The other day, I was washing the coffee pot in the kitchen. The top of the lid was white and it was stained a bit, so I took it off, turned it sideways, and was going to put it inside the carafe so I could fill lit with bleach and let it soak. I’ve done this dozens of times. For whatever reason, this time, the lid caught the side of the glass, and when I pushed down, it cracked the glass itself and, in part because I’m in the wheelchair at the sink, the angle at which I am doing this is changed some from standing, and my hand came down sideways on the broken glass. I have four cuts, not too deep but enough they hurt when I brush against them, one small puncture wound on the side of the hand, and then a large, deep laceration on the tip of my pointer finger.
It’s really bad. I should have had stitches or at least gotten it butterflied. You can, three days later, still see the bubbly flesh under it, the fatty tissue. It’s healing, but it’s not sealed yet. It’s bruised. I’m on blood thinners, so it took a bit to get it to stop bleeding, but when it did, it left it quite bruised and now it’s several shades of colors. It’s swollen. Worst of all, I manage to keep hitting it on things over and over and it freaking hurts.
Like, I’m taking Lortab 10s, along with a couple of ibuprofen (not supposed to have those with the blood thinners, but I needed something!), and except for the fact they are making me sleepy and loopy, they aren’t making all the pain go away. I’m tough. I’ve had drug-free, natural childbirth and will be the first to say it wasn’t so bad. I had an IVC filter inserted with no pain meds other than a lidocaine shot at the entry location–this was a surgery, folks, with no pain meds! It wasn’t so bad. I had an ABG without…
…okay, the ABG was bad, but still.
I’m tough. And this finger thing is kicking my butt. I’m being a big, whiny, complainy wimp. And I have no intention of stopping that any time soon, either. Just LOOK at my finger. Look at it! Whimpers.
But it did cause a great discussion on the writers forum the other day: Battle Scars.
We all have them. Emotional, physical, mental, psychological scars… we all bear them, and sometimes even bare them, but we can’t avoid them.
The scars that stay with us the longest are usually the ones we can’t see, those that we can’t be reminded of on a daily basis, but that we carry with us for a long time. I remember when I first left my daughter’s father. Every man I dated after him because an abuser, waiting to hit me. If he raised his hand too close to me, I’d flinch, even when I knew beyond any doubt he wasn’t going to hit me. I’d flinch because my father was one to lash out and slap or whack when he was angry enough and within arms reach, and the first man I entered into a relationship of any sort with did the same. That scar stayed with me, but as with some scars, it wasn’t a weakness–it became a strength, because I made a vow after that that no man would ever hit me again, and I’ve kept that vow. One time, one man tried, and let’s just say he regretted it and was never in a position to be able to even try it again. I know how to bury bodies, so to speak.
Hey, I’m a writer, after all.
THERE’S A HOLE IN MY HEAD–NO REALLY, THERE WAS!
Physical scars are interesting. My first real scar, the first I can remember, anyway, is one you can’t see now. It was a hole in my head, made by a nail that fell from a fence line next to some construction on a new apartment building. Ironically, about 20 years later or so, I moved into those same apartments, behind where my parents used to have a fast-food burger and soda shop restaurant. When my parents owned the soda shop burger joint, the apartments were brand new, being built. When I lived there, the burger joint was a biker bar, and the apartments… well, let’s just say they were over 20 years old, and leave it at that.
Anyway, a block of wood was placed on a fence, and the wood had a nail in it, and one of the kids of one of my parent’s employees–a boy named Bobby, who was a thorn in my side for years growing up–decided to climb that fence, intent on throwing the block of wood at another little boy on the other side of the fence. I stood below the fence, watching, looking up, while he placed the block of wood on the fence and climbed. As he climbed, the fence shook, and the block vibrated off, and came down, nail side first, right into the top of my head, that was now tucked down. The nail went into my head by about a good inch.
