Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Book of Me - The Physical Me

about 1987
A mirror is not my friend.  I spend as little time as possible looking into one.  My mom assured me on more than one occasion during her lifetime that I was neither pretty nor attractive.  The truth she told but perhaps a secondary motive was to prevent pride and vanity.  Someone once described me as having no vanity but the fact that I don't like to be photographed probably indicates that I'm at least a little vain.

Many physical traits endure from childhood.  I have green eyes, am big-boned, fair-skinned, and freckled.  (The freckled part is something I've consistently denied because it was a cause for teasing when I was young.  Even now if you mention my freckles in person, I will point to a freckle on my arm and claim that I have only one.)  When younger I had brown, wavy (sometimes curly) hair that some people thought looked slightly reddish -- but only in the summer sun.  Now it's thinner and there's plenty of grey in it.  When I renewed my driver's license this year the clerk asked if I wanted to change the "brown" to "grey" on my license.  I asked her if it was more grey than brown and she suggested we leave it as brown.  (Very kind of her.)  I still see a nearly even mix of brown and grey when I happen to notice. 

Being big-boned, I have never been thin, but the years and some physical ailments have been less than kind to my weight.  About 10 years ago arthritis in my hips prevented all but essential physical activity.  It seemed that one day I had hip pain and two months later the doctor told me my only choice was to have hip replacements:  the cartilage was nearly gone.  He gave me a brochure illustrating the procedure.  Upon seeing what would be done I declared, "No way."  Arthritis is persistent and said, "Yes, way."  Within two years the cartilage was completely gone, I could barely move, and finally resolved myself to surgery.  I scheduled the first surgery in the spring, the second 5 months later.  The result was no more pain and two 12" fraternal-twin scars.  The problem is that even when immobile, one is no less hungry.  My weight and I continue to battle each other daily.  But the weight now is the result of my battle against loving chocolate and other "weighty" foods, not the result of immobility.  Many days I win, some days I lose.  Right now I'm winning the battle of losing weight -- until I lose the battle with food again.  (How is it that one can eat 4 ounces of chocolate and wake up the next morning having gained a pound?!)

Other scars?  I was jumping rope with a friend when I was about eight.  Her brother, several years younger, picked up a rock and threw it at me.  Can you believe a 5-year-old managed to hit a jumping girl in the forehead?  He should have become a baseball pitcher with that aim!  It bled profusely.  We rushed into my friend's house where her older sister was (but not her mother) and grabbed some towels.  I've forgotten details of the care but remember that I was never again allowed to visit friends unless their mothers were home.  The hole in my forehead healed but I have a small scar and a little dent where the rock hit.

More scars?  Yes.  One on my back from the removal of a cyst; scars on both feet from surgeries; a scar on the back of my head when I fell while sliding down a student-iced sidewalk in college; a scar on my wrist from attempting to prevent an inevitable dog fight.  (The dog went after me instead of her intended victim.)  And then there's the 12" scar on my leg from an auto accident.  Are you reading this and thinking that I'm accident prone?  I would agree.  So that's enough about my scars.

a fairly recent photo
I'm ungrowing, too.  I used to be 5' 5 1/2" tall.  I claim that the prosthetic hips decreased my height by an inch or more and age is probably also taking its toll.  At my last physical exam I was 5' 3 1/2" tall.

Age is taking its toll in other ways.  I have worn bifocals for nearly 20 years and am thrilled to be able to see because of them.  (But I don't wear make-up because I can't see well enough without glasses to apply it.)  I see that I'm beginning to have "jowls" and there's that other sag under my neck. I won't mention the other physical side effects of age....

I tried to photograph my hands but failed to produce a blog-worthy image.  Suffice it to say that my fingers and palms are of about equal length and my palm is somewhat squarish.  My fingers are crooked now, probably from arthritis and maybe also because of the way I use them.  I have very strong hands.  Everyone in my family passes the pickle, mustard, and relish jars to me to open.  I suppose it won't be too many years before I'll be passing them to someone else.

Oh, fingerprints!  Yes, I have fingerprints stored somewhere in federal government files.  My husband and I were required to be fingerprinted before entering the Peace Corps several decades ago.

All told, I'm as healthy as a horse, a blessing beyond any I deserve.  No heart problems, no high blood pressure, no diabetes; all the blood tests the doctors normally require for people my age are within normal ranges.  Of course, things can change in an instant.  I hope they don't but if they do, I'll be grateful for all the years of health.

(Just for the record, my clothing of choice is longish, not-too-tightly-fitting dresses.  Friends chuckle to learn that I do all my cleaning, even scrubbing floors on my hands and knees, in dresses.  I'm a comfort lover and find dresses very comfortable.  In fact, I haven't worn pants for 35 years.)

I wanted to share this video about women who describe themselves to a forensic artist.  He draws them from their own descriptions and then again from the descriptions of objective observers.  I thought it was very telling regarding women's perceptions of themselves.

This is the third in a series of posts for The Book of Me, Written by You, a meme developed by Julie Goucher of Anglers Rest



  1. That was a great film, I guess we really do not see ourselves as others see us.

  2. Nancy, I so much love learning about you. You're great!

  3. Nancy, I so much love learning about you. You're great!

  4. I loved this post, Nancy! The first picture is how I still see you in my mind. I wish I looked like I did in 1987. I was sorry to hear of your hips, but perhaps they will outlast you now. I certainly look forward to more of these posts.

    1. Thanks, Kathleen. I think you DO still look like you did in 1987 (except for your silver halo!). When I had the hip surgeries the doctor said that his oldest living patient had had hers for 26 or 28 years. So I think I have at least 16 more years to go! I'll keep up with the Book of Me posts until the questions seem too "public" for me. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.


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