Scarred for Life - 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?
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 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!”
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.
Scarred for Life - Part 1
- Scarred for Life
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...