Thursday, August 16, 2007

Scar chat

Chris Clarke wrote about his scars, which naturally caused me to think of my own.

My biggest scar: From my C-section, a bikini-line incision. It measures 5 ½ inches from end to end, and a human being was pulled through that slit. Granted, Ben was a very small human being at that point, but still—it's really not a wide scar at all considering its purpose. The nurses on the OB ward marveled at what a lovely incision the doctor had made. Um, all right, if you say so.

My most dramatic scar: A half-inch oval on the inside of my left calf. In 1991, my new husband and I went downtown for Chicago's grand 3rd of July fireworks. Hey, when you add a million spectators and their cars to a small part of downtown, nobody's getting home at a decent hour, so why hold the fireworks show on the 4th? Everyone who has to work on the 5th will be short on sleep. Given those huge crowds, including many thousands of people taking the bus or the El, getting home by public transportation was going to be crowded, sweaty, and uniformly unpleasant. So Mr. Tangerine and I decided we'd walk home along the lakefront. Sure, the 5-mile walk would take us a couple hours, but it was a lovely night.

Alas, some bozo on Lake Shore Drive lit a cherry bomb and tossed it over the edge of the road...and down to the crowded sidewalks by Monroe Harbor, filled with holiday revelers. That firecracker exploded in the air next to my leg. I had a gouged-out spot on my calf, a bleeding chemical burn, plus many speckles of chemical burn on the rest of my leg real estate. The concussive noise knocked out my hearing for a few days. And boy-oh-boy, you don't want to be in a crowded place outdoors when you require emergency medical assistance. We walked a few blocks to North Pier, with bars and restaurants and phones, and waited for my ambulance. A fire truck arrived first. For me! I felt so special. Then they summoned an ambulance because I didn't much feel like walking to the ER...though it probably would have been faster to walk, I was pretty out of it. The ambulance carted me, what, maybe a half mile. I don't remember how long the trip took.

I had to bide my time in the ER—that woman who'd been beaned by a glass beer bottle was a higher priority. Eventually they tended to my wounds and prescribed a silver burn ointment, and I skipped pantyhose for a couple weeks. (I can scarcely believe that I was wearing pantyhose every day to work back them. Everyone did! Those were crazy times.)

The truly dramatic part of this tale is that we had been strolling behind a couple who were walking their bikes. Attached to one bike was a trailer with their twin babies going for a ride. Can you imagine if the cherry bomb had been tossed a moment sooner and it had exploded between those babies? Or if it had been next to my head and not my lower legs?

People who are made uneasy by fireworks and/or crowd scenes love this story and retell it to explain their objections to 4th of July antics.

So: How big is your biggest scar? What's your best scar story?


Bobita said...

I love scar stories! My biggest scar probably looks very similar to your biggest scar! Mine is from the removal of a cyst from an ovary when I was 17 years old.

My most dramatic scar is not really all that dramatic. I have a scar on my knee from having tackled my brother during an impromptu football scrimmage. We were playing on red cinder rocks, but there was no way I was going to let my brother score a touchdown on my watch! I'm most proud of that scar!

And, I can see why people use your story to support their fear of fireworks...yikes!

Jay said...

My biggest scar is from the removal of my gallbladder the old-fashioned way, but down the middle instead of slantwise under my right ribs. Ah, those wild days before laparoscopy.

The most visible scar is the one on my lower lip, a bit of white right down the middle, legacy of two falls on my face at about age 3. The best story is a scar that isn't visible. There's small lump in my upper lip that I often catch between my teeth. That's where I chewed right through the lip when I was in second grade. Mom didn't believe in letting us miss school any more than necessary, so she took me back to class after a dentist visit. He'd pulled several teeth and left a whole section of mouth numb, and I had a habit of absently chewing on my lip. So I chewed straight through it, making quite a mess. I got to go home and stay there for the rest of the day.

Trope said...

Hmm, my biggest scar is from the removal of some breast lumps on the right side... it was a little scar the first time, then some doc had the bright idea to go in through that incision again several months later for another lump and it stretched terribly. It's all pink and shiny and getting quite a bit of attention now that there's a person attached to my boobs so many times a day. I feel all tuff showing off that scar.
Best scar story is on my chin, however: I had a little scar from when I jumped into a pool backwards at day care, then, in keeping with the "double trouble" theme, I took a face plant riding my bike and got several layers of stitches in the same location a couple years later. So I have what looks kind of like a lopsided X under my jaw. Why must I always lead with my chin?

Klynn said...

