I am in pain
Deep, relentless pain
I feel it, it does not go away. It increases when I move around. When I think.
When I smile.
The nurses asked me not to lift anything heavy.
Well, as a woman living alone, there are a thousand heavy things to deal with constantly. Specially, right now. From pumping the wine vacuum stopper to carrying a full water jar for those fresh flowers so essential to my survival this evening. I cannot be asked not to perform these pleasure-production duties.
The procedure was uncomfortable.
Pushed around this machine, forced to embrace it furiously, my body crashing against every harsh plastic corner, with my breasts but also my arms, neck, face. It is the most unpleasant type of contortion imaginable. But there you go. I am privileged in that I am tested for signs of breast cancer every year. So I take it. I trust the system. I let them do with me what they may.
This time, the procedure was going further. Needles were going to be inserted as well as a little tube with something that would allow the surgeons to extract a piece of me, from deep down into my breast tissue.
They asked me to look the other way. I found myself facing this turtle.
A turtle on a screen. Followed by palm trees on white sand and turquoise waters. Then the temple of Angkor Wat; a street in Barcelona; infinity swimming pools. Picture after technicolor-picture of glossy dream holidays. On a small ipad, located just there, on top of a plinth placed by my contortionist-torture machine. An improvised – or carefully advised, by expensive consultants – visual-comfort mechanism.
“We know you are in pain. Let’s distract you”
It works. I try to look down into the plastic containers and refuse bag on the floor but it is too demoralising; the pain too sharp; the position too uncomfortable. So I go back to the turtle, the paradise island, the temples and luxury resorts.
There are a few pictures of perfect people in trunks and bikinis. Pictures of feet behind a piña colada. I look and I think: how many of these places have I been to? A little cloud comes over me: how many will I never go to again? They are couple-holiday-type places.
I have not been in a couple for years and years and I do not see me going back there any time soon. Specially not for an expensive and elegantly boring resort holiday. That part of my life is over.
Pang, the pain intensifies.
The turtles are neutral. I can travel and see turtles by myself. Angkor Wat is a neutral distraction too: it was visited by me as a disappointed wife carrying, singlehandedly, her three-year old son in tow. Paradise islands have been walked by on my own, as well, as a newly independent single woman, defying the flirting of waiters hoping for a tip.
Resorts, water skis, petals in bed… are another story.
Now I write from my apartment. The moon is performing a seven-veils dance. It is an exquisite sight, a satellite enveloped in a celestial Dior-looking gown. What a perfect framing: a ruffle of semi-transparent clouds partially uncovering a moony shoulder.
I think of the pains, confusions and disappointments of dating in a digital era.
The pain is there, heavily felt. Pouring out of my bandaged breast and my too-fresh-a-memory of dancing to the tunes of the contortionist machine, no Dior gown – celestial, or otherwise – in sight.
So here I am… alone, thinking of the digital turtle that held my virtual hand at a moment of deep discomfort. The turtle that helped me forget the passing of time and the rise in interventions and ugly moments; the normalisation of hospitals, checks and treatments that I so despised not so long ago and are now part of life, my life, opening the gate to many more discomforts and scares to come.
I drink my glass of wine and look at my fresh flowers. My heavy-lifting provokers.
I feel a childish pleasure in disobeying the nurses’ rules.
I feel the pain. While I forget about unnecessary, picture perfect, never-again, fake-dream couple-holidays.