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Heads up guys, this one is just for the ladies.

I mean, it doesn’t have to be just for the ladies. It could totally be for dudes, too. It’s really just for people who have experienced wearing a dress in the summer, and here at MonsteRawr, we don’t judge. And, I suppose, it’s not necessarily for all the ladies; just ones in dresses.

Let me try this intro again.

Heads up people who have no desire to wear a dress this summer, this one is just for people who would like to wear a dress this summer.

Anyway. There’s something I want to talk about with you guys. Something important. We’re all walking around dealing with it in silence and shame, like we’re all members of some fucked up secret society that we’re too embarrassed to admit membership. And I’m sick of it. We shouldn’t have to suffer alone, so let’s just get it out in the open and be done with it.

Let’s talk about chub rub.

Chub rub is the cutesy-ootsy name some asshole came up with to describe the rash you get when your sweaty-ass thighs rub together as you walk.

(Side rant: In case you haven’t guessed, I hate that name more than I hate the concept of Spanx. (And I really hate the concept of Spanx.) Seriously, who came up with that? Chub rub. Yeah, sure, it rhymes, which makes it sound harmless and cute instead of puffy and painful. But ‘chub’? Just because I don’t have a motherfucking thigh-gap, my legs are relegated to chub? Fuck you, person I’ve never met, my thighs aren’t chubby! I can leg press my husband with those thighs! And besides, even if that wasn’t pure muscle and awesomeness wrapped around my femurs, don’t act like you’re doing me a favor by calling them ‘chubby’. ‘Chubby’ is a word you use when you’re trying to say ‘fat’ in a passive-aggressively nice way. Babies have chubby legs. If you’re going to insult my legs, just fucking insult them without trying to pretend like you’re sparing my feelings. Asshole.)

Chub rub. I prefer to call it a power rash. (Mostly because I haven’t yet come up with anything better. Work on that for me, would you?)

So yeah, chub rub or power rash or whatever you feel comfortable calling it, it sucks. Giant unwashed balls. And for a very long time, I thought I was the only one who had to deal with it. It started becoming an issue in college, and I remember asking a friend (who was also about my size) if her thighs ever rubbed together so bad she got a rash. She looked at me like I was wearing my underoos as a beret and answered with a very  confused, “Nooooo?” 

Which sealed my shame. At that moment, I assumed that my thigh-discomfort was a result on my extra-fat thighs, and my problem alone. I mean, everyone else was walking around in dresses and skirts without a problem, so I must be the only one with a rash. For years after that, I just didn’t wear anything with a skirt in the summer. I thought I was just too fat for dresses.

Four years ago, I wrote a post about beginning to accept parts of my body for what they were, instead of what I wished they were. In that post, I wrote that I’ve always hated my legs because they’re huge and my thighs rub together when I walk. The amazingly kick-ass woman that is Kristin of Camels & Chocolate commented on that post, “Girrrrrl, every woman’s inner thighs touch in a dress. Those who don’t are airbrushed.” And that was the first time I realized I wasn’t alone. That I wasn’t– couldn’t be–the only woman dealing with this problem.

For years, I let my shame and embarrassment of my body keep me from wearing what I wanted. For years, I let myself believe the lie that the ads and commercials had told me, that it’s normal to have space between your legs and anyone who doesn’t is a fat loser. If I had asked someone, anyone, even if that someone was Google, I would have found that this is a common problem that nearly everyone on the planet who enjoys not starving has to deal with, but I was too afraid of the shame. And that’s not okay.

So yeah, my thighs rub together when I walk. Yours probably do to. And that’s okay.

And so ladies dudes persons-in-skirts, what to do about it?

For a long time, I carried around a miniature bottle of baby powder in my purse and applied liberally to the inner thigh area. And that worked…okay. It was an effective, but not elegant solution. For one, if you’re doing a lot of walking and it’s particularly hot, you have to reapply frequently. Like, more frequently than is socially convenient. Frequently enough that people start to wonder if the reason you’ve had to stop at every bathroom at the St Louis Zoo is because you need your fix, not because it’s 92 fucking degrees outside and your inner thighs are starting to get tender.

