Tuesday, May 9, 2017

When the Scars Fade

I lay in bed the other night alone. The covers were off and the ceiling fan was whirling around. It was a pretty warm, inside the house and outside. And I lay there, watching the fan and not sleeping, because Ben was downstairs watching the NFL draft, and also I couldn't allow myself to fall asleep because I hadn't yet taken my immunosuppressants. 

I decided to run my hands over my skin.  My arms mostly and then my stomach. Sometimes I like to feel places on my abdomen where surgeons have cut me, and I smooth my fingers over each area,  pressing into the tissue. I like to see how deep the indents are, if there are any.  Just about all of the "gunshot wounds," as Ben calls them, are now are identified by raised lines of lighter than my normal skin--the kind of skin that forms when you cut yourself and the body tries to heal. This is called scar tissue, and it's what they say most of my kidneys were covered with by the time they both failed.  

Much lower on the right side of my abdomen, getting closer and closer to--yes--my pubic bone is the six-inch scar where my transplant surgeon cut me and inserted my dad's kidney. The strange thing is that I almost hesitate to call it a scar anymore. The line where the incision occurred is so thin, so light and so faded that it's pretty difficult to see it. I feel like someone would have to put their eyeballs really close to my stomach to see that there's a piece of skin that just isn't like the rest that's unbroken around it.  The other scars from other surgeries--my appendix, dialysis and the removal of my ovary--are pretty clear. This one though, my transplant scar...even I am surprised by how much it's changed over the past four years. Yep, four years ago, my surgeon sliced through my skin, muscle, fat and other tissue and put in a new kidney.  

I've been struggling lately to cope with my health lately and the fact that I HAD to have a kidney transplant to be OK. I couldn't be like everyone else and just avoid doing this and keep living a normal life. I had to have a transplant.  There wasn't really a way around it. The experience of kidney disease, kidney failure, the transplant and even some of the related events that followed (CMV, rejection, no immune system, miscarriage and so on and so forth), was so traumatizing. Emotional marks were made. But four years later the outward physical evidence of that period in my life is starting to disappear.  The area where the surgery actually took place is mostly healed. 

I've been wondering lately if it's time for the rest of me to become "mostly healed," too.