Category Archives: dances with moobs
We’re back in class this week. I’m three classes in and hating, hating, hating everything about myself (except for the fact that I’m no longer dancing with moobs) in class and out.
I recognize that it’s deeply irrational, but that doesn’t seem to make me stop hating myself.
Maybe it’s time to break out the Stare-Into-The-Sun therapy lamp. Maybe it’s time to accept that it’s winter and this always happens to me in the winter.
I’ve found myself on a kind of unintentional and intermittent social media fast, and I think that’s okay. None of my social media streams are terribly stressful, I’m just running on zero alone time, since D is home recuperating from rotator cuff surgery.
Regardless, this is where the ritual of class means the most. I get up; I go to class; I put my hand to the barre and don’t look back (looking back at barre is a good way to fall over and need your own rotators cuffed).
On the upside, I finally installed the heated mattress pad, which probably wasn’t invented to coddle winter-weary dancers but does a reasonable job of it nonetheless.
Next month I’ve got an endocrinology appointment. I’m going to give hormone replacement therapy a try, since my tanking endogenous sex hormone levels are almost certainly not helping. Also going to get my thyroid levels checked, since hypothyroidism runs in both sides of my family and can contribute to depression (and feeling cold and tired all the time).
Even in the midst of this, I’m forced to admit that my petit allegro is improving. When I relax into it, it no longer feels (or looks) like a bunch of ham-fisted hopping.
I keep saying I need to get serious about conditioning, but thus far I haven’t. I’m as afraid of training the wrong things as I am of being unfit. It’s a legacy of childhood gymnastics training—the idea that we must never, never so much as glance at the gym unless a qualified trainer was present to help us not feck up our bodies has lingered long past its expiry date.
BG is a personal trainer in his spare time, so I might do a few sessions with him to get a sense of what I can do without overdeveloping my quads (among other things).
So that’s it. No advanced class today; it’s open house, though, so I’m taking 1:00 class, which is free (though we now have an unlimited tuition plan that has halved my monthly ballet expenses).
Edit: PS—Killer Class is back to being nominally intermediate. It’s still Killer Class.
…Or, well, kinda dances, anyway.
As of Thursday, I began slowly settling back into class.
For all that it’s normally his job to beat me with a stick until I jump higher, BW is actually profoundly capable of imparting a really gentle barre when you need it—so Thursday we did no one-foot releve, no grand battement, no torturously-long adagio…
It was just the essence of working through the feet and the legs and the turnout, feeling placement and balance, figuring things out.
It’s funny how profoundly you feel your hips and your legs and your feet when you’re not allowed to do almost anything with your arms.
It’s also funny how freaking insanely hard it is to come up with barre combinations when your only cambré options are front (rolling up) and a tiny back, like a subtle high release (it was pretty, though). BW kept going, “Wait, that doesn’t work…” Eventually, though, he got into the groove and stopped having to pause and reset.
BW gave me the option of doing a little across-the floor, but we decided against and opted to stretch for a while instead: splits first (I was afraid I’d have lost my left split in three weeks of sitting on my butt, but I was actually able to drop right into it), then a bit of work for the turnouts.
BW had noticed (probably because he was no longer blinded by the need to octopus-wrestle my arms into shape) that he and I share a bad habit: we both have a ton of rotation in the hip, so we sometimes we get lazy about engaging all the things.
This led to the two of us lying on our backs on the floor doing a kind of clamshell-and-Theraband thing when the studio owner wandered in to grab something she’d left behind.
…Which was surprisingly awkward.
Sunday I wandered back to J’s class, where I discovered that everything feels okay with my arms en bas and first, second, second allongé, romantic fourth, and fifth. Cambré is fine to the front as long as my arms don’t drift behind my shoulders (in short: no swan dives for me, and definitely no Angry Bourne Swans); back I’ve got a little more than I had on Thursday; side is still tuggy and thus to be avoided.
I stuck around for the tendu, which I did pretty well (though for some reason, my arms decided at one point to be effacé while my legs were croisé), and the adagio, which I did quite badly once because I was being tentative and then actually pretty well on the second run. Just like I haven’t lost my splits, I really haven’t lost my extension gainz either. I wasn’t trying that hard, as the goal was ultimately to keep my heart rate down, but had no problem reaching 90+ degrees even à la seconde.
