Swim Suit Secrets

Magic Kingdom Fireworks

Image by d4rr3ll via Flickr

Renee and I had taken our daughters to the Magic Kingdom and after two action-packed days at the Disney Parks, we chose Sunday to lounge by the pool while the girls swam.  She knows my story well and so my scars were nothing new even in bathing suit format.  But hers, well, she had never told me about them and the plot thickened.

Renee was 12 and boiling water to make hot dogs.  Somewhere in the transfer to the counter, hot dogs still boiling away, she jiggled the pot.  Hot oily water gushed on to her thigh.  Renee watched as the boiling water seared her skin, sealing her tights to her upper leg.   The times being the times, Renee tried to self treat second-degree burns.  “More than anything else, I remember the pain.  I had to peel the fabric of the tights off my leg,” she said.  Over time, the skin on her thigh turned an unsightly black.  Horrified she peeled it back time and time again.  It took a year to heal.  She used home remedies to speed the healing because her family didn’t take her to the hospital for treatment.

Now, the scars on her thigh healed to a faded pattern of reddish blotches. Renee needed to point them out to me.   I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.

As we lay by the pool, I couldn’t get Renee’s story out of my mind.  It consumed me for hours.  Was it better to remember the searing pain so vividly as she did?  Was it worse to remember peeling blackened skin from your leg?  Was it more common than not that families in the 70s didn’t rush to hospitals for home accidents?

Much as I have tried, I have yet to find anyone who can tell me the blow-by-blow details of my accident.  I don’t remember the pain of the majority of the surgeries, only the one I had when I was 18.  I don’t remember blackened skin but surely it was there.  My burns were third degree, a notch up from Renee’s.  It amazed me to see how her burns had healed, how they were all but hidden.

It seems to me that everyone has at least one vivid childhood story.  An accident.  An incident.  A hurt that may not have yet healed.

It feels good to hear someone else’s story, in this case a poolside secret, a swim suit story.  Do you have a secret to share?

Lessons on Beauty

When Shanna came to work at the office, she was the tan, cute, blond Southern belle or so we thought at the time. 

Southern Belle

 Like peeling layers of the onion skin, we get to know other people in slivers and slices.  Just the same way we get to know ourselves.  When I found out Shanna and I shared the same birthday, I got to know her better.  When Shanna offered to help out with my books, a little better still and so it went until we formed a bond of shared experiences and ways of thinking.  She was only in her late 20s when she came into the office one day to tell us she had a rare form of cancer.  Diagnosis.  Surgery.  Radiation.  Chemotherapy.  If you’ve ever been through it, you know it’s like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or simply put, a call for personal transformation.  Shanna lost her hair, that beautiful blond hair that so complimented her tan, that made her feel cute.  “The old Shanna doesn’t exist anymore,” she said.  “I was spending time on upkeep for crap that didn’t matter.  There are gorgeous people out there who are ugly inside.  Inner beauty lasts and that’s what I look for in people these days.”  Shanna’s hair grew back and she left bookkeeping and is just a semester shy of becoming a nurse.  I have no doubt that she will be a great one. 

Years ago when I was in college, a medical student looked at my burned leg and said to me, “You know, you can have plastic surgery to make that look better.” I nodded but didn’t say anything.  Words weren’t needed.  I’d  already had a dozen plus plastic surgeries by then. There was some wry delight in knowing that if that medical student couldn’t make even that assessment after years of medical training, then he wasn’t going to have a very successful career. What you see on the outside often has nothing to do with what’s on the inside.