Saturday, January 29, 2011

Scars and broken bones

Before my car accident I'd never broken a bone and I hadn't had any major health problems. No stitches, surgeries or scars. When I had my accident I broke my first bone(s) – my pelvis, a few ribs and my neck. My injuries were severe, so I had my first of many surgeries, which of course resulted in scars. Some of my scars are smaller than others, but I've got some great ones!

Here's a little bit about my three favorites: I have a long, 12" scar down my abdomen (breastbone to pubic bone) from the emergency surgery that I had right after my accident. I had severe internal trauma, so they opened me up to survey the damage. They stopped the internal bleeding and removed my ruptured spleen. After that they closed me up and put me back together with 40 staples. (It looked like a zipper.) Over the years my scar has faded from purple to red to pink, but it's still there, serving as a reminder of my very first surgery.

Second are two scars on my neck that are from the surgery when my neck was stabilized. This was a very tricky surgery that took eight hours, instead of the predicted four. The surgeon first tried to get to my spine by cutting into my neck from the front. This was unsuccessful, so they had to carefully turn my body over so that the surgeon could cut into the back of my neck. The surgeon later told my mom that he'd never seen a neck that was so badly broken where the person was still alive. This was a sobering fact! The scars on my neck aren't nearly as visible as they once were, especially the one on the back of my neck since it's now covered with hair. (They had to shave the back half of my head to do the surgery.)

By far my favorite and most grizzly looking scar is on the underside of my right forearm. When I was in the emergency room right after my accident, I had several IVs and I was hooked up to all sorts of different drugs. In one of my IVs I was being given potassium, and the IV infiltrated. (This means that the IV slipped out of the vein, but the potassium was still flowing, so it pooled on the inside of my arm, resulting in a terrible burn.) My skin was basically charred from the inside out, and I had a thick, black scab of charred skin that was about 6 inches long and 2 or 3 inches wide. This thick scab had to later be cut off with surgical scissors. Remarkably, it didn't hurt at all. Although I could feel the pressure of being touched, I felt no pain. This wound was very deep (deep enough that I could see the tendons in my arm) and it took months to heal. I'm always proud to show people this scar since it has such a great story to go with it!

As much as I love my scars, they are nothing compared to the scars that my two younger sisters have. They are both burn survivors and have extensive scars covering much of their bodies. (Fortunately, their scars are mostly in places that are covered by clothing.) I love their scars since I feel it says so much about them; what they've been through and how they both survived such horrible injuries. I'm sure they both feel differently than I do about having scars, but I really admire them both.


Cinoda said...

Heather, You are such a remarkable young women. I admire your courage and your matter of factness about life's events.

I also have a scar that I joke about. Since I've had breast cancer, I have a scar that goes from the middle of my nipple straight across to under my armpit. I joked with the doctor that he should have left a hole in the nipple and I could have a nipple ring!

I don't want to appear to too presumptuous and I don't know if you've written about this before, but can I ask how the car accident happened and what were your immediate thoughts after finding out you condition? If this is too personal to ask you, I understand.

Laura said...

Actually, Heather, I feel remarkably similar to you about my own scars. I'm proud of what I've been through and how I've managed to turn out. It's really formed me as a person, and I wouldn't change it for the world. I'm actually happy now when people notice my scars so that I can talk about what I've been through. I hope my own experiences can provide other people with the inspiration to survive their own, and to thrive in spite of circumstances. (Or perhaps because of them.)

ionamin-W8FW8 said...

Was it at the burn support group where someone said that scars are like tattoos only better, because they have a better story??? Scars DO have interesting stories and are indicative of courage and triumph!
--Heather and Laura's proud mother

Tina said...


You are so awesome! I hope one day my travels will bring me out your way. I would love to meet you.

Your Utah Friend,


P.S. If you get a chance check out my new blog up and running, I am totally serious about wanting to use you sometime as a movie critic. That would be fun.

Melissa said...

Thank you so much for this post. It is beautiful and brought tears to my eyes.

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