I remember watching everything in slow motion after that. I was only four years old, give or take a year, but I remember this scene as though I were a grown up. It all slowed down, everything. There was no pain. There was no fear. There was this odd fascinating at this warm feeling in the top of my head. Then the blood started to run down my face, then further, and then it spilled in big, fat, wet and sticky drops onto the ground below my feet, and all over my brand-new white boat shoes that I’d begged my mother to buy me; the same shoes she threatened me within an inch of my life not to get dirty, because she had wanted to buy me the dark blue ones, and I just HAD to have the white ones.
I remember the blood. The fascination at the warm feeling. But mostly, I remember thinking, “Mama is going to kill me for messing up my pretty white shoes.”
ANOTHER BUMP ON THE NOGGIN
When I was eleven years old, I was diving into the lake, and there was this slate-rock jut out, where we’d walk out to knee deep water, about a half a city block into the lake, but then there was this drop off, where you could go deep and deep and deep, surrounded by the rock. So I was diving into this deep round area, and at one point, dived in and missed the hole. Yeah, missed the big huge hole in the rock and hit the rock instead – hard. Then hit the hole. Didn’t have any idea which way was up. I remember pain on that one–intense, horrible, searing pain, blurred vision, sick to my stomach. But the worst part was not knowing where up was to get out of the water. Panicky feeling… it was horrible.
That tore a chunk out of my scalp, down to bubbling tissue, where, to this day, no hair grows in that spot. Fortunately, it’s small and only I notice it any more.
LITTLE BLACK AND BLUES
I was so clumsy as a child, I was taken to the ER so many times, they actually called a social worker in at the hospital to talk to me once, to see if my parents were abusing me. The doctor was asking questions, my mom was answering them, and he stopped her and said, “I asked your daughter what happened. I want her to answer.” My mom shut up after that. I have broken most bones, including both arms, both wrists, several fingers, and an ankle fracture.
That one is a particularly interesting story, because… my mother and father were married for 28 years before they divorced, when I was 24 years old. But the day I broke my ankle, my mother had left my father. She ended up taking me and my sister to the park that day, and that was the day I broke my ankle. My father, from what I was told, was contacted and came to the hospital or doctor (I can’t remember what happened after falling from the slide–I was trying to climb up a slide in my socks and slipped and fell off the side and flipped onto the ground)… but my ankle getting hurt is what made mama go back to daddy… apparently, he didn’t know she was planning on leaving. I never knew this story until last year, when my mother told me about it.
A CAMERA THAT COST AN ARM AND A LEG… OR WAS IT THE OTHER WAY AROUND?
Another time, I broke my arm on the way to a softball game. To give you a sense of the reason why my mother might have wanted to leave my father, let me relate that story to you: We were on our way to a softball game. I was an all-star catcher for the team with the sponsor name Ball & Seat Specialties. As you can imagine, this girls’ softball team took some good-natured (and not so good-natured ribbing about that sponsorship name). I had left my softball glove in the house by my parents’ business. So I rushed in to get it, and on the way out, I tripped over the guy wires to the little tent we had put up in the yard to play with, and I came crashing down with my arms in front of me, clutching my glove to my chest, and I literally broke one arm by cracking it over the other one when I landed on them. I was twelve at the time… and I didn’t cry, but man, it freaking hurt.
I sniffled back tears on the way to the ballgame, and was doing okay, right up until it was time to warm up the pitcher. I was the catcher, so I went to squat and she threw the first pitch to me, and I extended my arm down to get it and *crack*… I fell over and I think I passed out from the pain.
This was in the day long before cellphones, but one guy was a roughnecker, and he had a CB radio in his truck to a dispatcher, who called my father, who came to get me. He was furious with me, and I didn’t understand why. He tried to talk me into saying my arm wasn’t really that bad, and that I was being melodramatic, but I had actually PASSED OUT from the pain. He finally conceded and took me to the emergency room, but on the way there he said, and I am quoting here, “It had better be broken, because this is going to cost me my new camera.”
He’d been dabbling in amateur photography that summer. We all know how important that stuff is in the wake of a child with a broken arm, right?
