hands on lap after mastectomy

Archive of a Breast Cancer Survivor

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12.20.04
The Surgery

It was the morning of surgery. Lying in my surgical bed, the kind nurse inserted
a needle in my arm and secured it with tape. I was in a compartmentalized ward
sectioned off by baby blue curtains. There were about fifteen beds full of people waiting for their surgeries. I could hear the faint mumbled conversation of the woman next to me, her family surrounding her with somber affirmations. I could only imagine them nodding their heads like the faithful should. Soon the anesthesiologist came into my curtained room and asked me how I felt: Was I nervous? Would I prefer a calming drug? I felt none of it, that nervousness. I had no need to mumble affirmations into some accepting ear. I said no to their drugs but they gave it to me anyway. They stayed with me like precious statues and lifted the metal railings on the side of my bed to cart me away. And that is the last thing I remember. There was only the memory of nothingness while men in translucent gloves opened up my chest and took out the devil—the one-inch devil, screaming round in its determined fate kicking like some spoiled child who never wanted to leave home.

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