Fear and Its Antidote


I’m afraid.

It’s 4 am, I’m watching Downton Abbey for the first time, and can’t keep my mind on it.

I’ve looked (yet again) at photos of breasts in various stages of de- and re-construction. I speak to people who know I’m having this surgery and watch their eyes drift to my chest. It’s OK, I’d do the same.

I’ve taken pictures of myself as I stand now, looked at various surgeons’ “outcomes,” hoped for something between myself as I am and something otherwise tolerable, yet know I have no control over any of it.

In the end, the point of this exercise is a lifesaving one. Just as I remind new parents the point of labor is not a “birth experience,” but rather the not-always-simple act of participating in renewed and extended life. Plenty of folks don’t get to enjoy that, whether they’re having a baby or facing illness.

Neil Boyle Limited Edition Bronze

Neil Boyle limited edition bronze. I’d sure rather end up with a version of these more realistic breasts than with the “rocket boobs” featured below.

I’m hoping I do. And I’m distressed to be so very caught up in fear of pain and disfigurement. In fact, I’m surprised at it. Worry about pain and its management, mostly. I wouldn’t have thought it, though I’ve always known myself for, maybe not a coward, but a wuss. Good medical term, that.

My lovely father was an artist without compare. (I can say that–he’s my dad–but it was ever true.) Much of his career and teaching was spent putting the female form on canvas. Later, he experimented with bronze. One of those is shown here and demonstrates his attitude of realism toward the female form.

I was fortunate to be influenced by this man who appreciated women in all their variety. Other than ignoring the piercings in a pregnant model’s nipples, I never saw him “improve” on any woman he painted.

I have a copy of that painting. Its original drew a fair sum in a fundraiser for my midwifery school. A copy hangs in my office at Pearl Place, where I was worried my then-employer’s mother would object, given her career as a missionary. But she never batted an eye, owing no doubt to the simple verity of the woman and the artist who painted her.

I have every hope the surgeons who work on me tomorrow have no less respect for female normalcy than did my dad. I’ve uploaded a couple of photos here. One of my dad’s work; a bronze that sits proudly on my mantlepiece. Dad’s wife was kind enough to make a gift of it to me after his death.

The other piece is by an old friend of his, whose nudes from the 70s feature breasts a lot like those contemporary women choose for augmentation. I’m not too worried I’ll end up with those, but it will be truly frightening if my so-small readership can’t tell which is whose. 

Don’t worry, there won’t be a test.

"Annie Oakley" by Ren Wicks

An example of the “rocket boobs” Ren Wicks was renowned and loved for in “Annie Oakley.”

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25 responses »

  1. Beautiful words and beautiful art. What ya doing after work tonight? Want some company to kill time? Let me know. At work all day. I can sleep over and watch Downton
    Abbey at 3 am if ya want.

    • Bless your heart. I’d love that, but the spouse was talking about taking me out somewhere–which doesn’t happen that often…
      Maybe that’s why some folks do this one boob at a time 😉

  2. Isn’t the mind a wonderful, but terrible thing – all at the same time? Can never shut it off when it really needs to be!

    We will be there with you tomorrow in thoughts, hearts and spirit! Try to draw strength in the knowledge there are so many people out there who love and support you with all their hearts.

    Will call in a few days to check in on you! Love you much!!

  3. I wish I could take your fear away with a couple of words, I can’t. But, I can tell you that I’ll be there with you and hold your hand and I’ll do my best to make sure you get the best care St. Joe’s has available! Love you!

  4. arnica oral pellets and the other one for nerve pain, I cannot think of it’s name right now but i am sure you know .. these taken 1 hour before surgery have shown to be miraculous at
    keeping down pain, swelling and bruising .. Good Luck we will all be thinking of you and saying a prayer

  5. Thanks for sharing a couple of your dad’s pieces of art. Never knew all the areas of art he worked in, the woman in the hat is a picture that makes you smile. The fear of the unknown can put you in a place where everyone seems to find themselves at one time or other, turning it around to the things that are known is where we all feel more secure. What is known right now is that people love you, and care, you are making the best choices available right now, you have and can still make a difference in this world know matter the curvature of your body, and the wuss in you is in all of us! It’s the heart that keeps a person beautiful longer than the body, because it’s just the shell, and your little four legged friends know how big your heart is!

    • Thank you, Diana, but no! Please no! At 53 years old the soccer mom boobs in the cowgirl art are exactly what I DON’T wanna end up with. Thanks for pointing out that I wasn’t specific enough in my request.That piece of work (and yes, it does make you smile, doesn’t it?) is Oakley” (as in Annie Oakley) by the also-departed Ren Wicks. He & my dad worked together for many years. Renee was known for painting women with “screaming rocket boobs”. My dad was not.

  6. You are a priceless and precious gift Kay! I love you and I will walk with you as far down this road as I possibly can. I believe that fear is a testament to your healthy and appropriately balanced mind, and your honesty speaks for itself, none the less, I am sorry and I wish that there was a way that I could ease your pain or lighten your load.

  7. I am saying random prayers throughout the day…little ones, big tearful ones, tiny giggly ones. enjoy the medicated sleep and I will look forward to your post on the other side.
    unmitigated love coming your way.

    • Thank you dear. And by tomorrow I meant, well tomorrow. You get to keep praying & I get to keep not sleeping through another,oh, 20 or hours of it. Don’t you dare stop, not for one moment, you hear? 😉 Actually, one of them lorazepam is looking kinda good for tonite…

      • Oh Kay…I had no idea. I am so far out of the loop. You are one special lady and will always be very dear to my heart. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. That is all. Love you

  8. You, my friend, are just the most genuine, authentic woman I know. Fear sure seems reasonable to me. Thank you for being brave enough to share that with all of us. I hope this night passes quickly for you. Sleep well Kay

  9. Hi Kay, I’m praying for you today.

    I love the comments here about facing reality, facing fear, the inside is the important part, your heart is big and can overcome, you have a lot of support (even inside the hospital)… and your thoughts about journeying through this time as opposed to getting out of it.

    Yes indeed every moment (that you are awake) in this journey gives you specific rare opportunities to see life through a different experience and to embrace the growth/change/newness/wisdom being offered. Pain hurts but it is a wide-opened grand door to great big wonderful adventures of personal soul-searching and learning, fulfillment, and can result in deeper relationships and stronger hearts and more ways to help others who will need to know that you have also “been there”, even though “there” is so individualy different. You have joined a new community of beautiful people.

    I am praying that all goes well, surgery is a success, pain is minimal, your heart is at peace, and that your thoughts are clear as you see what really matters in the middle of the unfinished-ness of the process.

    Another brave wuss,

      • Thank you so much Lisa & Mom!
        Haven’t been keeping up with this closely, for obvious reasons. It does hurt a lot, but I’m sure glad to be home. Better to hurt here than at the hospital, where they insist I come up with some numerical equivalent to pain to meet some verdamned hospital protocol. (I sense a blog coming on 😉 thanks for the topic…)

  10. Kay,
    I am sending you all the strength and tenacity I had while going through all of this. I know that you and I share these qualities and maybe a few others, so I know that you will fight the good fight. If you need someone to share your feelings with, I’m your gal 😉 !
    Love Ya!

  11. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

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