Scarred for Life - Part 2

Emotional scars are sometimes worse than the physical scars that accompany them.
Emotional scars are sometimes worse than the physical scars that accompany them.
Never underestimate you ability to take a shower... until it has been stripped from you.
Never underestimate you ability to take a shower... until it has been stripped from you. | Source

Part 2

Click here to return to Scarred for Life - Part 1

There is nothing that can be said that will take a scar away. There are no creams, there are no lotions and there is definitely no magic spell. When you have become scarred, it is there for life. You must learn how to live with it and love yourself the way you did before you were scarred.

It had been about 5 days since I had exploratory surgery and I was home and resting. The recovery was much longer than anticipated due to complications. Instead of the small, barely visible scar, I had been sliced from my belly button all the way down to my pubic bone. Not an easy thing to get over, especially when you are only 20 years old and still insecure about your body.

At the time, I was in the military. I was far from home and away from my family. My local support group consisted mainly of my fiance and a few friends. Lucky for me, I lived in the barracks so there was almost always somebody around.

This particular day was a special one. I had gone 5 days without a real shower and frankly, I was sick of the sponge baths and I was sick of just sitting around. For the past 5 days I had gotten my fill of movies; I had become overly friendly with my imaginary friends; and I was sick of the newfound relationship with my pillow. The pillow had become my safety net. Every time I did anything strenuous, I would use the pillow to ease the pain on my stomach. Frankly, all I wanted to do was get up and walk around, and the only time I had done that was if I got up to use the bathroom, which was quite the task. And yes, I did bring my pillow with.

Today was the day I finally got up the courage to take a shower. A full fledged shower that required much more than a basin full of soapy water and a wash cloth. Believe me, even though I looked forward to this, I was very nervous at the same time.

My fiance was there to assist me. People take for granted the ability to shower by themselves until the ability has been stripped away from them. At 20 years old, I was unable to shower myself. While I could stand under the running water, I was unable to bend at the waist to actually wash myself up. I had to swallow my pride and for the first time since I was a young child, I needed someone to bathe me.

It took a few minutes for me to finally get comfortable. I was being very careful. I didn’t want to take the chance of splitting my incision open. Just when I finally let my guard down, the waves of nausea started. The shower was short lived. I slowly moved out and grabbed the white towel hanging from the rack.

How do you call 911?
How do you call 911? | Source

How do you call 911?

I was sitting on my bed with my towel wrapped around me, taking deep breaths trying to calm the waves of nausea. I looked down and saw a reddish orange streak seeping through the towel. My first thoughts, “Are you serious? First surgery and then my womanly friend must come for a visit! Must be my lucky day!”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. Once I had opened the towel, I was overwhelmed with the most putrid and horrifying smell that has ever made way to my nose. The worst part was… the smell was coming from me… and you can’t run from yourself.

I screamed and my fiance came running from the bathroom, curious as to what was wrong, but once the smell hit him, he no longer had to ask. From there it was more of a question of what to do.

Since we were both in the military and unmarried at the time, we lived in the barracks rooms. For me, I had my own room and only needed to share my bathroom with one other female. It was the perks of being in a unit with very few unmarried soldiers. The downside of living there was dialing out of the barracks was a little bit of a task, requiring an extra step needed just to properly make a phone call.

After plenty of shoulder shrugs, my fiance took off running up and down the barracks hallway yelling, “How do you call 911? Does anybody know how to call 911?”

Before this time, I had actually thought this might have been one of the stupidest questions a person could ask. Even looking back at it, I realize how particularly funny it really does sound. But, in the barracks, you can’t just dial 911.

Without much assistance, since no one else in the barracks knew how to dial 911 either, my fiance was finally able to contact someone that could help. He returned back to me, where I was laying on the bed hyperventilating at the thought that my insides had exploded and were coming out.

