There were exploratories to make sure we were appropriate for the surgery; among them, an endoscopy to check out our throats and stomachs. I had concerns that there would be scarring from past reflux which would rule me out. I walked into the theatre with the anaesthetist and I lay down on the bed. He showed me how he wanted me to lie on my side and I breathed in the gas and counted like he said. When I finished counting I asked if it was a problem that I was still conscious. The nurse told me that it wasn’t because it was over. I was in recovery and N was in the bed next to me. She’d been awake for around 10 minutes.
Going back for the surgery it was a different anaesthetist. He made me feel different. I didn’t trust him as much. Maybe I was just scared. He had the hairiest arms I had ever seen. Wiry hair spilled over the top of his collar. I try to bring with me the calm of meditation from only two nights before. Slow breaths. I watch how my body responds to the gas. I gracefully let go of control. I know that if I don’t I will panic - I do and don’t like going under. Feeling recedes from my fingers and I float to the bottom, cool and silent. My vision is the surface of a pool of dark, shimmering water viewed from below. I am alone, aloof. I think of S. My eyes are sliding shut.
I am awake with tunnel vision. There is a face on a stage, smiling. The stage is warm blankets, pulled to my chin. My arms are trapped at my side. They’re not trapped but I can’t move them. Then I don’t want to move them, I don’t care anymore. I am in a swarm of bees. Pain buzzes in my ears. Vibrates through me like a hangover. Words travel to me via underwater intercontinental cable, prickly static. I am breathless as I speak. She gives me pethidine, I think. I still don’t care. Minutes pass then more pethidine. More. Did she give me more? Maybe.
N is here I think. I can’t see her. I can’t sit up. I ask, I want to be next to her so much. They tell me she is on the other side of the room. I know that sleep will be safe. Time reduces pain. Sleep reduces time. I breathe as slow and deep as I can and float down again, this time without help.
The day passes quickly enough, drugs, naps, uncomfortable sips of water and broth.
This hospital is made of glass. I have my own room, window from floor to ceiling. The sky is midnight blue. I can’t remember if I can see the moon, or its reflection on the adjacent panes. The hall is quiet, a nurse is with me speaking softly. Soft, friendly glow of a television. She helps me sit up and the air drops out of my lungs. She holds my hand and we walk to the bathroom. My knees are soft. I am a kitten, home from the vet, without my uterus. I am helpless.
People have seen me go to the bathroom before. There’s actually something quite nice about the kind of easy female friendship that allows you to get drunk and take turns peeing and reapplying lipstick in the same room. The warm comfortable intimacy of peeing in front of a partner.
I piss therefore I am.
Everything is natural. Nothing about you is distasteful. Every part, every process is worthwhile. Every scent is you. One day you will die and if I still love you I will savour every aroma, every flavour.
I am alive. Sitting on a toilet far away from home, far far away from my mother who does not know where I am, does not know about the surgery, in the middle of the night with a nurse standing in the doorway. I open my knees and wipe, hands shaking, in front of this caring stranger. Breathing, sitting, pissing. This is the most pain I have ever known. Dull, thudding, prismatic. I want to vomit and I am terrified (Terrified.) of vomiting. My hand is on the railing next to me. The nurse is helping me out of my gown. I am naked and this unfamiliar woman is the centre of the universe. She kneels and puts my feet into the legs of my pyjamas before she helps me stand and pulls them up. She disconnects the drip and feeds it through a tshirt then guides me through the shirt as well.
Getting back into the bed is an adventure. It takes me 5 years to move from standing to sitting. 3 years later and I have swung my legs, clumsily, breathlessly, onto the bed. White-knuckle on the handle above the bed and I lower myself onto the mattress, already lifted to 55 degrees. I don’t know how long that took but when I was finally on the bed, head on a pillow, more drugs in my veins... there are no words.
In these moments I refuse to think about whether it is worth it. I know, from past experience, that once the pain has receded into the past it won’t matter anymore.
Yesterday I got a fill. I make sure to tell the surgeon that the port is below my scar. This time he finds it first time. They’ve started using a pump to do fills instead of a syringe. There is pressure backwards, your body wants to deflate the implant, so it takes great strength to force 100ml into the device. The pump doesn’t care and steadily pushes it in. Which to be honest is a whole lot more comfortable. It means that you can keep filling until you feel full – people are putting in 200, 300ml. The pump looks like a tackle box and sounds like a creepy crawly. I feel and hear a pop. The implant has exploded. No, worse, it’s punctured my diaphragm. The clinical nurse explains that the implant changes shape as it inflates. Like a kiddie pool unravelling itself on your back lawn as it fills with air. The tip of the implant is folded over, it fills and fills with saline and then pop! the tip flips over. Sitting above my stomach in its intended shape it will be more effective she tells me.
I mention to the clinical nurse that sometimes it scares me that the loss is slow. That I’m used to getting onto some duromine, flogging myself and losing 7 kilos in 3 weeks. I’m used to dieting, she says. That is not what I am doing now. I am eating a variety of healthy foods in more appropriate portion sizes. I will lose weight as a result of having better eating habits.
Today I am wearing tights that did not fit before Germany. On Monday I wore to work a dress that I have only ever worn as a shirt, over jeans.
C put me onto Fat Aus. In the car I tell Br how I have mixed feelings about her. She is beautiful and I look at her in the things she wears and I think she looks fantastic. I can identify that I would look pretty well the same in the same items of clothes but I know that I would choose not to wear them. I worry about what this means. Maybe I am not, at this point, willing to be as honest with strangers about what my body looks like under my clothes. I remind myself that's it's just a body. Fragile, beautiful.
Start weight: 112.5
Last recorded weight: 106.3
Weight lost: 6.2
LT goal weight: 75
ST goal weight: 99