My friend Nelly made me laugh the other day when she said that childbirth made her accept that she is an animal. You see Nelly, like myself is a head-dweller. We agreed that neither of us has ever felt particularly connected to our bodies. We were the girls who couldn’t tell the difference between period pain and wind. I for one have never had a clue as to why or when my body does most of the things it does.
I haven’t been laughing this week though, as I’ve struggled to pull myself back together after what I think would be regarded as minor surgery. I had an ovarian cyst dealt with. I say “dealt with” because I’m not exactly sure what happened while I was unconscious. I’m sure I got a pamphlet somewhere along the line, with diagrams and analogies, but somehow it got lost in my bag, or in the car, or in a book somewhere.
All I know is that I was perfectly relaxed before the surgery. I even managed a nice nap while awaiting my turn. Eventually I was wheeled into surgery, where I entered into a discussion with my female anaesthetist about Whitney’s tragic passing, as most women in the world were doing at the time. The next thing I knew a nurse was hovering over my face saying “You’re alright, you’re in recovery, you’re alright, you’re alright…oh she’s going to vomit.”
Apparently I didn’t vomit, but I’m very embarrassed all the same. I can’t even imagine what I must’ve looked like. I was completely freaked out, trying very hard to chill and go with the flow, to think my way through it all logically. I was trying to sleep, trying to stay awake, trying to focus on the endless strangers who’s faces hung over mine telling me what was happening next. Suddenly I thought of my father who had a heart attack and triple bypass surgery two years ago. In my haze I began to panic at the thought of ever having to go through anything like this again. “Why can’t I just be an animal?” I thought. Why can’t my brain just let my body deal with this instead of turning it into a terrible fear of something that may never happen?
I was able to return home that evening, and have recovered pretty quickly physically, but I’ve been suffering from terrible anxiety. I have an awful nagging feeling that my body might not keep chugging along as it always has. That it might not just “come good” as I always expect it to if I feel a niggle.
I tried to be grateful that I was not in hospital for anything more serious, particularly as this month is Ovarian Cancer Australia Awareness month, for which I am an ambassador. Ironically, I am exactly the kind of woman these guys are most concerned about. I don’t pay attention to the changes that take place in my body and I don’t have a GP. That’s right, I don’t even have a GP! I never get sick, and if I do I just pull into the first medical centre I drive past and grab a prescription.
Well, things have to change. I have to pay some attention to my body so I’ll notice when things change, and I need to sign up with a local GP who can help me keep tabs on my health. The symptoms of Ovarian Cancer are particularly subtle, so please take yourself to their facebook page here to remind yourself and pass them on.
To all the other head-dwellers out there, let’s make the effort to get a little better acquainted with our bodies.
Meshel Laurie is a comedian and broadcaster. You can catch up with her on Nova’s Drive Show with Tim Blackwell and Marty Sheargold 4-6pm on weekdays.