The first ride in an ambulance... and hopefully the last. Being wrapped in numerous blankets on a stretcher leaves no way for a patient to grab the "Oh Shit" handles while they speed off to the hospital.
The first ride in an ambulance... and hopefully the last. Being wrapped in numerous blankets on a stretcher leaves no way for a patient to grab the "Oh Shit" handles while they speed off to the hospital. | Source

The ambulance had finally arrived. It was a very, very cold January night and I was in a very thin nightgown with a wet head of hair. Even the 10 blankets they seemed to have wrapped around me did very little to keep the chill away from me as they opened the doors to negative temperatures and had to walk what seemed a quarter mile to get to the ambulance.

That was the very first ambulance ride I ever had, and if I had my choice, it would be the last one I would ever take. The ride to the hospital was a bumpy one, and when your arms are strapped to your sides by being burrito wrapped with blankets on a stretcher, it is impossible to grab the “Oh Shit” handle and hold on for dear life. It was also the first time since the surgery that my beloved pillow was not pressed against my stomach. I felt sick.

I finally arrived at the hospital and was taken immediately back. A doctor rushed to my side and started asking the usual questions. I must have given him the “are you seriously asking these questions when I am oozing all over the place” kind of look, cause he finally ripped the blankets off of me and took a look for himself.

I don’t know what was going through the doctor’s mind at the time, nor do I know if he has the inability to shut off his nose, especially since the smell was making me want to puke, but within seconds he snapped on his gloves and stuck me with a needle full of Morphin. My head went fuzzy after that, and for all I know, my memories of the whole situation are full of holes and maybe they are partially imagined.

What I do remember is he took his finger and basically zipped open my stomach. He than cupped his hand and scooped out the entire infection. He actually looked like he was enjoying himself, but maybe the smile on his face was a little drug induced (on my part!).

He finished cleaning out the infection and poured hydrogen peroxide on the open gap in my stomach. I remember thinking how cool it was that I literally had an erupting volcano coming out of my body… and it tickled a little. That could have been drug induced as well! And then I was sent off to a room to spend yet another night in the hospital.

The infection really was no surprise. The surgery had complications, and when I went to get the staples removed from my stomach, I thought the area seemed a little red. While I was told it was okay, the burst of orange goo from my abdomen a day later proved otherwise. Although it really wasn’t a satisfying way to say “I told you so!”

A shot of Morphin - memorable way to get the alpahbet and numbers to dance all along the hospital walls!
A shot of Morphin - memorable way to get the alpahbet and numbers to dance all along the hospital walls! | Source

The next day the doctor came in to visit me. Due to the infection, my incision had to heal from the inside out. This meant that everyday, three times a day, it had to be cleaned out and repacked with a special bandage until it was finally held. This meant daily volcano eruptions coming from my stomach. It was really more than I wanted to think about, so I told the doctor I was in great pain and would not let him touch me to repack the incision until he gave me another shot of Morphin.

Repacking my wound was completely painless that day. In fact, once the alphabet and the numbers started dancing around the room, I realized I probably didn’t need the Morpin at all. The only thing the Morphin didn’t do was take away the psychological and emotional pain this new scar was forming.

Once the scar completely healed, I was left with the most horrifying mark; much more than any 20 year old should have to endure. I cried for days; I cried for years. I thought my body was ruined. I once took pride in what was coined my “Buddha Belly.” Yet, what I used to think was cute, was now a horrid reminder.

I never got the chance to get over the first scar. Five days later, I was beginning my recovery from the new scar. Same place just much bigger and much uglier. The physical pain eventually ceased, the emotional pain however was a much deeper cut. I was scarred for life and there isn’t a lotion that will help erase the pain.

Comments 31 comments

DaNoblest profile image

DaNoblest 5 years ago from California

What a sad story =[ I'm sorry you had to go through all of that. Sounds like a horrible experience. You told your story very well though. If it were a book I would not be able to put it down until I finished the whole thing.

Reading part 2 has me thinking now, you have written a lot today I hope your not slacking on your guitar practice!

