Since this month marks one year from when I acknowledged that I’d found a lump in my breast (which was about 3 months after actually finding the lump), I thought I’d mark the occasion with the only really good story to come out of all the whole thing…
Last fall I had minor surgery to remove a benign mass from my breast. The most dramatic part about the whole thing was a) using the words “mass in my breast” in a sentence and b) the fact that I was having a medical procedure of any kind, let alone surgery requiring general anesthesia. And I was milking the experience for whatever benefits I could get. As is my way.
Because I was being put under general anesthesia I couldn’t wear my contacts. Which became a perfect excuse to finally get new glasses and contacts. I was about a year overdue on new contacts and hadn’t gotten new glasses in literally 10 years. But as is also my way, I waited until the last possible minute to go to the eye doctor. My surgery was scheduled for early on a Tuesday morning, and I went into the eye doctor’s office on the afternoon of the Wednesday prior, but confirmed they could have the glasses by Monday before making the appointment.
I am assisted in my search for frames by a sales girl who was at most 22 years old, with huge green eyes, dressed head to toe in H&M, and who is as perky as only a wide eyed 22 year old can be. Upon realizing I was there by myself she immediately appoints herself my BFF and is thus committed to helping me find “the PERFECT frames“. She is the picture of confidence and composure, despite her youth, and I am impressed and accept her as my BFF. Initially she steers me toward subtle, wire rimmed frames. The third time I explain that I prefer frames that make a statement she capitulates and directs me toward a $450 pair of Chanel frames because “EVERYONE looks good in these.” Admittedly, I did look good. But not $450 good. After explaining that I don’t wear my glasses enough to justify $450, she finally gets on my page and together we pick out about 25 frames and then sit down at a table with a mirror to start narrowing it down. She did not hesitate to give me her feedback, both positive and negative, and it became clear rather quickly that we had different tastes. I was 45 minutes into the appointment before I remembered that she wasn’t actually my friend and I didn’t actually have any reason or obligation to trust her opinion… but eventually we ended up with a pair that we were both happy with.
As she was writing up the ticket I decide to confirm the delivery date.
Me: I’ll be able to pick these up on Monday right?
BFF: No, sorry, they won’t be ready for at least a week.
Me: (fighting a swell of panic) When I called yesterday I was told I could have them by Monday.
BFF: No, because of the non-glare coating, it takes at least a week.
Me: I don’t need the non-glare coating.
BFF: Ooooo, you really do though. Its important with a prescription like yours (I’m blind. My glasses are really just stylish coke-bottles. But I don’t know what this has to do with glare).
Me: Here’s the thing, I’m having surgery on Tuesday, and I can’t wear my contacts, and the glasses I have are broken, so I HAVE to have these glasses by Monday.
BFF: (purses lips and looks thoughtful for a moment) I know! We’ll give you the glasses on Monday and then you can come back later and get the coating put on!
Me: Perfect! (I had zero intention of returning to get the coating)
She returns to writing up the long and complicated ticket and as she’s writing she says, very casually, “So. Whatchya havin’ surgery on?” I was caught totally off guard. NO ONE had ever asked what the surgery was for. The closest anyone came was a vague question like “Everything ok?” and I would say “Yup” and we would all move on.
When I didn’t immediately answer she looked up at me, all fresh faced and innocent and I found myself stuttering out “I’m having a lump removed from my breast.”
Her reaction was as startling as it was dramatic. Her mouth drops open and her eyes expand to take over the rest of her face, and then she just freezes in that position. I don’t know what answer she was expecting, but it sure as hell wasn’t that one. After a long and awkward 15 frozen seconds or so I said “But its benign. So I’ll be fine.”
BFF: (no change).
(another 15 second pass)
Me: Just a quick surgery… but that’s why I need the glasses…
BFF: (becomes unfrozen at the word “glasses”). But you’re going to be ok, right?
Me: (trying not to laugh at her display of emotion). Yes, I’ll be fine.
BFF: (Shakes it off, and becomes all about business) OK. You are going to have your glasses. OK? You just don’t worry about it one more minute.
Me: Thank you, I appreciate that.
BFF: (the very picture of earnestness and concern) Seriously. I don’t care what it takes. If I have to drive to the factory myself and get the lenses, YOU WILL HAVE YOUR GLASSES ON MONDAY.
Me: (trying REALLY hard not to laugh) Perfect. Thank you.
BFF: Seriously. Just don’t think about it again. You just focus on you, and let me take care of this, ok? Because I mean it. WHATEVER IT TAKES. I will make sure you get your glasses before Tuesday.
Me: (speaking softly because other people in the store are starting to stare at us) I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.
She finishes writing up the ticket and gives me the (shocking) total.
Me: Do I pay the entire balance now or just a deposit?
BFF: (still showing some signs of shock) Whatever you want. I mean, usually a deposit. Or the whole amount. I mean, whatever you want.
Me: Ok, I’ll pay a deposit and the remainder when I pick them up.
BFF: Ok, great! So on Monday you’ll come and get fitted and pay the balance and you’ll be all set.
Me: How long should I plan for the fitting to take? (its been 10 years, I can’t remember the process of getting glasses at all, and have several things to do on Monday).
BFF: How long do you want it to be? I mean, how much time will you have? To pick them up, I mean…err…Its usually quick. Like 20 minutes? Is that ok?
Me: (losing the battle and laughing. Just just a little) That will be fine, thank you very much.
On Monday in between pre-admission stuff at the hospital and getting ready for a “lump dump” happy hour with my friends, my sister and I stop in to pick up my glasses. My BFF isn’t there, and when I ask about my glasses, no one seems to know of which I speak. As the girl at the counter is searching the files for a second time I start to laugh, and it only has a touch of hysteria in it. I’m actually thinking that this is pretty much the best end I could ask for to this story… Except that this isn’t about having a good story… OK, it’s not JUST about having a good story. Even though the procedure is minor, I’m still pretty stressed out about it and I’ve been keeping it together pretty well, but I suddenly realize that I’m about to completely drop my shit in the middle of the glasses store. My sister has the same realization about two seconds after I do. “Don’t worry. You’re going to get your glasses,” She says with all the confidence of a person powerless to control anything. I start to laugh harder. “I’m serious,” my sister says looking me in the eye. “Whatever has to happen I will make happen and this will all work out.” And this is why she’s the one I picked to go through this experience with me. I believe her and I relax a little and stop laughing.
The girl who was looking through the files says “Um, I have to talk to the optometrist, but he’s at lunch. Can I call you when he gets back?” I wonder if I should give her the story so she understands the urgency, but my sister steps in and says “what time will you call? And if you don’t call then, can we call you?” The girl nods. My sister smiles, says thank you, and leads me out of the store. Back home she cleans and reorganizes my entire apartment while I watch and obsess, and two hours later the phone rings, my glasses are ready, and I let out the breath I’d been holding for the last two hours.
I know it was a little bit crazy, but I’d put all of my anxiety about the surgery onto having new glasses to wear to the hospital and while I was stoned on vicodin for 2-3 days of recovery. Now that I had the glasses, everything was going to be fine. The only thing I was left to do was wonder if I should check in with my BFF after the surgery to let her know how it went…