When I was wheeled into surgery six weeks ago, I knew I would have a road ahead of me, but I didn't realize it would be unpaved and stretch so far into the distance that I wouldn't begin to see the end for a month. I held strong in the days before, reassuring everyone I was tougher than I looked, a smile on my face. I even felt lucky, gown and hospital bracelet in hand, knowing that I wouldn't have to endure the fear and anxiety as my loved ones would in the waiting room, wringing their hands as the hours ticked by on the clock. I suppressed the nervousness, for family, for myself, only allowing it to surface when I found myself on the table, counting backwards from ten.
When I awoke, my mind cloudy with medication, all I could feel was pain—an endless, enduring pain that threatened to consume me.
Recovery is hard. It is harder than I ever gave it credit for. After a handful of days in the hospital, after four sleepless nights, after being poked and prodded until I lost my ability to care, I was released. I was weak and exhausted and in pain, but the worst had passed. I went home with my parents. I spent time on the couch. I picked at my food, appetite gone. I watched countless of hours of Full House, my angel and saving grace from three until six in the morning. With a foggy head and a cabinet of pain medications, I felt as fragile and vulnerable as a leaf fluttering in the wind.
My strength came back slowly. Each day was a little better than the last, but I could never pinpoint how or why. I walked like an old woman, hunched over from too much life experience. My spine gradually straightened. The milk carton felt like a 50 pound weight. It grew lighter. The fog in my brain began to lift. I could stand for more than an hour, then three. The process was slow, encompassing the next month. Eventually it grew comical, as I struggled to pack up and move while under 5 pound weight restrictions.
Even so, I was healing, my body gently finding a way to put itself back together.
Scars have always been a part of me, surface remnants from surgeries I was too young to remember. I cannot imagine myself without them, my eyes glancing over them as if they were never there. With my new scars, my eyes linger, pausing at the unfamiliar scene laid out before me. The map of my chest has changed, as angry red lines cross my abdomen and travel around my side in one big swoop. In all, there are eight—five old, three new. I wonder how long it will be before I forget they are there.
While some people view scars as flaws or disfigurements, I view them as a symbol of strength, a badge of honor, a sign that I have lived. These scars hold my imperfect body together. Standing naked in front of the mirror after a shower, I traced a finger over my permanent lines. I imagined my muscles weaving themselves back together. I imagined being able to stretch and bend as I did before. I imagined these lines fading into the background of life.
I can put on a shirt and cover up my experiences, hiding them from the people I meet. Sometimes I forget they are just beneath the thin cloth, this part of me that few people get to see. When the fabric is lifted, the secret exposed, I don't feel self-conscious or ashamed. These scars tell my story. These scars have made me whole.
I have long held the belief that warm cookies, fresh from the oven, can heal both emotionally and physically. These Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies allow both flavors to shine in this chewy cookie. Banana chips are processed into fine pieces before mixing into the cookies, giving them a pronounced banana flavor without the softness or cake-like texture that comes from using fresh fruit. Combined with chocolate chips, these cookies become the cure to whatever ails you, whether it be a broken heart, broken body, or afternoon sweet tooth.