“Doc, I need the name of a good plastic surgeon.”
She was dressed primly in a matching daffodil yellow sweater set and white pants. Her make-up was done fastidiously and as always she was properly accessorized with matching shoes and purse. Her jewelry was large enough to notice but not at all garish. Tasteful and classic.
Even when she had fallen and broken her arm on the patio when trying to clean the leaves from her pool because the pool boy had been late.
“My breast. Look…”
She flashed me. Sure enough, her left breast was gone.
Not really gone per se. Deflated.
“I’ll tell you what. This getting old is just terrible. One thing after another. Take my advice, Doc, don’t you ever get old…”
She shook her perfectly coifed head.
“So, you are wanting to have another implant?”
“You are ninety-three,” I said gently, “Surgery might not be the best option. Perhaps we could get you a prosthesis instead?”
The reality was that she probably would not survive surgery and if she did, she would not likely live long enough to make the investment worthwhile but saying that in so many words stuck in my throat.
She understood anyway.
And it made her angry. Maybe not so angry at me as angry at life. And death.
She was NOT interested in a prosthesis, she informed me on no uncertain terms. She wanted her breast back. I completed the referral, worried she might actually find a plastic surgeon who would agree to operate on her.
Maybe life with only one breast was not really worth living for her. I don’t get to decide that, do I? She will be paying for it all herself, it is not like insurance or Medicare or anyone else would cover a single cent of it.
Then, I realized that the referral was about much more than mere vanity. It was her way of saying, “My life is not over yet…”
I wonder what I would be like at ninety-three? Probably not nearly as graceful or beautiful and I bet my clothes won’t match a bit. But chances are I will still care what my breasts look like even if I don’t actually care what they look like.