Friday, December 16, 2011

Hey Mouse!

Our supervisor at work gave us each sweet little figurines for Christmas. Mine is a little mouse with the hugest ears and the body is the shape of a pear. My card reader is not working or I would post a photo of it for you.

Opening that little mouse gift reminded me that my nickname in high school was "Mouse".  I said it out loud yesterday and someone asked me why that was my nickname.   Here's why.

Until I was in my mid 30's, I had ears that stuck out like a mouse. I was born that way and I suffered all through my school years into adulthood with those ears. My hair is quite fine and although I tried to wear it in a style that hid those ears, I didn't do a very good job of it. I remembered in the flash of a second the pain of being burdened with such a physical flaw.  I hated windy days because I felt terribly exposed. I hated that I couldn't wear my hair very long or pull it back in a pony tail like my friends. Those mouse ears were something I thought about every single day of my life.

I always wanted to have cosmetic surgery to fix those ears but it was expensive so I could never quite justify having the surgery done. Long story short, I ended up scheduling another medically needed surgery (breast reduction) with a cosmetic surgeon and asked him if he could do something with my ears while I was under the knife. He gladly said he would do it and at half-price since I was already on the table. While the breast reduction was awesome to have done, I was extremely happy to get my ears "fixed". The recovery for the ear job was much more physically painful than the breast reduction.

Surprisingly, it took over a year for my psyche to register the fact that I now had perfect little ears. I liken it to those who have gastric by-pass surgery and lose weight quickly. The mind has a hard time catching up with the fact that our physical appearance has changed.

I have all but forgotten that I had mouse ears and huge, back-breaking boobs at one time. One of the things that came up for me yesterday when opening that gift was the memory of how cruel kids can be and even some unthinking adults. While I know my friends' nickname for me was a term of endearment (my close friends were not bullies), I am certain they never knew how incredibly painful it was having mouse ears.

It's easy to think that our off-handed comments are funny or witty but I write this post for myself. I am as guilty as the next person to make an unthinking comment and opening that gift yesterday reminded me that I need to choose my words thoughtfully. I'd rather not be the cause of some one's feelings being hurt.

love, susan


  1. It's amazing how things that are said to us - even if in jest - can stay with us forever. My brother once good-naturedly called me thunder thighs. I knew he didn't mean anything by it. We were taking turns cutting on each other affectionately as siblings sometimes do. But he didn't know that I was already developing a poor body image and his words cut me to the quick. For many many years I hated my legs. And even today.... 40 years later, I remember that day and how horrible it made me feel.

    I'm glad you were finally able to have your ears fixed, but I'm sorry you had to be subjected to taunting. Kids can be so mean. :(

  2. Susan, do you think being called the name made you more sensitive and stopped you doing the same to others?

    I'm having therapy for whip lash that happened when JC slammed on his brakes. I had such ugly thoughts each time I felt pain. I blamed him for my misery, and refused to ride in his truck again.

    Three weeks ago I was talking with someone I call Wanda-Wise, 'cause she's one of the wisest doctors I've ever had. When I told her about my wonderful physical therapist, she said, "Wow. It's a good thing JC slammed on his breaks, huh?"

    I stopped talking, and just sat there while she wrote notes in my chart. As I pondered, I began to slowly let go of the resentment I was holding on to.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wow, thanks Susan and Limner, for your thoughtful comments.

    I don't know if I became more sensitive because of the ears, I think I was born ultra-sensitive. I haven't really much gotten over being overly sensitive but perhaps the experience has made me realize I'm not the only one in the world who is.

    And,wow, yeah, what would have happened if JC had not slammed on his brakes? Interesting!

  4. I had a large hook nose when I was younger, thanks to my nose being broken numerous times. My face was like a ball-magnet. If a ball was in the air anywhere near my vicinity, it came flying into my nose.

    I was often teased about my nose. I was sooo self-conscious. One time (in my high school years) when I was trying on glasses, the technician said my nose had a small bridge. Then she said, "I bet no one's ever told you you had a small nose, huh?" Although I'm sure she meant that to be a compliment, the comment hurt.

    Then within my first year of marriage, my husband accidentally hit me in the nose with his elbow, and "crack" there it went again. Being in the military, with medical benefits, he took me to the doctor, who glared at Kurt. I assured him it was an accident! Poor guy wanted to cry almost as much as me when it was broken.

    Anyway, it was the first time I'd ever been to a doctor for a broken nose. All the times growing up, it was just the way it was. Break a nose, and let it heal on it's own.... never mind that it was crooked! The doctor looked up my nostrils and asked what on earth had happened to my nose! He said it looked like it had been smashed to smitherings. (And it had been... numerous times!)

    Usually the military hospitals don't do cosmetic surgery, but since it was a teaching hospital, he asked if I would like to have my nose fixed. He didn't have to ask me twice!

    It took 3 surgeries to correct the damage, and a 4th was recommended but I am done. It's not a perfect nose, but it feels so good to not have that big beak!


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