Thursday, May 3, 2012

She's Got Legs

I have had and always will have cellulite on my legs. I first remember noticing it when I was in the back seat of the car in my figure skating dress on my way one of my many sessions on the ice for the week. I looked down and saw dimples on the side of my legs. Having recently overheard my older and much wiser cousin swooning over some boys dimples I proudly said to my mom something like 'did you know I have dimples on my legs'. She probably replied something like 'I'm sorry but it's just your genetics'. Still naively, I was 9 years old I was pretty happy to have dimples. I should probably mention that I wasn't a chubby kid, I was rather skinny actually. Flash forward to my teenage years and I remember sitting on the floor of the dining room talking on the phone. I was on the floor of the dining room because that is as far as the phone cord would let me get away from the rest of the family to talk on the phone. (yes, our phones still had cords, and we even had a party line but that's a story for another time). So there I was with sitting on the floor with my legs stuck out straight in front of me. I squeezed my legs and the dimples were there. Now, by this time I realized that dimples on the legs were not the coveted or the cute kind. I said to the boy I was talking to (I know it was a boy because otherwise I wouldn't have been pulling the phone cord to full extension to get out of ear shot of my little brother) that I was fat. I knew what fat looked like. I also noted about this time that I had a road map leading to nowhere on the sides of my legs. Yup, I had totally lucked out in the genetic pool and gotten spider veins on top of the cellulite. No wonder I have never won the lottery, I totally used up all my luck on the genetic lottery. Cellulite, spider veins, the need for extensive orthodontic work, near sightedness and stick straight hair (hey, it was the 80's and straight hair did not equate with BIG hair. luckily, I did have lots of hair so with the help of a perm I was golden). Now I was far from fat, I had grown over 4 inches in a year and had not even gained 10 pounds during that time. The boys at school actually made fun of my legs with nobby knees calling them chicken legs. In my mind though, I had fat legs, the evidence was there anytime I pinched them! In my 20's I still was not having a love affair with my legs. Come spring the pasty white palour I had gotten during the liquid sunshine pacific northwest winter made the roadmap ever more evident. Luckily for me my mom had sound advice when I headed off to nursing school. She told me to wear support hose for every clinical session and everyday in my career. Two good things came of this, I did not evolve into varicose veins and I learned about compression long before the endurace sports world started using it. When I moved to Hawaii I learned that tanned legs helped hide blue and purple lines but the dimples were still there. I still wished that I could get rid of the cellulite, I knew girls who were much bigger than me who didn't have any of it! I wasn't a lover of my legs but all that changed one day, rather one night. The day started the same as every other day did for me. I woke up at 4:30 to get a start on it, 4:30 pm and catch the 5:30 ferry into work. I arrived at work at 6:20pm for my shift that started at 7. I had enough time to shower after my bike ride up the big hill and get caffeinated for the excitement that was sure to come. At the time I worked in the trauma ICU so we were guaranteed an adrenalin rush every night (I'm not an adrenalin junkie at all though;)) Anyways, that night we admitted a young woman in her early 20's. She was a beautiful girl with gorgeous hair,eyes and smile but she was told by her family that she was fat and they were having trouble marrying her off. Now she was not fat at all, and trust me I knew fat back then (there was no way she could have lost the remote control in her fat and we had retrieved one out of a guys fat folds not long ago. He was thrilled and said 'that is where that was, I though I lost it'. he wasn't mortified at all that he had lost his remote control between the folds of his fat!)So in order for her family to find her a match to marry this young woman had been in a few days earlier to have the fat sucked out of her. Let's not try to pretend that it is a glamorous procedure. Liposuction is poking holes into you and sucking the fat out with a vacuum, probably not a Dyson though. The day after she had extensive fat sucking done on her legs and lower abdomen this girl began to feel ill. She developed a fever and was very nauseated. She was airlifted to our facility (being a level 3 trauma center we got airlifted all the super cool stuff, and we go some seriously cool stuff!). By the time she arrived with us she had lost consciousness and was fighting for her life. She had developed infection in the holes where the fat was sucked out of, the infection commonly known as flesh eating bacteria. Now this young woman who just wanted to get rid of a little 'excess' fat was about to lose a lot more weight than she bargained for. The flesh eating bacteria moves rapidly and does not respond to simple antiobiotic treatment. We had to cut away the flesh that it was eating and get ahead of it. To this girl that meant cutting her leg off at the hip and taking out a portion of her abdominal wall. Goodbye six pack abs. One night a few shifts later as I was up to my elbow inside this girl packing her wound where her leg was once attached to her body I had an epiphany. Now in my 40's when I look down at my legs, I still see the cellulite at times but instead of seeing a negative I see a picture of a young girl laying in a hospital bed without her leg. I see the extra layer on my legs as fuel that gets me trhough all the crazy endurance activites that I decide to do. I will always have cellulite I have accepted that fact, if a 9 year old stick girl who figure skates hours at a time and is skin and bones had it and thought it was cute the least I can do is embrace it and when you see the dimples on my legs hear like I now do ZZ top singing 'She's got legs she knows how to use them'!

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