I should not listen to the mirror. It taunts me. But the truth is, it is not just the mirror. It is my entire physical body. It screams, “This is not Mel.” And I believe it. I just don’t see the Mel that I used to be. I am not the Mel that I want to see. She is gone.
Ironically, I struggled with self-image long before I was diagnosed with NF2. Over the years I have had my ups and downs…before the diagnosis, it was the desire to impress and be popular. Now it concerns physical changes or side effects from medicines. Lately, it is the latter of the two.
It is no secret that I have been on steroids since December 2012. It was not until March that I noticed a change beginning. It started in my neck: now, I am a fan of football, but the thought crossed my mind, “You have a football neck.” (If you don’t know what I mean, take a look at a defensive tackle roster and then you will understand.) I covered for myself and laughed that I was getting muscle from my neck exercises. Then it started in my face. I covered for myself and laughed, “My chubby chipmunk cheeks.” Then it came to my stomach. I covered for myself and bought new wardrobe needs.
But I am tired of covering for myself, tired of being a different Mel: I am tired of seeing my parents sacrifice their time and energy for me when I want to be able to do it on my own. I am tired of having the constant cravings to eat, matched with sick intestines. I am tired of the endless needs, weekly appointments, and crazy sleeping patterns. I think it comes down this: I am tired of trying to be the Mel that I wish to see. She is gone.
But I am still here. And I hope in time that I will again see Mel. Not by my eyes, but in the eyes of my Savior.
Aslan: “You doubt your value. Don’t run from who you are.”
C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia