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Scarred for Life

Updated on March 7, 2011
You don't realize how tramatizing something is until you have been throw it.
You don't realize how tramatizing something is until you have been throw it.

It happened over a decade ago, yet the memory is still very vivid. It is a big part of my life and something I can never truly get over. It is a painful memory, and the reminder is forever there. It is a scar on my life; it effects me mentally, physically and emotionally.

When I was only 20, I got the worst news ever. The doctor I had been seeing finally looked at me and said, “I think we need to do exploratory surgery.” In ways that I didn’t understand when I was younger, I realized this is also a way to say, “I really don’t know what is wrong with you. So to satisfy your need to know, we will do surgery!”

At the time I was young and away from home. I didn’t have my family nearby to help give me sound advice, or even be the hand to hold me up. I had left them behind when I joined the military. Sure, they were only a phone call away, but they couldn’t see what was happening to me.

It started off suddenly. I would get sharp pains through my abdomen. This usually happened when I was in the middle of a long run. Not exactly convenient when the end was no where in sight and you were falling behind the crowd. The pain was intense; I would double over and hit the ground. When I was done, my stomach would swell, making me look as if I was 9 months pregnant.

A stomach that I once took pride in was forever scarred by one surgery.
A stomach that I once took pride in was forever scarred by one surgery. | Source

The doctor’s did what they could. They gave me medicines; they tried different tests; they even shoved a needle in me filled with a medicine to stimulate menopause. (Yes - I was only 20) When nothing worked, surgery seemed like a good option.

Now, I have always hated going to doctor’s and I don’t do well with blood. Therefore, the idea of surgery scared the living daylights out of me. Yet, they told me it was a minor surgery. In fact, the scar would be no bigger than a dot made by a pen mark. I was still nervous. Luckily, having exploratory surgery is relatively common. Others who have gone through it also told me not to worry. They even showed off their little scar (which I couldn’t see!) This still didn’t make me feel any better, but because I am curious, I felt the surgery was my only option to find out what was going on with my body, who had been rebelling against me for some time.

I remember it clearly. My parents had just gotten into town from a 16 hour drive. They were there to make sure I was okay. They were there to sit in the hospital waiting room and wait until I came out. It was cold outside, which was not surprising since it was early January in Upstate New York. The skies were overcast and gray, which was just about perfect for a day you were going to have surgery.

I was all comfy and wrapped in the hospital blanket. My stomach was doing butterflies. You would have to expect that from a person who had never had gone 20 years and never had surgery before. The doctor asked me a few questions and it was time to go. My family wished me luck, gave me a quick hug and I was off.

Once I had taken the pills, the world got a little fuzzy. The hallway became a white blur and it seemed like I was encased in the fluorescent light fixtures. I remember them saying something about relaxing and then giving me a mask before my eyes rolled to the back of my head.

The funny thing about being put under is what actually takes several hours, has a tendency to feel like only few seconds. In fact, it felt like more like a blink of an eye. I remembered everything from beforehand. I remembered I was going in for surgery, I was told I would wake up sore.

When my eyes finally fluttered awake, I was in the recovery room. I went to jump up and see where I was, yet as my stomach muscles contracted, I felt a surge of pain. The pain was unbearable. My muscles seemed too weak to help me sit up and I feel backward.

My eyes were still fuzzy and my mind was a fog. When the doctor approached me, the words she said came out like an echo. When everything cleared a few moments later, I was finally able to comprehend what she was saying.

“I’m sorry. I am so sorry. There were complications.”

So, here I was. A 20 year old heading into surgery. It was a minor surgery and I should be out that afternoon… at least that was what I was told. At 20 years old, I had the doctor apologizing to me. I didn’t understand. I could feel the pain, but I was too wrapped up in blankets to see anything.

When I finally found out what had happened, I burst into tears. The doctor had still not figured out what was wrong with me. In fact, the surgery was a complete waste. Instead of doing what was intended, I started to bleed uncontrollably, which forced them to slice me open. They spent the entire surgery cleaning up there mess, and not even finding out what was wrong with me.

What should have only been a wasted day in the hospital and a couple days off work, put me in the hospital for 5 days and kept me out of work for 6 months. It sure wasn’t what I bargained for, and I have the scar to prove it.

Part 2...

This hub is the start of a series. If you would like to continue to the second part, click here to read Scarred for Life - Part 2.


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    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      @Peggy W - It definitely was a really scary time in my life. Even now when I look back, I remember how much of my life this one incident really took away from me.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What a scary time in your life and sorry for you that a mistake was made in surgery. My dear brother experienced a major mistake in one of his surgeries at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. I wrote about it in the hub Some True Stories of Free Government Medical Care in America. So sorry that you had your experience. Now I have to go read Part 2 to see what happened.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      @Ray C. - Thank you so much for the beautiful comment. This was a very painful experience for me at the time but it really has made me into the person I am today. It means everything when people can actually experience through my writing. Not that I want anybody else to have to go through this, but that just shows that I did a good job on this one. Thanks so much for the wonderful compliment.

    • TXNYPABLUE profile image

      TXNYPABLUE 5 years ago from Currently in York PA

      comment 1:

      I know how hard it is to share something so painful and personal.

      I always wanted to be a professional writer. I wanted to be able to get paid to write and make a decent living while doing something that I loved. Then one day, it became clear to me why I loved writing – it’s therapy, especially when sharing something intimate. After I finished writing, My Life: Through a Cop’s Eyes, I read the book as if I wasn’t the author. I realized that I had shared some very painful memories with the world.

      While reading your hub, parts 1 and 2, I could actually see your operation. I could see you sitting down watching the blood stain getting bigger on the towel. I could see your frantic fiancée looking for anyone who could help him with the phone. And I could see, and almost smell the infection that you described.

      You have the ability to transport your reader from Point A to Point B, and then back again.

      What a great gift you have!

      Ray C.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      @d.william... if only you would have given me that advice years ago. If I would have known that they were only practicing I might have stayed away! Love the medical humor! :)

    • d.william profile image

      d.william 6 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      well written article. Just a bit of advice: If you ever need any further surgery, or even medical treatment, make sure to ask the doctor if he/she is a well known practicing physician. If they say yes, then simply tell them that you want someone who knows what they are doing, and not just practicing. LOL. Just a little medical humor there. Looking forward to part 2

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      @Amy - anytime people go under the knife it can be scary, especially knowing that one slip and things could go horribly wrong. I remember going in and everybody was telling me how easy of a surgery it was to recover from. I guess I proved them wrong. Luckily, the nasty scar can be fixed, it is the other scars that hurt the worst.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      There really is no such thing as "minor" surgery. Anesthesia always carries risk. I am always surprised to read or hear accounts today of cases where the wrong limb is amputated or the wrong kidney is removed. Patients are advised to not only have an advocate in the hospital at all times, but to mark their surgical site. It is indeed scary when it is your body and your life put into the hands of surgeons and medical teams that are well educated, yet are capable of rudimentary, but life-altering mistakes. I know that your permanent scars cover far more than the one on your abdomen. Thank you for sharing this personal, frightening part of your life.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      @Dusy - Thanks for stopping by and reading this. It was very therapeutic to write.

    • dusy7969 profile image

      dusy7969 6 years ago from San Diego, California

      Nice hub.I read this hub.That hub is very intense.You tell in this good way for surgery.So thanks a lot for this informative and useful sharing.Thanks barber and good job.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      The experience I went through was pretty harsh, especially for something so minor. Things do happen and the doctor did know she screwed up. I can't fault her... things do happen. I don't believe she treated me like a guinea pig, but I do believe she rushed into a surgery that really wasn't necessary.

      However, you can't compare MDs because they are all completely different. There are some who are fast to cut and others who are very precautious. However, it was a military doctor, and even if I did want to sue them for the incident, I really didn't have the option. The medical field has gotten completely out of hand and I really wish it would be all about helping out and not about suing people for all they have.

      Overall, the hub was not meant to offend anybody... it was just a therapuetic way for me to express my experience... and it is something I still struggle with daily.

    • Fire10 profile image

      Fire10 6 years ago

      I am sorry for what you had to go through, it isn't fun to be cut open like that.

