Scar tissue has no character. It’s not like skin. It doesn’t show age or pallor or tan. It has no pores, no hair, no wrinkles. It’s like a slipcover. It shields and disguises what’s beneath. That’s why we grow it; we have something to hide.
-Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted
Not many people would guess that I’m sporting quite a few nasty scars. A few folks know that both of my children encountered issues on exiting the womb and that I have a big long scar at the bottom of my belly. And sometimes people notice the bit, clean, straight scar on my left hand, this one:
I never lied about that scar: I did break my hand in a very severe manner. There was immediately surgery performed on it to put it back together, which a week later, for whatever reason, the many pins drilled through my bones didn’t work. The thousands of whatever units are used for medicine (OXYCONTIN) were flowing through my veins but even so, my hand throbbed and ached and began to swell: so upon returning to the hospital, the x-rays showed that the hand had rebroken. About ten days after the initial hand surgery, I had a second one to remove the pins and instead put a plate with screws into my third medicarpal (the bone under that scar). About six months after that, after near daily physical therapy/torture sessions the bone was deemed strong enough and the same Doctor put me under again and took away my plate and screws. I am not bionic.
The nice thing about hands is that they’re commonly hurt and a broken hand isn’t a terribly uncommon event. Rarely if EVER has anybody extended the questioning on the circumstances of my hand scar to how I broke my hand in the first place. Children being honest and awesome have pushed the questioning far but generally a, “it got slammed with something really hard,” would work. THANKFULLY, nobody asked about the circumstances of my hand getting slammed with something really hard.
Over the years, this scar has shrinked, become far less puffy and fleshy and is starting to almost disappear. There was a time that it was immediately noticeable but now a great deal more intimacy or at least direct interpersonal contact is needed to spot it.
I have a few visual scars on my face. There’s a dark bluish-Grey spot above my left eyebrow from the time in sixth grade that I accidentally stabbed myself in the face with a pencil. Really, I had a pencil in my hand, which I’d forgotten about and I bent down to get something and …well…it hurt and bled but the teacher thought I was just doing it to get out of class so she wouldn’t let me see the nurse about it. A witty cousin of mine once noted, “well at least you made sure to dot your eye.”
Not so bad, right? If you look slightly to the right my buddy Mr. Graphite tip, you’ll kind of see another scar showing. It isn’t overly visible and one REALLY has to be looking to see this one. This one is actually part of the same injury as this scar:
The scar on my upper right lip is a real pain in the tail, honestly: it’s pretty big on the inside and I pretty much regularly bite it. Part of it doesn’t have nerves but then with each accidental nibble, it swells and then I begin biting my lips and cheeks more–no fun. It’s had a laser trim away some of the tissue. But still, doesn’t seem even like that much, right? (BTW, I know my teeth are the gnar, my parents didn’t believe in orthodontics)
The scar on my eyebrow (not the pencil one) and the lip? That comes from the same strike. I had a really good doctor because the one over my eyebrow displayed my skull and the one on my lip was where my upper right lip was mashed in half.
I know, I know, none of these seem that bad. Firstly, they were nasty as all git–secondly, there’s a reason the doctors in the hospital had named me, “walking miracle.” Check out one of the MANY, MANY scars on my skull, that are hidden by my gigantic, wildly thick and curly hair:
It’s probably hard to tell what the heck is going on with this one:
Well, firstly this is MANY scars. Each one of those about finger thick scars on my scalp is a DENT (fracture) in my skull. I don’t have nerves on over half of my scalp and my skull is covered in these scars–but because of my wildly thick and curly hair, they kind of were always…hidden. Like immediately: for the terrible severity of my experience, truth is that within a month of the event there were no SUPER visible signs of what had only recently gone through.
The surgeon stopped counting how many ‘stitches’ he’d put into my head and instead said that he had more of, “wove” my scalp back together. But basically the amount was in the many hundreds, if he had to count. When I got to the hospital, my ear was hanging down on my neck because the cellular structure of my scalp had been turned into the consistency of canned cat food. It was, “imacerated:” not really cells anymore, just mush.
Beyond that, there are literally large DENTS in my bony skull. Some of those scars didn’t stop being bloody messes for years: the dents never went away and the nerves never returned: you could seriously push pins into major swaths of my scalp and I wouldn’t even notice. The stuff never came back, period. It’s pink and smooth and while it has no feeling the area around the dead nerves are extra sensitive so I’m still prone to throbbing aches and pains. My neck and shoulders, between this and other injuries which just downright HURT my muscular/skeletal makeup of my upper body, are pulled this way and that by the scar tissues: the tension causes daily headaches, because you know, I couldn’t have it too easy.
But again, not many people know this: instead I seem vaguely happy and I’m totally, always, “fine,” or “doing pretty good, thank you.”
Then there’s the totally invisible scars. The stuff on the inside. The event that precipitated all those scars was tremendously violent and terrifying: the worst of humanity kind of stuff. So there’s the emotional scars: I have a pretty raging case of, “Postraumatic stress disorder:” flashbacks, daily: you bet, hypervigilence: you know it…. Basically I live every day in a state of distressed anxiety. 24/7 for the last 20 years.
And there’s the emotional aspects: part of what happened when my reptile-brain took over to see that I survived the whole situation is that it let the part of my brain, the amygdala, that controls emotional responses and memories, went haywire. To help me cope and ‘seem strong,’ I kind of disengaged the emotions as best I could. Of course they still happen but instead I bottled them up and let them turn cancerous: again, silent, invisible scars.
I bet a brain scan will show the detriments of all the fractures and injuries to my head and brain. My vestibular system is definitely…wonky…. But what else? For whatever reason, this history never inspired concern from doctors and because of it, I’ve hardly ever gone to a neurologist of anything: even then it turns out to be because of an inner ear problem.
Wanna see what these scars look like?
I’ve hidden a lot of this art for a long time but whatever.
Truth is this, Conan Fernando Blue beat me up, raped me, tried to strangle me and then beat me with a lug wrench/tire iron: I feel so much sympathy for the family who had stuck with him and saw him healing into a decent enough Human…I’m sorry that he spent years being haunted…his death utterly broke my heart because I made scar tissue out of the hopes that he’d found peace: his finding it just really opened up all these stupid wounds.
Look, CFB’s family: I assure you, I’m sorry that you lost someone you loved but “he didn’t deserve it?!” It’s like this: He beat the living shit out of me, stole my ability to ever go day to day without anxiety, made it so I have to use mental tools to keep me literally balanced….and he made it so that I turned off all my emotions and therefore he didn’t just hurt me, but in the long run, twenty years later, he ended up hurting very sweet little boys who haven’t done anything to anybody.
So I’m sorry he was killed. SO SORRY.
But I’m more sorry that y’all didn’t love him enough when he was a kid so that he wouldn’t end up the 17 year old psychopath he was.
All the same, Ialways felt terrible that some little boy was spending 20 years in prison for his assault on me. I really did feel like he paid his time. I only wanted him to find peace, happiness and solace. I’m sorry you died. Conan.
There, I said it.