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Ooph. It sounds just like the noise my fat old cat used to make when he landed on the floor after jumping from much too great a height. Or what you might say at the end of a shitty day at work while you clink beer steins with a friend. It's also the beginning of "oophorectomy," which sounds suspiciously like a procedure performed by the Swedish Chef. But it's not. It's when they take out your ovaries and fallopian tubes in the hopes that less estrogen will slow down your cancer's relentless attack on your body. And also, btw, throwing you into instant menopause. In case you were wondering, the image above is a still from the bonkers 90s movie The Devil's Advocate, in which batshit crazy Charlize Theron hallucinates that a baby stole her ovaries and tubes, leaving her tragically barren. I don't feel barren; the two seemingly drunk, garrulous midgets constantly trying to destroy my house are evidence of my previous fecundity.

What I do feel is hot. Or I mean cold. Or actually very very hot. Sweaty and hot and cold and like the only place I want to be is bed. My skin is dry, my hair is brittle, my memory's shot, my joints are achy. I guess I should be grateful to have this preview of growing old, since I won't get the real thing.

I found this image when I did an image search for "ovaries":

What a friendly fucking reproductive system! It looks like it's offering you a pair of juicy grapes. It doesn't seem like it would be such a big deal to take the grapes away-- it's outpatient surgery, after all. Laparoscopic-- done with a teeny tiny camera-- no big incisions, just three little holes, one in my belly button. And there are so many scars there (two c-sections; failed DIEP; radiation tattoos), what difference could it make anyway? After all the other surgeries I'd been through and the radiation and the broiling back pain from the cancer, this would be a breeze.

But there wasn't anything friendly or easy about it. Did you know they fill your abdominal cavity with gas so they can see everything better?

Trigger warning: gross picture coming up.

This is what my abdomen looked like a few days after I came home:

To me, it looked like three little aliens from the movie Alien had burst out of me. Also as if I were pregnant, because of all that goddamned gas, which was no fun for anyone around me, truly. The incisions are all healed up now, but what remains is the increasing feeling that cancer isn't just stealing my life, it's stealing my soul. How many surgeries and pills and infusions and lasers and interventions before you're no longer really you? I mean, a couple of months ago I was a cynical academic big drinker who loved everything to do with sex and food and looked forward to going on road trips with my husband after the kids were out of the house. Now I eat almost all fruit and veg and take something like 30 pills every day and only drink on special occasions and sleep many many hours a day and read books about the afterlife and agnostically pray to beat the odds and stay alive for more than a few years. Is it Iago who says "I am not what I am"? I guess the difference is that Iago thinks he's tricking Othello, forcing Othello into his control; I, on the other hand, am the one being tricked. I have no control at all.

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