This week my othopedic surgeon took the bandages off my stupid foot with a sense of finality and cautious optimism. Neither of us thought we would still be treating the thing 11 months after I first fell from a ladder while attempting to hang Christmas decorations. Neither of us thought it would take so long and hurt so much, or that I would need two surgeries in one year to correct the damage.
Today I have two key hole entry wounds and two tiny ‘snake-bite’ marks where my two new screws were inserted to stabilise my fracturing tibia. They are the second set of hardware I’ve had installed on the right hand side of my body, after the plate and screws in my right hand. The scars are cute additions to the array of wrinkled lines and dots that run from my right hand, to my hip, knee and finally terminate at my ankle. I’m quite the picture now.
I’m not ashamed of my scars though. After I came off my push bike in primary school and scored the first of them, I have collected more through various misadventures and keep the stories of how I got them alive. My son asked me recently why I have ‘lines’ on my tummy, so I told him the truth. I said he used to live in my tummy and I got these ‘tiger stripes’ because he was a big baby. I failed to mention the sheer volume of food I ate while pregnant, but he seemed to think this was a reasonable, satisfactory answer and went about his day.
My scars and stripes are becoming a bit of a map, you see. A trail that can be traced through time, from one event to another, back along the road I’ve travelled to get where I am now. These marks, these signposts, are places I’ve stumbled and fallen, or achieved something incredible, and none of them are more significant than the others. They hold painful memories, but also testify to how I overcame that pain and moved on with my life. They are significant to who I am, but they are not the sum of what I am.
However, the wonderful and terrifying thing about this map I’m making, is that I have no idea where it leads. I don’t know where the next scar will come from, I only hope it’s a long time down the track. Until then, I’ll carry my story in my skin and continue on my road to recovery and adventure.
Thank you to everyone who has sent me love and thoughts, to the fantastic staff at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital (Brisbane), to my mother who has lived with and cared for me for almost 6 months, and to my dad and my husband for their love and support