These past months have demanded that I give my body attention in ways that have been most unwelcome. It has made for an ‘interesting’ winter, and an minor existential crises that was at first unpleasant, but eventually led to the birthing of a new thing, as so often is the path.
I feel a little ridiculous sharing this story if I’m honest. Firstly because I’ve chosen to share personal details and I’m sincerely worried that I’ll gross you out, and hear screams of: “TMI BEK, TMI!”.
Secondly, because I’m fine now. Truly fine, and am fortunate enough to have had a happy ending to this particular story, when so very many are not. And thirdly, because, who cares? This story is LONG, and admittedly a little boring- it’s my story and even I’m bored of it.
If you’ve been one of the many precious souls who have enquired how I am over these past months, and have been met with, “I’m good, thanks” or “Yeah, good, yourself?”, please don’t be hurt or offended that I didn’t divulge. It’s not you, it’s me! No, actually. I’ve come to accept that I’m one of these folks who needs ample time to process. I need time to catalogue my thoughts, and I’ve discovered that although I’m often described as an ‘open book’, it’s usually because I’m speaking about things after the fact. Sharing from a place of scars, and not wounds, if you will.
I share this story, embracing my feelings of ridiculousness, and fear of coming across as ‘overly dramatic’, with the sincere belief that if it helps just one of you to listen to your body, no matter how inconvenient, expensive, embarrassing, or even mildly traumatic, it’s worth it. Please don’t put off your health. I’m only okay because things were caught early!
Some time around June this year, I discovered a lump in my breast. I wasn’t at all concerned, as this has been a recurring theme for me since hitting my 30’s. I have yearly ultrasounds due to the strong history of breast cancer that has plagued both sides of my family, and I’ve come to accept the fact that me and my ‘girls’ are simply a little on the ‘rough’ side.
A radiographer once stated:
“You have what we call : ‘Tough Titties’- breasts that are dense”.
And whilst this discription doesn’t provide a gorgeous visual of imagined femininity, it does provide me with the feeling that my boobs could conquer the world if given half the chance!
*everyone please take a moment to pray that said boobs are not given this chance. Amen.
So my tough titties and I embarked on a visit my GP, and unimpressed with what she found, I was shooed off for further testing. Long story short, it was simply calcification, much like my previous lovely lady lump discoveries, and life resumed as normal.
A month later I started to notice that things just weren’t ‘right’ in my lower abdomen. I was experiencing a lot of bloating, and pain that would travel through to my lower back. My uterus felt heavy, and oddly full. I was noticing a huge disconcerting pressure in my pelvic area, which can only be described as being akin to the early stages of labour.
Self-conscious and reluctant to subject myself to the inevitable medical exploration of my female fertility garden, I decided to ‘put up and shut up’, seeing if I could ride out the symptoms.
My periods came and went and took with them no relief.
Off my GP again, where she provided a painful examination, an and excruciating Pap Smear, something I had foolishly avoided for 4 years. Yes, I’m an idiot. I know.
My GP sat me down and cautioned that all this was looking a whole lot like ovarian cancer.
I booked an ultrasound, drank 5 trillion litres of water, and placed unreasonable amounts of hope on the capabilities of pelvic floor muscles.
After managing not to flood the room with the contents of my bladder (yay me) I was told to pee so that an internal examination could be done. I returned from the bathroom to discover that the sonographer had decided to create some ambience in an attempt to calm me. She had dimmed the lights- a most welcome gesture, but had also decided to play some soft music.
There is only one musical genre that is for me like nails on a chalkboard…
I hate it. Like, actually hate it. And yes, I realise this makes me uncultured and musically unappreciative, and no, I don’t care.
So I return to this ambient room, where I am about to encounter a huge physical invasion, to find that this would now extend to my ears as my darling sonographer played jazz through a radio.
No relaxation occurred, but neither did the discovery of cancer, although a diagnosis of another complicated, but non life-threatening condition was made.
