I’m jumping around in time. I’ve taken you back to the burn unit in this post.

I was handed swatches of fabric in different colors.

“Some people get them in bright colors,” an Occupational Therapist said.

Hot pink and electric blue was not going to make this appealing.

I chose white and black. Basic, boring, like I was going into battle, which I was. I stretched out to be measured and would receive the garments in a few weeks. They were like long underwear, but clingy and elasticized. They looked like workout wear, but really bad workout wear that did nothing for you and no one should ever see you in them. They started at just below my boobs, covered my torso, and stopped at the knee with a zipper along the side, so I could wriggle into them. I was also measured for long sleeves for my arms made up of the same fabric. I had one small graft on the inside soft part of my arm, not enough to warrant pressure garments. But, with all their unmarred skin, my arms had become prime donor sites. Skin was shaved from them often and, eventually, they were as red, purple, and bumpy like the rest of me.

All I could think of was how hot I would be in the summer months straitjacketed like this. Wherever my skin was grafted, I didn’t sweat. I had trouble cooling down once I got hot. There was a fan on at the highest setting in my room for this reason. My face was often red and flushed, overworked. I was assured that the pressure garments were made of breathable fabric. They were, but I would be wearing clothes on top of clothes, and clunky legs made up of material that didn’t breathe at all.

I felt sorry for myself.

I understood they would be instrumental in healing my skin, going from purple and red to lighter shades of purple and red, then blanching to pink and white. I asked if it was possible for the garments to take my scars away entirely. I thought it would give me more incentive to wear them. Maybe I was crazy, but I continued to hope for miracles. No, they couldn’t do that. But, they would fade and flatten the scars. I had to wear them for two years every day and night in order for them to do their job.

One quiet evening after I had gone for a short walk around the unit I was lying on my bed, legs still on, when a nurse poked her head into my room. She wiggled a bottle of nail polish at me and said, “For your toes!” My depression must have permeated the hallways.

I waved her in. She slapped the bottle against her palm a few times and unscrewed the lid. She sat at the edge of my bed, painting my toes the most sparkly silver nail polish I had ever seen. They were gorgeous. I was a princess with a new crown. She was like a proud mama after that, showing off my painted toes to everyone that came through my door. Take pride in your feet, Heidi. Don’t hide your light under a bushel and all that. She reminded me of the old Sunday school song, this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. I’ve long ago moved on to different feet, but these were my favorite, if only for my adorned toes and that someone had cared for them so much.

9 thoughts on “shine

    1. heidi

      Yes, absolutely! Shopping is my new sparkle, but, I have to do it within my means…so, sometimes not as much sparkle as I’d like. But, I got a new pair of boots for Christmas that I love! Sparkle!
      I should paint my toes, although no one could see them. They’re covered up with these nylons which have to stay on. I dream of having crazy awesome real-life looking legs one day. Anyway, I could still paint my toes…just for me.

  1. Spenstdn

    I have been sitting at my desk for the last hour reading your posts, tears rolling down my face, and if I was ever to know a true hero then you are it, to write what you have, the courage you display without omitting the pain is admirable. Thanks for allowing us to view your experiences, emotions and the journey that continues through your writing. You should be more than proud…

  2. Toriz

    Sometimes all it takes to lift your spirits is for someone to take a few moments to give you a reason for them to lift… Whether it be a kind word, or a kind gesture, or some sparkly nail polish for your toes. i’m glad someone was able to lift your spirits… Even just a little… When you were feeling so low!

  3. Chris

    I know probably a billion people have said it already – but you really are a *great* writer. I’m looking forward to getting a signed copy of your book when the time comes 🙂

  4. JennyB

    Okay, this is weird, but all of the time I’ve know you and I didn’t realize your feet had toes! I would like to hear a bit more about that story, in some more detail.

    My FAVORITE line is this:
    My depression must have permeated the hallways.
    Which just says a volume with one sentence. So powerful, EXCELLENT writing!

  5. IntenseGuy

    ToriZ and Spenstdn’s comments say everything I would say – so I’ll just add this little note – of how YOU have made me feel a little bit better on a dreary winter’s day…

    That “This little light of mine” song… My Grandmother was a sunday school teacher and my brothers and I often spent weekends at the Grandparent’s place – so we would attend her sunday school class – the sunday school class always ended with two songs… and “this little light of mine” was one of them – and after singing the songs (“Sunday School is over, and we are going home, goodbye! goodbye! be always kind and true” was the other one) One of Grandma’s helpers and best friends, Miss Jeannie would open up her huge black pocketbook and take out a rainbow colored roll of hard candies to pass around to everyone. I had forgotten about Miss Jeannie for … years… and reading this made me look up her phone number and give her call – oh my – she bent my ear for half an hour and then called my mom after I gave her the phone number and bent she bent my mom’s ear for an hour and half. She’s a lonely old woman now – but memories of those little rainbow candies… triggered by you writing about that song… reconnected her with my family.

    Its the little things…

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