Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Posts tagged ‘pain’

Half Waxed

waxblog

Over a decade ago, swayed by peer pressure, I tried bikini waxing for the first time. My friend warned me to go to a salon for the service. Being cheap and overestimating my smarts, I thought I would try it at home.

“Do you think that’s wise?” she said.

“Can’t be that difficult. They sell kits at the drug store,” I said blithely.

Bad, very bad idea. The drug store and their waxing kits lied.  I have managed to give myself a concussion and melt my underwear to the left side of my crotch. Here’s my story:

After perusing the personal products aisle of the drug store for an hour, I went to the counter for some help.  “What product would you suggest for home waxing?”

The woman’s penciled eyebrows lifted three inches.  “How much pain can you endure?”  That’s such a bad question.

“Uh, I’m not a total wimp”.  Then a client beeped me.  So I may have missed some vital information.  The phone call took some time and when it was finished, the woman was helping other customers – customers who were buying gum, newspapers, and magazines.  No waxing products.  So off to the personal products aisle again.  I picked up the most expensive waxing kit thinking this is no time to skimp.

Following the kit’s instructions, I laid out a brownie pan, plastic gloves, the block of wax, scissors, a wooden spoon, two ice packs and my contribution to the process, a small glass of Scotch for the pain.  Some of the instructions were baffling.  I put on a favorite pair of green bikinis because I wanted a clean line for the finished product.  (Note to anyone — never wear polyester undies while waxing – the reason will become apparent later).  As directed, I melted the wax in the brownie pan using the wooden spoon.  The dogs laid their heads to one side before starting a low baying sound.  I poured some wax on the right side of my crotch and then on the left side before the pain registered.  I screamed.  The animals jumped back barking.  (Another note to anyone — always test the temperature of the wax before applying.)

From pubic bone to mid thigh was bright red. There was an interesting smell.  My skin was disintegrating.  One layer of skin, maybe two.  Definitely first degree burns.  Hoping to avoid the second degree blistering, I quickly yanked off the wax from the right side.  Immediately I passed out from the pain.  The best I can tell, I hit my head on the counter on the way down.  I woke into painful consciousness, stars buzzing around my head like in a Looney Tunes Cartoon, lying curled in the fetal position on the kitchen floor.  The two dogs and the cat were looking at me with these quizzical expressions of “should we eat her now?”

By that time, the underwear on my left side had melted to my crotch.  (Polyester melts in hot wax — very important note.)  Holding the counter for support, I got myself upright and chugged the glass of Scotch with two aspirin from the junk drawer. I corralled the animals, shoved them into the utility room, and closed the door.  Taking a deep breath, I yanked at the strip of wax on my left side of my crotch.  Off came a good inch of skin and melted undies.  I quickly found the ice pack and applied it while jumping around the kitchen.  The room was dark and hopefully the neighbors had not seen my personal auto-da-fe.  Now, what do I do?  The choices were dire.

First, I assessed the situation.  The right side of my crotch was a bright red field of blisters with small patches of scorched earth.  The left side looked worse.  One inch was oozing blood like partially defrosted hamburger.  A good four inches was covered with hard wax and melted spring green undies.

Second, I outlined my three options.  I could continue to self-mutilate my crotch by tearing off the fricassee of wax, undies, skin, and connective tissue.  I’m not sure I had the fortitude for such an option.  I could call Barbara and after she stopped laughing, she could help we with the left side.  This could be embarrassing as I conjured up the image of us tugging at my crotch.  That left option number three.  I could cut off as much of the melted wax – undies – skin – connective tissue combo as possible with my old dissecting scissors, apply burn balm, and cover the wound with a dressing then go to bed.

I picked option number three, bandaged myself, and phoned my friend.

“My crotch is toast.”

“We must have a bad connection. You’re eating toast? What about your crotch?”

“No. No. In the process of home waxing I learned some important life lessons.”

“Okay, I’ll bite. What did you learn?”

“Waxing is rocket science and should be left to the professionals. And. One should never wax with animals nearby.”

“Did they bite?”

“No but I think they were trying to decide if I was dead. Oh and never, ever overheat your polyester undies.  They will melt.”

“Should I call the paramedics?”

“Nah. Off to apply more ice. Stop laughing.  It’s not funny.”

“You’re a mess.” My friend hung up. I hear her laughter every time I shudder past the personal products aisle in a drug store.

 

An Epidemic of Entitlement

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On good days, I think the world is in transition. On most days, the world is cultivating an epidemic of entitlement. 

Today I put away my handicapped parking placard. I have had one for a year. The placard swung from my rear view mirror through surgeries, non-anesthetized debridements, surgical shoes, surgical boots, 6 different antibiotics, and 7 different types of painkillers. And pain. I have needed it for the pain. Unable to walk more than 100 feet without excruciating pain.

