More than a physical remnant of an injury scars are a reminder of what was. I was looking at my legs tonight. I have approximately 13 scars from various surgical procedures performed on me in my childhood. I think back to the summers I spent in hospitals. It was never a good time, never fun.
The first thing that comes to mind is the pain. I can’t begin to describe the intense and unending pain of the first weeks after a surgery. Cuts not only of flesh but bones being cut broken and manipulated. I’m almost certain that my mind has blocked out the worst of it all. My mother has told of things that I have done and said during the times of immense stress. Some of it I have no memory at all.
I can remember the anxiety I felt at the time. Going to see the surgeon on a yearly basis. Agonizing about the fact that I was most likely going to have to endure the pain again. At times I wake up in a cold sweat, reliving in dreams the things I went through. Scars on my subconscious, I suppose.
I am thankful for a mother who was always there. I can only imagine the pain she went through watching all of these things take place. I am grateful she was there to be a support and an advocate when I needed it. I can remember her fighting for me when the pain was so great I felt I would go crazy. When the nurses would say I was overreacting as the pain in my knee was growing. She fought and argued until the plaster cast around my knee was removed to reveal a pressure sore which would have taken my leg. I still have that scar till this day.
My summers were spent in bed mostly. On my back in a plaster cast from the waist down. I read books by the dozen and watched a lot of 1960’s and 70’s TV. My memories are of Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis, John Carter of Mars, and Tarzan, as well as I Dream of Jeannie, Batman, The Six Million Dollar Man, Star Trek, and Gilligan’s Island. All of these were my summertime friends. To this day I still watch the reruns, they are a comforting memory for me.
I remember, I was probably 2 years old. The plaster was being sawed off my legs with the electric saw at the hospital. I knew that they had cut too deep. I was telling them so, my mother was saying so. They said it wasn’t so, but, they had cut so deep the saw had actually burned my leg from friction.
The car ride home from L.A. to the desert was about and hour and a half. The muscles in my legs atrophied from not having moved in 3 months. The muscles would contract involuntarily at the slightest touch or movement. The pain was almost as intense as it had been right after the surgery. But I do know that it didn’t last as long. I spent the months after this re-learning how to walk and do all the things I took for granted the year before. Am I better off after all of this? Most definitely. I would not be as mobile or coordinated as I am today without all of this.
I don’t think of these things very often. The red, puffy, and insanely itchy incision scars have faded to white. In some cases almost imperceptible. In others a sunken crevice on the maps that are my legs. A permanent reminder of where I have been in life.