There’s battle scars on all my guitars but I still come out here and play – Ozma
At this point, I’ve given up on the idea that any one of these surgeries will cure me. When people smile and say lovely things like, “It’s so great, after this surgery you’ll be better!” I smile and agree politely, sighing inside, anticipating the pity and disappointment that will follow when it doesn’t work. After ten doctors and two years of promises, you grow weary, and wary, of hope. You just can’t afford it anymore.
My new pain management team tells me to keep my chin up.
“I know it’s been two years now, and you’ve probably been sliced and diced twelve ways to the wind, but stick with it. Pelvic pain is notoriously difficult to diagnose. Keep with it.”
They are encouraging, but I am exhausted. I have been sliced, diced, filleted, split open, parts removed, cauterised, injected, hospitalized, had my hip capsule pierced by a needle and my insides pumped full of botox. I am so, so tired.
My body, for the last two years, has been completely out my control. And while I have somewhat adapted, learning to relinquish my will in each defeat and go with the flow, I hurt; feeling as if I’ve lost myself while pain dictates where I go, how I dress, who I see. At some point, I stopped shopping for clothing. I realized I couldn’t control the weight I kept gaining and losing on all the medications, I couldn’t wear heels, I never felt sexy anymore. Dressing became a hateful burden. I despise my body for doing this to me. How can you lovingly adorn something you can’t stand to look at?
My identity continued to shrink as I moved out of my apartment. I lived with caretakers here, friends or a boyfriend there. Another surgery I didn’t plan on. Another doctor in another town. Another month without a home to call my own. At some point I started living out of just a duffel bag. Shuffling from place to place, grateful for a place to lay my head but reduced to something a little less than human. Feeling like everyone in proximity is functioning on a higher level, and me, a prisoner to my pain, washing the three T-shirts I live in, sleeping in a borrowed bed.
My body, that monstrous betrayer, that son of a bitch, has been put through the wringer for it’s sins. As such, it bears the marks of the excruciating journey. A scar on the inside of my arm where they botched the IV. Three large round holes in my right hip from the arthroscopy, three rips down my stomach from laproscopic surgery, a gash across my pelvis when they realized I was too damaged for the lap. They cut me open, peeled my congealed organs off each other, cut out six tumors, and sewed me up.
I feel ugly. I put on a bikini and the red and purple scars scream the story of my brokenness inside. I dye my hair so I can pretend to be someone else. I hide. I don’t speak up for myself. I hope, for the first time in my life, to be invisible. All these scars, these ugly scars. I take off my clothes and stand in the mirror, wondering who in the world would ever want to look at this ugly, ruined body. Between the curve of my waist and the tops of my legs, I have been neatly ripped apart and pulled together so many times that I look and feel like a raggedy doll, repaired and restitched over and over and over again.
I remember my last surgery: I wake up with a start and call out for someone to notice me. The nurses come and adjust the tubes and hoses, the stuffed animal placed in my arm. They give me morphine and tell me I’ve been talking gibberish. I hadn’t washed my hair, so frizzy, haphazard curls swirl awkwardly around my face. I am ghostly pale and blotchy with acne from the hormones, my lips chapped and dry, a tube up my nose and a catheter between my legs. I am bound up in bloody bandages.
He is the first to come see me, and when he does, he gently pushes the frizz out of my face, and kisses my forehead. Careful of the tube in my nose, he touches my cheek as he looks at me. The first, and only words he says:
And I feel in my bones there is strength to keep going. That there is a chance left in me to love.