Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Post Surgery Body- Three Weeks

Yesterday morning, I stood naked, looking at my reflection in the bathroom mirror.  I saw my short, growing hair, no longer brown, but grey, with my bright white birthmark sitting on top like whipped cream.  I wondered if I should dye my hair as before or embrace the natural look.  Then I tried to will it to grow longer by focusing my thoughts on the roots.  No luck.

As my gaze went down, I saw my face, with deep new wrinkles and eyes that stared back, hoping for approval from the woman looking at her.  I kept my opinion hidden as I looked further down and saw the scar from where the chemo port was.  I told myself it was getting better and less noticeable.  Maybe nobody would notice it if I put a little makeup on it.

Again, my gaze went lower.  I saw two breasts, one natural breast and one new, smaller, scarred breast.  The bright red scar goes completely around my right breast, and extends from my cleavage to under my armpit.  There are stretch marks that were once on my stomach and easy to ignore by not looking down below my breasts.  But I told myself that this was okay.  Just three weeks ago, I didn't have any breast there, just a long scar.  And now, there is the beautifully shaped breast in front of me.  I squinted at myself in the mirror.... "Sure, if I squint, it looks like a real breast now".

Still looking in the mirror, I turned to the side, and underneath the new breast is a collection of scars.  Drain holes from the mastectomy.  Drain holes from the new surgery.  And old scars from my gallbladder surgery and chickenpox.  I told myself just to ignore those.  They shouldn't even be noticeable in time, right?

I looked at my new belly button.  "Eh, it will do", I told myself, and focused on the enormous scar beneath.  I remember the disappointment five years ago, when I had a hysterectomy and was supposed to do a tummy tuck at the same time.  Days before surgery, I was told that we couldn't afford the tuck procedure.  I've looked in the mirror so many times since then and held my stomach flat, wishing it could change.  And as I looked at myself yesterday, I saw that my stomach was indeed flat.  But who knew the price I would have to pay for this result?

The scar... oh my goodness, that scar.  Still red, still huge, still bruised.  I looked closer, and I could see the line from my C-section and Hysterectomy underneath this new, massive, in your face, scar.  I could see more scars from the gallbladder surgery, and small scars from surgeries done to my uterus 15years ago, and stretch marks from pregnancies. Below that, more drain hole scars from this past surgery.

I stared at the whole image in the mirror.  I tried to remember what I looked like before.  I'm not sure if I couldn't remember, or if I didn't want to, but I immediately brought myself to what was presently looking back at me.  Before I gave myself my own opinion, I thought to myself, "How will someone look at this and think it's beautiful?"  My eyes started to well up with tears, and I broke down.  Just writing that made me tear up again.

Then I picked my head back up, and I looked at her again.  And as I stood there, casting the potential judgment of others aside, I formed my opinion of myself.  I saw a whole person.  Each piece of this patchwork quilt I've become, tells a story of strength I've never known I had. This body is a perfect representation of my inner victories.  Each battle was won with faith, endurance and sheer willpower.  I've been broken down, torn apart, stripped to the core, and pieced back together to form this new person.

I can't hide the view on the outside the way I've hidden the other battles in my life.  But apparently, this is the way to remind myself, and the world, that I'm not weak.  I'm not going to give up, no matter what happens.  I will continue to fight for myself until the day I die.

It's funny, I started yesterday with a look in the mirror, gawking at a woman that looked like she had gone through a shredder.  I ended that moment, seeing a whole person with a unique story.  I can't make others see what I see.  But when it comes to my own opinion, I think I'm beautiful, and my strength shows through.

I admit that recovering from this surgery is extremely hard.  As good as I am at healing, I'm fighting like hell every day.  I force myself to walk on the treadmill, stretch, and do exercises that build my body.  It hurts, and it's hard, and I'm fighting with a body that will not listen.

The new breast is even starting to get sensation.  The downside is that, as the nerves regenerate, it's excruciating.  I look like a mental patient, as I twitch and flinch at each lightening strike of pain to my breast.  The muscles pull tight, and raising my arm above my head is difficult.  I can feel it pulling from my chest all the way to my wrist.  I can see it inside my arm, twisting and painful.  But regardless of the pain, I still try several times a day to stretch it out and do exercises.  I don't give up.

This battle is not over.  I don't know if it will ever end.  But I won't be defined by what's on the surface.  And I will fight as long as I have to, with everything I have.

I won't ever give up.

1 comment:

  1. You are beautiful.
    Both inside and out.
    A strong, fighting, loving, beautiful woman. And mother.
    And I can only imagine that at times you must feel exhausted, full of pain, anger and frustration. I do not know what you are going through but I would assume that letting the negative feelings exist, embracing them, and moving past them is a healthy thing.
    You are amazing. Truly amazing.