My biggest scar is a c-section scar, too, but much bigger, and worse. When my daughter was born, in 1993, I was dying from a combination of pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome, and they did an emergency c-section...vertically. So I have a scar from just below my belly button down to my pubic bone. Add in the fact that I gained a lot of weight, and had another pregnancy since then, and you can imagine how much that scar has stretched. Then add the additional bikini scar from my second emergency c-section in 2004, and I have a huge anchor-shaped-scar on my lower abdomen. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. One day, I'm going to get a tummy tuck and just have them remove both those ugly streched scars and leave one nice thin one.

Anonymous said...

My biggest scar is a gash on my shoulder that I got when I was 5, and doing an "underdog" on an empty metal swing -- after I ran under the swing, I slipped on some wet grass, and the swing came back and hit me before I could get out of the way.

My most dramatic scar is from when the tip of my baby finger got caught in the hinge side of a door -- not the hinge itself, mind you -- and the end was pinched off. They tried to reattach it, but unsuccessfully, and so the end of my right baby finger is all mutant and weird, and the fingernail doesn't grow straight -- it curves up over the top of my finger for some reason.

Orange said...

Hmm, I'd say klynn's biggest scar is also the most dramatic. klynn, mine was an emergency C-section as well (preeclampsia, but I'd been in the hospital for three days so I was monitored too closely for HELLP to sneak in. Maybe the nurses marveled at my incision because it was so small for an emergency cesarean?

Narya said...

I'm boring compared to you people. I have a 1-inch scar on the back of my left hand, from where I had a cyst removed when I was 8. I have two tiny scars, overlapping, on the palm of my right hand (below my index finger), where I cut myself on broken glass twice (years apart, mind you). And I have an impressive-looking burn scar on my right forearm--more visible now, because I've become enfreckulated, despite sunscreen. I did, indeed, burn myself on the oven at the bakery--what the boss calls a baker's tattoo--but I was heating my lunch rather than making something tasty or exotic.

Anonymous said...

No baby-related scars for me, but I had a lumpectomy a few years ago (left breast, benign benign benign, woo and hoo), and my lovely wonderful surgeon, Alison Smith, M.D., who at the time, looked all of 19 years old, surgeried me up just fine. It's a neat little scar right along the edge of the nipple, visible but without distortion. Oh, I love her and I hope I never have to see her again.

Then there's a scar on my forehead. I was three, and my cousin disapproved of my choice of toy (a Tonka truck), so she grabbed it and beat me over the head with it.

I also have a lumpy little scar on my right knee. One summer my mother signed me up for swim classes at a school near my grandmother's house. I didn't know any of the kids and wasn't sure of how to get there, so my grandma bullied a neighbor girl into taking me along. She and her friends ditched me, and I was running and fell on some gravel. I pulled a chunk of gravel out of my knee and ooh! geysers of blood (seemed like it at the time). I ran back to grandma's house, blubbering and everyone was annoyed. They had to take me to the doctor, and that rotten little bastard (Dr. Alison Smith woulda beat him up, if she'd been born yet) told me he had to clean the wound up before he could tell if I needed stitches.

OMG, it hurt so bad! I was crying and looking up at the holes in the white holey-board ceiling, so ashamed that I was blubbering over getting the cut cleaned, terrified of how much more painful stitches would be. Then the doc finished up. I sniffled and asked, all tiny-voiced, if I was going to need stitches, and the jerk smiled indulgently and said, "They're already in".

Well, I mean, really. Why don't grown-ups realize that youngsters have some pride, little baby-sized pride, maybe, but pride. And why couldn't they observe the emergency surgery rules that were good enough for our forefolkses? They could have given me a li'l sippycup of whiskey, a rolled up bib to bite down on, and at least let me act in my own melodrama. I might have been heroic.


(Hi, Orange! The dog liked me.)

momo said...

You got me to do my own scar story post, about mine but also about my daughter's. I realize now that a few scars I used to be able to see are gone now.

MsPrufrock said...

My biggest scar is only the size of a quarter, on my back. I had an infected cyst removed a couple of years ago, and they essentially dug it out - leaving cavity in the centre of my back. I had to have it packed with gauze every day for a month, sometimes twice a day. We used to joke that it could be used for putting practice, or perhaps to store spare change. It's not a dent anymore, thank god, but there is a big, circular pink reminder of it.

My best scar is a very slight, inch-long scar on my left hand. It's the result of being dragged around the snow by my mitten courtesy of my pet collie, Liberty, when I was 10. She had a mitten aversion unbeknownst to me at the time, but subsequent tests would determine that the words, "Libby, mitten!" would inspire much carrying on.

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