My bandage fell off in the shower this morning. It just let loose and started to slide down my front. I caught it before it fell to the floor. I’m not supposed to bend over to pick things up, and the one legged toe grab is probably not a good idea in the shower.
I could not look down at my scar. Now that the bandages are gone, I am supposed to wash it with Hibiclens antibacterial soap. I stepped out of the shower and tossed the bandage in the trash, then grabbed a wash cloth. I couldn’t bring myself to touch it either.
I’m not sure why the hesitation to see what I already know to be true – not seeing it does not change it. The reality may not be as bad as I imagine. Charles saw the scar when they took off the vacuum pack in the hospital. He didn’t faint or turn green, and I’m sure it looked worse then than it does today. But, still, I brushed my teeth standing to the side of my mirror and refused to look up. (Forgive the toothpaste spots, I’m not supposed to use my arms a lot).
I’m not a vain person. The dew fell off this lily skin many years ago, and appearances don’t factor in any significant way for me. I’m not concerned about how Charles will feel about it. We met each other when I was 48, there is no pain over lost youth or beauty. Plus he’s seen me after a couple of drowning accidents when I looked more like a dead blue fish than anything else. If he was in this relationship for my looks, he would have been gone long ago.
I think, after a while, couples must stop noticing the physical changes in their partners. He looks the same to me as he always has, except with a little more salt and pepper on top (which I find incredibly handsome). I’d like to ask my mother about that, but I can’t.
After the shower I dried and dressed without looking down. I know my entire abdomen is covered in bruises from the myriad drain tubes. They don’t bother me in the same way as bruises go away. In my mind, the scar is an 12 inch long whipstitched mountain range from my throat to my belly button. Just writing about it makes me queasy.
Is it important that I look? I can’t really go around avoiding mirrors for the rest of my life. One day I’ll have to put on a bra again, and that will require a certain amount of observation in the area. I need to find a way to make it something I can be proud of. I mean, I did go through a lot of time, effort, and expense to get it. This scar will most certainly overshadow the tiny scar at my throat from the cancer biopsy in 1992, and every once in a while I’m surprised when someone (not a doctor) asks me about it. It doesn’t annoy me, just surprises me.
So, the bandages are off and I can look at the Bovine Mountain Range any time I choose.
But not today. Not today.