reliving my traumatic twenties. Once was enough: Been There, Learned the Wisdom, Got the T-shirt.

What I did concentrate on was that indescribably joyous shower. Between the two eye surgeries and the breast surgery, I’ve had a month of not being able to totally indulge in having hot water sooth my entire body at will. I almost danced under the water.


Nah, not a problem.

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