Our scars map much of our medical history and illustrate improving medical technology
Created by wburfm on Mar 28, 2011
Last updated: 04/26/11 at 06:26 PM
ALERT - film contains nudity
In this film, "Unchastened," Catherine Musinsky talks about using dance, yoga and henna in her recovery from a mastectomy in 2006. Brynmore Williams directed and edited the movie.
Back in the 80's and into the 90's, I could look at someone's belly and know what surgery they had had. Ah, I see an appendectomy scar, a cholecystectomy scar, a scar for tubal ligation, one for Caesarian section, and excuse me, ma'am, what did you have done through this mid-line incision? Was it an operation for ulcer (upper mid-line) or perhaps diverticulitis (lower mid-line). Now the scars are all just tiny stab wounds,and they don't tell the story--four little ports might be gallbladder, antireflux surgery, or appendectomy--the placement varies a little, but it isn't the same. Dr. Jo Buyske Immediate Past President of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons
Two years ago, I went to the doctor for migraines, and during evaluation they found a small brain aneurysm. The first surgeon I spoke with wanted to do a clipping procedure involving a craniotomy. I went for a second opinion and decided to try a coiling procedure instead, which involves just a small puncture in the groin. In the end the aneurysm was not repaired because to do so would risk compromising the blood supply to my eye, but I'd much rather have a small puncture hole in my groin than have my head cracked open just to find out we couldn't fix the problem. This is an illustration of the procedure I did not have to have. Lesley Andrews
Do want to a watch laparoscopy in action? You have dozens of options on You Tube or on Lap Tube, a site dedicated to laparoscopic surgeons and their videos.
Many on both sides of my family suffer from osteoarthritis of the hips. I watched my mother begin to limp in her 40s. She waited until her early 60s to get a hip replacement and by that time she had long stopped exercising and had done damage to her knees and spine as a result of compensating for the bad hip. One aunt had both hips replaced in her 50s and then needed them done again in her late 60s. The second hip replacement surgeries failed and she was then bed-ridden for over 10 years. So, when I started limping at age 45 I wanted to be pro-active. I tried glucosamine, yoga and physical therapy but my hip only got worse. Then I heard about the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing. This is where they put a cap on the femur head and another inside the hip socket. They don't cut the bone and your joint moves naturally. After a year of healing you are able to do impact sports. The resurfacing should last the rest of your life. Usually the operation is done only to women under age 55 and men under age 60, due to bone density issues, but they can make exceptions. My inactive cousin was the first in the family to get a Birmingham Hip Resurfacing surgery, and then she got the other side done. Both were a big success. Last year, at age 48, it was time for me. The last straw was when my hip gave way while climbing up stairs and I came down wrong on my foot and broke it. I went to one of the major hospital systems thinking they did hip resurfacing, but instead they told me to hobble around for another 10 years, just like my mother did. So, I called my cousin's doctor. I had the surgery on Dec. 20, 2010. I got out of the hospital after two days and used crutches for six weeks. After three months I am walking perfectly, have no pain, and I am training for a 100-mile Century bicycle ride in May. I will turn 50 years old later this year and and I look forward to being more physically active in my 50s than I was in my 40s. You may think my 6-1/2 inch moon-shaped scar on the side of my buttock is ugly, but I think it is beautiful. So beautiful, I'm willing for you to post the photo. Julia G.
I experienced a four-month-long ordeal of unexpected infections that kill people with less robust immune systems. It required three subsequent surgeries to my original hip resurfacing surgery -- my arthritis is likely the result of 30 years of marathon running. My original incision would likely have left an inconsequential small scar. But infection during that original surgery resulted in a gnarly incision/scar from my second surgery, reminiscent of Frankenstein. Ten weeks later that nasty scar, which never fully healed, erupted with a second infection - MRSA this time - requiring two more surgeries six days apart, leaving me with an appalling open wound. This lead to a one-month stint tethered to a "Wound Vac" and finally leaving me with my current lovely morsel of a scar (the photo you see here). It was a lot to pay for the pain-free movement I know enjoy. And though my "retread" hip will never be a good as the original, "all things considered," it was worth it. The moral of my experience is that despite the excellent medical care we enjoy in our area, every patient must ultimately be his/her own best advocate and have a knowledgable supporter (friend/relative/PCP) asking the questions that might otherwise go unasked. Trust but verify everything. Jack Fultz
Last spring I was on tour with the US Coast Guard Band. This fantastic ensemble took me as a guest to fill in for their piccolo player who was on maternity leave. We visited Utah, Arizona, California, and Nevada. Among many highlights of the trip was my opportunity to run practically everyday in a different place. As a city runner, I was only used to running on pavement and gravel, so I loved every minute of jogging on all the unfamiliar terrain offered by the coast and desert locations we were visiting.
