Friday, 5 August 2011
For Your Eyes Crohnly
[Before I begin: in order to get the full effect, this post should be read whilst listening to Carly Simon's 'Your so Vain']
By no stretch of the imagination do I consider myself to be a fine figure of a woman. But lately as my Crohn's (and the drugs I have to take) have started to take a more prominent effect on my body, on the outside as well as the in, i've found myself becoming a bit more concerned with my appearance and have begun reflecting on how this disease will affect my 'looks' in the long term.
As a youngster I was a serious tom-boy. Dungarees were my standard uniform for several years. I considered these to be an all-purpose garment - ideal flexibility and ease of movement for climbing trees, riding bikes, fighting with boys and partaking in one of my favourite pastimes; rolling down hills. This caused much dismay for my parents as my mum in particular had been desperate for a girl and obviously harboured dreams of taking said daughter shopping for pretty dresses and jewellery and exchanging make-up tips in later years. All of this did eventually happen but probably not until well into my teens as until then I dreaded being 'girly'.
There is photo-graphic evidence of this unfortunately, multiple pictures forever trapped in my parents albums of me in a new outfit looking glum after having paraded said outfit up and down the living-room for any relative who happened to be present to 'ooh' and 'ahh' on command. This was both to display how lovely I looked and to show my dad what an unbelievable bargain it had been. The 'unbelievable bargain' was usually the following calculation:
Full Price divided by two then a few extra pounds removed for good measure = a price my dad would consider acceptable. (Sorry Mum! x)
I was also stick-thin for my entire youth - didn't hit puberty until quite late on and it was only then I really started to bother about how I looked. Because up until then most of my friends were of the male variety, i'd never thought of a boy looking at me as anything other than someone to fling down a hill. (This is NOT a euphemism).
Anyway I digress. Recently i've noticed the drugs have given me terrible skin, mainly on my visage, and my hair is dull, lank and lifeless [insert terrible Cheryl Cole impression here]. Because these (minor) issues are symptoms and/or side effects, no fancy creams or special shampoos can really help. When I was really ill my lovely locks were falling out in clumps so I suppose I can make do with using a bit of extra conditioner until it hopefully calms down.
Vanity aside, the major area I can't hide with make-up is my scar. As it's Summer now (which in Scotland has been unusually long - over a week and counting!) it's becoming clear I can't cover myself up and dress like an old-maid forever. The whole, to bikini or not to bikini dilemma plagues me, as I'm sure it has done over the years for many great thinkers throughout history.
Do I embrace my Crohn's scar as part of me or hide it away so as to avoid any repulsed glances or prompt uncomfortable questions?
I'm aware its hardly a major disfigurement compared to what some people have to go through and that I'm probably entirely over-reacting but it's still early days and I'm still pretty conscious of it.
I like to try and think of my scar as a tiny ink blot on the whole big book that is my body.
And I'm a hard-backed book with a lot of my story still to tell.