But the other issue with baby powder is that the application process is messy. It’s nearly impossible to powder your thighs without spilling white powder everywhere, making it doubly difficult to convince people that you’re not harboring some kind of severe chemical dependency.  So not only was I having to make frequent stops in the restroom, I was then having to take several minutes to try and clean up spilled baby powder off a public bathroom floor by scuffing at it with my sandal until I thought it was gone. Which is annoying. And doesn’t really help with the lingering feelings of shame over this being an issue in the first place.

I’ve heard other women who just wear spandex shorts under all their dresses, but this just isn’t a solution that appeals to me. I mean, they’d have to be pretty fucking short in order to not show when you sit down in a short dress. And once you’ve invited tiny booty shorts to the party, this just sounds like one more thing that’s going to try disappear up my ass-crack. (When you have a booty as bodacious as mine, the struggle is real.) I spend enough of my life trying to find secluded corners of public places in which to delicately try and pretend that I’m not picking my wedgie, I don’t need to add 6″ of spandex to that equation. Besides, adding a pair of shorts to my outfit when it’s balls-hot outside just seems like it would make me even hotter and force me to marinate in even more of my own sweat. Ick.

I struggled with this issue for a long time. Then last year, I found the perfect solution:


Image courtesy of banelettes.com.

(From whom I am receiving no compensation. I’m just…really passionate about this issue.)

Bandelettes are lacy bands about…I don’t know, 5″ wide…with thin silicone strips on each edge. You wear them on your thighs and the silicone keeps them in place. And they keep your thighs from rubbing together! No joke, I’ve worn them to many a zoo, botanical garden, and other walking-intensive outings, and I haven’t gotten a single power rash since. You do have to get them positioned just right so that they line up with each other, but a quick walk around the house usually exposes any issues on that front. They stay exactly in place, they breath beautifully, and they’re incredibly comfortable.

*Super-inclusion disclosure: I don’t know how well the silicone will do with super long leg hair. I fear they might tug. I asked Kyle to give one a test drive, for the sake of science, and he threw a stapler at me. Clearly, Kyle hates science.

But the thing I love about them the most (other than the fact that my thighs no longer chafe) is the fact that they come in bold colors and are lacy; they’re sexy. They’re not utilitarian spandex in beige, some necessary undergarment meant to be hidden in shame. Bandelettes can peek out from my hemline with the demure coyness of an old Hollywood starlet. What is that she’s hiding under her dress? Is it garters? Some incredibly complicated lingerie? Who knows? It’s certainly not some shameful undergarment that fat girls have to wear to keep from getting a rash. I never have to worry about what happens if someone sees my Bandelettes, because they’re fun and flirty. Definitely nothing to be ashamed of.

So I beg you, ye wearers of dresses, get you to Amazon and get yourself a pair of Bandelettes. Or whatever your chosen solution is; there’s lots of other ways out there to combat  power rash. Bandelettes just happen to be my personal favorite, but you may have something that jives better with you. Just, whatever you do, don’t let the shame of your thighs rubbing together keep you from wearing what makes you feel amazing. Those thighs can do incredible things, I just know it, and just because they make contact doesn’t mean that they’re unworthy of being dressed in something that makes you feel fantastic. So let’s stop hiding and pretending like this shit doesn’t happen to all of us. 

To the beskirted masses I say: no more shame and no more pain! Because our thighs are nothing to be ashamed of.


Dissecting a Monster–The Healing

Five weeks out from surgery, I’m probably 80% healed up. I can walk with a normal gate, and I can get through a whole day without having to take a nap. I’m back at work full-time as well, though it’s another week still until I can lift anything heavier than 10lbs. And the glue fell off my incisions a couple weeks ago, and they’re healing up really well.

But I still definitely have a ways to go. I can’t bend down to pick things up off the floor yet without a struggle; it’s a good thing it’s warm enough for me to go barefoot at home, because picking up things with my toes has become my super power. And forget tying my own shoes; just reaching my feet long enough to put them on is a serious struggle. I still get tired pretty quickly, and as I tire the pain ratchets up. I have trouble getting up out of chairs without arms. And if you’re a cat who decides to walk across my stomach, prepare to be flung.

In the week after my surgery, I was surprised by how quickly I progressed. I had been imagining that I would be incapacitated for much longer, in intense pain for longer, stuck in bed for longer. In that way, recovery was much easier than I had anticipated. It seemed like only a few days before I was up and moving around quasi-normally.

But there’s a lot about the healing process that I wasn’t emotionally prepared for, and it’s that which has been much, much more difficult than I anticipated, both physically and emotionally.

For one, no one warned me about how much internal healing I was facing. See, being slightly smaller than a softball, my cyst took up quite a bit of real estate, more than was naturally available. It compressed some things and moved other to the side. And once the cyst was gone (and my body got over the initially shock of being invaded,) my organs started to…put themselves back. And otherwise rebuild themselves. And some other things that I don’t know exactly what was going on in there, but I know that it was pretty violent and caused a lot of intense cramping. And meant that for the first three weeks I was essentially on a perma-period. Which, let me tell you, is awesome  is not that bad  fucking sucks. Especially when for much of it–unlike a normal period, where my body releases blood and tissue at a slow, imperceptible rate–my body decided to wait until I stood up or shifted positions and suddenly let loose a good half-cup all at once. How’s that for terrifying? Both the spotting (splooshing?) and the cramping have pretty much disappeared (thank fucking god for that,) but while they were around, they were that perfect combination of incredibly painful, wildly frustrating, and fucking obnoxious. And definitely not something that I was emotionally prepared for.

I also wasn’t ready for how tired I would be, and for how long. I mean, I knew I had a lot of resting ahead of me, but once I started to feel better, I guess I figured that I would get stronger and require less rest. Not that five weeks out, an activity so simple as grocery shopping would require that I come home and take a nap. Or that I still wouldn’t be able to sit on a stool for more than about 15 minutes at a stretch before my core muscles start to shake. As I’ve returned to feeling more normal than not, I keep expecting my body to be able to do all the things that it used to, and being surprised (and frustrated) when it can’t. I look normal (minus the dotted line across my belly,) I feel (more or less) normal (as long as I don’t have to sneeze or cough,) so why can’t I do all the normal things I used to, like walk for more than 30 minutes at a time without needing a rest? Oh, right. The dissection.

Which leads me to the part of this whole enchilada that has been the hardest of all: the motherfucking frustration. That’s the only word that can possibly describe this whole experience. Frustration that I don’t feel like I know my body or its limits anymore. Frustrated that I don’t understand my relationship with pain anymore; before surgery, pain was a thing to be ignored and overcome in the name of getting stronger, but now, I have to decide if the pain means that I’m getting stronger or that I’m overdoing it. Frustrated that I don’t sleep well anymore, because when I toss and turn (as I always have,) the sharp pain in my side wakes me up and makes it nearly impossible for me to fall back asleep. Frustrated that my current version of exercise isn’t a 3-mile run or weight lifting at the gym, but a 30-minute walk that leaves me exhausted and sore. Frustrated that the healing process hasn’t been consistent or linear, so some days are better and some days are worse. And frustrated that even though the surgery is more than a month behind me, it still affects my life in very real ways every. single. day.

No one warned me about any of those challenges. The physical, the mental, the emotional. “Just don’t lift anything heavy for six weeks,” that was all they told me. But not how much it would take out of me. Not how much it would require of Kyle. And not for how long it would be the defining feature of my life. That’s probably the thing that’s been hardest of all.

