Three Slices of Life

by Shaker TWoP Fan

I have Jugular Lymphatic Obstruction Sequence.

Basically, that means I have extra skin on me neck (as in, I have a neck like a very bulky football player) and lots of swelling in my hands and feet and my lymph nodes don't always work as planned.

Awhile ago, I became interested in neck surgery, of the cosmetic variety. This is my story of that journey.

Part One.

I have no idea how to start because no one has ever really asked me how I felt about it or what I think about it. It just gets overlooked, ignored. Most of my close friends and family just stopped talking about it after initial discussions; I've always been the one to bring it up.

I've always been afraid to talk about how I feel about it because once I put it out there, I don't think I'll be able to put it back—and then what? What if I don't/can't get the surgery and I can't stop imagining the possibilities? What if I tell my family how I feel and they feel sorry for me, making it worse than it is? Or what if they feel guilty, or responsible, like they didn't work hard enough to reassure me or to protect me? Friends always seem vaguely uncomfortable around the topic, as though it's not polite to mention someone's 'condition' in front of them, even if I am the one bringing it up.

This is how I feel about it.

I am so excited I can't breathe. I am carried away on it, like a perfect daydream. And I know that's all it is, but I can't help it. It's like The Fantasy of Being Thin. The Fantasy of Being Thin-Necked. I'll be more attractive. Clothes will fit better. I'll look skinnier. My hair will look good no matter how I do it. I'll get to wear my hair up! In public! I'll want to wear make-up, everyday. I'll have better style, be more confident, have more friends. I will have the life I was meant to have.

I am terrified. What if something goes wrong? What if no one notices? What if I get all excited for my consult and it doesn't go through? What if I am disappointing people by altering my body? What if I am setting a bad example for my daughter? What if I don't look any different?

I've always thought that I what I wanted most was to be normal. The thing is, in everything I've done, normal just hasn't worked for me. I'm not 'normal', I'm me and it works for me. I'm happier being different, strange, odd, weird than I ever was when I was pretending to be normal. So what would looking normal do to me?

Part Two.

Turns out I'll never find out.

The consultation was today. My husband and I met with Dr. X and I was so nervous I thought I was going to throw up. He took several photos of my neck from different angles examined my neck and then started discussing what he thought he could do. Which turned out to be less than I had hoped. I have muscles in my neck that are in the way of the excess skin, so he can't remove enough to make my neck look, in his words, 'normal'. What he can do is get me 'marginally closer to normality'. My 'deformity' is permanent. He can remove what will amount to maybe half an inch of skin on each side of my neck, which isn't enough for a major difference. I wouldn't feel differently about tank tops or wearing my hair up and I'd still have to buy extra long necklaces.

I was still considering it until he mentioned that it would have to be at least three different surgeries, each with separate check ups, in the span of a year. And he 'wasn't sure what he'd charge for that, but probably $4,000-5,000' each. With added expenses of visits and travel time and recovery time, etc. he'd charge me the new Kia that I want, for minimal results.

I didn't cry until I got to the car. I can't spend that kind of money on multiple surgeries for results that wouldn't substantially change anything. That doesn't mean I'm not grieving for what I feel like I've lost, though.

The worst part was losing that fantasy described earlier. Now it's really and truly over and I have to accept it.

The second worst part? Hearing someone describe me as deformed and not normal. All the things I think when I feel my worst, this guy just said, no hesitation. I know it's his job, but he can't say 'problem area' or 'issue' or 'concern'? No bedside manner this one.

Part Three.

I spend my day off mourning my loss of normalcy. And Friday? I'm wearing my hair in a ponytail, and I better not hear one word about it.

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