I went on a particularly adventurous run in Flagstaff, AZ with a couple of my colleagues. The short, easy jog we planned turned into a 6 mile dash through twisting, rocky paths at a high elevation. It was so exhilarating and challenging. I felt like I was driving my body like I would drive my car. I had to steer myself and push different amounts of energy into each step as I accelerated up little hills and controlled my way over bumps in the path. It was so fun and much more demanding of both my body and brain than my runs along the reservoir back in Boston.
I was so into the run that I barely acknowledged that I had torn three deep gashes in my knee when I slipped on a rock and spilled onto the ground. Maybe I was feeling like a superhero or maybe I was just being stupid, but I got back up and was happy to continue the run with my friends.
By the time we finished several more miles, the desert air had dried all the blood on my leg. It didn't look so bad then, but the oozing and bleeding that took place for the next several days made me remember my Dad's humorous medical wisdom, "I've always thought that if a cut is still bleeding after 2 days, then I should have gotten stitches..." My entire shin was also covered in a big bruise.
Just less than a year later, with nothing but neosporin, sunscreen, and arnica creme to help the injury, my scar is looking great.
I actually really like this scar! I was in the midst of an exceedingly happy point in my life when I had my little running accident. I felt like I was existing in an aura of positive energy that I had created around myself and just surging forward as I grew in all aspects of my life. This blemish on my skin is like a little tattoo that is a daily reminder of how capable I am of functioning and living at my best. It also reminds me of how amazing my body is. In under a year, my knee transformed from a raw and bloody mess back into smooth, healthy skin. Time, even just a little time, truly does heal wounds. And maybe I really did discover my inner superhero after all...
Doctors are working on scarless surgery techniques. With NOTES (Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery) doctors enter the body and take tissue out through the mouth, anus or vagina. Read Sacha Pfeiffer's story by clicking the link below.
I was building a tree house for my two daughters and had one last weekend to make it play-worthy before for my youngest daughter's birthday party. Fatigue took its toll late on Sunday afternoon when my judgment began failing me. I was rushing to get some lap-siding in place and headed up the ladder with a bundle of lumber in my arms and a tool belt around my waist. The ladder was propped along the bottom edge of the structure and the ladder angle couldn't take my weight as I moved farther up toward the tree house. As if in slow motion, I saw the top of the ladder lose its hold and fell about 10 feet to the ground. My right heel hit the ground between two rungs but my left heel came down hard on a metal rung, shattering the base of my tibia and tearing the tendon that held the tibia and fibula together. I still have two screws holding the bones in place! Tim Letscher
On Memorial Day 2008, I made a bad decision. I played basketball with my teenage sons and their friends at a cookout. I was 53. I was a runner then, and hadn’t played any serious basketball in years. Can you see where this is going? One of the young punks stepped on the back of my right foot, ripping the Achilles tendon. I walked around on it for a couple of days trying to convince myself that it was just a sprain, even though I knew it was worse than that. When I finally went, the doctor said if I had waited much longer, the tendon would have been rolled up too far to reattach. After the surgery, it took a year before the darn thing was back to anything resembling normal. Alex Ashlock
Dr. Paul Paul G. Curcillo, M.D. reviews the history and issues around this nearly scarless surgical procedure.
