Technically it is two scars but due to their proximity and relevance to each other, I just call them one. Sitting in the valley of my chest, the scar spans eight inches down with a small one-inch horizontal companion scar right below. For modesty reasons the scar is hidden from the world almost like it’s just for me. People tend to tell me to find beauty in it like they know the feeling, almost like my story is theirs, a quick reminder; it’s not. If one were to drag a finger down the scar it could be almost like a journey, no inch is the same as the last. As a whole, it can be compared to most scars in a way, slightly raised above the surrounding skin with a glossy sight and a red hough pushing it closer to the viewer's eyes. The top two inches are slightly visible in most v-neck shirts and get the most questions. Questions have always been welcome but I aim to avoid them as much as I can. I usually respond with a “why are you looking there” followed by the actual answer. The next two inches are something I would consider strange, for unknown reasons the skin slightly folded over itself creating something I assumed to be a small tunnel to Narnia. Sadly, through an experiment with a sharp pencil, I learned it was fully healed to my skin and not a tunnel. Five-year-old me was very disappointed. The remainder of the scar follows a sort of zigzag pattern that tends to make me question if an intern closed me up or if my body just got funky with it. The Zigzag situation concludes the main portion of my scar and leaves my body free for about one inch before we reach the small horizontal friend that came along. That one-inch scar is a journey of its own, healing inward and creating a tightness. The scar tissue of that section has been sore all 20 years I have had it, a slight push inward, and I’m making a similar reaction to a medium-level period cramp. The scar tissue goes fairly deeper than the doctors told my parents it would, creating a mindset surrounding the mark, the one scar becoming two, and those two occupying more than just the valley of my chest, but the corners of my mind, the edges of my life, my whole universe.
Usually, scars come with an interesting or even funny story; the time I fell and busted my lip or the time a metal door caught me before I was fully through the threshold. Scars are within themselves a road map to a story. The story surrounding my valley scar leads a different path than most expect.
Out of all pregnancies, there is a 0.8-1% chance of a congenital heart defect being present, 10% of that group of kiddos are diagnosed with Pulmonary Atresia, where the blood-flowing section of the heart connecting to the lungs never fully developed. This defect results in life-risking open heart surgery and a lifetime of monitoring to ensure the valves remain functioning. This major surgery tends to result in a large chest scar and lung tube scar to assist in breathing. If you have yet to catch on, this is where I got my buddy. My mother made sure from a very young age that I knew I was special, she would point to my car and call it my “battle scar” she still does this, it's just more for her sake than mine. I can only imagine the struggle of giving birth to a child and being told she might not make it past the first week.
The only problem with being so young and programmed that everyone in my family knew, is that I assumed everyone knew I had the scar and what heart disease was. The weird looks, the questions, the insults, they leave a mark when you’re that young, even now. I remember the faces of the people the first time I tell them, and for me, it’s a simple “oh yeah I have heart disease but I’m ok I promise” as an attempt to make them feel better for something they have nothing to do with. When I was around eight years old a boy called me a liar, and I don't know if I ever got over that one. It’s extremely isolating, being 10% of 1% you don’t tend to meet a bunch of people who can relate so one might feel alone, broken, that something is wrong with you for not being perfect like all the others. I find that people try to relate as best they can, but it will never be the way I need. Sometimes one scar on the surface can create more scars underneath, and those tend to sting the most.
Ignorance is truly bliss. Until it is ignorance upon you. As many good stories do, the classic “one time at band camp” is a classic for a reason, so summer camp during 2011 is where we shall venture. The first two weeks of my July were spent at a day camp for the future housewives and venture brokers who at the time played lacrosse and thought Santa worked for Gucci. As per the usual last hour of every day at camp, pool time came along. I remember it like it was yesterday, I was standing in my favorite polka-dot bikini that I have yet to find a replica of, the crappy nail polish job from arts and crafts that day, and the space alien eye goggles that just brought it all together. On line for pool time, everything seemed completely routine with the other days around it, until a girl whose name I didn’t know then and definitely do not know now turned around and scanned the area landing on her new target, me, well only a specific part of me. Like the terminator, she scanned me up and down until she landed on the prime target, “Why do you have a second belly button? Are you some kind of alien?” I will be honest, the belly button I saw coming but the alien was a new one.
She was probably eight or nine, we all were, I assume her parents didn’t sit her down and explain every single organ, how they work, what can go wrong, and what a possible mark of that could be. If they did, that would be even weirder than the alien comment. Nine-year-olds aren’t supposed to know bad things, I don't blame her for it, I don't blame anyone or anything, but at the time some tears ran down my eyes as I searched for a good defense to come back, but nothing came out. Her ignorance somehow became my bliss, the less she knew the better for me because then I don't become the weird girl with a broken heart. Which by the way it’s not broken anymore the surgery fixed it so ha.
I love my scar, I love that I am learning to love my scar every day because it’s mine, no one else, it is a part of me in every way. There is nothing wrong with being a little different on the inside or the outside, what’s wrong is if you resent yourself for it. Although my scar became something bigger than I could have ever wanted, that doesn’t make it bad, it makes it stronger. Makes me stronger. The domino effect that outside marks can make on the inside, scar after scar dont lessen someone’s value. The strength I get from knowing I am stronger than anyone, even science could have predicted, is all I need, and sometimes does make me a little alien in my own way.