Thursday, July 16, 2009
(Note: this is not for the squeamish--which, ironically, used to be me).
When I saw the doctor on Tuesday for my final exam, I was anxious to take the five "stickers" off my right breast. Cute as those butterflies were, my skin was itchy, and after wearing the stickers for 8 days, well...I just wanted them gone. I wanted all signs of this experience gone (the pretty and perfect surgical scar I can live with, like a badge of courage). So I started to peel off the sticker right there in the doctor's office. And she winced and stopped me. Yeah, the doctor winced. She explained that because the skin had been radiated (read: burned) when I peel the sticker, it may peel the top layer of skin. My thinking was if my breast was going to be bleeding, I wanted a doctor in the room, so I returned to my peeling ways. But she was really wincing and said "No! It's better if you just let them fall off. Get it wet, use lotion, whatever. But just wait." I joked with her saying that apparently she chose radiology because she can't handle the sight of blood. Now I'm thinking she was thinking that I chose law because I can't understand the most basic medical fact (like, say, the texture and weakness of burned skin).
Being perhaps a bit stubborn and way too anxious to be done with this all, I took off 4 of the 5 stickers that night. But the fifth one, the one in the most delicate location, well...it didn't want to give. So I waited. I got it wet. I used lotion (believe me, the whole area needs moisturizing), I got it wet again. Then last night I was able to peel it off.
Perhaps now is a good time to stop and explain these "stickers." They look like kids stickers (the butterfly ones) or are just clear circular dots, not quite an inch wide I'd say. Their purpose was simply to cover the lines drawn on my body ( to line up the lasers) so they didn't wash off. But they're super strength surgical stickers--they stayed on my breast for 8 days without budging, even in the shower. Industrial strength. Okay, now, put one on a piece of, say, raw chicken with the skin on. Then barbecue the chicken. Now, gently, gently, peel off the sticker. Right. You got it. Skinless chicken....breasts!
Shockingly (no, that wasn't already the shocking part) it didn't actually hurt that much. I suppose it's like a sunburn when your skin peels--it sounds way grosser than it feels. But this morning when I got out of the hot shower and saw my right breast in the mirror, well....it looks like it has 3 or 4 little cigarette burns around the scar! Perhaps I should have listened to the doctor.
But this also makes me smile a bit. It's a pretty big sign that I've come a long way. See, as I've mentioned, I'm usually a pretty big wimp when it comes to medical things. Me BC would have left those stickers on until age deflated my breasts and the stickers just floated away or crumbled into dust. There's no way I would have heard "skin peel" and gone anywhere near those stickers. In fact, I probably would have bought new extra padded bras just so nothing disturbed those stickers. Me Post-C? Hell now I'm standing around nearly bald, wearing just underwear, swirling a martini in my left hand and ripping off breast stickers with my right, shouting "what the hell does the doctor know anyway??"
I probably should work on correcting that pendulum swing a little bit, huh?