I lost the knuckle of my ring finger on my right hand in 2006 during my junior year of high school. My doctor called it a boxer's injury, but I was actually playing a rather intense version of indoor tag. My friends and I called the game "KGB" after the old Soviet security agency. It was a combination of tag, capture the flag, and hide-and-go-seek that we played in an empty church building. I was playing the role of a KGB agent, and I tagged out my friend Ava, "the rebel." Ava received a mild bruise on her throat while I ended up with a cast on my right hand for a month. I can still feel the place in my hand where my metacarpal bone fractured and overlapped on itself. -Alyson Whitman
I was 15 when I broke my left arm March 19, 2004, after hitting a jump snowboarding in New Hampshire. It wasn't my first time. I broke my right arm twice -- in three months -- two years earlier doing the same thing. My left arm was much worse; I broke both bones. I required surgery which is what the scars are from. I have one plate on each bone and screws holding them in. I needed several months of physical therapy due to damaged nerves and muscle. Stephen Nichols
During the summer of 2004, while Wednesday Night sailboat racing in Marblehead Harbor on the sailboat “Atlantea” from the Boston Yacht Club, the irresponsible owner/captain of the boat decided to fly a large spinnaker in very strong winds. His crew for that race included people who had no experience with flying a spinnaker in any wind. One crew member, who was operating the halyard rope clutches and standing 3 feet in front of the captain, was given no instructions on the spinnaker raising or dousing procedure. We had the spinnaker set to raise and I had the mast duty of setting the spinnaker pole and raising spinnaker by pulling hard on the spinnaker halyard. The rope clutch should have been half open to prevent the halyard from free running when the spinnaker inflates with wind. The rope clutch was fully open and the captain did nothing to correct the mistake by telling the crew to partially close the clutch. After we rounded the first mark toward downwind, I quickly pulled the spinnaker halyard (not knowing the rope clutch was fully open). After the spinnaker was three-fourths up the mast, it quickly inflated, and instead of letting go of the spinnaker halyard line (which would have resulted in ripping and damaging the expensive sail and losing the race), I held on tight to “save the race” and the halyard pulled me up in the air, off the deck. I was able to muscle the spinnaker and “save the race.” The problem was that my right bicep was totally ripped from my bone and resulted in what is called “Popeye” with a large bump like a window shade that rolled up accidentally. The surgical repair included re-attaching my bicep to my bone and that was done with open surgery and not microsurgery. The result is a large scar on my right arm. The photo shows the condition just after the surgery, but years later there is a less noticeable, but quite obvious, scar. Joe Maletz
I blew out three discs in my neck almost 10 years ago while helping my daughter construct a catapult for her science project. You can hear the full story in the video. I needed major surgery, but the catapult worked great. The project earned my daughter an A. Bob Oakes Video by Nick Dynan
Jenna McFarland Lord's scars tell the story of an accident in the summer of 2002.
The da Vinci surgical system is the next phase of minimally invasive surgery. It, according to the company website, lets doctors perform more complex procedures through even smaller incisions. A 2009 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association raised concerns about using the system in prostate cancer surgery.
I have many, many scars—most of them from a near-fatal car-bike accident on August 11, 1998. I probably owe my life to the helmet I was wearing. The story is told in pictures (and medical records) here: http://wendychao.com/cycle
I had so many stitches, it was kind of pointless to count them—but someone told me I had over 50 just on one hand (or something like that). My most impressive scar is 16 inches long, from my knee to my hip, from the surgery to repair my shattered femur with a plate, a rod, and ~17 screws made of stainless steel.
Elsewhere, I had two more plates and 12 more screws (steel and titanium). The scars have faded a lot, but are still very distinct.
Perhaps my biggest scar was one that is barely perceptible now, except for an occasional halt in speech, blank stare, or lack of focus. I had traumatic brain injury that left me mentally impaired—just two weeks before I was supposed to move to Boston to begin a PhD program at Harvard Medical School. The accident left me with multiple mental deficits, speech problems, no short-term memory, and an IQ of 69.
After one year of surgeries and physical/cognitive therapy, I finally moved to Boston. It was a long and hard recovery that continues to this day.
