I read a strangers tattoo the other day ‘we all have scars – we all have stories.’ I wonder what his stories are? These scar stories are mine;My earliest recollection of rather a nasty scar was when I was about 7 when I rode a kids 3 wheeler trike down my next door neighbours steep driveway, making it across the road miraculously not being collected by a car, then stopping with a dead stop in the muddy gutter across the road hitting my pubic bone on the bar of the trike. I was more concerned about getting the trike back in one piece back across the road and getting my feet clean from the mud when I noticed the blood running along the path as I clean my foot under the tap in their garden. I looked everywhere to see where it was coming from as the only place that was really caning was my pubic bone. Someone pointed out to me it was coming from my right leg on my inside calf muscle near the ankle. It was at least 7cms long but didn’t need stitches (we didn’t seem to get them back in our day) I can still run my finger along it now and it’s still visible. A good identifying mark on my body, along with several others like my Caesarian section scar along my ‘what was supposed to be’ my bikini line. Never will I have that flat tummy I used to have prior to having my 4 beautiful children, such a small sacrifice to pay for having been blessed with 4 healthy pregnancies. I don’t think my abdominal wall will hold it all in anymore after being cut 4 times to bring them into the world, so I’ll have to be more content to let it all hang out as I’ve tried to get the ‘perfect’ body shape for too long and life is too short to worry about stuff like that and I know that I’m way better on the inside 🙂 Oh I forgot all about my finger scar on my pinky & ring an finger on my left hand that was jammed in a car door getting dropped off at school. When I look at my hands side by side the two fingers that I damaged are considerably smaller than the ones on my other hand. On my tummy I have puncture wounds from my gall bladder removal operation done by key hole surgery when Ben was 6 months old and my belly button bares the scar of the operation that often comes after a miscarriage.
Pete got a great scar when riding his bike home from the pub to our new house at Blackbutt before we were married. If I remember it correctly the scar was nearly to his butt and it was pretty black from bruising, blood and healing – a nasty gravel graze. Had to put my nursing training into practice and nurse him back to health with daily dressings. That will teach him riding his pushy home from the pub under the influence. That’s when I decided that a better solution was needed to get him to and from the pub safely – from then to this day I still drop him off and pick him up from the pub on Saturday afternoons from 2pm -6pm (now we have the kids drop him off & pick him up at times too when I can’t).
When my first born Amy was 8 months old she got her first scar by having an operation to reconstruct her ureters in her bladder as she had urinary reflux. Her scar ran along the same place as I had my babes taken from me, and another small scar above the larger one where her supra-pubic catheter was inserted. She celebrated her first Easter in hospital with a visit from the Easter bunny and her first taste of chocolate. Amy and I missed attending her first wedding experience with family while she was in hospital, Pete’s brother Bob and Karen. As we look back at the photos taken at the wedding, I will be taken back to a different place within my memory. Saying a prayer at the hospital chapel that our baby girl recovers from the operation and that we’ll be safely home soon happy and healthy.
The scars you can’t see are the hardest to heal. When I here these words I think of Rachel who had one unfortunate relationship with a particular someone who left her with some pretty nasty internal scars from being emotionally abused. So glad we got the message across that he was no good for her and that she deserved to be treated like someone’s whole world and we are so glad she found Adam who’s helped Rach believe in herself again and has helped in healing those inside scars – Adam brings out the better in Rachel. No scars on the outside to mention.
Benjamin on the other hand, where do we start? His first set of stitches at the age of 2 was on his dad’s watch on a Sunday afternoon. I came home to find that Ben had hit the back of his head on the coffee table in the good room. The nursing instinct kicked in again and after examining the wound decided a trip to the Drs for stitches was needed. This was his first. The second was when he was sitting on his sisters lap in the back yard and she dropped him leaving him with injuries of de-gloving of his top lip to his gum and a split to his nose. He now has a little stick figure of a man where the natural crease is between the nose and top lip. This required superglue. Another time was when he was watching Warilla Gorilla’s play a home game of footy, he went walk about with his cousin Paul, often he’s partner in crime and tripped over hitting his head on the back of a truck grill that you wipe the dirt off your feet before you get in. They continued to happen as he got older too, so you couldn’t blame childish innocence and clumsiness for these mishaps. One summer night we woke to screams in the boys room next door. I opened the door to find a scene from a crime movie, Ben wandering aimlessly in a messy room covered in blood. There was blood on the walls, chest of draws, the floor, the portable fan, the stool they used for getting up the top bunk and all coming from a cut on Ben’s forehead. Obviously he had got up to go to the toilet in the night and had tripped on something and unable to see where he was going, wiped blood everywhere. This required more stitches. There is one more to mention – a scar from a footy boot at a home game at Jamberoo. This scar looks like Harry Potters zig-zag one on his forehead, but this was sideways on Ben’s chin. Don’t think the facial hair will grow there much now – sorry Ben you’ll have to work harder at looking that little bit older!
By the time Jacob came along casualty had become a familiar place to spend a little bit of time on weekends and during the week nights in winter in the early hours of the morning with high temps and numerous bouts of viral croup. Jacob didn’t miss his share of scars either. His first set of stitches arose from a fall from the slippery dip in the backyard, and as soon as the stitches come out he falls over again in a shoe shop at Warrawong and splits it open again and they feared we would sue them. I reassured them I would do no such thing as Jacob was a pretty clumsy kid when he was a toddler. He was snooping in his sister’s draws and couldn’t quite see what he wanted so stood in another draw to gain some height, but it fell out causing him to hit his chin which required superglue. His grandparents dog fancied a bite out of his chunky calf muscle as he ran excitedly around the pool getting ready to jump in.
Most families will have their own scar stories with them not really being very different from my own, simple but harmless everyday injuries that we come across in our lives. Some people may never have scar stories that can turn their lives upside down. In 2002, I had a suspicious mole on my back removed for testing and it came back as a melanoma. I was extremely lucky that I had got it very early as it was just starting to change. I was treated by Professor Thompson at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where a larger section was removed to make sure it had clear margins, prayers were answered and I was clear. I make sure I have regular skin checks from now on after the removal of a basal cell and squeamish cell carcinoma on my face.
Never be afraid of a scar, it simply means that you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you. Jacob was so incredibly strong throughout his cancer journey and in particular when he had his operation on the 13th of January 2015. Part of his bone in his femur was removed and radiated with high dose radiation then put back in his leg along with a titanium rod to stabilise it. The results came back with clear margins so they had taken all the bad bits. The scar went from his hip to the side of his left knee. It healed beautifully. He would laugh about it saying he’d set off the alarms at the airport scanners, but he never got the chance to try it out. The parasitic disease reared its ugly head again giving the Drs another reason to put marks on his beautiful skin, this time on his spine. His scars would heal beautifully – why couldn’t the same process work its magic on the disease in health and repair, it never made sense. Jacob fought Ewing’s Sarcoma which resulted in several battle scars.
I’ve touched upon this before – ‘the scars you can’t see are the hardest to heal.’ And to all who love him we will need a lot of healing to deal with the emotional scar of losing Jacob. We will keep his memory and spirit and love alive in everything we do and we will continue to live our lives in ways that would make him proud. Physical scars get better and don’t hurt anymore but emotional scars hurt for a long time. There will be days when we seem ok on the outside and put on a brave face but on other days we might buckle a little easier with all the triggers – that’s because the wounds inside rise a bit closer to the surface and bleed out as tears….