Friday, July 8, 2011
So the other day, after over a month of dealing, waiting, imagining the worst of all possible scenarios, I finally had the bandage removed from my surgery.
Maybe a little history is needed here: The bandage itself was made of “steri-strips” taped over the wound where the doctor did the cutting. Over time, a collection of gook would form underneath this bandage, which I allowed the drizzle of soap and water from my daily shower to clean. This was the best I could do. After being told by the healthcare pros that I was not to pull on the strips, unless they were ‘very loose’, I became deathly afraid of removing the bandage myself for fear of the gruesome unknown, the fear of being permanently disfigured, and the fear of scaring the freaking horses! Besides all these fears, I’d also been told that the adhesive would wear off on its own so I should not attempt to remove it. But it never did come off on its own.
I have a visiting nurse service where a nurse comes to my home twice a week to take my blood pressure, measure my heart rate, make sure I’m healing, gaining good weight (not the bad weight, a weight composed of mainly fluid which collects in the feet, legs, lungs and eventually the heart, to which would be serious enough to send a patient back to the hospital).
The nurses, in general, are a crew of friendly commandos who are consistently checking up on whether I’m exercising and taking my meds. My main nurse, a feisty lady named Pat, always asks those probing questions about my bodily functions, and whether or not I’m regular. She’s also a helluva teacher who constantly informs me on medical facts I was never aware of, like ….how anesthesia can deaden one’s memory and recall, and how, many patients who leave a hospital will experience a certain degree of memory loss. I am one of those people. I forget shit. Shit, like nicknames of people I’ve known and loved for a long time, and like, suddenly not recalling where I place things, in effect, hiding them from myself! This shit can REALLY frustrate me, since I’ve never been the absentminded type before.
Anyway, Pat would constantly inquire about the mysterious incision beneath the bandage and whether or not I’d cleaned it, seen it, and just when was the mofo gonna finally come off. I figured she was one of the morbid peeps who got off on scars, deformities and those things that turn us into straight-up carnival freaks.
Truthfully, I was not in any hurry to see what lay beneath that damned bandage. When cleaning that area, I could feel this LUMP that was never there before on my upper chest. It reminded me of a goiter or some such gross deformity, so my imagination began to run away with me:
What if I’m reduced to some heinous creature? What if this new physicality repels people, animals and small children? What if I’m a shadow of my former, and yes, mad-glamorous self?
OK. On that last one, I was only joking. I kid. I’m kidding. I’m a kidder. I kids.
But anyway, I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit to the fear of becoming some physical freak. Not only was this new gizmo implanted in my chest making an unsightly bulge and reveal the contour of something strange resting there beneath my skin… but now I would be some new-aged Quasimodo with the kind of scar only rocked by cinema criminals, noir thugs and 1930s-style gangsters.
You have to understand that I’ve always been a very skin-conscious person. I’ve tried to take care of myself in general. After all, one’s outward skin is sort of the epidermis of one’s soul, isn’t it? If something isn’t quite right with it, people and the outside world in general will subconsciously think something is not quite right, internally, with its host.
People can be so cold, so shallow sometimes.
Anyway. I digress.
So, I go to my surgeon’s office, and I‘m mad nervous. After almost a 45 minute wait(WTF!?)I’m asked all the usual suspect questions about swelling, pain, and weight, and meds. My BP is taken and it has elevated from the norm, because frankly being in a doctor’s office makes a brotha kind of tense and anxious. You never know what they’ll tell you. You can go in feeling just fine, and they can so easily burst your positive bubble with a small pin-jab of medical truth.
Lastly, he asks about the incision, and how it feels. Does it bother me? Does it limit my movement? Does it interfere with my sleep. I answer, “yes” to some degree to all the above.
He then asks me when he did the surgery?
You mean he doesn’t remember? Of course not. The man probably performed such surgeries on the daily, to a myriad of different people.
I tell him, May 25th. Hell, even with my current bouts of memory failure I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget it!
He shrugs and says, “Well it’s due time we remove that bandage.”
What I expect will be a slow and delicate maneuver instead turns out to be a quick, unfeeling flip of his wrist which manifests in a quick, unfeeling RIP. After over a month of dealing, waiting, and worrying and imagining the worst of all possible scenarios…
He rips that sucka off like he’s mad at it.
He looks at it with a slight squint. Is he repulsed, repelled? Is he admiring his work and nature’s way with healing we mere mortals?
I can’t tell, but a part of me wants to see what the hell he’s gazing at, and yet another part of me wants to flee, to dash down those medicinal hallways down the stairs and out the front doors frightening all the patients and townsfolk, screaming and mumbling Michelangelo!
Somehow, I managed to chill.
Here’s the reality. He hands me a mirror, and BAM: It ain’t ALL that bad. It ain’t that large. It ain’t that hideous. In fact, I think I can live with it. If there could ever be such a thing as cool scar, this one would probably qualify. Adding to this is the fact that getting this scar, and the whole scenario behind it has become the story of how my LIFE came to be saved.
Yes, I’ve always been a sensitive person when it comes to the skin, but this is a scar I can and will wear most proudly. This is the scar that’s enabled me to continue breathing.
Scars. What a concept. What I had saw and had previously thought was that a scar signaled the outward death of our human perfection. Well, truth is I was never perfect. No human being is, so what the hell was I so damn uptight about?
I now choose to see scars as something beautiful. In fact, this scar, my scar is my brand new Beauty Mark!
Ain’t it purdy?