So I was watching Face Off the other day, and the idea of waking up after surgery and not recognising yourself reminded me of this time in my life. Although it was about 13 years ago now, it is on my mind again while I am editing my story for re-release. So here is a little excerpt from the up the upcoming 2nd edition of The Breaking and Making of Me. And just so nobody is disappointed, I don’t exactly get my face replaced, I was exaggerating a teensy bit for effect.
A couple of months into my new job I took a really big, scary step towards ‘reinventing myself’. I took out a £4000 bank loan and booked a couple of weeks off from work. Can you guess where this is going? What if I told you I spent my teens worshiping Michael Jackson? Okay, lets connect the dots. I had daddy issues, a 4K loan, time off from work, and admired one of the most surgically altered people known to society. Penny dropped yet?
I got a breast augmentation. It had been a narrow contest between that and a nose job. It might sound like a bold claim to say this, but I knew I would do it since I was about 13 or 14. I just knew I would ‘have to’. And it sounds strange to me now, as a coach, to step back and look at this. I knew I would never feel ‘good enough’ and no man would ever want me, unless I ‘improved’ myself. Isn’t that sad, that a child would plan their future elective surgery so young? I feel this is in danger of becoming pandemic in our society. There are a great many young people out there who have been bombarded with media ideals of the ‘right’ faces, the ‘right’ bodies. It is a slippery slope.
Arriving at the hospital on surgery day was a bizarre experience. I was so nervous I felt as if I was floating out of my body. But I had no intention of bailing. To my mind, there was no choice, this needed to happen. I was of course expecting to be afraid on my way in, but what I wasn’t prepared for was being anything less than happy once the surgery was over. The first thing I remember about after the procedure was a really nice nurse talking to me as I was coming around. She told me it was over and I was okay. I believe that I replied with some kind of whiney groaning noise.
My chest hurt – SO much! For the next few hours I lay there in my bed with a little bag of blood and fluid draining from my chest. Getting up to go to the bathroom was more challenging than I had expected, and I also wasn’t prepared for the post-anesthetic nausea. It was all a bit gross and brought me back down to earth with a thud. In my day-to-day life, I don’t particularly worry about my elective orphan status. Being alone in this world is something I can generally cope with. But if there is one time that I feel the downside of being alone, it is when I am sick or in physical pain.
But the biggest surprise to me was my reluctance to look in the mirror. I had been so excited to finally be the ‘right’ shape by society’s standards, and to feel less ashamed of my boyish figure, that I hadn’t considered the possibility of not wanting to look in the mirror. But to my amazement I actually couldn’t do it for a couple of days. I was so freaked out by the sudden change. And it is pretty freaky when you think about it. One minute you are in the body you know well, for better or for worse, and the next minute the anesthetic goes in, and then you wake up physically altered. Laying on the hospital bed and looking down at my new shape, I didn’t recognize myself. And I couldn’t see my feet either! Not until the swelling went down. It was a psychological jolt that nobody prepared me for.
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Until next time…