I also met a really nice guy who was new to the class, but obviously not new to ballet. Have I mentioned this already? Anyway, I hope he keeps coming. There were three guys in class at the start! T had to leave right after barre, though, and I spirited myself away after the adage, leaving poor L to fend for himself. He seemed capable, though, so I’m sure he was fine.
Regardless, if the two new-dancer guys who have occasionally been to J’s class are still at it, then we have at least six guys in regular rotation in the program now. w00t!
Anyway, now begins the process of re-conditioning and easing back into my life as a dancer.
This Saturday, I’ll be performing for CirqueLouis at Jack O’Lantern Spectacular. Since I’m not cleared to get back on the silks yet, I’ll be doing some ribbon-dance stuff. Should be fun.
- This reminds me: I need to go borrow the ribbon from my bro-in-law again. I really need to get my own, but his is perfect—our basic costumes are black-and-white stripes, sometimes with red accents, and the ribbon in question is a black-and-white striped snake with a red head.
A bit ironically, I’ve never actually been to JOLS as a spectator, even though it’s supposed to be pretty cool and it’s only about a mile from my house, so I’m looking forward to finally seeing at least some of it (I don’t know yet if we get to stroll the grounds when we’re not performing, but I hope we do!).
So that’s it for now. I’m working on a long piece that I’m hoping to finish tomorrow, but between class and performing I’m not sure how much else I’ll be posting this week.
PS: I have officially left off with the Post-Op Pasties®. I was going to wait a bit longer, but my skin was really pretty done with adhesive. There are still a few little suture-knots left over, but it turns out that they don’t snag on my shirts.
I’ll probably stick a couple of Post-Op Pasties® on during rehearsal, since rolling around in the sphere (which I’m now quite able to do) seems like a good way to snag them, though.
Decided to go snap a couple of progress pix and discovered that all but the very last suture knot had fallen off. The last one was busy working itself loose, so I snipped it off with nail scissors. Et voilá—no more weird little knots.
For some reason, it didn’t occur to me before I had my surgery to contemplate why my surgeon suggests the particular protocol that he does with healing nipples (which will now forever be immortalized as “Post-Op Pasties®”).
- Daily from the Great Unrapping through Post-Op Day 21: apply bacitracin, apply Xeroform, apply adhesive bandage (I’ve been using the store-brand version of the 3M Nexcare ones for the most part); after 21 days, you can discontinue the Xeroform if you like, but continue with bacitracin and band-aids for at least another 7 days.
Turns out that if you don’t do something along these lines, they tend to get all weird and scabby and freaky-looking, and wind up being a major source of (not entirely necessary) worry for guys who have this particular surgery.
Keeping them slathered in bacitracin and covered with some kind of dressing both keeps them from drying out and getting terrifyingly scabby and keeps you from having to look at them all the dang time whilst they’re busy going, “WAT EVEN HAPPEN,” which is totally how I imagine them feeling about the process of being essentially evicted from their prior residences and relocated to new ones.
Likewise, if you’re me, it keeps you from picking at the scabs, which I do compulsively.
So, in short, while the protocol is marginally time-consuming (if you consider “less than 5 minutes per day” time-consuming), I’m really glad that my doc suggests it. I had one little scabby spot on my right nipple, which has since sorted itself, and beyond that there’s just been a little occasional sloughing of dead skin when I removed my dressings.
Much better than having itchy scabs that I’d inevitably pick at, inviting infection.
So, good on Docteur Magnifique for that one, too (even though wrestling the Xeroform was a PITA because our bathroom lacks any kind of flat surface that isn’t the top of the toilet or the precarious edge of the wall-mounted sink).
At this point, I’ve written a fair bit about the surgery that I had to shed my moobs. I’m extremely happy with the results thus far, but that hasn’t stopped me from being extremely curious about the healing processes of basically everyone who has ever had any remotely similar surgery.
This has led to some interesting discoveries. First, there’s evidently a whole lot of controversy of the subject of drains: which is to say, a lot of people don’t want them, and seem miffed when surgeons require them. Second, quite a few of the people who wind up with the exact surgery that I had seem to want their incision lines to be perfectly straight.
I don’t mean to be a jerk about it, but neither of these positions seem terribly well-considered to me.
