Friday, July 17, 2009

Scar Face

Tuesday night I went to class (If I miss more than two classes, I will fail the class, and I want to save those two classes for my radiation). I felt so awkward walking into a room full of people for the first time. I had debated covering it up, but the doctor had told me not to. Plus, I didn't have any bandages big enough to cover it without looking like a patch-work quilt. I was worried that people would think I had purposely left it uncovered just to gross people out and get a lot of attention.

I got to school just as another class-mate was arriving. I hurried ahead of her so she wouldn't catch up to me and see it. Good thing I accomplished that since I still had to walk into the classroom. I just felt so weird about the moment that everyone would see me for the first time since surgery.

Well, I made it through class, not without very self-conscious feelings though. Especially when the girl sitting across from me was trying to eat her salad. I kept wanting to apologize and cover up my scar. Sometimes, I have to stop myself from saying, "I'm so sorry about my scar. I know it's really gross. I would cover it up, but the doctor doesn't want me to."

In a small way (because a scar on my neck isn't even close to what some people have had to experience), it all makes me very aware of what it must feel like to be a person who doesn't quite fit in. Whether that person brings it upon themselves by assuming that others view them in a negative way or whether others really do view them in a negative way, it is extremely hard to socialize with people when you feel like a freak.

The next time you think less of a person because they are acting strange or introverted, try to remember that maybe it is because they feel very insecure and self-conscious and are battling a lot of voices inside their heads that are telling them they are inferior or gross or annoying and they should just leave the room.

Maybe, instead of judging them so you can make it easier to dismiss them, you could go over and talk with them and try to make them feel more comfortable. They might act a little reserved when you first approach them because they think they want to be left alone so they don't bother anyone. What they really want, though, is for someone to help them snap out of their fears and make them realize they are just like everyone else. One of my classmates did that for me when I sat at a table by myself. She said, "No, you can't sit over there all by yourself. You need to move over here by us." Reluctantly, I did, and they began to talk to me about my surgery and told me how great my scar looked and how glad they were that I was there.

Yes, it is very childish of me to go to those places in my mind, but the reality is that I have gone there. We all probably do. We all need each other to reach out and help us through those weak moments when we feel like our flaws define us or our weaknesses have gotten the best of us or our mistakes have devalued us.

So, if there is someone in your life who might need a little encouragement, I hope you will just take a moment to let them know they are important to you.

And if you are one of those people who is feeling kind of icky, I hope you will realize that you are so much more than the imperfections and failures in your life. On the flip-side of that, those scars and wounds you've received have played either a small or large part in who you have become. They do not define you, but they are tools that helped to shape you. Since you are such a special and unique person with so much to offer the world, you can be thankful for and embrace those tools, however painful they may have been at the time.

Having said all that, here are some of the pictures of my scars. I didn't expect it to be so hard to post these. I kept going through the different photos looking for the best ones, as if I would all-of-a-sudden click on the next picture and it would be pretty. Well, they are what they are, folks, and they are a part of me, albeit a very small one because I am so much more than the scar on my neck.

This is before the stitches were taken out.

Side view after the stitches were removed. There is even more swelling than before they removed the stitches.

Front view after the stitches were removed


  1. I love you Tani! Your blog is amazing, and I check it every day. I want to send you hugs, and love, and just chat, but I don't want to be a bother. When you get a break in life (haha, yea right, a break in life? Let me re-word that) when things slow down an iota, we seriously need to hang for an afternoon or evening :)

  2. I once heard of a woman who'd had a mastectomy who had a tree tatooed around the scar. Maybe you could get a necklace tattoo? (Just kidding.) Brave woman!

  3. I am sure it is hard... but you have an interesting story to go with it too. ( : Why doesn't the Dr. want it covered? Is it so it can "breathe" better to heal? How is it feeling by now? Is it hard to swallow? I have been praying for you - sure wish we could get together... ( : Don't be too hard on yourself as to what people think! I love you a lot!! Venessa

  4. I know you're self-conscience about it and it might take a while to get over that feeling...but sounds like you are on the right track to mentally getting to where you need to be with it! Just remember...scars build character, make you unique (not in a weird way, a good way!!) proud of it! ;-)

  5. Jennifer, I can make time for you, my friend. I love you and miss you. Thanks for the kind words.

    Mary, I had actually thought of that myself. Maybe a few little flowers here and there around the scar would be nice. Not sure I want to do anything that inflicts pain to the area again though. =)

    Venessa, I think that is why the doctor wanted it uncovered - so it could heal faster. It is very hard to swallow. That is one of the most painful aspects of the whole recovery. It hurts all the way to the back of my head when I chew or swallow. Kind of takes the pleasure out of eating - which is a great thing for me.
    Love you too!

  6. Oops, Lanell. We must have been commenting at the same time. Yes, I am getting to the point of being proud of my scar. Thanks for helping with the process.

  7. I'm excited that the adoption process is moving forward for you guys. The scar is not as bad as I imagined it would be. I know your probably thinking would I say that if it was on my neck. Your right about people having things that they see as "big" to them. Love and prayers Lynette

  8. Hey did I actually do that? Did it really work? I've never been able to get this post a comment thing to work before. Lynette

  9. You did it, Lynette! =) Yes, we are excited to have the adoption process moving along. I'm glad you think the scar doesn't look so bad. Maybe that is what others will think when they see it, too. Glad to have your comments on here.

  10. Ouch! Mine is so tiny by comparison!

  11. You have so much wisdom in dealing with your situation! I'm impressed!! I didn't find the pictures gross at all. When I see someone with something like this, I'm curious about what happened--accident, surgery or what? If I don't really know the person though, I don't know whether to comment or let it pass. People are strange and unpredictable creatures. (I'm probably the worst!) People react so differently so I guess that's why you thought people would be grossed out by the scar. Glad that part is over and pray the rest goes well. Your posts are great!