Navigating the Unfamiliar

The scar from my appendectomy is now over my heart. Last January I traveled to have surgery that I hoped would put me back together again. “You’ll love it,” said the leader of an online group that housed no pictures of what people look like after.

“Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator” surgery is a reconstructive procedure involving the removal, replacement and rerouting of parts. A thick layer of my midsection was rolled back like a weighted blanket and cut to be relocated above. A surgeon scraped bone off and moved an artery from one place to another. Now my lymphatic capillaries and sliced nerves are trying to regenerate. Ends are trying to find each other again.

I didn’t get my body back. I don’t love it. I don’t love winding scars where everything got put back together. But they’re mine, and I’m alive.

Days after the surgery, I stood on the deck of a hotel talking to a friend. Headlines rolled about a faraway virus. We thought it might be extreme to worry though we both, having been through life-threatening illness, knew far-fetched fears have possibility. “Watch, it will be a pandemic,” we laughed. Sort of. On the flight home, I wore …

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