Did I Do That?


Lately I hear those words in my head a lot – “Did I do that?”  Usually, I have this scenario in mind:  I’m at the doctor – any doctor (my PCP, rheumatologist, etc).  I step on the scale, which shows I have lost almost 20 pounds since my last visit.  The nurse comments – the nurse always comments (in the scenario and in real life) – “Wow, you lost some weight.  Good for you.”  And I say the words, “I had a mastectomy.”  And the nurse of course either looks at me with pity or looks down at my chart to make some notes.

Thirty-six year old women should not be saying the words “I had a mastectomy.”  Really, no one should be saying it, but truthfully, I do think of it as something that happens to old ladies, like 70s or 80s old.

The other thing is that I had been planning this mastectomy for seven years, which is another way of saying – I’ve been putting off this mastectomy for seven years.  I think part of me didn’t believe the day would ever really come.  But it did.  I had a mastectomy.  When I cup my hand around my new ‘breast,’ I am not shocked by how it feels (I’m used to it by now) but I am shocked that it’s not my old breast.  I’m shocked that I actually went through the procedure I’d been planning (a pause – I was thinking of saying “dreading” instead of planning, but I really wasn’t dreading it) for so long.  I’m sort of shocked, I guess, that it’s over (well, this part is over).

There are women who say that after they give birth, they miss being pregnant.  They feel a loss because they’re no longer attached to their baby in the same way.  For nine months, they’d gotten used to sharing a body with their child and were content that way.  I guess for me, for seven years I’d been used to the idea that I was going to have a mastectomy and I was content too.  But now that I have done it, there is a strange loss there – not the loss of my breasts, but the loss of the mastectomy looming ahead in my future; I’ve lost the anticipation, I suppose.  You’d think that would be a good thing, but it’s strangely a hard thing to come to terms with.  I guess it’s like any time you jump in, take a plunge, face a challenge head on – when it’s over, even though you can see the physical results, you still can’t help but ask yourself, “Did I do that?”




  1. I do wonder what’s next? Well I know what’s next, the exchange. But I know how you feel. There’s not the one thing that occupies your entire day any more?

  2. Hysterectomy occupies my days now. But that always seemed like a side thing, like it wasn’t quite as big a deal as the mastectomy (even though really, it probably is a bigger deal!). Maybe because you can’t actually see it when it happens?

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