It’s coming up on two years to the day that had an emergency hysterectomy. Without going into too many gory details there were numerous blood transfusions before it, and a nasty infection requiring the aid of a wound vac after it. I almost died twice before the surgery and was completely bedridden for three months after. Even still I counted myself lucky to have had the option of choosing the surgery that wouldn’t kick me into early menopause and all of the horrors it would bring. I coasted along quite happily for awhile. The few angry outbursts I had were not so much the hormones as they were about a friend of mine destroying my Texas Chainsaw Massacre Leatherface doll along with a few other items I treasured, and not replacing them. It was probably not helped by the hormones, but the anger was already there.

I normally run pretty hot. I carry a fan with me year round. I hardly ever wear jackets when it’s chilly outside and I’m all about tshirts no matter the weather. I wear sleeveless dresses in the winter, never turn on my heater, and almost always sleep with the windows open during our poor excuse for a winter.

Sadly, two years later the chickens have come home to roost and I’m finally suffering from the effects of my age and my hysterectomy combined: hot flashes. They’re a daily occurrence. I deal with these cursed things about once an hour, and have experienced three just while writing this little anecdote.

Sometimes I’ll be out in public when one hits me, and even if  I use my fan I’ll be pouring sweat from my scalp down to my knees. My hair is ridiculously thick, so in the winter it’s like a nice warm hat. Conversely during the summer it’s like a nice warm hat that I can’t remove. The sweat also makes stops across my back fat so that my t-shirts will get wet as if I’ve been sprayed with a water gun. I’m easily amused, so I imagine I must look completely psychotic standing in the chip aisle at HEB, sweat pouring down my face while I use a huge pink fan to cool myself off, laughing the whole time.

I don’t get upset or depressed that I’ve reached this point in my life. Quite honestly I’m surprised I made it to 45. I’ve always been someone who ‘walks things off.’  Burns, stitches, broken bones. Probably about 90% of my injuries should have been attended to by a medical professional, but I never had time for it. I was too busy moving on to the next unnecessary mishap.  I ignored my parent’s ominous warnings that I would regret it later, so every day I wake up and my arthritis reminds me of the stupid things I did to earn that pain. Every step I take and every move I make in the morning is followed by an ‘ow.’ Get out of bed: ‘ow. ow. ow. How many times have I fallen off of things onto my back? Ow.’  On the way to the bathroom ‘ow: The time I took a step off a curb while I was hallucinating on mushrooms and almost fell completely into the street while cars sped by on Lamar, breaking my right foot and big toe.’  ‘Ow. The time I was ten years old and was doing cartwheels in the house even though my parents told me not to, and I broke my left foot on the coffee table. Ow.’

‘Ow. The time I thought it was a good idea to jump over a brick wall after consuming countless shots of vodka and sprained my ankle. Ow.’

Every time my knee pops painfully out of its socket and I have to do a weird Michael Jackson-esque leg twitch to get it back into place I’m reminded of being stupid enough to think I could wear high heeled clogs while I was out drinking all day. I was surprisingly successful until I got home and fell up my steps. Not down. Up. (That was actually a two for one since I broke my hand and should have had surgery to repair the tendons in my fingers. Instead, my pinky finger sticks awkwardly away from the rest of my hand, and the arthritis sings throughout my hand when it’s rainy or cold outside.)

So when I stand in the aisles of HEB sweating so badly that I imagine it must be what the inside of a steamed dumpling must feel like, I just laugh. I laugh because this is the result of almost dying yet again, this time from having (according to my doctor and surgeon) only a third of the amount of blood in my body that a human being is supposed to have to be alive.

I laugh as the hellscape that is my own body attempts to melt me from the inside and I run up the stairs that  in the past brought me so much pain but is now my yellow brick road to happiness and relief. I laugh as I tear off all of my clothes and stand in front of my air-conditioning vent that’s blowing 40 degree air across my battle scarred body.

The burns. The scars. The gray hair. I’ve earned every single one. My body isn’t my crowning glory but it tells the tale of a life that I wouldn’t trade for anyone I see walking down the street with no noticeable battle scars