In short, people don’t like drains because they’re uncomfortable. I’m not arguing, there: they are uncomfortable. The only reason I bothered taking any of the opioid painkillers prescribed by my surgery was so I could sleep with the poky-arsed drain lines annoying my intercostal tissues.
Given the minimal amount of drainage I produced, I legitimately could’ve gone without—but I’m glad they were there, just in case.
All too frequently, I run into an argument that goes, “Well, Bob didn’t have drains, and he was fine.”
The problem, there, is that it’s really quite difficult to predict who’s going to be like Bob, or like me, and who’s going to wind up with massive swelling that could’ve been prevented by installing a couple of drains for a week or so.
Surgeons can control their technique. What they can’t control is how our bodies react once all is said and done.
Some, like Imaginary Bob’s and like mine, just go, “Oh, no worries, I’m on this healing thing,” without any major drama.
Others go, “OMFG WHAT IS THIS WHAT HAVE YOU DONE AAUUUGHHHHHH!!!” and promptly kick up an inflammatory tornado, producing great gouts of fluid that can turn into seromas which are also quite uncomfortable, and which then require (you guessed it) drains anyway.
I’m a big believer in the idea that prevention is better than a cure.
I think the path my surgeon took in my particular case was just about ideal. D was hoping we could start for home on Monday evening or Tuesday instead of Wednesday evening or Thursday, so the doc suggested a compromise: if my drainage levels were good (read: minimal), we could have the drains out on Monday. Given that my surgery took place on a Thursday, this seemed like a really good compromise.
As it turned out, I experienced almost no inflammation and drained almost nothing from the word go, and the drains did indeed come out on Monday. Yes, they were annoying while they remained, but let’s be frank: roughly 4.5 days of moderate discomfort is preferable to the risk of epic swelling accompanied by potential weeks of discomfort. (To be fair, pain perception varies tremendously, and the drains might actually be a lot worse for some people than for others—but for most people, they’re basically just an annoyance, and a temporary one.)
Some surgeons (mine included) use drains for essentially everybody. Some decide on a case-by-case basis. Some don’t bother at all. Regardless, when it comes to this kind of thing, it’s worth considering that surgeons undertake a decade or more of specialized schooling to learn their skills—and, especially for cosmetic surgeons, it’s in their best interests to do whatever is going to get the best results.
In short, with a few exceptions, they generally have more insight into what they’re doing than their patients do, and it’s probably in our best interests to give due consideration to their surgical preferences.
For some reason, a lot of guys seem convinced that curved incision lines scream “BREASTICLES!”
In fact, I don’t think they do, and here’s why: curved incision lines follow the anatomical shadow of the pectoralis major. To the uninitiated, they’re not necessarily going to shout, “Yes, I had breast reduction surgery with removal of extra skin!”
- Exception: the rare cases in which an ill-advised surgeon makes them too curved—but, honestly, my jury’s really out as to whether that actually looks more unnatural than a perfectly straight incision does, since I’ve seen it so rarely even in my endless trawling of post-surgical pix.
Under ideal circumstances, they nestle in the literal shadow of one’s pecs, where they will eventually camouflage themselves as an extra measure of definition. And, of late, as surgical techniques have improved, ideal circumstances occur more frequently than one might imagine.
Perfectly straight incision lines, meanwhile, look unnatural. The human body is not a straight-lines kind of place. Straight incision lines depart rapidly from the anatomical shadow of the pectoralis and advertise themselves as exactly what they are—evidence of surgery.
The human eye is more likely to notice them simply because they contrast so sharply with the curvilinear nature of even the most masculine of human bodies (to wit: none of us are actually built like Minecraft sprites).
Even under ideal circumstances, perfectly-straight incision lines don’t camouflage themselves at all.
My incision lines aren’t straight. I wouldn’t want them to be straight. If anything, I wouldn’t have minded them being just a bit curvier towards their lateral ends—but, once again, my surgeon knows what he’s about. He’s been doing this for a long time.
I’m sure there are plenty of folks who will disagree with me on both these points—and, ultimately, I’m not telling them they’re making the wrong choices. People get to make their decisions based on their own bodies and their own long-term goals.
I just hope that, in making these decisions, there’s more to the decision-making process than “drains are uncomfortable” and “male bodies are made up of straight lines.”
Regarding point the first, that’s true, but they’re also temporary, and if they’re too horrible you can have them out early.
