Category Archives: health

You Gotta Keep ‘Em Separated

Good class tonight (technically last night, at this point). Back to accidental private class mode, but instead of the pyrotechnics, we focused on the details. This meant a very, very long barre in which I did something like 24 super-slow grand pliés in first whilst BW rebuilt, cleaned, and polished my port de bras and épaulement and the coordination of the same with the legs (which know their job fairly well). I keep forgetting that the Swiss have precision engineering in their blood.

This resulted in me actually looking like the danseur I aspire to be (at least while doing grand pliés in first). BW’s patience and precision are the perfect foil for my impatience and impetuousity. He is not at all afraid to make me do the same thing a million times until I really, really get it.

At one point, he said, “You’ve already got more of this than a lot of people. You’ll notice it when you watch people dance.” That’s quite high praise coming from him, and so indicative of something fundamental about him: he never gloats about his own precision and technical prowess; he seems to be frustrated that not everyone has it. But I love him for that, and for taking the time to impart precision and sound technique upon me.

After, we carried that lesson into a deceptively-tricky rond de jambe (relevé lent devant [“Higher!”] with arm in 2nd, allongé as you tendu, arabesque with arm in 2nd, tendu allongé, 4 ronds without port de bras, allongé, cambré into the barre and down the front, tendu allongé, reverse, cambré in and down the back, tendu plié allongé passé balance, sus-sous, allongé, detourné, second side—not complicated, but he wanted it absolutely precise), a lethally-slow fondue with synchronized port, and even the grand battement.

Amidst all these allongé, I discovered that the bones in my left shoulder are clicking. Later I mentioned it to D. Turns out I’ve separated my left shoulder somehow—mildly, but it also explains the ache in the morning.

I may, for all that, have actually done this to myself in my sleep. It could have happened at literally any point. As such, I’ll be working on shoulder stability (read: pumping up the delts, evidently) going forward. My wonky connective tissue probably played a part in this development, and the answer is always “strength training.”

The right shoulder only grinds when I do certain kinds of push-ups, these days, so I’m sure the left will sort itself out. Curiously, I haven’t noticed the left shoulder grinding during push-ups, so it might not even take much to correct it.

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A Thing I’m Slowly Figuring Out

I tend to try maintain an aura of ebullient optimism.

I’m aware that I lead a relatively charmed life, in which I’m permitted by circumstance to pursue a fairly impractical set of goals, and to mention that I still struggle seems a bit like spitting right into the face of good fortune.

But I do still struggle, and I’m beginning to understand something, which is this: living a life in which I’m not forced to do work that grinds my soul to powder, in which the work I do is work that I enjoy, doesn’t alter the fact that my mental health is a little fragile and that history and genetics have conspired to place me on a narrow bridge that spans a yawning chasm.

Rather, the life I’m living acts as a kind of safety harness, so that when–not if–I go plummeting off my bridge, I can eventually climb back up, or at any rate be hauled back up by people who love me.

I am capable of periods of immense creative productivity, but they’re interspersed with periods in which merely surviving is still all I can do. Those periods of mere survival are made easier to bear by the knowledge that I won’t have to return, as soon as I’m barely able, to work that will inevitably accelerate the arrival of the next plunge off the bridge.

Because D carries the vast majority of the weight of the financial responsibility of keeping us afloat, I’m able to get up and walk along my bridge for long periods, when in the past I rarely made it beyond the clinging-and-crawling-along-the-edges phase before I slipped again.

I don’t make much money doing what I do, but I usually have enough energy left over to keep our house comfortable to live in and to cook good food.

~

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Nine More Days

Yes, I’ve resorted to counting down the days until I’m cleared for all the things.

The problem is that I really want to do handstands for some reason. Like, right now.

Normally, when I want to do handstands, like, right now, I just do them. (Often, when this happens, it’s because I’m trying to think my way through a sticking point in my technique and my nonverbal mind thinks it’s on to something. Sometimes, though, it’s just for fun.)

I dream in grand allegro.

I may have done a few wee petit allegro jumps in my kitchen (which is far too small even for medium allegro) last night. It might have felt good.

I decided I was ready to get back to barre when I found myself doing turns in my kitchen. I don’t think I can justify doing allegro of any kind (excepting the occasional step in my kitchen) until I’m 100% cleared.

So, needless to say, I’m antsy.

But it’s only mine more days.

