December 24, 2009

My thoughts on...feeling beautiful

I was born with a dislocated hip. Or rather I should say the socket where the hip bone and leg bone meet wasn't formed right. From the time I learned to walk, I've had a limp. Not a tremendous limp, but a limp nonetheless. And kids notice those things.

When I was twelve, I had surgery to "reform" the bad socket. It worked for a long time, but I still had the limp. I was still called "Chester". (remember "Gunsmoke"?)

But I lived through it. At least the leg didn't hurt anymore. I was never going to win any beauty pageants, but hey, I could walk. Could have been worse. Much, much worse.

Flash forward about thirty-five years. The hip started bothering me again. Doctor said osteoarthritis. Real bad. Needed hip replacement.

What, again?? I wasn't twelve years old any more. Could I do this? Rehab was going to be about six months on account of the prior surgery being so long ago and the osteoarthritis making such a mess of the socket that it took a sports orthopedic surgeon to correct it.

I was divorced at the time and had to quit my job to have the surgery. It had got to the point I couldn't sleep, the pain was so bad. And I was popping Vioxx like M&M's. Not good.

So I had the surgery. I was in the hospital for three weeks before I could even come home and have in-home physical therapy. Now, I don't know about you, but my hair has always been my crowning glory. With a head full of beautiful hair, who pays attention to a little limp, right?

In the hospital, all swaddled up in bandages, can't even stand up, having to push myself around in a wheelchair... I wanted a shower sooooo bad. Mainly I wanted to wash my hair. It had been almost two weeks since I'd had a shampoo - not to mention all the sweating and wiping down the face with cool wet cloths.

I didn't want company. Not really. Didn't want them to see me this way. Family didn't count. They love me anyway. And I'm grateful for that. They didn't care what I looked like, they only wanted me to get better.

The Sunday before the Monday that the staples were to be taken out and I could finally - FINALLY - take a shower with the help of a nurses' aide - and FINALLY shampoo my hair - I had visitors.

Ten of them.

My friends that had stayed away until then decided it was time to pay a visit.

Shall I tell you that one of those friends was my old high school crush?

Yep. He'd recently got divorced too and when he found out from another friend that I was in the hospital, decided they'd all come together to see me.

And me in hospital scrubs, with no makeup, not even a smear of lipgloss, and the dirtiest, nastiest, most un-beautiful hair I've ever had in my life. I was so embarrassed I nearly died.

But you know what? Not one of them remarked on how "bad" I looked. They all just wished me a speedy recovery and we sat around shooting the breeze for a long time.

It did wonders for cheering me up. But I figured it was a fluke. I mean, my friends - my REAL friends - would still be there for me after I got out. But that guy I had a crush on? No way he could be interested in me after seeing me at my worst.

Guess what?

You guessed it. He kept in touch and after I came home from the hospital he said he'd like to see me again after I'm able to get out and about again. Even on crutches. Or a cane, which I used for a while. And, oh yes, I still had the limp. He didn't care. He wasn't at all embarrassed. He took me to dinner at a really nice place and I walked in leaning on that cane and his arm.

I felt beautiful.

So don't let anyone tell you that beauty is only skin deep. Sure, it makes you feel more confident when your outside is appealing. But it's what's inside that counts.

My friends all knew that. Even feeling very un-pretty in the hospital, it didn't phase my friends. It was me they came to see.

I still love to fix my hair and feel glamorous when it turns out right. But it's not as important as it used to be. I know that I am loved regardless of what I look like.

The plain gold band on my left ring finger reminds me every day.


Renee said...

I'm visiting from The Girl Next Door contest. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your beautiful story!

Kimberly said...

I had back surgery a few years ago and it is amazing how something like that can bring out the true friends in your circle. I hang on to those ones tooth and nail...actually I don't have to because they are just so awesome and I know that they'll always be there for me.
Thanks for sharing this beautiful story (coming from The Girl Next Door)

The Girl Next Door Grows Up said...

That gave me little goosebumps. Oh! That was good.

Thank you for sharing!

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