But if the worst part has been the frustration, the best part has been the support of my friends and family. Especially Kyle. I know this is cliche and expected and bullshit, but seriously guys, he’s been amazing. I mean, for fuck’s sake, my first week at home he had to dress me. And even now that I’m mostly healed, he’s still had to take on all the (literal) heavy lifting around the house; taking out the garbage, doing all the laundry, carrying things around for me. But even more amazing to me is how supportive he’s been emotionally. No matter how much I complain about how uncomfortable I am, bitchy I get because I’m sleep deprived, or how many times I feel as if the physical and emotional load are too much to bear, he always listens without complaint and is ready to stroke my hair and tell me that the hard part is over and he’s proud of me for being strong. Especially while I was on my perma-period, there was many a rant about how much this sucked, how it was so hard having a woman’s reproductive system, how I was over it and just wanted this to be done; he never rolled his eyes or told me to suck it up or otherwise indicated that he was tired of listening to me pulverize that dead horse into dust. (Even though I’m certain he kinda was.) Kyle has always been my rock, my gravity, and my shelter when the world seems to swirl darkly around me, and my recovery from surgery has been no different.

And he wasn’t the only one. So many of my friends and family leaned in with support. Cards and hugs before surgery rained down on me from all kinds of loved ones. Karen, my mother-in-law, came out and stayed with us for almost a week to help take care of me when I first got home. All my friends who came to see me in the days after surgery, despite my pajama-ed state and the fact that I was a bit loopy from drugs. And my co-workers–who have been unflinchingly supportive– dutifully helping me move my special chair between rooms, picking things up off the floor for me, and running up to the catwalks to focus lights for me. I even had to ask our flyman to tie my shoe for me once, and he did so with only the mildest of ragging. Even something as simple as a kind word on Facebook from a high school friend, neither of us having spoken in years, sharing their own struggles with reproductive issues and offering words of support, went miles to brighten my sometimes dark mood.

Going through this experience has taught me a lot. How amazing my husband and friends are. How kind and willing to help strangers can be when you ask for assistance. How physically demanding my job really is. How many other women out there have had to go through an experience just as shitty–if not shittier–than mine. How flawed the human female reproductive system really is. Just how strong my body was before the surgery.

But I’m ready to move forward from all that. Instead of marveling at how strong my body was and how difficult recovery has been, I’m ready to direct my focus towards making my body strong again, and returning to all the things I love to do. Throw myself back into a job that I enjoy, and rejoining my co-workers in the trenches. (Or as we call it, the back of a truck.) And ensure through my actions that all of my friends and family realize that I am grateful everyday for their love and friendship.

The monster-grapefruit is gone. There’s no more grapefruit-and-me.

There’s just Monster. That’s me.


Dissecting a Monster–The Recovery

I have no memory of most of what was told to me after my surgery. Kyle says that someone (a nurse? my surgeon?) told me how it had gone and what they had done, but I don’t remember this. Apparently I smiled and said, “Good,” a lot until a nurse handed me a graham cracker, but I don’t remember that either. I do, however, vividly remember the nurse lifting up my gown to check on my incisions.

Yeah, you read that right. Incisions. As in, more than one. That was a surprise, which is probably why I remember it. I’d been under the impression that the only two options on the table were a single 6″ incision (meaning that they’d found cancer and given me a complete hysterectomy) or a single 1″ incision (meaning no cancer, and they’d removed the mass as planned by cutting a small hole in the back of my vagina and pulling it out through the vagina.) Not five 1″ incisions dotting across my belly.

As my friend Christine put it, “You look like you’ve been perforated for easy tearing.” So yeah, that was something I wasn’t exactly emotionally prepared for. I’d also guessed that my incision was going to be lower, more in the pelvic region; someplace less…obtrusive, if you will. To this day, I still haven’t emotionally dealt with the fact that I’ll forever have a line of scars across my stomach. I’m crossing my fingers that they as they heal—with the help of some scar diminishing balm—they’ll fade to the point where they more or less disappear. (And if not, I already have a story about fighting a shark ready to go.)

