A few years ago I had lunch with a former agent who said she had been going through something of a tough time where she had suddenly realized she had hit middle age, and was attempting to come to terms with her mortality.
I nodded sympathetically, but had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.
Last month, having been plagued with all sorts of “Lady Problems” for rather a long time, my doctor finally said there was no alternative but to have a hysterectomy.
I don’t like being anything less than Superwoman. Anything less than invincibility makes me feel vulnerable and weak, and nothing is worse than being vulnerable and weak.
I went ahead and booked the hysterectomy, and decided not to tell many friends. The few I did tell, I told in passing. Over lunch. Or tea. I told them like this: “Gosh, this salad is delicious, I love the dressing, did I tell you the Rower was contacted by this University? By the way, I’m having a hysterectomy next week but it’s no big deal, it’s just a bit of a pain, ha ha! Anyway, so the rower and I went to look at it and this is what we thought.”
On the day of surgery, Beloved took me to the hospital. I still hadn’t thought much about it. I filled out the forms, pretended to be scared in order to get my hands on the blissfully happy drug they give you when you have proper anxiety, then promptly fell asleep.
It turns out, I have a horrible reaction to anaesthetic, and opiates. I endured lots and lots of unpleasantness for an entire day, and then I came home, got into bed, and waited for people to visit with chocolates and flowers.
My lovely friend The Chef came. She brought a delicious cornbread casserole-y thing for the Smalls, and truffles for me. She left. No-one else came. Days passed of me being in bed with only my i-pad and book for company.
Eventually, presumably because I had dropped off the face of the earth, friends started calling.
“What are you up to?” they said. “Shall we meet for lunch?”
“I can’t. I’m lying in bed recovering from my hysterectomy,” I said, in – yes, I will admit it – a somewhat trembly, self-pitying way.
“Oh my God!” they all shrieked in horror. I felt a small shudder of enjoyment before quickly reassuring them it was fine. I realized my solitude was entirely self-imposed. Because I had skipped over the news as if it was nothing, everyone forgot. I would have done exactly the same had I been in their shoes.
The thing is, I realized, during all those days in bed, it’s not nothing. It’s actually quite something. The surgery is the surgery, but I, like my agent all those years ago, have found myself brought face to face with my own ageing, my mortality, my own mid-life crisis.
I have been lying in bed trying to come to terms with the fact that because I have just had surgery that I had always associated with older women, then I must now be an older woman too. I will never again be on the other side of this hill. If I am completely honest, I am still trying to come to terms with that today.
I have a horrible feeling my mid-life crisis may just be starting. Porsche dealerships? Lock your doors today.
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