One Tiny Scar | Teen Ink

One Tiny Scar

May 24, 2019
By 22bc01 BRONZE, Cannon Falls, Minnesota
22bc01 BRONZE, Cannon Falls, Minnesota
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I am laying in a clean white hospital bed. There are five figures above me, one in a surgeons coat. Pain pulsates throughout my body echoing back again and again to my stomach. I try to speak but nothing but a whining and guttural noise comes out. A few hours later, I ask my nurse to let me see the scar. She lifts up the gown, careful not to touch the multitude of other tubes and wires coming from me and takes out a handheld mirror… and what I see is horrifying. All I can think about is the scar, filling my mind. Purple, bruised and bloodied, vertically spanning my abdomen, covered in small tissue bandages soaked through with my crimson blood. Sticky, vile, and painful, and yet a part of me. It has saved me, and yet it hurts me. It only covers a part of me, and yet all I can think is that this one cut will define me for the rest of my life. And, for a while, it does.

When I was twelve, we discovered something that only haunts most parents nightmares. A tumor. The symptoms filled my life with… minor inconveniences. The usual, some may say. The tumor made me look like I was pregnant, and pushed on my internal organs, mainly my bladder and stomach. Because of this, I spent most of my time in the bathroom. Other times, I would be throwing up in the halls or nurses office. I developed scoliosis as a result of the tumor, which twisted my spine fifteen degrees. I was barely old enough to be deemed fit to watch my younger brother and I had a seven-pound cancerous tumor. It was fleshy and rounded, with developed veins and mock organs. And I hated it. The tumor was attached to my right ovary and fallopian tube and was also damaging other organs around it. I won’t get into my first diagnosis(Cancerous Mature Teratoma of the Ovary), or what they did to remove it, but once the surgery was done, my body was different than it had been before. It felt almost alien in a way. I had only one ovary instead of two, and a very long and painful scar. This scar constantly filled my thoughts. I ignored it because it forced me to acknowledge my weakness. For two years, I wouldn’t wear tight clothing because I was anxious it would show the scar. Because if the scar was gone, the cancer was gone. If my body looked fine, I would be okay.

Because of this, I became obsessed with my appearance. Every night, I would lay out an outfit specifically tailored for how I wanted to be perceived the next day. I would pick something pretty, something that made me look important. More consuming than all of those was finding something that made me look like I was in control. If there was a day when an outfit didn’t work out, or something embarrassing happened, I would freak out. I would scream, punch walls, and enjoy my common pastime: crying. Afterward, I would feel numb and void for hours, unable to feel common emotions, and oblivious to things that were happening around me. It was destructive to my happiness and mental health, but I didn’t care. As long as I thought I was in control. I started to lie to my friends more and more. It wasn’t that I wanted to hurt them! In fact, just the opposite. By telling them that I was happy and healthy, I could ensure control over myself and our relationship. To keep all of their feelings safe and protected, I would do anything. As soon as friends got close to discovering my true emotions, I would push them away. As soon as my friends discovered one of my secrets, I would bring up one particularly embarrassing secret of theirs to deflect their questions and protect myself. And it sucked. Every minute of it.

I didn’t cry much after the surgery because I slept for most of it, but the one moment that dominated my thoughts and emotions was the thought of that scar. At night in the bed, I would lift my shirt up and run my finger up and down the scar. Over and over. Again and again. And I would do so until I fell asleep. I laid in that bed for nearly seven days before I was deemed ready to learn to walk again. My Mom and Nurse lifted me out of bed and tears of pain squeezed out of my eyes as my physical therapist walked me to the bathroom to see myself. The room had cool blue-green tiles with white walls and a large industrial mirror above the sink. That is when it finally hit me. I looked into the face staring back at me, and it didn’t look like me. The girl had dull, sunken eyes with dark circles underneath. Her skin was sallow and seemed transparent as tissue paper. She was hunched over in a yellow child sized hospital gown made for kids years younger than her. And yet it hung over her like a potato sack. The girl had knobby elbows and unkempt oily hair that looked like it hadn’t been combed in weeks. And the girl was me. After that my physical therapist led me, dazed and sleepy, up and down the children’s wing hallway. Each step was agony, and I just wanted to lay on the floor and sleep, but I did it. In the week that followed, many friends, teachers, and coaches came to visit me at the hospital, and it meant a lot to me. And then it was time to go home.

It was a long time before I felt okay again, and even though my recovery was due to the doctors who carried out my surgery, I felt bitter. How could they do this to me? Who gave them the right to run their sharp and shiny knives against my skin? Of course, these were silly questions to ask, but that didn’t stop me from wondering. It took a while for me to let go of my resentment of my surgeons, even though all they did was try to help me. Even though it has been nearly three years since that moment, I remember it like it was yesterday, and I doubt I will ever forget. In my mind, the wound always remains fresh. But now I look back to it with a smile. Because this experience has taught me an important lesson that some may never learn. Life is fragile, and so your body is fragile. One instant can change your life forever. A broken beer bottle can tear up your feet into a bloody mess. One misplaced move with a table saw can sever your finger. One day in the sun can give skin cancer. And that’s the reality. So we all have to pick ourselves back up again and get over ourselves. Today, I can say that I have only healthy and truthful relationships. But it was not always this way because I refused to acknowledge one small truth. One tiny scar does not define anyone. And I can say that after nearly three years, this Summer I may buy a bikini for the very first time.


The author's comments:

I hope that by reading this piece, others will understand how lucky they are to be alive and healthy! Life is always the greatest gift, no matter your religous belief.


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