My ear is small, dark, bloody, and battered. You're also seeing the tape covering the sutures on my neck, and tape keeping my hair out of the way. The purple line is the surgeon's marker; I know this because previously, he'd written "Yes" under my ear, in the same color. (It's their own way of keeping track: "It's this side.")
My hair isn't dirty or wet. That's blood. I can't wash it; I need to keep the sutures dry.
I got up this morning, tired of the weight of the catdish. Both wary and curious, I gathered my sterile Q-tips and Bacitracin, and walked down the hall to the bathroom. I pulled the bloody gauze out of the protector, and threw it away. Then I looked at my ear in the mirror.
I could only stand it for a few seconds; I got queasy. (I still am, now, thinking about it.) I wobbled to the toilet, thinking I was going to throw up. Instead, I sat down, and fainted. I woke up draped against the back; luckily, there had been no way to fall. I have no idea how long I was in there, except it was shorter than a hall-mate’s shower.
I got up, wobbled back down the hall, and slept for another hour and a half. I’m still exhausted. I don’t want to do anything but sleep—and even then, I rest my head on a hand that’s still bruised from the IV. My neck hurts; my ear doesn’t. But it feels so very different.
It’s not that I’m repulsed by it; it’s… I don’t even know. There are too many feelings floating around in me right now.
As long as I didn’t have to see, I could protect myself—even as I was going through the experience. Now, I know what this is, and what it was. “Sobering” isn’t the word. I am clearly wounded, even as I know I dodged much worse. It's a wound that I don't have any choice but to absorb. It will heal, and be different. As will I.
Not going anywhere farther than my friend’s bathtub, today—and that’s barely a block. I’m going to hole up here, rest, and heal.
UPDATE: I got up to take care of it; I hadn't been able to, earlier. I'm so physically out of it still, that I couldn't open the seal of the ointment. Wobbled down the hall to ask a friend to help. She's at least as science-geeky as my surgeon; but a soil scientist, not an MD. She kept saying, over and over, "He did a really good job!"
I felt better, hearing that.
She ended up swabbing me for the first time; I didn't really want to see. It tickled, and burned a little, but wasn't that bad.
I started sort of crying as we talked--but I don't even feel emotionally involved in this. Nothing is landing yet. I can feel it all circling.
This is definitely a rest day.
UPDATE AGAIN: I took a higher-res photo, with the same camera phone. Took a Vicodin and, oddly, woke up a bit. I'm still not processing in words, without crying, and I still need only to sleep.