This year, I celebrated New Year’s Eve at my local hospital. Why? I was having my second knee surgery in a little over a year. Suffice it to say that it was an intense, invasive procedure. During my recovery, I found myself thinking about a few different issues. This post might just be the beginning of these musings, with more to come as my recovery progresses.
I’ve been on crutches since New Year’s Eve, and I will be on crutches for the foreseeable future. This is largely due to the nature of the surgery I had, and so far, it has been an exercise in frustration. The most frustrating part, at least for me, is when I interact with people while I am out and about. As I go to the grocery store, or get in the elevator at work, I find myself being treated like a complete invalid. At one point, a woman got into the elevator with me, and as I went to push the button to go to my floor, she all but knocked me over in order to “help” me push it. For the record, it was six inches from my hand. While walking into my office from the parking lot, I’ve had at least three men offer to help me, despite the fact that I was making my way to the door just fine. This got me thinking. If I were a man, would so many people be scrambling to help me? It is impossible for me to separate out my gendered experiences from my experiences on crutches, but it’s still something I think about as I hobble from one place to another. I can’t think of an instance where I witnessed a relatively young man receive help due to a temporary injury.
Throughout my post-op experience, I’ve also found myself struggling with thoughts concerning my appearance. Since my surgery, I’ve lost weight and gained a very, very large scar. I’m a naturally thin person so the weight loss only concerns me when I have to go to work, as I have that slightly pinched, unhealthy look of someone who has recently been very ill. I counter this with my baggiest work clothes, and go on with my day. The biggest problem I’m dealing with is my surgical scar. I know that in time, it will fade, but there are days where I look at it, and have a breakdown. While I’m not normally a person who is overly concerned with my appearance, society has still taught me to reject that which is abnormal, different, or ugly. Try as I might, I care about having a large, ugly purple scar on my leg, and find myself being horribly self-conscious about it. I know it’s ridiculous to be so worried about it, because it’s not something that could be prevented, yet I find myself wanting to keep it covered at all times, even when no one else is around. In time, I’m sure that my attitude will shift and become one of indifference, but until then, I’ll be stuck in my own mind, wondering why I let societal expectations get to me.