You don’t think about how much your arm moves against your torso until the surgeons snake a lymph node out of that area and you have an approximately two-inch incision in your underarm. (Doctors like the Latin “axilla.”)
Someone has medical-ized the Post-it note idea to create all sorts of marvels: Steri-Strips that pull one side of an incision toward the other like elegant, human strapping tape, and make it all heal more neatly and scar-free. Dressings coated with plastic something so that they don’t stick. Some sort of human Saran Wrap stuff made by 3M (I’m sure that’s not what it’s called, their PR people can complain to the management.) that is thin, moves with your body, keeps the water out and does not come off.
Well, it does not come off until your arm moves against your torso for a week. Then it starts to peel a tiny bit, then a lot. Then, in the shower, it comes off completely. You pull back the Saran Wrap stuff and the nonstick dressing to reveal an incision longer than you’d like to think about, held fast by two Steri-Strips. You put a Band-Aid over it, just because that seems like the right thing to do. You can’t really find the right size or shape of Band-Aid, so you make do.
Then, the next time you take a shower, the bandage gets wet. So you pull it off. Off come the Steri-Strips. You’re left with yourself, and a long incision. It looks OK, but it hurts. The next day, it hurts more, and despite the antibiotic ointment, it looks angry.
You call your surgeon’s office. The nurse says, sure, you can come in and I’ll put on a new dressing.
As she’s doing it, she says that, really, you could probably take off the dressings at this point.
But I’d rather not. It may be psychosomatic, but I’d like to keep my new incisions under wraps until my followup appointment with the surgeon next week. I’ve got new human Saran Wrap and strapping tape and nonstick padding and I feel all dressed up.