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

The whole series is kind of a healing practice... in a way. So it is probably more therapeautic for me than anything else. And don't worry, I actually didn't write that much today. I had 2 out of the 3 things I had published on Hubpages almost completely finished sitting in the side wings waiting to be published. LOL

I do however have to write my second guitar hub... trying to think of a good focus point!

marellen 5 years ago

Sorry you had to endure such pain both inside and out but you sound like a strong woman and a survivor. Years ago I had surgery, a 'no big deal' said my surgeon, I've performed 1000 of these with no complications. I guess her 1001 would not be the case. After surgery a blood vessel broke in my stomach and I was bleeding internally, my stomach was filling up with blood and I felt like I was 6 months pregnant, my doctor didn't know what to do and I was basically dying. She was staring at me from my hospital room door and I whispered that she better do something. That day I had two blood transfusions and started on my long road to recovery. Yep, I still have my scar but its healed over time....

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

oOOHHhh - my goodness. This makes me ache for you! I can not imagine. There is nothing scarier than this stuff to me!

Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Wow BG, what a horrible experience. I feel for you.

I have no doubt that writing about this was therapeutic and healing for you BUT . . . PLEASE KNOW THAT IT IS ALSO AN EXTREMELY WELL WRITTEN PIECE. Voted UP for sure!

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Marellen - that is a horrible experience as well. I almost think when the doctor says it is no big deal that is when something goes wrong... at least that was in my case. I am glad you have healed and are on your way to recovery. I think most importantly, the hardest thing to deal with is the emotional scarring. We are both survivors!

@RealHousewife - this stuff is seriously scary... what is even scarier is that I have started going through a very similiar scenario recently. I won't choose the same path, but I thought maybe writing about it might help me deal. I have my reasons of why I think it happened, but that is a whole different story. :)

@Sharyn's - Thank you very much. I am glad that I was able to write this. It was very therapeutic for me, but I find it is also very therapeutic for others to share my experience. Who knows, maybe somebody will come across this article and it will help them by what I dealt with. I do have another part of this story, but I haven't finished it yet. The first part I wrote almost 2 months ago and wasn't sure if it was something that I should share... the second I wrote yesterday... and when my husband commented on my "angry eyes" as I reminisced... I decided to take a little breather. It is a very big emotional scar for me. Thank you for voting it up. It means alot.

Kylo88 profile image

Kylo88 5 years ago from dc

not gonna lie, my stomach is kinda hurting right now. lol. damn, not a happy ending. :( i sowwy

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

Sorry - no happy ending yet. But I do believe that I am going to write another part of this series... maybe if I keep doing more parts it will turn into a happy ending somewhere :)

What Is Q profile image

What Is Q 5 years ago from Tennessee

Omg, girl. I thought the first part was scary, but this one topped it. Sorry you went through all that (and perhaps even more than this... another part to the story? I hope it didn't get worse...) But I definately feel for you.

I have a scar. Seems dumb to mention, since yours was more traumatizing, but I wrecked my bike and landed on my head, now I have a scar cutting my left eyebrow in half. Most guys like scars, so I got over it pretty quick. But still... good story, great writing, and I look forward to part 3 and (hopefully) a happy ending. :)

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

There is something about a scar cutting through a guy's eyebrow that is very appealing. Maybe it shows a bit of a dangerous side... and think of the crazy stories you could come up with on the origin of the scar. Mine is more of a sad story. But, I am sure the ending will be a happy one... well maybe a happy twist anyway :)

Kylo88 profile image

Kylo88 5 years ago from dc

i hope it does ^^ i've got a crap ton of scars. my arms look like someone took a strand of barbwire, wrapped it around them, and pulled, and my knuckles are practically shredded. but that's just cause i don;t play nice. >:) i actually have a big scratch going across my face right now. (got whipped in the face with thorns while on the dirtbike...lota my scars come from there too, lol) i don;t think it's going to scar though. lol

Harvey Stelman 5 years ago

barber, at least you found the right dioctor to do the job. Nothing could have been more important at that time. There is always cosmetic surgery.

I have been hospitalized three imes with an infection, people don't realize what it can do.