Unlikely as it sounds, Harvard actually took me back in spite of the 69 IQ (they obviously didn't know). I actually managed to complete my PhD in spite of my deficits.
Since my accident, I managed to do some voice-over work for a local science video company spite of my speech problems; I even did some commercial modeling in spite of all the scars.
I don't bike anymore; understandably, I'm a bit gun-shy. However, I still ski, and remain fairly active.
My story is a testament to the body's ability to heal—as well as to bike helmets and a strong network of doctors, friends, and family.
In April, 1998, I was living on a boat with my family. Docked after a long day traveling, I washed the salt off of the boat. My jeans got wet, so I went into my small cabin to change. Instead of rolling down the pant cuffs by hand after I took them off, I shook the pants. A folding knife clipped onto one of my pockets flew out, opened in mid-air, took a piece out of my left shin, then bounced off and punctured my right foot. The puncture hurt so badly, I didn’t feel the shin, but it was a gusher. We were a long way from a doctor so I didn’t get stitches. The scar isn’t discolored, but the flesh never filled in, so there’s a deep depression. Rachel Rohr
I'm two when my mom notices a tiny scab on my side, just above my hip. At first it's not alarming; it's the size of a mole or chicken pock. Over the years it grows larger with layers of flaky, dry skin that never heal. After several years, the growth looks like a two-inch long map of the United States (to my prepubescent eyes). My mother took me to a dermatologist who prescribed several different creams. When it started to grow more, he ordered a biopsy. When the dermatologist gave us the results, he looked perplexed. "The moment I saw this I thought it had to be cancer," he said, "but it's benign." He seemed shocked. He suggested I participate in a study at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. All I remember from the study is lying on my stomach for hours drawing in a coloring book while dozens of doctors came in and asked my mom and I questions to figure out how I could have a growth that looks like cancer, but is not. By 1997, we decided to remove the abnormal growth as a precaution. A plastic surgeon removed a roughly 5 inch area around my deformed flesh. For nearly a month, I had to try not to bend if I could help it -- lest my scar stretch out and become more deformed. When the surgeon removed the stitches, he went into his pitch about how I as a seventh grader may not understand it now, but the mature version of my self would not want such a hideous scar peaking out at the swimming pool or King's Island water park. With just a simple procedure, we could bubble up the skin, and eradicate the scar. I had had enough of surgery. Now, I hardly remember it's there. Kathleen McNerney
I had six or seven knee operations in all, beginning in 1994 and ending about 10 years later, when my doctors ran out of ideas, my insurance company ran out of money, and Boston Globe editors ran out of interest in running my endless stories on my operations. Running was where it all started, or perhaps bad genes. I used to run marathons -- because I was a reporter and couldn't resist trying the Boston Marathon after having covered it as a medical writer for years, and because it was the one sport where I could compete near if not with truly elite athletes. The last lines in my story after my first Hopkinton-to-Boston 26.2-miler were, "Am I glad I did it, absolutely. Would I do it again: absolutely not." Those were the first lines in next year's marathon story. I did six in all before my cartilage gave way and I was left with bone rubbing again bone. They repaired what cushioning joint tissue was left. They regrew my cartilage at a Genzyme lab and put it back in my knee. They gave me cartilage reclaimed from a cadaver. All the operations left me largely pain-free, provided I don't run or play tennis or do anything else I used to take for granted. They also left me with a six-inch scar, which is where doctors sawed into my knee, then sawed in again. See for yourself (Walden Pond therapy). Larry Tye Author and former Boston Globe reporter
When I was 5 ('91) I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. I required a port-o-cath to administer my chemotherapy. My scar is the remnant left of this time. I've been in remission for 18 years now and my scar is no longer something I consider ugly or a reminder of the pain. Instead, I consider my scar to be a reminder of the amazing things the human body can do. I now wear my scar as a badge of courage and bravery and it reminds me that nothing is impossible. Jessica Sylvia
A scar appeared on my back during summer vacation before eighth grade. The three inch-long, raised dash straddles my spine. It's still tender decades later. I can't explain where it came from. I don't remember an injury or cut. But I first noticed the scar after riding the Tea Cups at Six Flags America in Chicago. Bianca Vazquez Toness
