Trinkets and Armor, 7: You Say Horror and Shame, I Say Opportunity

“If life rips your heart out of your chest,
make something useful (even fun) out of the bloody mess.”
~ Magaly Guerrero


“Horrors and Shame”

I’ve searched my mirror
for the ugly,
for the incomplete,
for the unsexy
shadow of a woman you said would sprout out of the stitched chest separating me from death…

I’ve searched my mirror
for the horrors,
for the tears,
for the shame you said would pull the world from under me and turn wild laughter into screams…

I’ve searched my mirror
and found…
me, gloriously one-breasted,
curious about future comings… Me—
beautiful, grinning, whole
in ways some could never
imagine without help.


I searched your eyes
for something that could see
me, a woman ready…

I searched your depths for me
and I found… You—
the ugly,
the incomplete,
the unsexy shadow of a soul projecting
horrors and shame… you,
screaming at everyone (at everything)
you have no control


…and now, Trinkets and Armor, 7:

My grandmother lost one eye when she was just a girl. People often asked her, “Why don’t you get a prosthesis?” She always answered their inquiry in the same way, “Why should I?” And their reaction was always the same: bafflement… as if they couldn’t understand her question. I, even as a wee child, couldn’t understand their confusion. I couldn’t even imagine my grandmother without her missing eye. In my mind’s and heart’s eye, my grandmother sprouted into being with only one eye, wearing a gray dress, smoking an old pipe, holding a broomstick that seemed glued to one of her hands, and eternally grinning at me in a way that suggested she had at least thirteen secrets that would make any person who learned them howl in pleasure (or fear). She was perfect, my grandmother… just perfect, a woman ready.

When I learned that my right breast would have to sacrifice herself so that I could live, I considered breast reconstruction. But after a bit of reading, a lot of thinking, and after discussing the issue with my Piano Man, I knew that reconstruction was not something I needed or wanted for my sexy flesh and bones and me. These days, I am often asked the same question my grandmother was asked decades ago: “Why don’t you get a prosthesis?” And yes, you have guessed it, my answer is the same as hers: “Why should I?” However, unlike my grandmother, I’ve never been one for short and sweet answers. So… yep, I tend to elaborate: “Why should I subject myself to more physical trauma (and the risk of infection), when I could use this opportunity to explore the different kinds of whole and determined and sexy and sexual… that can become part of body and soul after defeating a nasty monster?”

And yes, you are correct, if you’re thinking that my response gets the same sort of confused reaction my grandmother’s answer used to get. I’ve even been told, “But if you don’t cover that up, people will know” (the words are often accompanied by panicked and slightly disgusted looks). I just smile (fine, so that’s not quite true. I smirk in a not-so-gentle way… while wondering, How can this person live in such a tiny box without suffocating to death or at least screaming to be let out?)

Yesterday, I shared this blackout on Instagram and Facebook:
with a note which explains that I’ve been revisiting my old stuff… and loving the fact that I can find different meanings (and useful guidance) in my own words, that my body has been changed drastically by the effects of breast cancer, and that I can’t wait to explore the different ways in which my new shape is as interesting and stunning and as enjoyable *cough* as the old one. Yep, I shall delight in becoming my own curiosity (again).

The public comments to that post were pure positivity. The same was true for most of the private messages. But there is always one. So, of course, my Luvs, someone messaged me to kindly inform me that I shouldn’t feel too bad when the reality of my situation hit me, and I “realize[d] that cancer leaves everyone broken, ugly, and feeling nothing like a woman. It happens to all of us.” According to this bright ray of well-intended predictions, said realization would come right after my drains are removed and my wounds heal enough to allow me to have sex or even think of it.

I promise that I didn’t laugh (too hard) at the idea that this poor soul believes that a missing breast and a couple of drains could keep me from having sex for more than a day or three. After the roaring left my loins, I found the time to feel some pity for that person. No, not because they’re probably feeling ugly and unattractive (and are most likely not getting lucky enough to enjoy the deliciously healing endorphins that come with sex), but because someone must be truly rotten inside to attempt to spread their misery to another while pretending that all they want to do is help.

Regardless of how life and living make me look, I will never stop being beautiful or attractive. Not because I will find ways to make others see me in the way that I see my Self, but because I will always see me and want me. And when we see and want our Selves, so does the universe. And the universe is wise… it knows beauty will only abandon those who make themselves ugly through their own actions and thoughts. Act and think… beautiful, and you will always be. And yes, my Wicked Luvs, as always, by “you” I mean “me” (you, too, of course… if you want to be).

