Every single day when I put my socks on, the scar on my ankle is the daily reminder of where this whole medical journey started. It makes me wonder what my life would look like now if I hadn't jumped up for that stupid football back in 2005. Would I have played soccer in college? Would I have continued the path of wanting to be a nurse? Would I be living on my own? There are so many, "What if questions" from the past, so I try not to waste my time thinking about what could have been because it is never going to happen.
By far, the scars on my shoulders and shoulder blades have been the hard ones to accept. If it was just one scar here, and one scar there, I wouldn't care as much; it would be like with my ankle. However, no matter which way my body is turned, a scar is visible on my shoulders no matter what. Whether it be a small arthroscopic scar or a bigger one from an open incision. They are there.
When I was going through pictures, I came across a picture of my back from homecoming in 2005. I looked at that picture and the first thing I thought was, "Oh, look at that. There was once a time when my back looked "clean" and pretty." Probably the worst thing I did was compare it to a picture of my back now. It is a slap in the face. It is the reality of everything that has happened right in front of my eyes. Since the scars are on my back, oftentimes I don't think of them as being there because I can't see them.
|Scar free and not a worry in the world.|
It would be nuts for me to say, "No, my scars don't bother me and I am completely comfortable in my skin" because it's not true. However, most people are not 100% comfortable in their own skin. If you put a person in front of the mirror, they will be picking themselves apart. I have learned to accept my scars because it is what it is, but they do bother me at times. I notice they bother me the most when I put a swimsuit on, or, when I'm trying on shirts at the store and won't buy the shirt because I think the shirt "emphasizes" them. I am not trying to draw attention to my scars but I'm not trying to hide them either. It may be a hard concept to understand if you do not have this issue. It's funny how my own perception of my scars can change daily depending on where I am going and who I am going to be around. I usually wear my scars just fine. I call them my "battle-wounds."
In August of 2012, I went and visited a burn camp in Wisconsin for a couple days. It is a camp for children and teenagers who sufferred severe burns and have physical scarring; this camp is a place for them to be around other individuals their age who have gone through similar situations and have fun!! I wanted to be a counselor so bad at this camp and had to decline due to medical circumstances. The staff was kind enough to let me come up for a couple of days. Even though I couldn't be a counselor, I still wanted to participate in some way; I had to resort to plan B. I donated an original tiger drawing and a print of another tiger that I drew. They used them for fundraising. It just goes to show you, you might not be able to do what you want to do, but with a little creative thinking you can still be involved in some way.
The moment that stands out to me the most at this camp was when I was eating lunch with some of the little girls who were around 9-10 years old. I wore a tank-top to the camp to put my scars to good use. I saw the little girl who was sitting across from me see the scars on my shoulders. She looked at me and bluntly asked, "Were you burned?" Honestly, this question caught be off guard because most people generally do not ask me what happened. I looked at her and said, "No I was not." She then said, "But you have scars." I told her, "Yes I do, but they are from needing surgery for an injury; not from being burned." This was a very short but honest conversation. As this little girl shared with me how she got burned and asked me more questions, it made me realize how much this little girl has been through. I think I saw a light bulb go off in her mind when she put together that scars come in many forms and that you can wear your scars proudly and go about your day. A lot of times the kids and teenagers are self-conscious of their scarring and might not participate in certain activities because of this. I strongly believe that scars DO NOT define who you are and should NOT get in the way of the things you want to do.