Years ago the startig Chicago Bears quarterback, Vince Evans got a very small cut on his finger. It became inffected, and he almost died. He was cured, and able to play. H

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

I am definately lucky that I came out of it alright. I did almost die from the infection. The first doctor screwed up bad, the second doctor that fixed up her mistake was good... but we all take our chances.

nighthag profile image

nighthag 5 years ago from Australia

wow what an experince, thank you for sharing your story and the rollercoaster of emotions that it must have been, its a very brave thing to do

voting up!

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

Thank you... it is definately a roller coaster of emotions that I still deal with today... now I just have to get working on the next part! I am giving myself a break though... hopefully next week.

Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

barbergirl, you are one lucky woman to have survived the infection. I am amazed that you went on to have children without complications from childbirth considering your scar. The cost of medical care goes far beyond monetary. My ex had a "minor" surgery to repair a hernia. Insurance dictated drive-thru surgery as an out-patient. He ended up going back by ambulance a couple of days later and suffered extensive disabling pain and consequences following the procedure. He did reclaim his health, but it was a long road back involving several lengthy hospital stays. His problem was never conclusively diagnosed despite many tests. I believe he suffered c-diff from antibiotics. There was discussion with the infectious disease specialist, but fear of malpractice, I believe, makes getting the whole truth and nothing but, damn near impossible. Medicine and it's practice needs an enema. Again, barbergirl, thank you for this well written, gut-wrenching story.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Amy - That is a crazy story about your husband. I am glad he is much better now, but I hate to see anybody have to go through that type of pain, especially when the procedure is considered routine or even easy. It is usually those that end up have horrible consequences. I know how the experience effected me... I know he must have gone through something similiar. And finding the truth to what happened is so horribly difficult. I know I read my military health records. In doctors writing, she blamed it on me being fat. Well, that is the way I took it. She said it was difficult to make a clean incision because of my size. Funny, because I have seen so many people go through surgery that were twice my size. I was almost more mad about that comment than the whole issues with the surgery itself.

Thanks for your story. This was really difficult for me to write, but very therapeautic as well. I am glad I can share this story with others. It has taken me years to get over talkign about it.

QudsiaP1 profile image

QudsiaP1 5 years ago

There is nothing I can say that will make you feel better but I hope that despite this truly horrible thing, I seriously hope and pray that only good things come to you.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

Thank you so very much. That means alot to me. It was an experience and I am happy to be able to share them with others. Without these kinds of experience we wouldn't become stronger as a person.

d.william profile image

d.william 5 years ago from Somewhere in the south

this is a well written account of what you went through. I did not see this one coming after reading the first part.

I worked for many years as a post op registered nurse, and could visualize what you were saying. Not a pretty sight. Although these kinds of post op complications are relatively rare, they are quite serious. I am so sorry you had to go through that ordeal. Sadly to say, those post op infections are generally from poor surgical technique, and are avoidable, if proper technique is followed in the O.R.

I would have to say that, that particular "practicing" physician needs a hell of a lot more "practice".

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@d.william - thank you for the comment. It was a hard time... and I have always thought that the physician made a mistake. Maybe they were just have an off day... although we hate to think of someone having an off day when someones life is in there hands. I am glad you were able to follow this story. I can only imagine that someone who hasn't gone through anything like this would have a hard time understanding. I give you props though, I don't think I could see this stuff on a daily basis.

d.william profile image

d.william 5 years ago from Somewhere in the south

When i was working as a registered nurse on the surgical unit, there was a surgeon who was the sloppiest, dirtiest individual i have ever seen. 98% of his post op patients developed some kind of infection at the surgical sight, and many ended up as you did with the infection inside, that could not be seen until it became critical.

After several years of watching this going on, i went to the Surgical director, and pointed this out to him. He said to me: I know, but what can you do? I was horrified that he knew this was a problem and chose to do nothing about it. So i told him, that the next one that had a post op infection would be reported to the medical/surgical board of physicians, along with the entire list of names of the past patients he had treated.

