Slutever’s resident over-sharer, Cat Damon, walks us through what her cyst has taught her about the universe, sex, not having sex, and eating hamburgers in bed.
The world is playing a sick joke on me. Just as I start dealing with my joint fear of sex and insanity, just as I start sleeping with someone actually great, my reproductive system decides to light itself on fire. And take my ability to have sex down with it.
I have a cyst the size of a baseball on my left ovary. The doctor thinks I’m going to lose the ovary, too. One of my mom’s first questions was, “I wonder how much it weighs?” I’m more concerned with how much sex I’m not going to be having in the 4-6 week recovery period after getting the baseball and ovary sucked out with a surgical vacuum. I will be swaddled in gauze, slurred with painkillers, and sharing a bed with my friends as they nurture me with green smoothies, weed tinctures, and assisted walks around my apartment.
I know because I’ve seen this before. My best friend very recently had a grapefruit-sized tumor removed from her right ovary, as well as the ovary and fallopian tube, last month. She was, as always, the model of grace under pressure, but it was scary as shit. After a few weeks, we walked to the bodega to get Miller Lites to drink on the porch. She was wrapped in a vintage Persian lamb coat, and looked like a glam and beautiful version of Beth in Little Women. It happened right in the middle of the semester, and it’s been almost impossible for her to get work done while also taking care of herself. She’s handled it gorgeously, and I don’t know how.
One night this month, I had late and athletic sex with this guy I’m seeing. I woke up at 3 AM with a splitting pain in my back. I tossed and turned, and it got worse. I went into the other room, and it got worse. Around 5 AM, he laid me out on the bed and rubbed what I thought was a pulled muscle in my back. It would have been incredibly luxurious and sensual—sprawled out in a vintage floor-length silk slip, with a gentle and naked Casey Affleck lookalike giving me an early morning massage—had the pain not concentrated itself in my left ovary exquisitely and suddenly. Around 8, we started having sex again. I thought it would distract me from the pain, but instead, I threw up.
I canceled a hair appointment to have my uterus prodded by the on-call doctor at my primary care office. She thought I was pregnant, which I found funny. Since my giant uterus was not inflated due to pregnancy, as she soon confirmed, she immediately scheduled an afternoon ultrasound. I bought myself a Cuban sandwich, napped for an hour, and then went and had my vagina scraped by a camera on a tube for a good 15 minutes. They did the above-skin ultrasound, then the up-pussy version. I only started realizing this wasn’t a big joke once the technician started zooming in and taking multiple photos of something called my “midline.” I didn’t know I had a midline, and I also didn’t know what the grainy black-and-white hole on the screen had to do with this midline. I had two minutes to myself when it was over— I scrubbed off the gel covering my entire crotch and stomach, hating my decision to wear high-waisted jeans and no underwear.
I knew the ultrasound doctor had the world’s worst sense of humor because he also treated my best friend (“it’s a miracle you can button those pants!” he told her), so I was only marginally shocked when he expressed his sorrow that the 4” cyst in my abdomen was not, in fact, an April Fool’s joke. He told me it needed to come out, it probably wasn’t cancer, and that he so wished he could give me better news. I made some stupid and inappropriate joke, then shook his plastic glove with my gel-and-pube covered hand. I called my mom, then I cried.
Later that night I got a text from the man I’m seeing. He wanted to know what my status was, whether I was in pain, and if he should keep feeling guilty. Ordinarily, I’d welcome any opportunity to keep the upper hand and use his guilt and fear as a tool to assert my supremacy, but I had no desire to keep this dude on edge. I wanted to let him know he knocked my ovary out of orbit, but also didn’t want to gross him out with my malfunctioning reproductive system. Sexy at two weeks of fucking looks like Base Range bras ripped off your torso, not a teratoma filled with hair and teeth. I ended up telling him a week later over bad beers, and he handled it with nonchalant and sincere kindness. He makes jokes about cysts before and after sex that fill me with gratitude, since I don’t have to be a delicate flower or a scaredy cat. At least for the next month until my surgery happens, I can fuck and be touched and enjoy the look of my own stomach without the forthcoming incision scars.
Even though the surgery is Not A Huge Deal, even though I don’t get freaked out by physical issues, I still feel this weirdly hedonistic push to enjoy as much as I can before my month of downtime. I want to stick things up my vagina, drink Bloody Marys, walk around for hours. I also feel tired, bitchy, and low-grade irritated with anyone who expects me to do anything I don’t want to do.
Today, George Jones on Spotify and I took the baseball to get an iced tea before teaching. Downstairs, the coffee shop was full of weirdos; the upstairs was hot. I wanted to scream, and I could practically feel the baseball twitching with rage. Is this cyst giving me permission to quit being “okay”? Is it giving me an outlet to eat, drink, fuck, and be bad before I blanket myself in recovery? I imagine myself pale and Emily Dickinson-like, a wafer-thin ghost of myself, quietly and slowly moving around my home in vintage white cotton in the dark. I know the reality will be more like hamburgers in bed and crusts of blood on all my sheets, but I like the thought of revelrous and medieval abandon before sequestering myself in my house for a month, purified and de-ovaried and ready for tender recovery sex.
Read Cat Damon’s previous post for Slutever, “The Thing About Dating Actors is… They’re Dramatic,” HERE :)