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I’ve never been into body modification. No tattoos, didn’t even have my ears pierced until I was engaged (they were pierced when I was young, but closed up from disuse). One of my OBs even expressed surprise once at my unpierced belly button, saying they couldn’t remember the last time they had seen one not pierced on a person my age. I have nothing against tattoos or piercings, but they just don’t call to me.

That said, I think I have undergone more extreme body modification in the last 6 months than most hardcore enthusiasts might endure. My body shape has entirely changed, as I’ve gained an incredible amount of weight in a very concentrated area, and my body shape is now unrecognizable (obviously, this is for a very, very good reason, but the basic facts are unchanged!). I’ve had many pieces of me taken out, including a large muscle, and I’ve had a “zipper” installed that might make body modification practitioners jealous. Granted, the zipper comes out tomorrow, but it’s still hardcore! I have scars that would make pirates jealous and skin in places it never used to be. Oh, and I also had my braces off in the middle of my surgeries! Fun times! (We’ll see if I get to add stretch marks to this list, but so far, I’ve been lucky enough in that respect!).

Either experience, pregnancy or surgery, would be a lot for a body to handle at any time, and a lot for a person to have to come to terms with as far as incorporating into their identity, but both at once is A LOT a lot. (Don’t ask why saying it twice makes it more so, but it does!). But I think in some ways that maybe the changes in pregnancy prepared me in some way for the changes from surgery.

Pregnancy changes aren’t as sudden, overall, but are less predictable. Many of the changes also happened earlier on in my pregnancy (not the giant belly, of course, but some of the more subtle changes). Having time to come to terms with the fact that parts I had never really given much thought to would never look the same was helpful for surgery, especially since both were for a good cause. So what if my tummy wasn’t as taut? So what if I now had veins where veins never grew? So what if my neck looks slightly lopsided? So what if I have a patch on my forehead?

Now that I now my body is functional after the surgery, I can honestly say I don’t care what I look like. After the first skin graft, I felt self conscious about my bandages, which of course is only natural. Once I was able to put on just a giant band aid, I felt much better about being able to go out in public. That said, it was still very hard for me when strangers asked about it, like the overly-friendly seller at the farmer’s market. Sorry, I just don’t feel like talking about my cancer on my first outing in a week when I am feeling a tiny bit “normal.”

So we’ll see what it’s like with these bandages and scars. I think my skin graft is looking AWESOME (still need to get dr’s confirmation on this, but every non-plastic surgeon doctor who has looked at it thinks it looks good, and I’m very pleased at its progress from crater to slightly-sunken-in), and I am feeling way less weird about that. I also have plans for getting some dramatic, large-brimmed hats to help with keeping the sun away, as well as sort of covering some of the worst of the scars (but really, mostly for keeping the sun away, since I can’t really put sunblock on anything yet).

Tattoos? No, thank you. I already have the reminders I need of where I’ve been and where I’m going.