Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Story of Scars

My body is not what it once was. Xrays show 14 broken bones, 1 titanium plate and 6 screws. My skin - 5 surgical scars (4 on the belly, 1 on the left arm), 3 chicken pox scars (2 on my forehead, 1 on my left arm), and a hole where a belly button ring used to be. I am missing a gallbladder and a small piece of jawbone. I am 32 and not a victim of child abuse, violent crime, or car accident. These marks are not wounds, but rather stories of my life. The wear, the tear, the marks of living, losing, hurting and healing. Scars are sexy in their simplicity. Their clean, white raised lines mark their territory, take root and become a part of me. Conversation starters and windows into who I was, who I am.

Parts of me that are seemingly unchanged are just blank canvases for that bruise that I'll certainly get in a week or two. I'll cut the corner too close and clip the coffee table with my thigh, like I always do when I'm in a hurry. I'll watch it change from black and blue to brown to green to yellow. I'll admire it's simplicity, it's clear phases of healing. In a year, my right arm will have another 4 inch scar when a surgeon will saw my ulna in half, take out half an inch and pin it back together just like the left one. Power tools will be used to put me back together.

Almost every major part of my body has a distinguishing feature that in a line up of just various body parts from different people, I could pick out my very own. What distinguishing marks do you have? What stories do they tell?

Mine say I'm somewhat clutzy, yet spent most of my childhood on my hands doing gymnastics. That made my arms grow incongrously; hence the surgeries and titanium plates. A softball to the face shattered my nose, causing 2 surgeries and 3 additional breaks. I broke out with chicken pox during a gymnastics meet at 11, spurred a small epidemic, and was consequently at home watching TV when the space shuttle Challenger blew up. In my early twenties I played in a rock band and wore belly baring shirts; hence the belly button ring. I couldn't get it off before my gallbladder surgery, so my husband took wire cutters and cut it out. I never put it back in. The causes, the effects, the marks, the scars. I may sound like a complete wreck, but I think I'm surprisingly together.