What I’m really antsy about, though, is being able to take a proper, fully-submerged bath. I haven’t taken any baths at all because I’m afraid I’ll just submerge everything without even thinking about it—but on the other hand I do find baths really helpful on cold mornings (and, as you may recall, we have already established that my standard for labeling a morning “cold” is fairly pathetic).

Maybe I’ll try taking a bath and mindfully not submerging myself. And, of course, if I get really antsy, I can always use one of those medical-grade wound-protector things that they make for exactly that purpose.

In other news, I’m really tempted to wear this thing:

Bondage onesie?

…to class tomorrow, just to make BW and TS giggle. I think if I do, I’ll be forced to shoot some video for posterity.

One More Opinion on Surgery

For some reason, it didn’t occur to me before I had my surgery to contemplate why my surgeon suggests the particular protocol[1] that he does with healing nipples (which will now forever be immortalized as “Post-Op Pasties®”).

  1. 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.

ANCIENT-ALIENS

100% medically and scientifically accurate depiction of this process

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).

Poco à Poco

Bit by bit, I’m regaining range-of-motion and resuming my “Activities of Daily Living,” as they’re known to PhysioBots® from the future and their human counterparts.

This includes collecting small objects at a street festival whilst everyone else takes down the aerial rig and going to parties, not to mention catching up on the six million loads of laundry that are waiting for me because I was wary of schlepping large loads at first.

Anyway, it’s been surprising to observe my own healing process. Each day, I’m able to move my arms a little farther without yoinking anything, even though I’ve specifically been avoiding moving them beyond a pretty restricted zone. I can now get them into a languid “Romantic 4th,” basically, without irritating anything.

Practically speaking, that means I still can’t reach anything higher than the surface of the second shelf in the cabinet where the dishes live unless I stand on something, but at this time last week I was barely making it to the first shelf, so that’s good progress.

Also, it means I can at least put the plates away, though the soup mugs and pasta bowls will just have to wait a bit longer.

~

This weekend, I also realized how very strictly I avoided actually standing up straight outside of the ballet studio prior to my surgery.

Like most guys with moobs, I used to wander around with my shoulders sort-of rounded in on themselves. It makes you look like defensive and also makes you shorter.

It’s really still very weird for me to realize that when I actually stand up straight, I’m pretty much average in terms of height. Heretofore I guess I’ve known that rationally, but in a practical sense I still thought of myself as a little of the small side.

For what it’s worth, both D and I have found the results of my surgery a little unexpected. He mentioned last night that I look less different to him than he thought I would in some ways; more so in others—mostly that for whatever reason my whole body looks leaner and narrower. He’s not alone, either—other people also keep asking me,”Did you lose weight?”

I can only assume it’s something about the way I’m carrying myself…? Because, in fact, I’ve gained a little weight, as inevitably I do when I have to sit on my butt for a while.

For me, it’s more nuanced. I can’t say that I really expected to perceive my build as kind of rangy and muscular, nor to actually like that about myself.

Anyway, it’s weird. You would think that having this sort of thing done would just result in feeling like, “Okay, cool—that’s just me without moobs.” Maybe that’s been how it does work for some people. For me, though, it’s made me realize that I only ever looked at parts of my body before: I thought I looked at the whole, but now I think I really didn’t. I can’t really otherwise explain how surprising my body is to me when I look at myself in the mirror now.

~

Anyway, I’m back to slowly catching up on the laundry and the cleaning. I’m also counting calories and opting for a low-carb approach to food until I’m clear to Resume All The Things. That seems to be helping to keep my blood sugar levels a bit more steady, as it generally does.

I might stick with it once I’m back in action, but I might not. I’ve made a pact with myself: I’m not going to get hung up on any specific approach to eating, period. My normal schedule burns a lot of calories and makes it quite difficult to eat enough, let alone to eat enough whilst also largely eschewing an entire nutrient category.

On the other hand, the inability to lazily wrap everything in a a tortilla does mean I’m eating even more veggies than usual, since cabbage rolls (and shredded cabbage in place of noodles) are basically the order of the day right now.

Speaking of which, I should go assemble some kind of … brunch, I guess, since it’s 11:30 and I still haven’t eaten anything.

Tapeless Boys Live!

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:

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The left side is particularly clean, even though the incision is a good 2 cm longer. I suspect that the portion towards my arm will be invisible within a few months. It’s actually less visible IRL; for whatever reason, cameras tend to enhance the redness of these things. Also, I have no idea why I’m making my “What did you say to me?!” face here. In other news, this is what my pecs look like when I’m not flexing like an overwrought high school kid.

