This morning it’s late again when I sit down here at the keyboard and I remember that my body is always heavier, sleepier, more tired when she’s sleeping. We’re supposed to pretend like the blood doesn’t affect us, like everything’s normal. Well, everything is normal — this body is working extra hard during these days. Be unsurprised, ego-self, that the animal body has her seasons and cycles, has her rhythms and climbs, has her furrows, her sweet spots, has the moments when all she can do is lie down. Come and lie down with us. Bring a book. Now is the fallow time.
Last night was the Erotic Reading Circle at the Center for Sex and Culture, the monthly reading event I get to co-facilitate with the most-delicious Carol Queen. I am never disappointed at the ERC: last night we had stories about public-alley sex and masturbation and memoir about sex in SF in the mid-70s; we had the next installment of a fantasy piece, a story that taught me about the layers of exhibitionism possible at a nude beach, and D/s stories from both the D perspective and the s. The folks who come to the circle, both the regulars and the newbies, are without fail attentive listeners who are engaged with each piece being shared into the room — people pay close attention, give strong feedback, want to hear more. What a gift, to have a space where one’s erotic work is taken seriously. We meet again November 28 — maybe you’ll be able to join us one of these months.
Here’s what I want to tell you — the tissue around my microcalcifications came back benign. And today I go meet with a surgeon in the family practice department who will feel around where my primary care doctor originally felt around (and felt worried), and tell me if there’s anything going on that the mammogram didn’t pick up.
There was some relief in me when my doctor told me the results of the biopsy, a slight slumping inside: a release of worry where I hadn’t been quite aware I’d been worried. But how could I not be? Any time any tests are run — blood tests, biopsy, anything — we place our fluids or tissues or bodies in the way of receiving an unexpected answer, an answer of illness and wrong. So when my doctor said, Good news, the tissue was benign, the I know! place was a bit taken aback by the other parts of me that cheered with relief.
And then my doctor began to immediately ask me again about my family history (which exists in my family, which is to say that my mother and her sister and my maternal grandmother have each had the ‘woman’ cancers) to find out if I wanted to go in for genetic counseling (which I don’t). Last, she still wanted to schedule me for an appointment to meet with a surgeon.
The mamogram didn’t pick up anything at the sites that had originally concerned her.
But I thought that was good news.
Well, there still could be abnormalities that the mammogram can’t read. The surgeon has practice and experience feeling breast tissue, and can tell us if there’s anything else going on.
I actually argued with my doctor for a bit during this conversation (during which I was also preparing for a workshop that was to begin in about fifteen minutes) — maybe argued is too strong a word. I pushed back. I wanted her to explain, and then explain again, why I’m being referred to for a surgery consult after a breast exam. I just don’t think that’s common. This is not like me, this pushing back. I sounded like someone advocating for someone — and look: that someone is myself and my body. I challenged the need for this consult. My doctor was patient, her voice stayed consistent, and she explained again. I said, I know you’re concerned about me and I’m grateful for that. But at the moment, during that phone call, I wasn’t feeling grateful. I wanted to be able to just have a small inside celebration for my benign microcalcifications — not have their positive result mean that now we have to keep looking for more wrong.
I wonder about having moved into the age where dense breasts being a bad thing, about the sense of our breasts becoming radioactive, the site of possible implosion.
I didn’t ask my doctor the question that has weighed the heaviest on me, that I (again) don’t want to give any space to: should I be worried? and What do you think it is?
So I am off to get ready for the day, to get ready to put my breasts in a new pair of stranger’s hands. Think good thoughts in our direction — my body’s, the surgeon’s hands.
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Take ten minutes and write the story of your voice’s relationship with authority today — how do you (or your character) respond to being told by someone with more/different power (boss, supervisor, physician, parent, as examples) to do something? What do you say in response? How does your body respond? How has this response changed over time (if it has)? You might start with the phrase “You told me to … and/but I… ” — then follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.
Thank you for the ways you question and the ways you accept and receive. Thank you for your passion, today. Thank you for your words.