Today I did something that I’m not usually prone to do. I got dressed in front of a long mirror. As a middle aged woman who ‘feels’ 30 on a good day (perhaps 45 on a bad one) it is a complete shocker to see oneself looking very middle aged and somewhat tired. But what really stood out as I was standing there was a great big scar that starts above my tummy button and is about ten inches long.
This scar represents life-saving surgery and has a lot of scary memories attached to it. It represents three weeks in hospital and one of the greatest battles of my life. It reminds me of horror and a dark time in my life where one minute I felt absolutely fine and the next I didn’t know if I would live or die. It brings memories flooding back of nurses screaming at people to get out of the way, of other people having to cancel their surgeries to allow me a chance to have mine and survive and all sorts of medical apparatus that was used on me after the operation. When I see that scar I also see thick tubes draining blood away from my stomach, I see staples holding me together and I see a bag hanging from my nose. I remember all sorts of things from a swollen tummy to drinking banana milk shakes on the hour, every hour as food seemed just a little step too far. Blood tests being taken every 30 minutes with veins collapsing and anaphylactic reactions also spring to mind.
But more than all of the above and additional things that are probably too gory to note here, it also represents kindness. It reminds me of the wonderful nurses who cared for me. People who held my hand when I was scared. People who knew how much it hurt to laugh or cry or sneeze so did all in their power to avoid any of those things happening. Those gentle souls who stood at the top of the bed by my side when I was in intensive care and looked into my eyes when I couldn’t talk and stayed with me. People who dabbed ice onto my lips when I wasn’t even allowed to sip water, people who just sat and held my hand when it all seemed too hard to talk.
It represents people who helped me get up to walk for the first time whilst I waddled about, who held onto the drains that so glamorously protruded out of me and who carried all the apparatus that was needed for me to do a simple walk. It reminds me about the sheer brilliance of the anaesthetist who did all sorts when I suddenly declined and who helped me turn a corner and begin my road to recovery.
It reminds me of all the good that I saw in my world that had suddenly changed.
When I left hospital on a sunny November day I saw a blue sky that was so much bluer than I had ever seen before. The sun shone so brightly and grass was so much greener. Life seemed somewhat brighter and although I was very unwell it was as if I had just woken up from a slumber. I was seeing things differently. My eyes had been opened in a way they had not been before. My world was a new world and it was a great world. I began to appreciate things that I hadn’t even noticed beforehand.
The road to recovery was very bumpy but it was a road I walked along for several months with the help of a great many wonderful people. Family, friends, doctors and humour all kept me going.
So my scar really represents life. It shows me that I am a fighter. That I can come up against some awful life events and I can conquer them. It has shown me the good in people. It has also shown me that whatever life can throw at me I can grin, bear and get on with it no matter how unpleasant for a time it may be.
So today after getting dressed in front of that mirror and these memories flooding back, I have decided to love that scar… because a lot more good came out of it than bad.
We can all look at things differently if we try… can’t we?