Skin

Skin.  Up to now, I’ve thought of it as just the outside of the bag.  “Paper or plastic?” our Creator mused.  “I’ll make skin.”

All that changed after radiation.

Now that about six square inches of my back have remained an open, flaming red for almost two months, skin has taken on a new glory.  I’ve come to appreciate the quiet, unpretentious service of the skin that almost envelopes me from head to toe.  Skin is the unsung hero of this mortal coil.

Skin keeps my insides inside.  Squishy things, guts, innards, wet stuff, all of it is cleanly wrapped up in skin.  Most of me is bland and dry and contained by this versatile, flexible organ.  The seared strip that blossomed open in response to radiation is skin-challenged.  It has none.  The layer that ordinarily lives peacefully just under the top layer is now uncomfortably topless.

It is driving me nuts.  It’s healing, but so slowly that I can’t detect improvement from day to day.  It’s not for lack of peering at it, though.  Many times a day I twist around to examine my skinless self in a magnifying mirror, hoping to spot a tiny island of newly-hatched epithelium in the vast, red ocean of hurt, like a mamma hen anxiously inspecting her quiescent eggs.  Disappointed.

Annoyingly, the radiation wound emits wet things that properly belong inside my bag of skin.  Ooze that seeps onto my bra, shirts, and sheets.  I’ve worn the same three tops for two months running because I can wear a white cotton men’s tee undetected, with a brassiere on top of it.  Very sexy.

The text for last Sunday’s sermon was out of II Corinthians 12, in which the Apostle Paul described his agony over his “thorn in the flesh.”  No one knows exactly what this was, but I’m willing to bet Paul had a non-healing wound that burned and itched and leaked on his robes, and it was in a spot that he couldn’t reach and was too big for a band-aid, anyway.

Lord, grant me sufficient grace to be a patient patient, forgive my whinging, and let your power be rendered perfect in my weakness.

“…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” II Cor 12: 7-9

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