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My chest looks better than my eyes, which are hella puffy this morning because allergies. In this shot, you can see the only ripply spot (right at the inner end of the right-hand incision), and you can also tell that the spot right under my arm is a little puffy, which is pretty typical when you’ve had drains in and will persist for a bit.

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)[1].

  1. 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?[2]

    1. 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[3]. I worried that the remaining ones would wind up looking weird and truncated, but actually there are barely any and they’re effectively unnoticeable.
    2. …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).

Topless Boys Live*!

*For values of “live” meaning I was alive when I posted this 😛
No actual live footage implied or guaranteed 😉

…I mean, not that I’m back in Modern class yet. Modern is probably going to have to wait ’til the 6-week mark, since it usually involves getting into and out of the floor and using your arms and so forth.

It’s not like ballet, in which you can say, “I’m just gonna do the gentle stuff today, and I’m going to keep my arms in 2nd.”

But, anyway, I realized that I haven’t posted updated pix in a couple of days, so here:

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Super Hipster Filtered Edition[1]

  1. Honestly, forget my chest, check out dat shoulder
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Uncropped Smoldering Ocular Seduction Edition[2]

  1. D keeps giggling at me about acting like a 14-year-old. He may be on to something, but I maintain that I’m acting like a 16-year-old. 14-year-olds have nothing to flex. Like OMG EVRYBODY KNOWS THAT.

So, as you can see, things are healing up quite nicely.

As you can also see, I’m standing on top of the toilet, and I didn’t really bother to put anything away before I shot these. Which, in fact, maybe does imply that I’m acting like I’m 14, because NO IMPULSE CONTROL.

As you can also, also see, I have indeed been mostly sitting on my butt and eating for the past couple of weeks. And I was too lazy to take my shirt all the way off, but I kind of like it?

Anyway, peeled the tape off a bit today and noticed that my suture lines look quite good. The left one is really, really nice; there are spots where there’s no scar at all right now. I put the tape back after because I’m not taking it off ’til Wednesday, because that’s when my surgeon said it would be okay.

The right incision is a little redder, probably because I sleep on the right side of the bed so I wind up using my right hand to reach for stuff on the nightstand, which is problematic because the nightstand is roughly 6″ lower than the bed and beyond the range I can reach without extending my arm just above shoulder level while lying down (the first five nights I didn’t have that problem because we weren’t home yet; then for a couple I was really careful … now I’m kind of over that, since it doesn’t feel like I’m tugging or injuring anything).

Anyway, the lines on both sides are very crisp and clean; totally acceptable in terms of my long-term goals.

The little red spot inferior/lateral to my nipple (which is actually the left one, because I still haven’t remembered to un-mirror my phone’s camera and didn’t think to flip these before I uploaded them, feh) is a bug bite. Turns out that’s why I’m so itchy, at least on that side. On the other side it’s because I keep forgetting to snip off the loose end of the tape, so maybe I should do that now?

There, done.

Also turns out that when you wander around in a nice, airy tank top, the mosquitoes take advantage of those arm holes :/

I had really pretty much forgotten about that.

Also, in the Uncropped Smoldering Ocular Seduction Edition, my feet look like chimpanzee feet. From time to time, I’ll notice that happening, and occasionally it leads to a brief episode of cognitive dissonance in which a part of my brain goes, “MY FEET ARE HANDS: REPEAT MY FEET ARE HANDS OMG =:O”

OTOH, in part of my line of work (aerials, specifically) good toe separation is an asset. Of course, I make up for that by having weirdly tapered duck feet with a whole lot of sweep from second toe to least toe.

Guess you can’t have it all (my hands are sweepy, too).

In other news, today I took the Subaru to the tire shop to get its leaky tire fixed. It turns out that the tire was screwed—literally: as in, it had picked up a screw.

Anyway, they were able to fix it, so now the car is happy again and D is happy again and I was already happy, so…um. Everybody’s basically pretty happy.

Except the cat, probably, because his food bowl and my lap are too far apart, but he’ll just have to tug on his big-boy trousers and cope.

You Guys I Am So Itchy

Things I Didn’t Expect

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.

I.
Long ago, in another lifetime—which is to say, “This past spring,” actually—I wrote a piece for an academic anthology[1] about the experiences of queer athletes, dancers included.

  1. 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.)

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