Monday, March 19, 2012


Poor Taurus, July, 2011
A lot of people have asked me how I'm doing.  I know it seems like a simple question, but it's hard for me to answer.

Physically, I think I'm doing about as well as I can do.  I have about 4-6 hours of energy a day a month after the surgery.  The incisions are healing nicely; the underlying tissue is beginning to recover -- every day it feels a little less like someone spent time in there digging out splinters.

Emotionally, I really don't know where I am.

Going back to my car wreck analogy (I swore I'd give it up - I swear it's part of the reason I've been nervous about driving since my operation - but it's such a good one for me that I just keep going back to it.)....

The unmistakable sound of the crunch of car parts is fading to distant echoes; the wrench of the impact is over, the car has come to a complete stop.  I am still sitting in the driver's seat, a bit stunned by the unexpected turn of events.  I've figured out that all my parts still move; I know I can safely get out of the car and begin to assess the situation.  But I haven't yet left my seat; I don't really want to know the extent of the damage.

This is where my analogy begins to fall apart.  Replacement parts for a 1997 red Taurus are easy to find; any damage can be quickly repaired by our competent mechanic.  Give them a week; if the car wasn't totalled, they can get it back on the road.

My body parts, I'm still discovering, aren't swappable.  The surgeons do what they can, but their best efforts still leave scars.  And forget about getting back on the road in a week.  At best, it'll be late summer before I will be able to look at myself in the mirror and be able to recognize the figure looking back at me.  The curves will return, the sag will be gone (silver linings!) by the time the surgeons are finished.

But for now, I look - and then I look away before any emotion(s) can surface.  My chest looks violated; broken and torn.  Where once I had curves, I now have lumpy, bumpy sad bits of skin.  Like my emotions, they are largely numb on the surface; the cut nerve endings have not yet begun to try to reconnect, and may or may not over time, I am told.

Like my emotions, they are harder to describe underneath.  I wasn't prepared for this part - while I'm told the final implants will feel more like 'normal', the temporary implants feel hard; almost as if someone took a couple of plastic dessert plates, and inserted them under the skin.  (I prefer a Xena-Princess-Warrior-in-training image; in my mind, my plates are engraved bronze under there!)  There is feeling, the nerves in the underlying muscle are more-or-less intact, but it doesn't feel normal.

and it never will.  I need to define a new normal for me.

I haven't tried to hide beneath baggy shirts; that would make me feel as if I'd done something to be ashamed of.  So, I wear my normal clothes; hold my head up high, and face the world with a smile.

Even on the days, like today, when I am crying inside.

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