Regarding point the second, that’s really not true. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger is made up of a series of curves with varying radii. Ask any artist, or any robot who wants to look more human.
A note on all this: I recognize that there’s a pretty strong dose of privilege involved in the fact that I feel comfortable writing this.
I can assume that, while they’re kind of visible now because they’re still pretty pinkish, my curvilinear scars will eventually hide in the anatomical shadow of my pecs because I’m a dancer and an aerialist and a semi-mesomorph who puts muscle on at the drop of a hat. Even after three weeks sitting on my butt(er), and thusly at the least-defined I’ve been since I got back from my illness-and-holidays binge-eating tour of central Kentucky, I still have more definition in my chest than a lot of people will ever have. I get that.
Likewise, my work both demands that I be extremely fit and begets extreme fitness, and at least part of my rapid and unproblematic healing comes down to that. Maybe I would have felt differently about drains if I’d had to cope with them for more than 4.5 days (though, honestly, if you’ve got a lot of drainage, it’s probably a good idea to have drains).
On a different axis, I grew up in an extremely privileged setting which afforded me the opportunity to purchase all the anatomy books and drawing materials my little heart desired, and I have a very visual mind. It’s easy for me to say “scars should be curvilinear because bodies are curvilinear” because I’ve spent my entire life poking around with images and models of what human bodies look like beneath their skin and a brain that happens to be very good at storing and regurgitating that information (but which can never freaking recall a person’s name when I really need it to >.<).
So there’s that, also.
Lastly, a lot of the guys who have this surgery are trans, and every single opinion I have is founded in the fact that, as an intersex person, I face a different set of challenges in life than transfolk—one that overlaps with trans experience in some ways and is fundamentally different in other ways. For one, I may occasionally get misgendered in public, but I don’t have to put up with people constantly questioning my right to identify as a male.
- Curiously, exactly twice in my life, someone has asked me, “Why would you choose to live your life as a gay man when you could just be a woman if you wanted to?” Both times, it was another femme-y gay man who asked … and, in both cases, one who had grown up in a part of the United States that is actively oppressive and deeply repressive towards gay men in general and especially towards effeminate gay men. The region in question also tends to do a lot of conflating sexual orientation with gender identity. Neither of these guys had ever seen me unclothed, nor did they possess a clear concept of the fact that being intersex didn’t mean that I had “both sets” until I explained: in my case, it primarily means that I’m an ideal dish for a gentleman who prefers dainty Vienna sausages, so to speak, which isn’t quite the same as being able to just up and declare one’s self to be female even if I wanted to. And now you know way more about my body than you ever wanted to. You’re welcome.
Since transguys comprise a significant proportion of the folks who have this particular surgery, I feel like it’s probably worth acknowledging that I’m operating from a different vantage point, and that it colors my decision-making process. I think the same probably goes for non-IS cisguys: the set of my general experiences with being a guy differs from theirs as well.
There’s an extent, of course, to which everyone’s experience with gender, and with walking around the world as a gendered being, is different. Before it was corrupted as an insult, the phrase “we’re all individual snowflakes” meant exactly that: every one of us is the same in some ways and different in others, just as snowflakes share some basic characteristics and differ wildly and beautifully in other ways.
What I’m talking about, here, are collective experiences that shape the way we see the world: just as my upbringing in a forward-thinking part of the country prevented me from asking myself, “Why wouldn’t I just want to be a girl instead of being gay?” Those options, for me, have always existed on two different spectra.
So, anyway. Those are my caveats. I’m sure things are even more nuanced than that, but I need to wander off and do some errands now, whilst the day is young.
Sadly, I failed to realize the potential hilarity in recording a video of A-ha’s classic, “Take On Me,” with a small change in the lyrics (read: “Taaaaaaaaaape onnnnnnn meeeeeee [Tape … on me!]” etc) until this morning, after I’d peeled myself free of The Tape.
I suppose I’m overestimating my overall level of organization in assuming I could complete any such project, though.
Anyway, I know, I know: I said I was going to let it come off on its own.
D had his concerns, though, about leaving it on too long, and also once the little end bits started peeling themselves off I got antsy about it. They weren’t making me itch except when they were—always when it was least convenient to be furiously scratching an armpit. I trimmed them, and then I trimmed them a little more, and finally this morning I said, “Ah, feck the lot of yous,” to the remaining bits and peeled them right the heck off.
