I get my nails done on the regular. Incidentally, on the regular is the youngest phrase I use. But I do. It’s probably the girliest thing I do in my whole life other than having most of the traditional girl parts. I don’t get my hair done often anymore, opting instead for a “let it grow” approach. I don’t tend to wear very frilly lady-like clothes, opting instead for my Birkenstocks and jeans as often as I can. I love big comfy hoodies and flannel shirts and I throw my growing hair into a ponytail-ish bun pretty much every day. I wear some makeup but that’s more because of self-esteem issues than wanting to be pretty- I don’t so much accentuate things as hide things. But my nails are my thing. They always look good. They’re clean and properly maintained. Sometimes they’re dark and sometimes pink and sparkly and I love it.
I usually go to get my fingernails done every two weeks. I get gel manicures so they last that long and I don’t take the polish off myself unless it starts peeling and then I get all obsessive about it. It had been a few weeks since my last manicure and I was looking forward to going this week but I can’t. You see, my second mastectomy surgery got scheduled for next week and I’m not supposed to wear polish on my fingers in the OR. It’s all about getting readings and the last time I had to remove stuff last minute. When I realized I couldn’t get my fingernails painted, a lot occurred to me.
I had been chomping at the bit to get this next surgery scheduled. I have been desperate to get this whole thing behind me and move on to better things. I am as well prepared as I can be for the emotional toll of the surgery, and prepared for the physical requirements. I’m not afraid of the pain or the incision like I was last time. This time what I’m afraid of is all of the little things. Surgery like this has a way of stripping you of what makes you feel healthy or, in some cases, like a person. It is as simple as the nails: I won’t feel like myself. The drains, the inability to shower and wash hair, not being able to dress in the clothes I want to wear because I can’t put them over my head, all of these things make me feel foreign or less than. It’s that feeling of being “cancer lady” that I talk about sometimes. I’ll be an object for observation for a while, and that is what I hate the most.
Still, I’m glad it will be done. I’m glad my chances of getting breast cancer again will drop from a percentage in the mid-nineties to 8. I’m glad my back will feel better and that I will be even on both sides. And I’m glad I went to the nail salon anyway and got my toes done instead.