Like all cute girls, I’m used to being looked at. Stared at, leered at, the whole thing. You just kinda come to expect it from guys, and all their awkward gawking eventually recedes into the background.
So yeah, I’m used to pretty girl stares. I’m not used to ones of the “Ewww you’re busted” variety. It’s been a week now, and I’m still not used to it.
Backstory. You know I’ve had debilitating migraines my whole life, and recently they’ve become monstrous. Hospitalized-every-other-week monstrous. And nothing helps. Soooo…I was approved for this crazy surgery available to only the most hopeless pain patients. The doc implants these tiny, electro-vibrating thingies in your head, and the stimulation distracts the brain from pain waves. So you don’t feel the pain! And you can control how vibrate-y the implants get — wait for it — WITH A REMOTE CONTROL. It’s like programming a massage chair. I’m looking at my doctor like, You’re suggesting I become bionic? Madwoman! But then, after thinking it over for roughly two seconds, I gave the world’s biggest #KanyeShrug and decided I had nothing to lose.
But before the actual implant surgery, you have to suffer through a week-long trial run to see if the procedure will even work. Since it’s only for a week, the doc slides the thin, vibrating “neuro-transmitters” under your skin at the temples and back of the head — but instead of also burying the connecting wires and generator inside your body (it’s just a trial, no need for major surgery), SHE LEAVES THEM OUT. So basically, you’re looking at a woman with blood-encrusted wires taped down to the sides of her face, all of which connect to a fist-sized generator perched on one shoulder, held in place with a mountain of gauze. It’s medieval. After the procedure, I had the following conversation with my doctor:
Me: You didn’t tell me I’d look like a Transformer.
Doc: It’s all for the greater good.
Me: You also didn’t tell me you’d shave a chunk of my hair in the back. I’m transitioning, I need to be able to rock a topknot.
Doc: It’s very important that the wires remain dry. No showers, no sweating.
Me: It’s 100 degrees.
Doc: Think cool thoughts.
For the past week, I’ve been walking around like this. People openly stare. Children point. I had an old lady waddle past me, gawking, and once she was a block away, she looked back again. My Hungarian barista boyfriend eyed me blankly at the coffee shop, searching for the English words to ask me what the hell happened. He came up with this: “You face, honey. It looks so…hurting. My, my. Car accident?” It’s a deep thing, to be stared at with pity and confusion. My whole body language changed this week. I walk with my head down, not meeting anyone’s eyes, trying to make myself invisible. I try to hide in plain sight. And then there’s the constant buzzing…so isolating, so maddening…
On the subway yesterday, a Steve Buscemi lookalike stared at me with obvious disgust. Instinctively, my hands flew up to the sides of my face to hide the wires, and I cast my eyes downwards. I felt hideous. And then something shifted. I thought of my heroine, Liz Taylor. She, too, suffered chronic pain. She, too, was constantly shuttled in and out of hospitals (though she rocked furs on stretchers, not “I Love Pink” sweatpants). And she was a bad bitch. She was ballsy, she was formidable, and she accepted her 1960 Best Actress Oscar proudly rocking a slab of gauze over her throat, to cover the scar from her recent tracheotomy.
Empowered, I stared “Boardwalk Empire” in the eye, and thought, You’re not half as strong as me. You couldn’t survive a day in my body. You couldn’t have survived the fucking procedure. I had a migraine and they wouldn’t put me under until it subsided — so I laid on the hospital bed for six hours, writhing, weeping, sweating, vomiting, and when a distracted nurse gave me a sloppy shot of morphine and it leaked into my arm tissue, it felt like pools of fire and I screamed. And when they finally put me under, I had the suicide dream where I’m driving a wood-paneled stationwagon out of an 80’s supermarket parking lot and I take my hands off the wheel — but this time, I didn’t die, I woke myself up. “Get up, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together,” Liz once said. And that’s what I did, because I’m strong as shit and I’m Lina Bobina’s mommy and I have a whole lotta life to take care of and I won’t let this thing win. You, Steve Buscemi? You would’ve died.
The good news about this crazy vibrating shit? It’s working. IT’S WOORRRKING!!!!!! I haven’t felt this great in aaages!!! So I get the wires removed today and the real-thing surgery next month. I’ll keep you posted, SYB Babes 🙂
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