Anyway, things are looking good under the tape. The incision lines have remained very narrow; in many spots, I suspect that they’ll disappear completely over time.
I’ve known for a long time that I generally heal very well, for the most part, and my surgical incisions appear to be no exception to that rule. This, by the way, is a really strong argument of remaining as fit as you can if you have even the mildest form of Ehlers-Danlos: the better your blood supply and oxygenation, the better it’s going to be for your healing process no matter what, but that’s extra important when you have a disorder that affects collagen formation.
I chose a surgeon who has a ton of experience doing surgeries like mine–one who specializes in them, in fact–and who is known for his fastidious approach to suturing at all the necessary layers. Given that “hypermobility-type” EDS is less rare than the other types, and that he has literally done thousands of these surgeries, it’s a safe bet that he’s worked on someone with the same condition before.
He said to expect things to look a little ripply and wrinkly at first, but there are very few ripply spots.
Overall, I continue to be surprised by how good everything looks.
Anyway, here are a couple of shots from this morning:
You can see a couple of pale hypotrophic scars in the second picture (if you look closely, you can just pick barely out the related ones in the first shot)—those are really old, leftover from Things That Happened 😦 I have some elsewhere, too. They’re not the result of neat surgical wounds, but of untreated cuts (not self-inflicted).
- I’m not sure how much of this I’m ever going to discuss here. Honestly, this blog isn’t about that, and I don’t want it to become one long Content Warning.
Anyway, one of the things I hadn’t anticipated as a result of this surgery was that a bunch of those scars would be gone, since they were in areas that wound up in the Extra Skin Department. They were from before the m00bs, so I suppose it never occurred to me to think about it?
- The funny thing is that I was well aware that I would finally be rid of at least some of the stretch marks that resulted from the rapid development and equally-rapid diminution of the Moobs. I worried that the remaining ones would wind up looking weird and truncated, but actually there are barely any and they’re effectively unnoticeable.
- …Aaaand, now that phrase is racketing around in my head as a parody of Poe’s “The Bells,” because it scans: “The tintinnabulation of the bells, bells, bells…” all too easily becomes “the rapid diminution of the moobs, moobs, moobs…” Feh. Apologies if that’s as terrible an earworm for you as it is for me.
Interestingly, this is the one place where my feelings about all this get a little complicated (or, as they say in The Book of Mormon (the musical): “Now’s the part of our story … that gets a little bit sa-a-aad…”).
It doesn’t in any way diminish my delight at the outcome of my procedure—not the least fraction of an iota, in fact. If I could go back and do it again, I would in a heartbeat.
What is weird is that I’m not sure how I feel about those scars being gone.
I’ve evolved the philosophical position that scars, in a way, represent history written into our skin. For me, looking at my scars doesn’t trigger bad memories or make me feel victimized or whatever; it reminds me that I survived; that I came through and sort of fought my way back to, like, life. (I say “sort of” because I’m not 100% sure “fought” is the right word; it implies an angry struggle, and not one of endurance. There have been angry moments, sure, but mostly it’s been a question of determination.)
There’s also the fact that I associate my scars very positively with one of the very first people who responded to my history with kindness and understanding instead of shock and attempts to evade discomfort by minimizing the flat-out badness of the stuff that happened. The first time my first boyfriend saw me shirtless, he touched the scars really gently and said, “Oh my G-d … who did this to you?”
For me, that moment was incredibly important: it was the moment that I first realized, really, that dealing with what happened to me in any really helpful way was even possible. (For what it’s worth, though, the scars he touched, that time, were the ones on my belly, which are still there and, barring anything really weird, always will be.)
That said, losing my scars isn’t the same as losing my history … and our bodies change all the time. There were many more cuts that never scarred in the first place, for one thing. Only the deepest ones left any trace, and even those have faded tremendously.
Anyway, I suppose there are a lot of people who would expect me to feel, like, “Yay! Fewer scars, especially ones associated with horrible things!”
But, in fact, that’s not how I feel, and I’m okay with not feeling that way. I guess having Feels about it took me by surprise: it hadn’t occurred to me to think about it before. In fact, I didn’t even think about it until I took the tape off and noticed the remnants of those scars. Chalk that up to trying really hard to just not look at myself in the mirror ever since the beginning of the Great Risperal Caper.
