Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Scars

Last time I checked, I am not the person with the most scars in the world. Actually, I've never checked, so there's that. But I do have several that have stories behind them, some ranging from inane to insane. I'm going to skip the inane (for example, the quarter moon sliver on the bottom of my chin which I got from falling off of a bicycle), so you're welcome.

Onto the maulings.

I suppose my most interesting scars are from my third degree burns from 2007, which was not exactly my favorite year ever (although it does rank higher than 2006 and 2008). For those of you not familiar with the story, which you can read about here, I was burned pretty badly on my motorcycle and had to go through two surgeries and nearly half a year of physical therapy. While it wasn't the greatest decision to purchase a motorcycle or to ride in twenty-nine degree weather at night, the burns were caused by a defect in the structure of the bike and were a direct result of my leg actually catching on fire. Which, you know, fun for all. The blisters that formed over the burns looked like brown leeches, and when the nurse at the trauma unit burst them, it was like someone had popped a warm water balloon over my leg. I fully expected to be screaming obscenities at the top of my lungs, but instead, I remember just kind of staring at the spectacle. Then, again, I was a) on some type of narcotic* and b) third degree burns kill your nerve endings so you don't feel anything, anyway.

As I said in the above linked to post, I had two surgeries, one of which was installing (ha, installing) an implant that essentially tricked my body into thinking that the dermis wasn't actually destroyed. The second was the actual skin grafting and God, was it that much more horrible than the first. I had two areas on my body that were trying to heal simultaneously (the burned area on my right calf and the donor site** on my right thigh) so I had a high fever for about three days. And like above, I was on narcotics the whole time. My schedule was this: take oxycontin in the morning; four hours later, take a hydrocodone; four hours later, take another hydrocodone; at bedtime, take a morphine; four hours later, take a hydrocodone; four hours later, take another hydrocodone. Rinse, repeat. And yes, since you asked, I did shit real bricks, since the narcotics slow your bowel function down, which removes pretty much all moisture from your stool. And you thought this would get gross.

Anyway, I now have two scars on my right calf from the burn and a nifty kinda-heart shape scar (that barely visible) where they removed skin for the grafts. I was told that I could always get tattoos over them, but I don't know. It almost seems kind of wrong to do that, like I'm trying to hide a part of my past that, to be quite honest, I'm not that embarrassed of, even if it doesn't showcase any stellar decision making capabilities on my part. They're sort of tattoos on their own, really. Plus, badass storytelling time opportunities always arise whenever someone notices them.

My favorite scar is the one on my stomach. It is about six inches long on the right side of my abdomen and has these two knot-like spots on it, and it's actually shrunk since the initial injury over twenty years ago. When we still lived in Biloxi, our house was at the end of the street and there was this giant wooden electricity pole right at the base of the driveway. One day, my six-year-old self decided that, because my three-year-old sister dared me, I was going to climb the damned thing. I put on my game face and marched over to it, beginning my own Mt. Everest ascent. I looked down at the ground, which seemed to my single-digit brain to be forever away. It might have been miles for all I knew***.

The next part actually still illicits shame from my mother. She saw me from the kitchen, attempting to scramble up this fucking pole, and came running out, frantically screaming at me to get the hell down. Fearing reprimand, I let go of the little metal bars on the side and then I remember falling in slow motion. I didn't feel anything and I didn't cry. I was just kind of stunned. My mom came running over and seemed to be freaking out for some reason, but I wasn't about to protest when she picked me up to carry me back inside.

I then noticed that, oh my fucking God, I'm bleeding. A lot. I don't really think little kids understand this sort of thing because I was flabbergasted as to why my mother was panicking. I wasn't dying or anything but I was starting to get worried that something might be very wrong with me. Then my mother explained that the footholds on the pole had ripped into my skin as I fell to the ground. She patched me up with gauze and surgical tape (thanks, medical professional parents!) and I remember specifically being very afraid to look at what was underneath the makeshift bandages. I wouldn't look when my mother bathed me or changed the dressings. I was just absolutely certain that I was deformed. When I finally mustered the courage to look, I was surprised: the scabs were X-shaped and in a perfect line. I was fascinated.

But for the next fifteen years, I kept the scar hidden. That six-year-old child's fear that I wasn't a perfect specimen of humanity was always in the back of my mind, particularly when I reached my teens. I never wore two piece bathing suits, and the belly shirts that popped up in my early adolescence were the bane of my existence. It wasn't until college that finally I was like, "You know what? Fuck it. The scar looks badass and is hot and I want to wear a bikini." It was also kind of a step in my dealing with anorexia, too: knowing that, while I may not meet the standards of "beauty," I was a beautiful person. And it didn't hurt that the people I was attracted to also found the scar sexy. So win/win.

One scar that people don't really see - partially because I've had to use topical steroids on my feet due to psoriasis and the skin down there is really thin now and partially because it's on my foot and who looks down there? - is the one on my right heel, where my mother ran over me with her car. I'll wait while you read the insanity that is that story because it's hilarious. I actually laugh when I read it. Good job, me. And, no, she didn't do it on purpose. Probably. For nearly ten years, I swore to my mother that I could see the tread marks of the tires on the right side of my foot, even though I totally couldn't as I was being an ass to her just because. But the round spot on the left side of my foot is almost pillow-like. I cannot tell you how many times I've just sat at poked at it when I was bored in school or in a unit meeting at work or watching a terrible movie. The weirdest thing about this particular scar, though, is that it still hurts.

Yes, my burn scars hurt whenever I change my physical activity level and, according to my physician, will always behave in this way. But my foot? It's like a forever-bruise. It's not painful enough to warrant any kind of medication (that's where my constant headaches from TMJ pick up the slack), but it does mean that I can't wear certain shoes. I've asked my doctor about it several times, and the only thing he can tell me is, "Sorry?" It's not like it's inoperable cancer; just a bit of pain in my heel. But that's not what bothers me. It's that it still feels like the running-over-of-my-foot was only a few weeks ago.

Actually, going over the major scars on my body, I've come to this conclusion: karma has made the right side of my body its bitch. I mean, really? All of them are on the right side! I'm not sure what this says about me. Does the right side of the body have any particular meaning in religion/philosophy/whatever?

You know what? If it does, don't tell me. I may never leave the house again.

* That actually sums up four months of my life in 2007.
** Despite the ick factor, this part was kind of cool. You know those bread knives where you can adjust the width of the slice you're wanting to cut? Well, the tool they used to slice my skin off was kind of like that, only on a micro-level. The result was similar to a bad sunburn.
*** My mom says I was only up about four feet onto the pole, but that's pretty high for a kid. Not as high as I remember it, but everything's so much bigger when you're a wee one.
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