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LJ Idol week 12: Moments of Devastating Beauty

The worst part is the itching. My skin reacts horribly to paper tape, always has. My doctor told me to leave the bandage on for 24 hours, the nurses at the surgery center said 48. I fell somewhere in between; this morning I just couldn’t wait any longer.

Standing in front of the mirror I face the next dilemma. Should I slowly peel back the tape, or rip it away quickly? The first piece comes up easily – and takes the iodine goop that was put over seemingly half my chest with it. Hopefully that means I’ll get to keep a little more of my skin.

I work my way around the heavy gauze pad, starting at the center top by my sternum and working down. One full side of the gauze pad is free, but I decide to not look underneath it yet. I move to the tape that is under my arm, and work from the top down on that side too. (Oh, I peel slowly to get enough tape up for leverage, then hold my skin tight and rip. I’d rather it be over sooner.)

Soon all the tape is free and the weight of the gauze pulls the bandage down, away from my skin. I carefully fold it and place it in the trash. With a deep breath, I look in the mirror.

It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. In fact my breast almost looks psychedelic, dark yellow to the outside and center where the iodine goop didn’t get pulled away by the tape, bright red where all the tape has just come up, a few dark spots of bruising, a brick red section of dried blood that hadn’t been completely wiped away. The small piece of tape that is over the stitches is white and about 2” long. It’s opaque so I can’t see how large the incision site is, or tell what my new scar is going to look like yet. 

My favorite part is the three sets of initials inked just inside the red area, mine, the nurse’s, and my doctor’s. We had joked as they wheeled me to the operating room that it looked like I was going to a rock concert instead of surgery, or as my doctor said, I had been to a bad tattoo artist.

I made the decision to have surgery two months ago. After a needle biopsy showed a single intraductal papilloma my doctor recommended getting it removed. It was a quick surgery done under a local. The only probable complication is that if I decide to have children I may not be able to nurse from my right breast. Intraductal means “in the duct” and at least one of mine has now been removed. That made me pause for a moment. I currently don’t intend to have children, but I dislike having options taken away from me. In the end I decided the peace of mind was worth it. 

Looking at myself in the mirror I see that my nipple is pointing a little downward, that my breast looks a bit collapsed, even though he didn’t remove very much tissue. That scares me. Even after the shower I look like I’ve been beaten up; the dark yellow of the iodine looks like faded bruises.  I have a blister where some of the tape overlapped and trapped a fold of skin, and the opaque tape is obviously hiding a wound. My skin still tingles and feels tight from the tape.  Whether or not I’m looking at myself, I’m still hyper aware of what has happened, and what has changed. 

I’m a little broken, but it won’t last forever. What is left is a healthy whole. The new scar to add to my collection only makes me more beautiful.

@@@This is my entry for week 12 of LJ Idol.  This week we got to pick a topic (I choose Moments of Devastating Beauty) and a partner (yay [info]shadowwolf13 ).  Thanks for reading.@@@

It's so uncomfortable taking of bandages after a surgical procedure...

And I absolutely love this line:

I’m a little broken, but it won’t last forever.

Yup, there's the anticipation that something will have gone horribly wrong and you'll be deformed underneath the bandage. Or beautiful I suppose, if you go the Twilight Zone route.

Thanks so much. It was interesting to write something that is so immediately what's happening.

I feel, if nothing else, that this whole...thing...has made me a lot less self-conscious. So what if i have some scars if I'm alive, right? I'm going to ask them to save my trach when they change it during the surgery. Souvenir, you know. I'm glad you're doing mostly ok. Stay well.

Exactly, the scars are almost a badge of honor. I love the idea of keeping your trach - makes perfect sense to me. I'm glad that the news you've been getting is improving.

Love love love that you twisted this event around to be something beautiful. I do hope you heal up quick though! :)

Thanks so much! I'm not very sore at all, but it turns out that some of what I thought was iodine is in fact bruising. Ah well.

Heal fast and stay well. Great final line. P.


I have a really big scar on my arm and your last sentiment is just how I feel about that!

Yeah, I think I may have finally gotten all the sticky off my skin.

Really, scars are badges of survival.

You are beautiful, and you made the right decision.

Thanks. Yeah, being able to know for sure is totally worth it.

I hope you heal up quickly!

I had surgery a number of years ago to have a tumor removed from my arm, and I remember well all of the bandages and stitches. I have a 2-3 inch scar now, and I love my little battle wound.

Thanks, so far so good.

I'm glad your surgery went well too.

I hope it heals quickly and without complication. Be well!

Thanks. So far, so good.

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Thanks. It was the devastating part that hung me up on the topic the first time, given my week the choice this time was easy.

There was a really visceral quality to this, which made it more intense to read. I hope that you're healing well now and that everything is fine.

I had the idea earlier in the week, but I wrote it a few hours after removing the bandage so it was really fresh in my mind. In fact a few things surprised me. Thanks for the kind words, about the entry and my health.

how inspiring! I admire your coutage and fortitude

Aw, thanks. I just want to be done with surgeries for at least the next ten years now.

Good on you for deciding on your peace of mind. And for having that attitude about things... scars to build character. :-)

Nicely written piece about what I'm sure was a very difficult situation. Well done.

Thank you so much. I wasn't excited about more surgery, but I couldn't handle the maybe this time.

This was a truly beautiful post. The voice is just right, inviting and warm. I really enjoyed this.

Thank you. I was a little afraid of this because I didn't want it to turn out 'woe is me', so your compliment means a lot.

That's a different definition of beauty, but it's good that you can see yourself in that light!

Thanks! Once you have the scars, I think embracing them is the best bet.

Egads, I'm glad you had it removed. My Aunt had an intraductal papiloma and chose to do nothing about it. You can likely guess the rest of the story. She was afraid of surgery that might alter her appearance. Had it been heart surgery or something, she'd likely have gone for it. Ai ya!

My theory is that bras can forgive a multitude of sins. I'm hoping the rest of the story for your Aunt turned out at least a little happy.