Back to the GP and off to the Gyneacologist.
It is here that my emotions began to come into play. I felt terribly ashamed that my body was causing our family inconvenience and financial strain, and shame began to permeate every medical appointment I had.
The Gyneacologist recommended surgery, something I’m still not completely at ease with, and has suggested some interventions I’m completely ill at ease with. These things, I continue to wrestle with. And won’t be talking about for a while whilst I continue process.
So again, although invasive and inconvenient interventions occurred, I was once again free from a cancer diagnosis.
Unfortunately after this, the delayed results of my Pap Smear arrived, and again my GP prepped me and said, “this may very well be cervical cancer, but if it is, we’ve caught it early and it’s highly treatable!”
But with shame reaching a new level, my thoughts now began to spiral. Back to the Gyneacologist to spend a ton of money that we just didn’t have, on invasive explorations that I didn’t want.
My cervix was momentarily a star, as a camera ensured she took centre stage. I should have been proud, but I was too busy literally sobbing, in pain, physically and mentally. In my physical state of stirrup-ed vulnerability, past trauma, and the overwhelming terror of having no control over what was happening to my body, once again reared its ugly head.
This, I had not anticipated.
It was during this appointment that my stoic stance of “Truly, I’m fine, I don’t need your support, I’m happy to go to all these appointments alone” was exposed as folly.
I may have tough titties, but my cervix is a wuss.
Once again, I was given the cancer-all-clear, and told this was just something to keep and eye on and monitor on a yearly basis. Oh yay.
Trauma and I were able to go home and return to normal life.
But something in me had changed. I wasn’t content to keep living with dreams that would eventually be realised in the future. I’d accidentally tapped into a passion, and it wasn’t for medical procedures and waiting rooms, but the tools I’d used to distract myself from them.
Throughout this three month time frame, I’d had a choice, a choice not to allow my thoughts to spiral down the ‘what if’ vortex. A choice to stop composing letters in my head to my children, and preparing myself emotionally to release my husband, with my blessing into finding a new life-partner after my passing. A partner who was allowed (because I have such control over these things) to be beautiful and athletic, and even a domestic goddess, but had to lack just a little in the field of bedroom bliss. I found that the only way to stop these thoughts, was to choose to focus on things that brought me joy; things that fuelled my creativity, and partnered with my passions.
I began to upcycle furniture, something I hadn’t done in a few years. I pulled out a needle and thread, and began to sew, creating quirky wall hangings. I began to use my love of thrift shops to repurpose once-loved vintage items, into something that would appeal to a new generation.
And then, I decided to risk my thoughts of ‘no one will be interested in this, who will even by this stuff’, and share them anyway! Because sometimes you have to thank ‘What If?’ for coming, then send him on his cynical way.
Life, I decided was too short to wonder.
My creativity had given space for my nervous energy to be released in a positive way.
Armed with an attitude of surrender to whatever may succeed or fail, I established, Sir Bek Vintagery.
Why Sir Bek?
Because; why not?
People love to tell me how weird I am. I don’t seem to be someone who is capable of sticking to anything overly conventional. And if you’re going to choose a title for yourself, it may as well be Sir- I mean, it sounds kind of noble. Yes, does Lady, but while I’ve been called many things in my life, Lady, has not been one of them.
Sir Bek it shall be.
Because why shouldn’t we make up new words?
Who holds the authority on word creation anyway, and why?
Don’t words exist merely as tools for us to wield and repurpose? To help give meaning to, and shape this beautifully messy and strange human experience?
It’s your experience, and if you can’t find words that explore it appropriately- make some up! Go on, I thoroughly suspect you’ll find it’s quite freeing.
So there it is; there’s the whole self indulgent story, and I love you for reading it.
I give my word that aside from this single post, Perfectly Flawed will not become a place where I try to sell my crap. I respect you too much for that.
If you’re interested in taking a look at my store, you can check it out here: