I like my body. I’ve never quite trusted it, because it was broken when I was seven. I fell out of a tree and fractured my skull. I was in a coma for about a week. It’s funny what you remember about hospital stays, especially when you’re young. I definitely remember the nurses coming in and taking my temperature (they did it anally back then, HELLO!). I I remember the doctor’s name: Dr. Fountain. I remember him sitting by my bed with his watch, asking if I heard the ticking. I don’t remember that my answer fazed me one way or another. At seven, one accepts change easily. I remember my Nanny gave me a Snoopy stuffed animal with a built in radio. We listened to a baseball game together in my hospital room. I went home to a new house, because I managed to fall on a Sunday afternoon at my dad’s new bosses’ house during a relocation.
The whole year after my fall is a large chalkboard with four or five sentences, the rest erased completely. My brothers found a live bat in the yard. My dad held its quivering body in a towel wrinkled by its tiny claws. I had daily headaches and dizzy spells. I practiced on our new grand piano in the new living room. The house was a modern, open ranch with tile floors. I loved to bang out loud, lively pieces. The notes hung in the air and crashed throughout the house. That was power.
The next insult to my body was deeply personal, another kind of power wielded by my brother without my consent. I have never and will never forgive him.
I had a partially detached retina when I was 17. The surgery was routine. However, my horrified parents got to listen to me hit on the poor orderly while I was high on some magical pre-surgery drug. Afterwards, I was rolled into a storage room with a rubber glove filled with ice over my eye. I must have been considered a low risk patient. After that I had many minor and major surgeries, all having to do with my faulty lady parts. That’s all I need to say about that. All told, I’ve had eleven surgeries; four major and seven minor. Great preparation for Lyme.
My mother was a functioning anorexic for most of my life. At the end, she became a non-functioning anorexic, and it killed her. She was 59 lbs when she died. One of the gifts she gave me was a healthy body image. Whether she did it on purpose or not, I am grateful. She taught me that my brains and personality would last far longer than sex appeal. She taught me that a strong, healthy body was the most important thing. These lessons didn’t sink in as easily as I make them sound. I went through a dork phase that was epic (pixie cut, blue granny glasses and braces for buck teeth). I fretted over my looks like most young women. To this day I think my head looks like a potato in pictures. My boobs weren’t big enough. My legs were too skinny. I rarely dieted, however, and always exercised. I abused my body with drugs and alcohol and had lots of sex. But I never quite trusted that I was indestructible.
By the time Lyme hit, I had lots of experience in dealing with physical setbacks, or, let’s be honest, the problems that can happen if you’re female. Endometriosis, ovarian cysts and scar tissue wreaked havoc inside of me for years. It was a relief to have everything taken out. I developed an allergy to morphine and food sensitivities. Lyme was no walk in the park, far from it, but I had experience. I am tough as nails at enduring. I consider my body ‘temporarily offline’ right now, as it has done off and on throughout my life. I’m babying it along, taking special care with diet and rest.
On my worst days, I hate my body, both in appearance (I’m starting to bear a startling resemblance to Mr. Peanut) and performance (another day of aches and fatigue). I tried positive imagery, imagining the billions of little spirochetes, bacteria(s?), and protozoans dying and being swept out of my body. What I usually got was gross negative imagery, of squiggly microscopic creatures burrowing in my brain and eyeballs, teeth and joints, heart and liver. This was a new kind of battle for my body, unlike any other I had endured. I’m almost well now, and my body is the last to know it. I tell my body every day that I am better, I should feel better. So far, the body does what it wants. I still like it though, it’s the only one I’ve got.