I'm OK With My Surgery Scars (As Long As No One Sees Them)

I should look at my scars as a symbol of surviving, but instead, I'm letting them dictate my comfort.
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I should look at my scars as a symbol of surviving, but instead, I'm letting them dictate my comfort.

Last year, I nearly died.

(Fun start, I know.)

It was the freaky morning of all freaky mornings. En route home from a press breakfast, I was overcome by the most horrendous back and neck pain I’d ever experienced.

I called my mom, who suggested I’d potentially pulled something and recommended I take an Excedrin. A half hour later, I was passed out on my bathroom floor, in a pool of my own vomit.

This delightful story gets even more picturesque when I find myself in the emergency room. The doctor, at a loss, asks if I took any drugs.

“Uh, Excedrin?”

Then, he suggests the potential--before "going in"--it could be an ectopic pregnancy.

“Not unless Jesus is the daddy,” I assure him.

Then they discover the reason behind my insane pain: more than half the blood in my body had pooled in my belly, and the pain I had felt was from the lack of blood above it. (Sexy!) They send me in for emergency exploratory surgery.

I wake up three days later in ICU, miraculously still alive. A vein that had been wrapped around several fibroid tumors had randomly burst. It was sort of like a rubber band stretched too far.

In the attempt to find the problem and deal with it, the doctors had to slice me open like a tuna, and I now had a zipper-like scar going from my lower cleavage down to my bikini line. Six months later, when I had recovered enough, I had another surgery to remove the offending fibroids (still growing, the little jerks); the surgery, done via the laparoscopic method, was “minimally invasive”--instead of going back into the giant scar, I now had six new smaller ones surrounding it.

So, great. I’m alive. So far, doing relatively well, health-wise, but I’ve become a slave to the scars I should see as rewards of battle.

This summer, I’ve tossed all my two-piece bathing suits; right now, I can’t see myself ever wearing them again. I’ve become that girl who ducks into bathrooms to change at spa and gym locking rooms or communal dressing rooms rather than having my friends see me.

At a beachside pool last year--smiling but hiding. That coverup didn't come off.

At a beachside pool last year--smiling but hiding. That coverup didn't come off.

I’m not even sure exactly what I’m afraid of--that people who don’t know me or the story will ask questions that I’m embarrassed to answer? I’m most embarrassed by the potential of being seen by people who do know me, and I know will love me anyway. And that’s the saddest admission of all.

A very select few have seen--in dimmed lights, of course--and even that took some serious self-psyching. I’ve dabbled in the usual scar products, which resulted in minimal scar softening if not diminishing. It’s not enough for me.

I want it to go away. I want this whole past awful, weird year to go away. But, most importantly, I want my obsession with a reminder I really can’t change to go away.

So, tell me your story. Do you have a secret for getting rid of major scars? I’ve heard it all--onion extracts, cocoa butter, vitamin E… Or do you just deal?