I needed to park close by. I needed to open my car door all the way to leverage out my unbendable leg. To maneuver my sutured arm out. Sometimes I am working with one side of my body. I never realized how much I needed those slashed lines on either side and the wide parking spaces (access zone for loading and unloading) until I couldn’t move my right side (ankle, knee, hip, and elbow) and had to navigate with a plastic, metal, and fabric device immobilizing my body.

If the handicapped space was occupied or a car was parked in the access zone with slashed lines, I did not enter that Starbucks, Harris Teeter, restaurant, or hair salon. Most times the parked cars were without handicap insignia. The business owners lost my business. 

When I would ask about the situation or attempt to get the person to move their car, I was met with hostility and venom.

A woman, illegally parked in a handicapped parking space, coming out of a hair salon, the one below, shouted at me calling me an inconvenience. I HAD HER ASS TOWED.

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 At the chiropractic office below, the receptionist said, “I’m sure they aren’t our patients. What do you want me to do about it?” Well, you could say something supportive or even put up a sign to increase awareness or encourage your clients to FOLLOW THE LAW.

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While parking my car one morning, a woman in yoga class, yes, I take yoga classes, it’s cheaper and more effective for me than physical therapy, asked if I had enough room to get out of my car. She was parked illegally in the slashed access zone next to the handicap parking space. I asked her repeatedly to move. She moved her car 6 inches. No lie. NO LADY I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH ROOM. YOU PARKED YOUR CAR IN THE SLASHED ACCESS AREA NEXT TO MY HANDICAPPED SPACE SO I CAN’T OPEN MY CAR DOOR. She wouldn’t move her car until the police made a visit. Now in yoga class, she sits behind me, smiling, wanting to be friends. I don’t want to be your friend. Piss off.

See I have this handy-dandy iPhone. Click click. Picture taken with license tag. Call to the nonemergency police number. They ask for information. I have tags, make, model of the car on a time and date stamped file.

Don’t ask me to be nice about this. I am not apologizing for needing that space. I am not apologizing for asking you to follow the law. To think about other people. Grow up.

I am happy you are able-bodied but, realize the world is changing. Aging. Getting more knee and hip replacements. Having more surgeries. Needing wheelchair vans. If you live long enough, and I hope you do, you or someone you love will need a handicapped parking space and the adjacent slashed access zone. Don’t park there. The other option is to park there but don’t be surprised if someone dents your car with their handicap van or takes a baseball bat to your entitled windshield. 

Having done neither, I think I have exercised remarkable restraint.

Painful Humility

September has been a bad time coming off six months of painkillers. I have headaches, slurred speech, memory problems, weight gain, and general crabbiness. But I have clarity about human fragility.

I admit I am spectacularly judgmental about drug abuse. My mom was a horrible drug abuser and I am terrified of getting addicted. I always said I would never use drugs.

Pain wasn’t too bad until the nerve blocks wore off three days after the each of the initial surgeries in March. EEK. I thought my body was on fire and I would have done anything, well almost anything, to put it out.

The Friday after my arm surgery, in my surgeon’s building, I pleaded for painkillers. The staff was wide-eyed and scared. At one point I was sitting on the waiting room floor, sobbing, covered in body fluids, unable to see beyond my immediate painful reality. A patient handed me a box of Kleenex. An hour later, an unspecified person gave me a prescription for a strong morphine-type drug.

The pharmacist at my neighborhood drug store talked to me about having someone stay with me or at the least, check on me while taking the medication. I nodded at her. Unthinking. Wanting her to scream at her to go away so I could speed home and take the drug. Unable to see any future beyond the agony of that moment. A neighbor came over every two hours and checked on me throughout the weekend. Thank you neighbor. I hope I was civil to you.

Truthfully, I asked her to check on me because I was scared. Scared witless that the doctors would find out and take away my medication. I didn’t care about waking up as long as the opiates made the pain go away.

After about a week, when I could sit upright, I realized I would never go to the bathroom again until I stopped taking the opiates. That was my bottom. So I went off them. Coming off was a very lousy three days. I watched a lot of stupid TV, serial killer shows and sitcoms, but not movies. I could not concentrate on a feature length film. I itched all over. I ate many bags of corn chips and drank a lot of tea. I hate corn chips and tea. Corn chips taste like pasteboard. Tea tastes like my idea of embalming fluid.

During those shitty seventy-two hours, I reassessed my judgments about addiction. Forgave my mom a little more. Was humbled by how easy, how seductive, and how compromising it was and is to get hooked on a painkiller. Imagined ingenious ways to get back at my surgeons.

But chronic pain set in after another series of bloody painful procedures and in office surgeries. I spent the next four months on non-opiate painkiller medications. I am almost off these medications. Tapering off these medications has been another lesson in patience and in compassion for anyone trying to deal with pain. Starting with myself.

When I have more distance from non-opiate painkiller withdrawal, I’ll tell you about it.

I keep hearing my teachers say, “All behavior was productive at one point.” I wish I could have been more understanding with my mother.

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