When I was 4 years old, I was playing with a friend at summer camp. I called her a wolf, which for me was a compliment because I thought wolves were cool. She looked angry and advanced at me as if wanting to hit me. I started to take off running, but only got as far as turning around and running face first into a tree. Nine years later, when I was 13 years old, my mom looked at my nose, felt the bridge of it, and pronounced it broken.
“I cannot believe I didn’t see it then! You had the black eyes for a while and everything. I don’t know what I was thinking,” my mom (who was a nurse) said, shaking her head. The thin scar that ran down my nose (my fairly wide, short nose) was with me until my mid-teens, when it gradually faded away. To this day my nose is the only feature of my face that doesn’t resemble either my mother or my father, and still the only part of my face to get a sunburn, if I’m not careful.
When I was 14 years old, I had an emergency appendectomy. My stomach was hurting in the morning, and, by the afternoon I could no longer stand up straight. My mother took me to the hospital, where, I was told, my appendix ruptured just as it was removed.
When I was in high school, I discovered a lump on top of my left shoulder blade. I have no memory of how I discovered it, but there it was, in the place where no lumps should be. I went to my dad (my mom is the medical expert, but she wasn’t home at the time) and showed him what I thought was just a strange bump. When my father saw it, he freaked out. When I saw him panic, I, myself, burst into tears. He drove me to a doctor, who informed us that it was just a fatty lymphoma (tumor), wasn’t dangerous and could be easily removed.
I made an appointment to see the doctor. I remember sitting in the room with the physician, having to listen as he was talking on the phone to his girlfriend and planning a ski trip. I was patient, and polite, and after he looked at my tumor, we made an appointment for its removal. But, I made sure that this doctor did NOT do the procedure. I don’t have too much trouble with arrogance, but I draw lines at rudeness. The other doctor, the one who was going to only assist but wound up doing the entire operation, did a terrific job of it, leaving me with a small 2-inch scar on my back, nothing I couldn’t live with.
In labor with my first child, I stopped dilating after 5 centimeters, and Riva became a tired baby — her heartbeat would slow down a lot after every contraction. The doctor decided we should get her — I didn’t argue. That was my first C-section and subsequent scar — the second C-section was with my son. Although I had a choice for him, I decided to get him after he was full-term. It’s a good thing I did — Sammy did not want to come out. It took some pulling from the doctor — this left yet another, similar scar as the first C-section.
When I was 45 years old, I had a hip replaced. I don’t have general arthritis, but due to thinning cartilage, I did have bone-on-bone hip socket action happening. The first doctor I went to about this told me to lose weight and I was too young to have a replaced hip. I agreed with him on the fact that I was overweight, and I also agreed with him that I was entirely too young — but there was no way I could exercise with the kind of pain I was living in. I would be sitting at the dinner table, eating with my family, move my right leg a little to the right and scream out as the lightning bolt of pain shot from my hip. My children’s eyes would grow wide and worried, and my husband would look at me with concern.
When you’re in constant pain, you become you pain. You cannot see beyond yourself, you’re wrapped in the cocoon of constant discomfort so thick you have no time for anything or anyone else. You become so self-absorbed, the word “narcissist” was invented for you. I lived in absolute envy — of anyone who could move without pain.
I took my husband with me to the appointment with the second doctor, who showed us the x-ray of my hip. When Jeff saw that I had no cushion of cartilage (or anything else, for that matter) between the bones of my hip, he understood how important it was for me to do something.
Medical technology and procedures have come a long way from the replaced hips of your grandparents. I was on the operating table for the total of one hour, and that computerized table did a great deal of work along with the doctor. The vertical incision left a mere 4-inch scar at the front of my hip.
Furthermore, I was up and moving that same day, including climbing a flight of stairs (and then down, again). No one is released from the hospital unless they can conquer those stairs. I used a walker for a few days, but hated every moment of it — and moved to the cane as soon as I could. Actually, two canes, then one, and then I learned to walk without a limp — with the help of my physical therapist.
Three years went by, and as my hip had now healed completely, my right knee began to ache. Well, ache at first, but then it progressed, rather quickly, to sharp, constant pain. My knee joint, it appears, had also decided to go the way of the hip.
I had a CAT scan done on my knee, and then a 3D printed artificial knee was made from those scan photographs. Basically, I had my knee replaced with my own knee, so it was just the right size and shape. The knee is a more complex joint than the hip, and the recovery was longer. This scar was much longer, too, it is a shiny pale pink thing about 6 inches long, that runs vertically down the center of my knee.
These are (and were) some of my most prominent scars. I carry them as a badge of honor, memories that are forever. What are some of your scars? What changed the topography of your face and/or your body? I, like other people, also have scars that no one can see, on the inside, but that’s a topic for another blog.