I also remember not fully understanding how much pain I was facing at first. Sure, lying in that bed, I felt like I’d been flattened, and I was fairly confident that my throat had previously been on fire. There was also some definite throbbing in my midsection, thanks to the aforementioned incisions; it felt like I had done the P90X Ab Ripper workout 500 times without stopping. But I didn’t feel sick, and I certainly didn’t feel the stabbing pain that I had imagined would accompany a person’s skin being sliced open. Lying in the hospital bed, I just felt…fuzzy.

All that changed when I tried to sit up to dress myself.

Maybe it was the drugs, maybe it was because I’ve never had surgery before. Either way, I legitimately thought I’d be able to hop up and put my clothes on like normal. The moment I tried to raise my shoulders away from the pillow, my stomach muscles tried to engage and I screamed. With Kyle’s help, I was able to slowly make my way up to a sitting position, and it was only then that I realized just how bad of shape I was in. It wasn’t just the cuts on my stomach. I could suddenly feel every single muscle in my abs, all the way into my pelvis, and they all felt like they’d been shredded into brisket. I couldn’t believe how weak I was. It was also about this time that the nausea set in.

I don’t remember much more from the rest of that day. I remember having to sit with the orderly while Kyle brought the car around, and her telling me that Kyle was a good husband so I should reward him by giving him five babies. (HA!) I remember getting home and being so happy that I wanted to cry because I was in my own pajamas in my own bed and not in the hospital. I remember telling Kyle that I didn’t want the crackers he tried to get me to eat because crackers are too messy to eat in bed and I wanted beef jerky instead. And I remember a mug of egg drop soup that was the most delicious motherfucking thing I’ve ever eaten.

Things were really rough at first. Even with a steady stream of oxycodone in my blood, I was in a lot of pain. I could barely walk to and from the bathroom, and even with the help that I required, getting in and out of bed usually caused me to cry out in pain. Every time I wanted to get up to pee, get something to eat, adjust my pillows, or even grab the remote if it was out of reach, I had to ask Kyle or Karen for help. And I was so, so tired. I slept a lot those first couple of days.

Despite my rough shape, progress came surprisingly quickly. Two days after surgery, I’d figure out how to get out of bed by myself; the secret was using the turtle strategy to rock myself onto my side and push up with my arms. A few days after that I managed to shower and dress myself without assistance. (Let me tell you, I didn’t know elation until the first time I was able to put on a pair of underpants by myself.) And a week after surgery, I was back at work. Granted, I spent most of the day pushing myself around in a rolly office chair, and definitely not doing anything that even resembled physical labor. But for a week out of surgery, it just felt good to see how far along I’d come.

My recovery was moving forward at full tilt, but the healing? Only just begun.


Dissecting a Monster-The Surgery

Hey, there. Me again.

Actual me this time, not Kyle. Though, can we take a quick aside and discuss how romantic that blog post Kyle wrote for me while I was in the recovery room was? Especially when I tell you that I didn’t ask him to do that for me, I just asked him to keep my family updated?

Seriously, swoon.

Anyhoo, Monster here. It’s been over three weeks since my surgery now. I know, I know, I should have given you guys an update sooner. But to be fair, for the first week I was home I was on some pretty heavy drugs that made it difficult to focus on anything much more complicated than Super Mario Bros. (Of which I played a lot.) And after I got off the meds, I’ve been…tired. No, more like exhausted. Physically to be sure, but also emotionally. This has been a lot to handle, and I won’t pretend I’ve done so flawlessly. So to rehash the whole thing, for a good while, just seemed like too much to deal with. A lot of things have felt like too much to deal with lately. But I’m here now. And more importantly, I’m alive, grapefruit-free, and on the mend. Which has been both a little easier and much, much harder than I anticipated.

