I was meeting up with a good friend while I was in Sydney for my appointment but I hadn’t mentioned the prospect of the operation to him before and I was extremely nervous to tell him.
I hadn’t even told him about my trip to Sydney.
He had rung for a casual chat the day I was at the clinic.
“What are you doing, where are you?” He had asked.
I bit my lip, deciding what to say.
“I’m in the hospital. At Macquarie Hospital in Sydney actually.”
I could hear the concern and surprise in his voice as he asked if I was ok and what was going on.
“It’s all good,” I told him.
“I don’t have cancer or anything. It’s an exciting appointment actually.”
At the time he didn’t probe further, sensing my uneasiness, so I left it for the time being, like it’s quite normal to travel interstate to meet with the only doctor in Australia that is able to perform a certain operation.
I had tossed up whether to tell him the full story but we had never really discussed my leg before and I wasn’t sure I was prepared to go down that road at that moment. I wasn’t even sure if he knew about my leg as silly as that might sound, and I was hesitant to bring it up and draw attention to it.
A couple of years ago I had been really close to a guy, we’ll call him S, and we had got on great. I thought we might have had a future together but then I heard from a mutual friend that S had said while he thought I was really pretty and great fun to be with, my leg freaked him out.
At the time I was gutted by the remark.
My friends told me to forget about it, he wasn’t worth my tears and that the comment said more about his character then it did about me.
But like superglue it attached itself. No matter how hard I pulled it remained stuck steadfastly. For a long time I let it burrow underneath my skin and allowed it to shape the way I saw myself and I let it cloud the way I felt about myself. For a long time I struggled with feeling that I would ever be good enough for anyone.
I still remember a comment I read ten or so years ago in Cleo magazine where they had asked a bunch of random boys on the street about their ideal girls and what they found attractive and so forth. One of the guys said he was pretty open to any type of girl as long as she wasn’t missing any parts. It was just a stupid throw-away comment in a magazine but it has stayed with me ever since then.
I worried I was too physically flawed for any boy to truly love me. I guess I still struggle with that.
Since this boy made this comment I have been even more uneasy drawing attention to my leg, somehow thinking that if it was never discussed than perhaps it doesn’t matter. Or perhaps it was more along the lines of if was never talked about, then in a way it never really existed.
Anyway I was nervous to tell H. We met for lunch and I procrastinated telling him til right at the end. I almost didn’t thanks to my irrational fear but I knew he would find out eventually and would be hurt that I didn’t tell him at the beginning.
“So, my hospital visit,” I began.
“I was going to ask about that but I wasn’t sure if you wanted to talk about it so just thought I would wait til you brought it up,” he responded.
I took a deep breath and blurted it all out. He sat there in shocked silence. This would come to be a common response when I told people. Understandably, it was something completely out of left field.
We discussed the prospect of losing my job and what I would do. We talked about telling my story and writing about the whole process and he assured me that since the surgeon had performed 15 in Australia then he was practically old hat at it.
I could not have been more relieved or more pleased with how the whole thing went down and I felt like a fool for thinking otherwise. His almost unfazed immediate support meant more to me than he could possibly know.
At the end of lunch he paid, joking, “keep your money. If you lose your job you are going to need all the money you can get.”