January 28th, 2010


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 was sunny with blue skies when I woke up this morning.  That hasn't happened in ages.

- J's former roommate arrived today, he's crashing with us for between one and two weeks while he designs a show.  I think I got everything that could be embarrassing put away.

- My post for this week's LJ Idol is up.  We're working with partners, and I'll be curious to see exactly how this plays out.  I wonder if the voting will still be by individual and then combined, or if we'll be voted on as a team.  It was intriguing watching the remaining players, who are mostly adults, go into classic gym class "please don't me be the last one picked" mode when this twist was announced.

- I slept funny on Tuesday night and pulled something in my back.  It's better today but still sore.  Heat helps it, and ice is best for the soreness in my breast.  So I'm going to go lay flat on my back on a heating pad, with an ice pack on my chest.  Getting old is silly.