Yesterday I noticed a small, red, itchy bump on my inner, left thigh.
“I think I got bit by something. STUPID BUGS.” Also “This had better not be a flea, or I’m going to burn the house down with the cat inside.”
(We fought fleas for three months in the house “because cat.” All better now, it’s not a flea bite. House and cat are safe.)
(I still hate fleas.)
The bump was almost insignificant for most of the day yesterday. I noticed it when I sat down to eat dinner, because when I cross my legs it puts pressure on the bump and it starts to itch, but otherwise “no bigs.”
This morning, it was bigger.
This afternoon, it was MORE bigger.
Being the pre-med, science minded, anatomy biology dork I am, I kind of geek out when someone gets hurt. I don’t believe in running to the doctor for every little thing. We grossly overuse medical intervention in this country, and a lot of the time our bodies can take care of themselves.
Plus, I like to be the doctor myself. :)
I’m tracking the swelling. I took a picture. I gauge the level of inflammation and redness by the hour. I’m taking my temperature, checking for fever, feeling my lymph nodes to be sure the infection isn’t spreading.
The way my mind works, with my education and experience, I’m a pretty accurate diagnostician. (Before Neflix = medical journals.) The last time I got sick, I determined that I had a bladder infection, a sinus infection, and an ear infection, and I needed a prescription of ciprofloxacin. I went to the walk-in clinic, waited in reception for an hour, sat in a room for another hour when they ran tests, then the doctor came in and said “You have an ear infection, a sinus infection, and a bladder infection. Here’s your prescription for cipro.”
“Hey thanks. Glad I came in.”
From what I can tell, this bump on my leg that keeps getting bigger is a (currently) mild case of cellulitis. A bacterial infection of the skin, usually caused by staphylococcus bacteria, treatable with oral antibiotics. Not contagious, not particularly painful, but dangerous if left too long. Without treatment the infection can cause sepsis (bacterial blood infection, in other words “bad juju”), so it’s not HARMLESS, but it isn’t super serious at the start.
According to the rate of advance, I’ve got about 18 hours before I march my happy ass to the local clinic for some medication.
(Except not happy, because “Ain’t nobody got time for that!,” but whatever.)
What does my minor leg infection have to do with The Body Image Project, you might ask?
Take a minute right now and think about the part of your body you hate the most. If I had to pick just one thing, it would probably be the fat around my middle. Maybe the fat along my stomach, but today (p-week approaching) it would have to be my back.
Did you think of something for yourself? What was it?
Think about that thing you hate. Think about how it makes you feel. When I think about the fat around my middle, I feel shame. In my head I imagine standing in front of The Mr with my shirt off, just in my underpants, and I cringe. It makes my toes curl, and not in a good way. My head screams at me, “HIDE HIDE HIDE, GET A SHIRT OMG CROUCH DOWN AND HIDE THAT FAT.” When I think about the fat around my middle, I think about bikinis. And crop tops. And this one super cute shirt I have in my closet that I don’t know I”ll EVER be able to wear, because it kind of freaks me out to even try it on.
Get that thing you hate about yourself front and center in your mind. Think about it, the shame it makes you feel, the self-disgust and self-hate. Sit in that feeling, and just hold on to it for a second.
Now, imagine that you lost your arm.
Imagine that you are in a car accident, and you lose both your legs.
Imagine that your kid is laying in a hospital bed, dying. Or that someone you care about just tried to kill themselves. Or that you got news from the doctor today that you have cancer, or you just found spotting and you realize you’re going to miscarry.
I know those things are horrible to think about. I KNOW that living through even one of those experiences would be torture. I’ve lived through some of them myself. They are ugly, cold, painful, torment, but they are REAL. They are LIFE. They are worse than the monsters under our beds, because when the lights come on and the sun comes up, those things are still there.
They also remind us that the body part you hate? That part of yourself that you feel the most shame over?
It doesn’t matter.
In the grand scheme of life and love, time and experience, that part of your body that you hold such resent for does not matter.
What matters, and what we tend to forget about in light of our perceived failures, is our health. The people we love. The warm bodies we hug and hold. The tiny, chunky arms that wrap around our middle and squeeze our necks. The boogers and blood and tears and throw up and poop and pee that we have to clean up because we can, and because it exists FOR us to clean up.
What matters is the fact that when I hear crying in the middle of the night, I can HEAR IT, and I can get up and take care of it with very little need for sleep otherwise, and I stand up on two legs that work, and I use feet that carry me into the other room, and I hold a tiny body with strong arms, and I soothe pain with strong hands, and I tuck in a body that was able to cry in the first place, a body that drifts back to unmedicated, unassisted sleep.
What matters is that, after snuggles reaped from an unsettled moment in the dark of night, I move myself back to a comfortable bed inside a secure house, I curl up behind a strong man and sink into his protective presence, I press my nose against his warm back and breathe him in, and I fall back to sleep without fear, worry, pain, or stress.
This nearly insignificant injury on my leg barely counts as an injury. It’s not hurting me. It’s uncomfortable, some, but I’ve sneezed and felt more pain than this.
I will keep my eyes on this quirky abnormality, and I will use it to remind me just how lucky I am.
I am blessed, no matter what my back and stomach look like.
So are you.
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Live every day like it’s your last one. Find yourself, own your truth, and change your whole world. Forge Depth, and never stop digging.