One of these legs is not like the other, and it’s been that way for as long as I can remember.
When I was a little girl, I actually thought that everyone’s legs looked like mine. But why was no one else curious about this? Was everyone else smarter than me? Did my friends already have this discussion with their parents about their “weird” leg? Once I tried to peel a friend’s pant leg up during daycare nap time to figure out which one of her legs was the weird one. But I got caught.
The other kids broke into absolute hysterics when they realized what I was doing. “What on earth could possibly be so funny?”, I thought. “Maybe it looked like I was trying to steal her pants? That sure would have been funny!” But then it clicked, they were laughing at me! The idea of someone else having a skin graft covering half of their leg was totally ridiculous.
Even though my naiveté was the butt of the joke, I already decided that it did not bode well for me to bring attention to my leg.
I have never actively hidden my skin graft, I wear shorts to the gym, dresses to music festivals, and skirts to business meetings. I just did my best to pretend it wasn’t there. But whenever I was inevitably asked about it, I had my go-to answer prepared. The conversations usually went like this:
Person (totally incredulous): OH MY GOSH! What happened to your leg?!
Me (totally indifferent): Oh, when I was born I had a skin disease so when I was a baby they just removed the skin and replaced it, you know, a skin graft. It’s been like this forever.
I did this because it always effectively moved the conversation away from my leg. Skin grafts are so often associated with accidents and tragedy that I am usually met with pity before anyone knows what actually happened to my leg. Nobody likes to be pitied.
And I don’t even have an exciting story behind mine! The reason I have it is so boring I can’t even remember the name of the diagnosis.
But now, I am learning to like talking about it.
Ask me anything.
It might not be that interesting, but I’ll find a way to make it positive. Shaving my legs? More like shaving my leg! I can point out scars from the stitches around the edges still, and can you believe this skin graft has grown with my body for nearly 27 years?
Who knew the surgical field was so advanced in 1990. I have also developed some really great skin care routines, especially with sunscreen, because you would not imagine how easily that sucker burns! And of course, it makes me unique, so yeah, I am starting to view this skin graft on my lower left leg as pretty badass.
Oh, and if I do get desperate for a cool story, I can always tell people that I got bit by a shark. (I once had a classmate IN HIGH SCHOOL ask me if that’s why I needed a skin graft.)
This is my #behindthescreen moment, and you can bet your buns I plan to keep putting my best flaw forward.