Tuesday 23 March 2010

Z loves her body

I was interested to read Pamela's article the other day about being mentally prepared for an operation - what had surprised me was how protective I felt about my hip.  I actually stroked it a few times - yes, I know - in the couple of weeks leading up to the operation.  I felt sorry that a part of me that I cherished was going to be sawn off, and I'd made the decision to have it done.

I didn't feel resentful or  angry at any time, by the way, though a bit unlucky.  Although, when I saw that there was no arthritis in the other hip and asked why I'd got it at all then, the consultant pointed out that the bad hip had a slightly shallower cup than the good one - a reasonable explanation, and one that showed nothing could have been done to prevent it happening (I'd never had any sign of a problem in my life before) completely satisfied me and I was able to shrug it off.

No, it's the caring and protective feeling I have towards myself that I hadn't expected, and I'm interested to find out that this isn't unusual.  Not everyone has it, I'm sure - the other thing that gelled with me was Mago commenting the other day that he'd never have laser treatment on his eye.  Nor would I, just to correct my eyesight, although I would for a cataract or anything like that.  I mean, not for cosmetic or convenient purposes.  I'd feel irresponsible.  I'm afraid I'm stuck with my body as it is or as I can make it with general overeating and slobbing around.

Obviously, lots of people don't feel the same way, or the cosmetic surgery business would never had got going.  Of course, it's well known that one can go through a period of mourning after an operation such as a mastectomy, but I've always read rather glib things that breasts are such a part of womanhood that she feels she has lost her femininity - now I'm wondering if it's any body part, even an internal one, that makes you feel that way?  And is there a difference if the part is diseased, or worn out?  

I think that the sudden need for an operation after an accident is a slightly different matter - there's the shock, for one thing.  I'm thinking more of a necessary or elective operation that one has time to prepare for.  I'd love to know if any of you has any views on this?


Dave said...

I always feel distressed when I pass a kidney stone. Still, at least I can keep them in little jars.

Z said...

Well, that wasn't quite what I meant, Dave. How would you feel if you were told that you could be cured by the removal of one kidney, for instance?

When my mother had her gall bladder out, she was given her gallstones in a little jar. She was quite surprised.

Dave said...

I do realise what you meant, Z, and was being frivolous.

I have had a few, fairly minor operations, tinkering with my body (not cosmetically). I don't think I'd worry overmuch about losing something that wasn't functioning properly, particularly if it was going to make my life better. I'm quite a ruthless pruner of plants too.

Z said...

I know you were being frivolous, dear heart.

I'm terribly ruthless, normally. If the Sage were not perfect, I'd ditch him in an instant.

Dandelion said...

I don't know if it's the same, but I think the caring protective feeling towards oneself also happens after a trauma.

I think all surgery, even things that are 'routine' for the people who perform them, is a form of trauma.

I can see it might be different if you've had time to prepare, but even if it's elective, one didn't get to choose the reason why one needs it (assuming it's not cosmetic surgery - in which case I'd probably call it a form of self-harm)...

Roses said...

Well, I was 'done' in September.

I did grieve for the children I would never have in the week before the op. But since then, I haven't regretted it for one instance.

I love my Boy so much.

I don't think that's what you meant, is it? But it's the closest I can get to what you mean.

badgerdaddy said...

Dave, might I suggest investing your kidney stones in a set of maracas? I don't mean in part exchange, of course. I doubt even Norfolk pawnbrokers would do that. I mean to use them to create the shaky-shaky noise maracas make.

Anonymous said...

I knew some men who lost parts of their body by accident or in wars, they more or less wondered where the missing parts ended up. Somewhere in Russia, Vietnam, besides the Autobahn? But that where sudden impacts. People I knew and know who had major surgery and parts of their body removed generally reacted pretty non-emotional, at least I was "shown" it this way. A woman had soemthing internal removed because of a bad infection, it was dangerous to life so the alternative would have been dieing before time. A person I know would have thanked God on knees for a new kidney, the weekly trips to the hospital and the treatment there were more and more consuming the life force, so if it's possible to change that by getting rid of some non-functional organ - better today than tomorrow.
I think it is not entirely right to see or understand the human body only as a kind of machine, the medic as a kind of mechanic and so on. But we have made real astounding progress by this pure scientific thinking; whatever helps to erase paine and get rid of cancer is good.

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Anonymous said...

Apols, that first post was rubbish grammar.

I had an ill prepared overnight bag (I'm in the process of writing a specific guide for future renal tx'ers). Mental preparation comprised of 'get on with it' and reminding myself of dad's words 'It won't make you any worse.' And trust, of course, in the skilled and professional people trying to help you.

Z said...

Well, I was thinking of you too, Ad - of course, receiving a new kidney or other part usually happens at no notice and when you've been seriously ill for some time, so that's different again. An operation of that magnitude is something one would only have if desperately needed.

Mago, that must be really peculiar, wondering what had happened to a leg or something. Bad enough to wake up having had it amputated. And cancer or any abnormality or disease - I think one would just want it cut out. My leg functioned all right, and was not diseased - it was just worn out.

Badgerdaddy, cheers for joining in the frivolity. You know what jokers Dave and I are.

Roses, actually, although the Sage and I decided our family was complete after Ro was born, I'd have found it very hard to decide to take that step. Even now the possibility of pregnancy is remote and the reality would be a decided shock, I'd still not want to. I have no idea why.

Yes, people in distress or mental trauma often literally hug and rock themselves, don't they, Dand?
I don't think I felt a mental trauma in the way I would have if I'd had an accident and the implant resulted from that, but it did matter to me that I took control as far as I could - being conscious was part of that.

I'm immensely grateful for the new hip and don't regret having the operation at all and didn't for a minute think of calling it off - I was desperate to have it done. Once I'd made the decision I stopped denying how bad it was and then it was harder to cope with. In view of that, it seems odd that I felt protective at the same time.

luckyzmom said...

The thought of having had part of my bone sawed off, briefly brought me feelings of melancholy too. The feelings may have persisted if I could tell it was missing? I don't notice that my apendix or gallbladder are missing either, though I might if I had been given a jar of stones to remind me.

I refused to have a hysterectomy 21 years ago, to remove a perfectly healthy,though prolapsed, uterus,for several conditions even though it was the way the majority of doctors dealt with the problems I have. There were only a few doctors in the nation at that time who were doing female reconstruction surgery;sort of a face lift for your pelvic area.

I don't think there's anything wrong with cosmetic surgery. As with most things there are always those who take it to ridiculous extremes though.

Z said...

The only other operation I have had was to remove a polyp from my vocal cords - I didn't miss that (though it was an unnatural growth, of course, which is different) though I did regret losing my attractively husky voice.

Interesting that the person who had the same operation as me had a similar feeling - maybe the fact that it was not actually diseased (ie poisoning us) makes a difference.