I don't know what he did, or said, to that dirty surgeon, but his post op infections dropped to practically zero. Anytime we need surgery, or any medical treatment, we have the right to ask how many patients have they treated, and how many of them developed post op infections, or other complications. Any decent doctor will tell you, and any decent nurse in charge of that unit will be bound by ethics to tell you also. Never settle for second best from anyone who you are paying to do you a service. We all deserve better than that.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

That is seriously scary. I know in the military, many soldiers feel like they don't really have an option... and alot of time they didn't. My doctor was a military doctor. Alot of them had bad raps because of their work, and therefore alot of them gave military doctors a bad rap. She knew she screwed up when she finished the surgery. She came out apologizing. I hesitate now to even go to the doctor. However, with your advice... I think next time I will ask more questions! :)

neeleshkulkarni profile image

neeleshkulkarni 5 years ago from new delhi

not being a woman and not ever had surgery i could yet feel the raw pain in this well written piece.

the physical scars can stay and go away too but it is the mental scares that really nede working on as they CANNOT stay at any cost.Glad the writing has got you over one roadblock BG. keep at it girl.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Neel - the mental scars are definately the hardest ones to get over. This did help a lot. I still have another part to the series that I haven't finished yet. But when I wrote this one, it was bringing back some painful memories so I took a break.

Once again, thank you for your kind comments! :)

williefayj 5 years ago

I remember some of that stuff that was going on at the time, but I had no idea that it was that serious. I'm glad you had him there to help you with all that! :)

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@williefayj - Yeah - it was a really hard time. It was pretty hard to talk about it as well. It was a really hard time for me and continued through majority of my time in the military. I am very fortunate though because I had someone that was so dedicated to being their for me! :)

TXNYPABLUE profile image

TXNYPABLUE 5 years ago from Currently in York PA

Comment 2:

I realize that it’s easy for a person who is not disfigured or scarred in some way to say that a scar doesn’t matter; much in the same way that Charlize Theron or Sean Connery would say that looks don’t matter. But, I have seen many people with birth defects and permanent injuries from accidents and assaults, and botched up surgeries. Some of them were nice people and some were not. I have met a multitude of drop dead gorgeous women, and body-building hunks; some were nice and some weren’t.

At 20, even a super model can be self-conscious about her looks, let alone a young woman who is suffering from a post-surgery scar. I can only imagine how you felt, and still feel.

But, you are a beautiful woman, with a lovely smile, you are a talented writer, and you have served your country. What truly matters is what’s inside each of us because when it’s all said and done, the body turns to dust and it doesn’t matter if we are perfect 10s or minus 20s.

Ray C.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Ray C - Very well said. It truly is what is inside that counts and at times I have had a hard time accepting that scar as the person I am. Sadly, part two is not really the end of the story. Unfortunatley, I stopped writing it because it got to emotional and I really needed to take a break from it. However, now that it is on the forefront of my mind - I think maybe I should continue on with Part 3. More therapy. Once again - thank you for the wonderful compliment!

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Stacy,

I feel your disgust and rage at what happened to you. I was an OR nurse at one time in my life and what happened to my brother in a military hospital was inexcusable in my opinion. I am not bashing all doctors who work there, but the sad part with not being able to sue is that they are not held to the same standards as doctors working in private hospitals. And THAT being said...I think people are way too ready to sue people at the drop of a hat. Mistakes are made in private hospitals also...but probably just not as many from my experience from years ago.

Sterile technique during operations is VITALLY important. It is either sterile or it is not, and if not, all kinds of problems can erupt. Post op care is equally important and acquiring other "bugs" just from being in a hospital is all too easy today.

Everyone coming into a hospital room should wash their hands before touching a patient. That includes doctors, nurses and other ancillary personnel. If they do not...ASK them to do it!

So sorry that this happened to you. As to being "scarred for life" may have some external scars but that does not represent the real you. You are so much more than just your external appearance and the internal part of your spirit and soul is the most important part of what makes you the person you have become. Your writing really shines in relating this! It comes from your mind, heart and soul...and it shows.

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca Author

@Peggy W - Thank you so much and well said. I must say, that I often times look back at the whole situation and it saddens me, but it really doesn't define me. It has actually made me into a stronger person.

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