Sunday, April 5, 2009

"Let me show you my incision!"

Why do post op people feel the need to flash their incisions at friends, family and unsuspecting passersby? Is it basic competition—my scar’s bigger, better, thinner, longer, redder than yours?

It was twenty years ago and I’d offered to drive my mother to her lady friend, Margaret’s, home. Florence and Ingrid, octogenarian cronies, were to be there also.
The plan was to drop off my mom, go into the office to do some catch up work and collect her in three hours.

Margaret had had surgery and the ‘girls’ were stopping by with casseroles and chit-chat to cheer up their friend. I planned to stay long enough to be polite and to help set out the luncheon they’d prepared. They urged me to eat. They'd made enough food for twelve; I was a bit hungry and the spread looked delicious.

That is until Margaret rolled down her elastic waistband a few inches to show off her gallbladder or some other missing organ scar. I looked away, swallowed hard and tried to forget my hunger. Maybe I could make a plate and leave.

Too late! “Let me show you my incision,” chirped Ingrid.

“Mine is from here to here,” said Florence pointing from her breastbone to somewhere close to the critical mass area below her ample tummy.

I knew where my mother’s incision was and wasn’t going to wait for her offer.

Fast forward twenty years. My nineteen year old son had knee surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital on April 1st, yeah, no joke. He ripped the ACL in his right knee when he caught his ski edge and twisted in a manner that knees don't do well. They reconstructed his ACL using a third of the tendon that runs up the knee cap. To do this they had to cut into the front of his knee. I was an English major so that’s all I know about that and I'm sure I messed up the correct surgical terms.

On the second day of post op, we removed the ace bandages layered around his swollen knee. We were at his first session of rehab therapy. My son directed me to take a picture, using my cell phone, of the incision still covered by thin strips of surgical tape. It wasn’t infected which is all I cared about.

We returned home and he settled in with laptop, iPod, cell phone, DVD and TV remotes.
(After my emergency appendectomy at eight years old I remember recovering with a coloring book and crayons and a stuffed dog.)

Within minutes he called me over to the couch and invited me to see his new Facebook photo—yep, his incision! The text reads, “My awesome incision. It’s my knee!”

When you Facebook my son (I think it’s used as a verb—forgive me Strunk and White) you see a swollen, plastic looking blob with a patch of white covering a thin line of dark something which without the text would not be identifiable except perhaps by the surgeon.

Cyberspace equivalent of Margaret rolling down her waistband?

I’d like to think that he wouldn’t have ‘exposed’ to his Facebook friends a body part that wasn’t as mundane as a knee. I’d like to think that.

I am curious to see if anyone responds to him with a scar of their own; one that’s bigger, better, longer, thinner…I think I'll go color!

Luisa Buehler, author of TThe Rosary Bride: A Cloistered Death (A Grace Marsden Mystery Book One) (Grace Marsden Mysteries)


Mary Cunningham said...

No scars to show, Luisa, but I'm with you! I can easily handle a surgical knee incision, but don't go showing me your "head-to-toe" scars!

Thanks for the chuckle. How things change!

Gayle Carline said...

I admit to a small amount of fascination with my own scars. I have memories of studying the stitches in my palm from where my neighbor fell out of a tree on me (long story). But I don't really want to see other people's scars.

The absolute topper for me is when my uncle had his leg amputated (gangrene due to diabetes) and wanted to show me the stump.

Um, no. No, thanks.

Gayle Carline

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Mary Welk said...

Being a nurse, I don't mind looking at or discussing scars. In fact, I find them kind of fascinating. I saw my doc last week -- went in for my 100,000 mile checkup -- and she immediately oohed and ahhed over the scar on my stomach. "A pyloric stenosis? Wow! That's a great looking scar!" We spent a pleasant five minutes discussing my operation and the fact that my son Matt was born with the same condition and had the same surgery when he was a month old. Of course, his scar is smaller than mine, but who's measuring? :)