My Scars

Art by ShopMoonBacon

I have a lot of scars: visible physical scars. Some of the scars remind me of painful memories, some of them remind me of fond memories. But each of them is a testament to resilience. And though I’ve been mocked periodically because of them, I have taken my father’s advice and chosen to treasure them – like involuntary tattoos.

These are some of the stories they tell:

The first permanent scar I got was from a cycling accident before I turned 10 years old. My father and I were going down a steep backwoods path and when my tire got caught on a twig sticking out of ground, I was thrown off my bike and I got a bunch of rocks stuck under my skin. My dad took me home and carefully washed the rocks out from under my skin.

The second scar came when I was coming in from recess and the boy who’d been assigned to hold the door open decided to shut it on me. He was probably the only person in school who was less popular than me, and I suspect that he thought he could score some points with the prank. I tried to grab the door and he shut it on my finger. My fingers were flattened by the door, and it locked. The boy heard my screams, but ran away, and in a panic I ripped my fingers out of the door and in the process lost two of my nails from the roots. The fingers have never recovered and my nails are still deformed.

Then came the years of the many scars. I had my first major knee dislocation while I was in gym class. Funny enough, despite that the dislocation happened while I was characteristically faking physical activity, the dislocation was classified as a “sports injury” for the duration of my treatment. Over the course of the next four years, I had a series of extensive operations, which left me with large scars all over both legs. A few people started a rumour that I was faking my surgeries for attention. The implication being that my parents and the hospital were in on an elaborate conspiracy to give me fresh casts over the course of a year so that I would have an excuse to use a cane and thereby become The Coolest Preteen. But when I got the cast off for the first time, the first thing one of my classmates said to me was “now I believe you weren’t lying because your leg is so ugly”.

My most recent set of scars are my favourites. I was sleeping in the sand dunes of the Golan Heights, and I woke up to find out that I’d been robbed by a jackal. Literally. In the night, a jackal had taken my backpack, nuzzled its way into it, and then scattered all of my stuff over the dunes. It drank my beer. Anyway, I was so distracted that I didn’t realize that a poisonous spider had gotten trapped with me in my sleeping bag overnight and that I’d been bitten numerous times. At first the bites were small and itchy, but over time as they refused to heal they became bigger and deeper and it became evident that I was suffering from skin necrosis. After 8 months, with no sign of recovery, and with my wedding coming up, I went to see a doctor. He prescribed me a cream that he described as “very expensive and not covered by insurance”, so I decided to take the night to get up the nerve to bite the financial bullet. And then, as if by magic, when I woke up in the morning, the wounds had started to properly scab. Within a month they were healed, though they left big bright scars over my whole right foot and leg.

I look at these scars, and the other smaller ones from baking and the like, and they make me smile. Because I’ve lived. And I’ve survived. And I’ve healed.

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