Take the damn photo

At the beginning of 2021 I finally took myself to see an ENT. My days of experiencing light headedness and nausea were alarmingly frequent. Migraines were increasing in intensity and regularity. Nearly the first day I had health insurance again, I had an appointment to see the doctor.

I had my ears and hearing checked first. An odd experience, to say the least. But all results were positive. A frustrating conclusion when you’re hoping to find something. Anything to bring answers. Relief. Next, I had a delightful one two punch of medications shot via small air canon into my nasal passages. I have now experienced this thrill more times than I can count on one hand. The doctor asked me many questions while awaiting the foul tasting liquids to do their magic inside my face. Then we had the grand finale- a scope to my inner brain tissue! It was determined that I had a chronic infection. One that had survived many years in the caverns of my sinuses. Antibiotic assault for 30 days was ordered. And a seven day regimen of steroids.

This did nothing.

I went back a month later for another round of liquid pressure guns to the nose. Another scope. A CT scan. Confirmation that the medications did little to attack the infection. Another round of antibiotics arranged. This time the method of administration was adjusted from pill form to topical. Yay! Naïve me thought this to be a cream to place atop my skin. I was wrong. Topical in ENT speak translates to liquid medication syringes into each nostril three times a day. This needed to be done for another month. A follow-up appointment was made.

Alas, still nothing.

I arrived to the third appointment fresh out of steam. The hope I possessed previously had waned. The pressure in my face and migraines had increased with the new medication. I felt worse, not better. The CT scan had revealed that the infection was still there. The interior of my face was built as a ripe breeding ground for it. Things weren’t draining properly. I had a deviated septum. Basically, it was a bit of a shit show in there. I came to the conclusion that nothing would work until the underlying problem was corrected. My patient doctor agreed. Surgery was a necessity. Six weeks later, I would be prepping for an outpatient surgery.

Throughout the process to heal my ailments, my body was bombarded with three months of antibiotics. Two rounds of steroids. Migraines and dizziness that precluded exercise. Post op healing time of several weeks that prohibited bending over and lifting anything over ten pounds. Physical activity was still out. I gained twenty pounds and considerable inflammation. My self esteem took a tremendous hit. There were tears. Frustration. Unveiled requests for reassurance from my boyfriend. So much complaining to my besties. So much.

Just before my scheduled surgery, the amazingly talented photographers that are the sole curators of updating Moose and I’s family photos contacted me. I love them dearly. It was time for our annual session. A tradition tethered to the day the hurricane of a human entered the world. I booked the appointment. Fretting began immediately.

I didn’t want my swollen face to be documented. The extra pounds chronicled.

I pushed the thoughts aside. Donned a dress. Coiffed my hair. Sat for the photos, focusing on my child rather than the critical voice in my mind. That evening, our proofs arrived at my inbox. The critic in my head gained volume with every photo. Again, I tried to silence it by focusing on my son. The gleeful smile on his face. The one gloved hand that made it into nearly every frame.

Months later, I have been released back to normal activity. I have made adjustments to subdue the inflammation. The measuring tape reveals that inches have been lost. My confidence still suffers.

After a quick getaway to the beach, my mother posted photos and videos of my sidekick and I playing with reckless abandon. She was thoughtful enough to let me know that if any of said snapshots were undesirable to me, they would be removed. My immediate reaction was to remove them all. How could something so unattractive be allowed into the ether? I squelched the negative self assessment when I looked past what I was seeing as my flaws. Beyond the body I was fixating on was a little boy in heaven at the beach. Elated that his mother was chasing him. Swimming with him. The body I hated was the one that built sand castles for him to crush under his toes. The one that pulled him through the water. That was always nearby to steady him when needed.

This body of mine has been through a lot this year. Medications. Surgery. Recovery from said surgery- which is still ongoing. Stress. Blood tests. Scopes. It looks different than I would like. Doesn’t have the energy I desire. I complain about it a lot. I rarely praise it. But I don’t hide from it.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to. I want to hide away in the shadows until I deem myself worthy of sunlight. It is hard to push through that. Some days more difficult than others. But I do. I do because 10 years from now I won’t care about that swollen face or the lack of a thigh gap. I will cherish the stolen moments with my tiny human. The joy he emits just by being near me. The firsts we are experiencing.

Take the damn photos. Frame them. Post them. Share them. Trust me. The critiques can be the thief of joy. But they are momentary. As are the stages with our kiddos. Capture it all. The reality of life. That is what makes it beautiful. Also, no one notices what you do. You are the biggest asshole to yourself. Period.

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