The real fun started the night of May 3rd, with what I dubbed the kickoff of #MonsterTumorFest2017. What happened that night, you ask? I ate a whole goddamn pizza, that’s what. By myself.


And why would I do that? Because May 4th was the start of the actual actual beginning of my surgery pre-op procedure. Which began that morning with marching orders to consume nothing but liquids, and not even good liquids, like eggnog or gin. Boring liquids, like apple juice and Gatorade. The only solids I was allowed to eat were Jell-o and Italian ices, which I tried to tell myself were food on account of the fact that I ate them with a spoon, but are not actually food at all. I even ended up drinking mugs of beef and chicken stock–even though warm, they totally smell like cat food–because my body smelled them and went, “Holy shit, that smells like food! I remember food! Fuck, I’m starving, this is delicious! FOOD!”

And that wasn’t the only fun on that delightful day. I had a thing called a “bowel prep” in store for me. I won’t go into details (you’re welcome,) but let’s just say that it involved 119 grams of Miralax…


Miralax and Drinks



…and I was busy for the better half of the afternoon.


So yeah, in addition to all the…fun…involved in that, ridding my body of all matter made me sick. And on top of that, I was fucking. starving. Seriously, it’s only with mild hyperbole that I say that I would have gutted both my cats for a fucking Taco Bell Crunchwrap. But honestly, all the discomfort I was feeling that night turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because it worked beautifully to distract me from any nervousness I might have otherwise been feeling.

And then it was the big day.

I was definitely nervous that morning. Not by anything rational, like that I might not wake up from the anesthesia or that I might have cancer, but by irrational things, like that I would accidentally forget and put on deodorant and then they would refuse to do surgery on me and I would have starved myself for nothing. Yeah, fear is a weird thing.

My surgery was scheduled for 10am, and I had to be at the hospital at 8am. It felt beyond surreal to walk into the hospital, strong and healthy, knowing that I would come out weak and broken. Things moved fairly quickly once inside, and before I knew it, I was peeing in a cup and changing into a hospital gown.

And yet, it was also about that time that the fear and anxiety began to take hold with both hands, and every moment that I wasn’t occupied with nurses and doctors (which was a fair amount of my time…I swear to god, I said, “Stephanie Van Sandt, March 4th, 1986” seven bazillion times,) crept by achingly slow. Eventually, Kyle and his mother (who stayed with us for a while to help take care of me, and to whom we are both eternally grateful,) were allowed to come see me, but only after getting the world’s two largest IVs with the world’s two biggest needles put in my arms and a shot in the stomach. So needless to say, Kyle pushed aside the curtain to find a very anxious, very afraid monster.

Moments later, I was being wheeled down the hall and into the OR. It wasn’t until they rolled me into the OR and I saw all the staff in scrubs that my nervousness became outright terror; it was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears. But luckily for me, I was only in there for a few minutes before…


…waking up in recovery and hearing someone say that I’d be able to go home today. I think. The rest of the day was pretty fuzzy.

I found out later that my “grapefruit” turned out to be a gigantic benign dermoid cyst, which is a blob of tissue that can be made of hair, skin, teeth, and sometimes even eyeballs. (If you have a strong stomach, google that shit. It’s like something out of a goddamn sci-fi movie.) Mine enveloped my right ovary, which was also removed. This wasn’t exactly something we’d seen coming (we’d actually specifically been told that it most definitely wasn’t that,) but it turned out to be the best possible diagnosis. No cancer, no chance of cancer forming, no chance it will grow back. It was a freak mutation that laid dormant from the time I was born until a few months ago, and as soon as I heal from surgery, I’ll be right back to normal. Just, you know, minus an ovary.





Author’s note: This is part one of what I’m thinking is going to end up being a three-part saga all about how I got cut up. I know, that’s a lot, but bear with me through these last few posts and then I swear, you’ll never have to hear about any of my internal organs again. (Probably.) Part two in a few days, kisses until then!