I woke up at 6am, my body was sleepy but the rest of me was fully alert, aware of what was ahead of me. I showered with an anti-bacterial scratchy sponge provided by Nuffield Hospital. I picked up my binder, hesitated, and left it on the bed. I guess there wasn’t much point hiding them away and I might as well enjoy my last few moments with them. I was already on a fasting food and water diet so we got to the hospital early, my partner drove me. Once we had checked in, I saw a nurse and my surgeon, Dr Yelland. He scribbled on my chest with a marker pen, said a few words and left me in my backless surgical gown. After he left, I had a look at the markings on my chest, making sense of what was really going to happen to them. It felt sad and scary knowing the black lines will become incisions, and then, become scars.
We had the room to ourselves and a wave of heavy fatigue came over us. I wasn’t expected to go into theatre until 4 hours time. We curled up together, spooning on the hospital bed, as if we were waiting for the end of the world.
I was thrown into an intense and vivid dream.
I was lying on the very same hospital bed, waiting to be admitted into theatre and the door was open. I saw someone pop their head round to look at me, and then left. I tried to move to shut the door, but I couldn’t, I had no energy to. The same person came back with their family to look inside my room. To take a look at me. I managed to get up to close the door and I saw more people, crowds gathered to get an intent look at me, even the nurses were walking past were gaping. Everyone was so quiet, giving me silent stares. I saw outside my room, there was a sign: The Man with Tits.
I opened my eyes. I was lying on the hospital bed. I woke up slowly and sourly as the pieces of my dream came back together. I felt just as tired as I had done before my nap. Before I had even rubbed the sleep from my eyes, the nurse came in and told me the surgeon had finished early and I will be admitted in 15 minutes. Am I still dreaming? I felt so drowsy; I couldn’t believe it was about to happen and I was so unprepared. I dragged off my trousers and pulled up the anti-deep-vein-thrombosis stockings (knee high, white, spandex socks – incredibly eye-catching) and sat on the bed, still waiting to wake up. I don’t think I really needed to wake up any more. It was the shock that it was it was finally happening.
I held onto my partner until the nurses came through for me. I got into the bed, tucked myself in and had to say good-bye. They wheeled me out of my room and down the corridor and then through the double doors. The double doors, where the hotel-like private hospital felt like a hospital again. Bright white lights rushed past me, as I lay on my back, and I felt the chill of the air-conditioned room come over me. Before I had a chance to bury myself in the crisp duvet, I was in the anaesthetic room. My eyes darted from a polite conversation with a nurse to another undoing my gown and placing sticky patches on my back. The nurse asked me, “So how long have you been waiting for this?” I stumbled over my words, surprised and unsure, my eyes welled up. I didn’t get to finish my sentence as I forced myself away from my emotions. The anaesthetist came through and picked up my left hand with another nurse at his side, ready to place my cannula. I appreciated the distracting conversation but I was anxious at the thought of the needle going in suddenly. I tried to sit up to get a better look, and caught a glimpse of a large syringe filled with a white liquid as I felt an uncomfortable scratch on my wrist. The anaesthetist explained as the white liquid was injected: this is the anaesthetic, it’ll feel cold, and then you’ll get a strange taste at the back of your mouth. I felt my left arm go cold, and then, my jaw started to tingle on either side, and as if perfectly timed, an odd, chemical like taste came up my throat and spread on my tongue. And then, I was out.
I opened my eyes. I was lying on the hospital bed. Again. I looked to my right, a different nurse smiled and told me I’d feel cold due to the anaesthetic. I was absolutely freezing. I had woken up shivering and shaking, and it was that which alerted me to the throbbing and burning sensation on my chest. I felt a tightness, restricting my shivering and making the burning worse. The nurse placed an oxygen mask on my face and I just about managed to say, “I’m so cold,” loud enough for her to hear. She wrapped a blanket which had been on the heater around me, but that lost heat quickly and my shivering persisted. I started to feel a pain through it all and found myself looking at a clock in front of me. The time read 1.30pm.
At 1.30pm on Wednesday 5th February 2014, my life without tits began.