For what it’s worth, I’m also the kind of person who wouldn’t go back and change what happened to me (probably, anyway: it’s easy to say that, isn’t it, when we don’t actually have time travel yet). I wouldn’t go in for therapy that would erase the memories, either. Yes, it was bad. Really fucking bad, to be entirely honest. I am still dealing with the fallout and will probably never be done dealing with it.
BUT. It also made me a more humane, more compassionate person. It might, in fact, be one of the major reasons that I am not a much worse human being than I am. And it taught me, over the course of many years, to tap into a profound and quiet strength that I think probably belongs to us all as humans; to endure, to survive, and finally to shake off my shackles and begin to thrive.
So that’s that.
At any rate, I’m rather glad I took the tape off, because it seems that the adhesive has irritated my skin in a few spots. So chalk one point up to D, who has been gently hinting that maybe I should go ahead and peeeeeeeeeel it off (“Like a lliiiiiight switch! There—it’s gone!” ACK SOMEBODY PLEASE STOP THE SHOWTUNES).
Starting with this: I didn’t think I’d wind up writing a series of posts about my surgery and what it means to me.
Long ago, in another lifetime—which is to say, “This past spring,” actually—I wrote a piece for an academic anthology about the experiences of queer athletes, dancers included.
- Perhaps ironically, given my fondness for ebooks, it’s not yet available as an ebook. Blargh.
It’s called, “Cut Both Ways: On Being Out and Not Out In Ballet” or something along those lines, and it’s about how I live in this curious intermediate place in my working life.
As a dancer and a gay man, I’m the kind of Out that’s such a foregone conclusion that it’s essentially unnecessary to even mention it.
But as a dancer and an intersex person, I’m really not out at all. (The rest is behind the cut simply because this is going to be looooooooong.)
We dancers are notoriously critical of our bodies—sometimes in unhealthy ways, but also sometimes in realistic ways.
I, for example, am way scrawny compared to the vast majority of Pilobolus guys, but a Clydesdale—really, more a Welsh cob —if you toss me in with the guys from ABT. In short (or tall), different companies require different bodies. ABT favors a lean, clean aesthetic. Pilobolus needs strength. The Bolshoi wants powerful, flexible jumpers.
I wrestle with those things, as one does—with the question, when I’m auditioning, of “Does this body fit this company or gig?” I’ll continue to face that on a regular basis as long as I’m working in dance and circus. I’m okay with that.
That, however, isn’t what this post is about.
Rather, it’s about finally looking at myself in a full-length mirror and thinking,”Yeah, okay. is my body.”
I didn’t grasp how very much my moobs got in the way of that, nor to what degree there would be this sharp before/after scenario. Before, I looked and I saw moobs. After, I look and I see this compact, well-knit boy with really nice shoulders (thanks, ballet!).
To an extent, it’s still startling because I expected things to just look a bit weird for a while after surgery. I was prepared for that and okay with it. I mean, I guess the surgical tape and Post-Op Pasties™ look a little weird, but they look like they’re applied to a body that’s, like, just there. No big bruises or anything.
In that same vein, I’ve begun to forget it that it once felt awkward—mentally, that is—to rest a hand on my chest in bed. The skinflaps were always there, waiting to remind me. Now they’re not.
At the Burn this year, I found myself feeling—well, not quite envious, but wistful I guess, over M’s smooth, tight chest and his lovely little pink nipples. It didn’t occur to me that I’d wind up similarly equipped after the skinflaps went, though maybe it should have? I mean, did I my nipples were going to turn purple or what? Yet, still, I feel like I got so much more than I had expected.
Even the scars, where the tape has begun to peel, are mostly ultra-thin. I’m not sure if my surgeonwas extra careful because I’m a dancer and the appearance of my body is a career asset, whether I was just really to work on, or if he’s just always this good. Regardless, I’m immensely grateful.
And tonight I looked at all of myself, stark naked, in the mirrored shower door and I thought, really for the first time in my life, “Yeah, okay. That’s pretty good. That’s pretty nice.”
I’m not going say I’ve lost the voice that says, “You have more than 4 percent fat. You suck.” Maybe it’ll leave, maybe it won’t, but it’s still there now.