      On the other hand I think the guinea pig statements are a little bit harsh. It was a routine surgery and it certainly wouldn't be anticipated. But one doesn't necessarily have to have a disregard for humanity or a lapse of judgment in order for these horrors to happen. Just like I feel sorry for you, I feel sorry for this doctor who did his best to help and fell short of his best intentions and expectations.

      I just don't appreciate demeaning comments towards M.D.'s. What was once a profession of "I'm willing do my best to help, but here are the risks you are taking by getting treated" It has become a "This person feels entitled to my education, experience, and services, but if some unforeseeable event happens they would love to sue me, my spouse, and my children out of our home."

      Despite the tragedy, let's try to give the Dr. the benefit of the doubt and laud the fact that you're still here because the doctor did several things right.

    • profile image

      Harvey Stelman 6 years ago

      barber, I am a veteran of 12 surgeries, never have I had what what was done to you. It's supposed to be...

      1- They take you to the prep room.

      2- You get an IV to reax you.

      3- You are given a small amount of anestetic.

      4- They take you into the O.R.

      5- You receive the full amount of anestetic.

      6- You wake up in recovery.

      I have no idea of military protocol, I will check with a friend. H

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Nice hub,thanks for sharing.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      Thank you Ruchira... I do believe that doctors treating humans like guinea pigs is one of the reasons it has been termed practicing medicine. I took a chance... and it wasn't a good one to take.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 6 years ago from United States

      Sorry to hear about that barbergirl.

      I feel that sometime, doctors forget their oath of serving people honestly and treat them like animals/guinea pigs. I wish they had done some tests prior to opening you up...Sure, it is a Scar of life!!

      Goodluck in its healing process!

    • Kylo88 profile image

      Kylo88 6 years ago from dc

      wow, that's insanity! And not in the good way! ima go read the next part and hope it's a happy ending! :(

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      I would have had my route preplanned as well. I don't do well with surgeries. Even if it is something minor... like taking my wisdom teeth out. I told them they needed to knock me out for it but they didn't listen... I puked on the dentist. Damn nerves... LOL... I should write a hub on that!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I am sure it was! My gosh - I have had a couple of surgeries nothing freaks me out more. Last time I had one - the doc ordered the nurses to give me Ativan before I went up to the surgery floor, the nurse said, "oh you'll be fine I will give it to you when you get upstairs!". I looked at her and said, "no YOU don't understand - give it to me now or I'll have the escape route planned before you get me any further in this place". She changed her mind;)

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      @Chilli - Thank you for reading. It was a hard thing to write, but at the same time very therapeautic. It is good to share some of these things.

      @RealHousewife - They basically screwed up. They thought I had Endometriosis, but they really weren't sure... which is why they did the surgery. Then, they knicked something and that is what caused me to start bleeding, which caused them to slice me open. It was really scary at the time.

      @Sweetsusig - Funny... I was scared of surgeries before, but this one made me realize that doctors do make mistakes and you are putting your life in their hands. The surgery seemed unnecessary because they still didn't figure out what was wrong with me. If I could go back I would opt out of the surgery, and just ignore what was happening. It eventually got better when I got pregnant.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      Wow, how intense!! I have only had 1 surgery. Don't want no more!! I almost died in the recovery room. Once was enough for me!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Awful! I am going to save part 2 for when I get home from school today, what did they DO to you??

    • ChilliWilly profile image

      ChilliWilly 6 years ago from Kaunas, Lithuania

      This is such a great hub. Thanks for sharing!

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      Ahh... so occasionally I do have the serious side... although I bet you can probably find a few humerous phrases in there. (Nevermind - that mind be in Part 2) Don't worry... I am still afraid of surgery so at least you aren't the only one.

    • DaNoblest profile image

      DaNoblest 6 years ago from California

      That sounds really scary. I should say thank you now that you have me terrified of surgery. You are right about being put under. Feels like a second went by but it is way longer in reality.

    • What Is Q profile image

      Adam 6 years ago from Tennessee

      Yikes. :( And you still don't know what was wrong? That's intense. I've never had surgery and I don't think I ever will now. Scary stuff...