Very small woman using very large tweezers to hold a white four leaf clover background full of white operation game pieces

My Scars Are Proof I'm Lucky

I used to joke that I was the board game “Operation” because my body was covered in scars. By age 18, I had over a dozen surgical scars across me. My first three scars were from right after birth. I was born 12 weeks premature with meconium ileus. I was life-flighted and had multiple life-saving emergency surgeries over the first few weeks of my life.

My first three scars

Most of my surgical scars are from intestinal blockages or intestine removal procedures. I also have had five hernia repairs, 2 mediports placed, and a stomach tube placement and removal.

The first three scars I received as an infant were the largest.  They stretch across my entire stomach above my belly button. I am used to them since I have had them all my life. I usually don’t feel like I need to hide them. I think of them as reminders that I am lucky to be alive. The only time I felt uncomfortable would be on vacation (around people I didn't know). Even so, I still wore two-piece swimsuits. One-piece suits tugged at my mic-key button, but I always wore longer tankinis, which covered most of my scars. As I got older, I didn't care as much if they showed.

Purple scars

A few of my scars had to be fixed due to them not healing; my mediport scar remained purple for years. When my scars didn’t heal correctly, that is what made me uncomfortable. They were more noticeable because they would be either purple or bright red, and I was always concerned about infections or other issues.

Removal of my stomach tube

I worked really hard to get my stomach tube removed. I had it for over 17 years, and I wanted to be without it before my spouse and I got married. It had gotten so raw, infected, and painful over the years. And eventually, I proved to myself and my care team that I didn’t need it to keep my weight up.

The removal of a stomach tube is very different from surgery. They don’t do an actual procedure, and they don’t use anesthesia. They just remove the stomach tube and let the hole heal up on its own (basically, they yanked it out). This creates a bit of an indent that looks like a belly button. I was actually really self-conscious about how it would look because it was different from my other flat scars.

However, since I had my stomach tube for so long when they removed it, my stomach tube hole did not heal. It developed a fistula, so they had to go back in a couple of months later and surgically cut and sew my stomach (the actual organ and skin) shut. So, in the end, it looked like all my other flat scars.

A part of my story

Scars are just a part of my story, but they’re an important part! They remind me how far I have come, how much I have worked, and how lucky I am to be alive and healthy. I'm thankful for each one!

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