But another part of me, on the other hand, finally feels it can speak up with confidence.
Like I don’t have to secretly dread petit allegro because things might shift around and get awkward.
Like when I walk down street the in that flimsy orange tank top and a guy looks at me, I don’t have to look away or shut him down because I think he wouldn’t like me with my clothes off.
Like whenever I get to dance with a smart, hot guy like M again, I won’t do it half afraid he’s going to run his hands down my chest and think, “WTF?”
Like I won’t have to take my contacts out, maybe, to stop me catching sight of myself in the giant closet door mirrors when D and I are playing around in bed because it might make me think, “WTF?”
Eventually, of course, I’ll get used to this actually being my body. Right now, though, it’s rather a marvelous little mystery all my own; a prayer answered slowly but beautifully.
I know it’s not like this for everyone, and I’m grateful, too, for the sheer simplicity of my feelings about all of this. It’s pretty much an unalloyed good in my life.
So me for tonight. Time to sleep.
I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me earlier.
When I finally got my surgery scheduled, it occurred to me, of course, that down the line I might finally feel happy enough with my body for audition for the enormous portion of dance jobs that can be filed under “Topless Boys Live!”
It occurred to me that I would probably be much happier in class without a compression vest, and definitely would be much happier swimming without one. And, of course, it occurred to me that I would definitely be much happier when the Queen of the Costume Vault inevitably holds up some tiny-ass shirt and says, “He’d look great in this!!!” and the choreographer-director goes, “Make it so!”
It didn’t, for some reason, occur to me that I would, say, finally feel comfortable just sitting around the house with no shirt on.
Which, I realize, probably sounds like no big deal to most of us in the first world—only I’ve somehow contrived to live in a very humid place and also in a house that lacks both central aircon and proper cross-ventilation. In short, it can get pretty sticky in my house, and the more skin you can expose without feeling weird about it, the happier you’re going to be.
So just now, after changing out my most recent round of Post-Op Pasties™, as I lamented the impending inconvenience of a shirt, it occurred to me that, hey! Now I can sit around my house half-naked, like any other idiot-without-central-air-or-cross-ventilation.
- Yes, my office is that freaking chaotic right now, because too much travel. In addition to being where I do the book-keeping and fold the laundry (and eat Cup Noodles), the office serves as a dance intensive-and-festival staging area. This year, we started staging stuff in April and really haven’t un-staged, ever.
- Yeah, I’m basically doing the book-keeping in dance shorts AND NOTHING ELSE. You wanna fight about it? (Well, I don’t. Really, it’s too warm for all that.)
In other news, not that any of you really need to know this, but given the particular surgery I had done there’s a potential for significantly reduced sensation in the nipples. (I’ve fretted about this a bit before.)
Evidently, I’ve completely dodged that bullet, as mine are hecking ticklish right now. I am rather grateful for the post-op pasties, or I wouldn’t be able to get anything done that involves wearing a shirt (which, to be fair, wouldn’t prevent me from doing stuff around the house, I guess?).
Anyway, the right one looks a little weird because it’s a little scabby for some reason, but honestly they look and feel rather a lot better than I thought they would by this point.
The weird part is that the sutures around my aureolae have caused me exactly no discomfort, which is not what I would’ve expected. I figured that would be the worst part, but nope.
You can probably tell from this shot that I have some minor swelling (which comes and goes, so I’m not worried about it) near the middle of my chest. Curiously, that’s the only place where I’ve regularly had any discomfort, and the place where it gets uncomfortable is nowhere near the sutures.
Behold the mysteries of the human body, I guess?
Lastly, I got to do a little work today at Bark in the Park, a fund-raiser for the Animal Care Society (one of the best local organizations for animals in need). Basically, I wandered around in shiny vertical-striped lycra twirling a dance ribbon and conscientiously avoiding raising my arms or my heart rate. That was fun, not least because I got to meet all kinds of nice doggies.
It was also fun not to have to wear a compression vest under my costume in the 90+ degree (F) heat. The festival was pretty quiet (mostly, I think, due to the heat), but the folks in attendance enjoyed having some circus-y folk afoot.
I’m officially decompressing!
It turns out that what was driving me so crazy was the combination of uber-tight compression wrap and surgical drain tubing, which conspired to irritate the living daylights out of my intercostal cartilage and muscles. Those are still a bit angry, but sooooooo much better sans poky tubing and with relaxed compression.
