I keep finding myself in the midst of panicked moments. "Law & Order" will be in the middle of its usual plotline involving the death/dismemberment/torture of a member of the female sex, and BAM!, my brain wanders over to the corner of my skull where I thought I had discreetly stashed all cervix- and cancer-related thoughts. It happens while I do dishes and on the bus on the way to work. It happens when I am putting on socks. I nearly cried over the smell of cheap shampoo at the grocery store, because it reminded of 1980s douche kits.
Last night, while watching some CSIs recover the avulsed appendage of an as yet indiscernibly sexy corpse, I watched them pointing out the direction of the blade marks in the bone and thought That's how I feel. That's how it is. I feel like I am having something amputated. Until then, I was not able to staple down what it was I felt about the loss of my uterus. This hysterectomy is not on par with other corrective procedures. My uterus is going to be removed. It will no longer do any of the things it did before. It will be gone.
I am not sure what that means. Hysterectomy = X. X = code - cypher.
I have never had any great love for my uterus. As I have written about before on this website (but will not link to because, sweet jeebus, I used all the wrong words and would erase them if not for my rule against historical revision), when I was a little kid, I never once thought that I would grow up to be a woman. For awhile, I was convinced that I was going to grow up into a man with wing-tipped shoes and a jaunty hat, but once I realized that that wasn't going to pan out with the course my body was taking, I fell into thinking of myself as this neither-this-nor-that sort of person. That was nice. It fit. And then I got my first period and had my identity blown out of the water.
It has taken me a long time to come to terms with this body I inhabit. As much as this uterus has been a source of discomfort for me emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually, it has also been a strong and reliable force throughout my adolescent and adult life. I cramp up both when I ovulate and menstruate, making it a bi-monthly metronome ticking off the passage of time. When my periods are very painful, I know that I have been holding in too much stress. You have no idea how thrilled I have been every thirty days when my uterus tells me that it is not carrying the beginnings of a
rapacious homunculus foetus.
I am not equating my periods with any kind of femininity, that false uniform of the female caste, because it is not the loss of a sense of femininity over which I am panicking; it is the loss of a body identity that has taken me over thirty years to acknowledge. I feel as though this uterus I possess is somehow an extra limb, a deformity which I have slowly grown to accept as part of this body that propels me through life. Now, just when I was able own it, know it as my own, I am going to have that part of my identity cut out of me.
No wonder my brain refuses to make sense of this. I hold up an image of myself with and an image of myself without cancer, and my brain simply will not superimpose the two. They are separate. They are disparate. One might as well be another person.