It’s a tad gloomy outside, but… inside me a fire burns deliciously bright!

day 5 (+1) after my unilateral mastectomy


This week, I wish to read poems or stories or any other creative sprouts (with your words in them) that explore your thoughts and feelings on body image: how you think of it, how you feel society thinks of it, how it affects your life (or not).

To participate in Trinkets and Armor, please add the direct link to your entry at the end of your comment. If you don’t have a blog or a public platform, or don’t wish to write a post, just add your contribution as a comment. If you can, take a minute to read other entries. Unrelated links will be deleted without explanation.


Linked to Poets United.

A One-Breasted Witchy Woman and a Piano Man Enter the ER…

First, a poetic spell that feels too appropriate not to re-share right now:


“Healing a Wish”

I call on you, betrayer of living flesh,
cracker of bones… I name you mine,
I hammer my intent into your core.

My will—never you!—dances
in the red of my blood, throbs
in my center and in my limbs

and in the roots of all that is Me,
I’m blooming you dry, pain of mine,
making dandy fluff out of lion’s teeth,

unbinding hurts, healing a wish.


And now, a (not so) wee note about the last few days…

My mastectomy went super well (my Piano Man and I have considered proposing to my surgeon 😊). But the aftercare (nutrition, in particular) was nothing to brag about. You can just imagine how thrilled we were to go home. So thrilled, that we didn’t double check my meds. The doctor who discharged me told us I was going home with the same stuff I had been taking, we were handed a bag, and we split.

Once on the road, I went through the meds and noticed the attending physician had given me the wrong medication. I wanted to scream. But I didn’t. Although, trusted sources suggest that I might have cursed the idiocy of the attending (and my lack of judgment) once or thrice. You see, my Wicked Luvs, I had already voiced concerns about the competency of the physician in question. But I was soooooooooo ready to go home (you can tell by my excessive use of Os). Anyway, I called my surgeon, she instructed me to go to my local ER to get the right medication, and to call her if they gave me trouble—New York (and the VA) are rather careful, when it comes to controlled substances (I support this 100%, since I have seen some terrible things).

When my Piano Man and I entered the emergency room, my teeth were chattering from cold. I was walking a bit crocked, and the spot where my right boob used to be hurt enough to make the rest of me twitch oddly every now and again. To make things even more interesting, Nature’s violent mood swings had sent temperatures from 90s to 50s in about a day. My sexy flesh and bones and I had not adjusted yet.

I walked into the emergency room trembling, twitching, neck cocked in the well-known confused bird position, with at least 5 needle marks from my elbow to my hand, holding a bag of controlled substances, grinning my well-known (slightly psychotic) grin, and asking for controlled substances. You can probably imagine the general reaction… Don’t feel bad if you are laughing, my Piano Man and I laughed too (once we realized how ludicrous the whole thing looked).

Maybe I looked too happy for someone who had said adios to a booby fewer than 24 hours earlier. Maybe my eternal grin didn’t fit the situation. Maybe the shivering and teeth chattering (provoked by the freezing hospital) looked too much like withdrawal. I don’t know what prompted it, but the ER doctor questioned me and my request long enough to annoy my Piano Man, my love doesn’t annoy easily.

I called my surgeon. And after she gave the ER doctor a piece of her mind, he said that he would give me enough medication until Monday. After he finished checking my records and looking at my chest, he blanched a bit, gave me the same amount of medication my surgeon prescribed, and began treating me like a human being. He was even kind after that… and assigned me a nurse who kept repeating how strong I was, and how she couldn’t believe that I was so light on my feet and could be so self-sufficient without taking meds after my body endured such trauma (I had not taken any pain medication in almost 24 hours… and I was mostly fine).

Things are quite good now. My body (all the maiming and tummy issues aside) is a trooper—I didn’t need any morphine while I was in the hospital, I took some of the heavy meds last night (I needed it after a long car ride and doing battle at the ER). I took some Tylenol this morning and will likely take some more before bed. I don’t need much help moving around or getting what I need, but… who am I to rob my Piano Man of the chance of being even more incredible than he usually is, right?

Now, we are keeping our fingers (and toes) crossed, as we wait for the lymph nodes pathology… which will dictate whether I’ll need chemo or not. I’m hoping for not. But if yes… I shall rock the bald head look (and accidentally on purpose aim all my puke in the direction of people I dislike… for therapeutic purposes, of course). 😉


it’s cloudy outside, but my wee garden remains sunny

my passiflora bloomed a gift for me

for those of you not on Facebook or Instagram, here is the glory of my witchy grin right after the de-boobing