During my surgery, I got trimmed down and liposuctioned and so forth, and now I’m all taped up and decorated with ridiculously large hospital pasties (I feel like perhaps I should decorate them?) … And, yes, I still have nipples 😛
- Made an attempt. Didn’t bring any wide Sharpies, though. SOON.
I debated whether or not to post pictures, but I’m going to bite the bullet and do it.
First, I’m really stoked about how clean everything looks already. My body just looks like, you know, my body. I don’t know what exactly I was expecting? But I think it involved bruises and stuff.
Second, I’m not the first guy who’s had to undertake this kind of surgery, nor will I be the last—and I was okay with it in part because I saw photos in various phases of the healing process from other guys who’d had the same thing done. Maybe mine will help someone down the line—another dancer, even—feel okay with it, too.
A note about the dancer-specific end of that: I hemmed and hawed about which surgical approach to pursue in part because of the potential for scarring and the fact that, as a male dancer, I’ll have more options if I feel like I can take roles that require me to dance shirtless .
- Like, for example, I’ll be able to work in modern dance, which is apparently code for “Topless Boys Live!”, ever at all
Ultimately, I opted for an approach that would leave longer scars, but in more discreet places, and would be a sure shot in terms of removing extra skin in awkward spots. Having seen myself this afternoon with no shirt and no medical pasties, I know I made the right decision.
Speaking of that, I got to see myself sans Hospital Pasties this afternoon, and I’m quite happy with the results—though as a good citizen of the internet I’m kicking myself for failing to grab a photo.
Anyway, I had a bunch of extra skin before (thanks, collagen disorder!), but you’d never know at this point. Also, I appear to have normal tactile sensation everywhere, which is great. It wasn’t terribly likely in my case, but I was a little worried about ending up with tactile “dead zones” that could be awkward for some kinds off partnering.
There will be narrow scars below my pecs extending from about 4 cm to either side of the center of my chest (looks closer to the center in the shot below due to tape and guidelines) to a point straight down from my armpits. They probably won’t be very visible. The upside of the collagen thing is that I tend towards hypotrophic scarring, which in turn tends not to stand out too much against my ultra-pasty pallor.
I’ve also got extra gauzy stuff and even moar tape going on under my arms where my drains came out today. Those will be there for about a week. (You guys, I really should’ve purchased stock in 3M’s medical supply division.)
I have some sutures in my aureolae, so I’m supposed to wear some kind of medical pasties for a couple of weeks whilst those heal up, but my surgeon suggests the big, square band-aids with adhesive all the way around. There’s no need for them to be huge like the current ones; 4×4 gauze just happens to be ubiquitous in US medical practices.
I feel like I should thank my ballet and aerials teachers for making my surgeon’s job and my life easier. He had zero trouble locating the margins of my pecs, and my blood supply and overall fitness are basically stellar, which made everything smoother and easier in every way.
That’s it for now. We’re heading home tomorrow, so I might even make it back in time to stand around idly at rehearsal on Wednesday, learning by osmosis.
PS: I am greatly enjoying wearing just one shirt at a time. I cannot explain how amazing that feels.
PPS: Still heckin’ itchy, though, because omg so much tape. At least the stuff under my pecs will fall off on its own in about a week.
I thought I understood annoying compression situations. I did not (to be fair, my moobs were mostly loose skin, and didn’t require much compression). Post-Surgical dressings are fierce o_O’
- It turns out that I normally put my hands up above my head a lot. I’m not permitted to do that at the moment, and it’s driving me crazy.
- Itching: the struggle is real.
- Surgical drains are a great invention, and the ones I currently have are super-easy to work with. That said, by the end of the day, the tubing under the compression bandage feels like someone poking me between the ribs with malice aforethought and extreme prejudice.
- For whatever reason, the compression dressing was applied with my shoulders scrunched up around my neck. It is impossible to express how much I’m looking forward to being able to relax them down where they normally live.
- This whole process has been fairly smooth, and actually quite a bit less itchy than I anticipated.
- But still itchy enough.
In all, I’m grateful as all heck that I’ve finally got this sorted. Follow-up visit today (maybe I get to put my shoulders down!), so I’ll finally get to see the results, though I expect things still look a bit sore and lumpy.