When I was 20 I moved to France for 8 months. My best friend and I went to London for our Spring Break. While there, she pierced her nose and I pierced my belly-button. It was big drama in the family, as someone leaked word to my father, who detests piercings of any sort and thus thought I was rebelling. To this day I contend that it wasn’t rebellion; we had a great relationship. Simply, I was in college and in London and it was just something that college kids in London do. Anyhow, a falling out ensued that eventually healed. The ring eventually grew out. All the way out, as if it were a splinter or something. And it left a scar detailing the path it had taken. I remember someone saying, “Aren’t you sorry you got that now? All that fuss and now you have a scar.” I merely retorted back, “What does it matter? It’s not like I’m a belly-button model.”
It wasn’t pretty, but I just grew accustomed, ignored it. (After all, I wasn’t a belly-button model!) But then yesterday, here I was looking at my new, underwhelming navel, again suspiciously wondering how in the world it could be my old one. And then I saw it.
A part of the old scar! And I loved it! It was me! It was mine! I never knew I could have such affection for an imperfection. And now, it still doesn’t look like it did, but I have a new found respect for the navel I have, knowing my old one is in there, even if it has gone through some transitions (like the rest of me). And that made me think about my new scars…
When I was struggling with which type of reconstruction to choose, the expected scars were no small matter. My chest was already going to be heavily scarred, did I want my stomach to be cut up too? I liked my tummy. I didn’t need a “tummy tuck”! I’d rather have he scars above my bum where – frankly – I could ignore/forget about them.
But if I chose the bum-scar option (SGAP) I’d have to have 2 major surgeries 6 months apart. There’s only one place in the world (that I know of) that does both sides all at once for SGAP and, besides requiring me to go to New Orleans, I wasn’t all that hot on that idea either. (Props to the women who do it all at once. You’re some motivated, tough cookies!) I was also told that recovery from SGAP is tougher than from DIEP and that belly fat gives a better result (in terms of mimicking the original breast tissue). So, while I dreaded the belly scar, I chose it. I wasn’t happy about it, but I just tried not to think about it, to keep life in perspective.
And guess what? Since having the surgery, I’ve felt proud of the big ol’ stomach scar! It shows what I’ve come through. And it might sound wierd but, there’s something “right” about a physical marker that parallels the mental and emotional healing I’ve gone through: closed, discreet, but never to disappear completely. I never would have expected it (and of course I’d prefer not to have to have had to get the scar), but just like my old piercing scar, it tells a story about me. It’s a story that might not be pretty, but it’s a story I survived, and it’s mine all mine. They always will be and, for that, they have earned my affection.
P.S. For those interested, the hair has reached another stage and there’s a new picture in the photo “flow chart” to the right.