Well, it was broken… wore a sling the whole rest of the summer. Phooey on him.
SPEED DEMON: DON’T MESS WITH THE BUTCH BITCH
Another break came in my wrist when I was roller skating racing at a rink in San Angelo with my aunts (there are seven siblings in my mother’s family, so I have a few aunts and uncles in my life whom I never talk to any more). I had gone to the bathroom and missed the call for the 10/11 year olds, which was how old I was at the time, but I was always big for my age, so I went ahead and skated with the 12/13 year olds when I came back. This one chick, a real butch girl who we all had thought was a boy before she actually entered the girls’ races, decided to shove me down in the beginning of the skate when the whistle went off, and she stomped her skate on my wrist and broke it. Of course, she claims it was an accident, but she as disqualified. I learned a valuable lesson… but I am too kind of a person to actually tell you exactly what that lesson was.
Anyway, much like my father before, my aunts didn’t believe my arm was hurt. They thought I was being melodramatic and embarrassed because I had fallen and not won the race. It was three days later, when the bruises was all multi-colored and I was back in Odessa with my mom and dad that my mother took me to the doctor and we learned my wrist was fractured. I mean, really… what’s up with all these people not believing me when I say I’m hurt?
Actually, I do know what it is… it’s because I’m actually usually pretty tough. I don’t whine or complain a lot. I live every day in a lot of pain and I don’t usually say much about it. I have had natural childbirth, surgery without pain meds, chunks of flesh literally falling off my leg and I was up walking around and cleaning house. I don’t usually complain about pain and I rarely ever got sick or anything. Nothing kept me down long. So when I WOULD complain about pain, it probably seemed so out of character that it did seem melodramatic to them. My mother said I was the strangest child when it came to injury or illness. I didn’t cry like some kids, not when it happened. I was tough during it happening… it was afterward, when it was all over and I’d seen the doctor and everything was okay that I’d break down.
I’m still the same today.
I think that’s a coping mechanism though… I stay strong all through the ordeal to get through it. I save the breaking down for later, when it’s safe to do so.
I have plenty of other scar stories, such as the stretchmarks from my kids, or the scars on my chest from the central lines I’ve had or the IVC surgery that went through my neck down into my abdomen and then over into my heart. Weird things they can go these days medically, and I was awake for that! I’ve got a scar on my leg where I should have had stitches, that I got from trying to rescue my television from destruction.
And now, I’ll have this ugly, nasty scar on my finger too… because I was too stubborn to go to the doctor the night it happened and get a couple of lousy stitches. And I’m paying the price for that now too. ‘Cause let me tell you what… this tough chick says this freaking hurts! It hurts! Dammit, it hurts!
The part that worries me now, though, is that it’s numb… I don’t have feeling in the tip. So next week, I’m going to go see my PA and see if there’s nerve damage to it or something, and listen to her chew me out for not going into the doctor. Ryan even said I was being stupid for not going and got upset with me for treating it at home. What can he do? He can’t pick me up and carry me to the ER… so ppfffffftttttt. At least Lynn was honest and told me she probably wouldn’t have gone herself, but she wishes I had. She’s still trying to talk me into going now!
But it’s just a finger… I mean, I have 10 of them… I saw that doc one time who said mother nature gave us two or more of everything we really needed, so we’d have spares (never mind that we all have only one heart and one brain), but we have ten fingers — 10 of them! — so I can spare one or two, right?
Tell me, what are your battle scars? Share them as a writing prompt in the comments or on your blog and if you write about scars, of any kind, leave me a link so we can come visit your blog and read about your experiences!
Love and whiney painful stuff,
PS: Svenja, the brilliant artist (no, really–do go look at her stuff, ’cause she’s talented!) said to use Arnica cream. I’d never heard of it, but I bought some for my finger. Anyone used it? I love the all-natural aspect of it, so I can’t wait for it to get here tomorrow so I can see how it does for the bruising.