My scar is the result of a skiing accident I suffered when I was in my mid 20’s about 20 years ago. I was skiing in Vermont, at Okemo Mountain, and “caught an edge.” I lost control and skied into a tree, hitting the trunk with my left knee. At first I didn’t feel much pain, so I thought I might be able to get up and ski away, but my skiing companions were convinced that I shouldn’t try to get up. I did anyway, and my leg bent in a very unnatural way, making it clear I would not be able to use that leg. I was brought down off the mountain in a sled by the ski patrol. I had shattered my tibia, at the plateau, where it meets the knee. The scar was made by the surgeon who performed reconstructive surgery. That included harvesting a bit of bone from my hip (where I have another scar), and grafting that onto my tibia. Then two stainless steel bolts were used to hold the whole thing together. Those bolts have now become a permanent part of my anatomy, (and occasionally set off metal detectors). Mark Navin
In the late 1980s, laparoscopy was essentially a gynecologist's tool. One of the French private surgeons, Phillipe Mouret of Lyon, shared his surgery practice with a gynecologist and thus had access to both laparoscopic equipment and to patients requiring laparoscopy. In March of 1987, Mouret carried out his first cholecystectomy by means of electronic laparoscopy. Although he never published anything about this experience, the news on his technique reached Francois Dubois of Paris. Although having no prior laparoscopic experience, Dubois acted immediately. He borrowed the instruments from gynecologists, performed his first animal experiments and, in April 1988, carried out the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) in Paris. Inspired by Dubois, Jacques Perissat of Bordeaux, introduced endoscopie cholecystectomy (removing the gallbladder) in his clinic and presented this technique at a SAGES meeting in Louisville in April 1989. Very soon, news of the French work in LC soon swept beyond the country's borders. Dubois and Perissat spoke enthusiastically about their work at the meetings and were largely responsible for establishing what is today called the French technique. From the "Journal of the Society of the Laparoendoscopic Surgeons," April-June, 1999 Photo courtesy of: www.coelio-surgery.com
It was an early September morning in 1984. I arrived for my first week at a new school in Philadelphia wearing shiny brown penny loafers with very slick soles. I was the new kid in second grade. During recess I decided to test out a jungle gym bar, which was still wet from a fresh rain. I remember falling down with full force onto my right arm, which was oddly behind my back. When I looked at my arm, it was literally bent like a V in the middle, like I had two elbows. I was so concerned that the other kids would make fun of my weird-looking arm that I started trying to straighten it out myself, despite the pain. Apparently I did such a good job, my mom later told me, that the doctors didn't immediately notice a small puncture wound on my arm. The doctors had to order an immediate surgery for fear of gangrene setting in. Jesse Logan
They called it my “zipper” growing up. I hated my scar until I was fourteen. I refused to wear shirts or dresses that revealed it—I even tried to cover it with make-up. But nothing could truly erase the long white line that perfectly divided my chest. Eventually, I accepted it and by the time I hit college—I actually even liked it. Sometimes I forget it’s there but emotionally, it remains present. When I trained for my first (and only) marathon, I was plagued with fear. Would my heart hold up? Ironically, it was my foot that broke while I was training—and in the end, I never did run that race. Shortly after I was born, the pediatrician did a routine exam. He didn’t say anything in the moment but rather congratulated my parents on a healthy baby girl. Later, he returned to listen to my heart and told my parents that something didn’t sound perfectly normal. He made it clear, though. “Don’t worry until I tell you to worry.” A few months later, I was taken to the cardiologist. Things quickly became serious and I was taken across the street to St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston. Surgery would be necessary and my parents learned my diagnosis: pulmonary stenosis. Dr. Denton Cooley, the cardiac surgeon who performed the first human heart transplant in 1968, would do open heart surgery. I was eight months old. During surgery, Dr. Cooley let my parents wait in his office. Every so often a nurse would come in with an update. My mother was perfectly cool but my father, a neurologist, was white with fear. It was a long six hours and luckily, my recovery was easy and undisturbed. Just a few years ago, I re-visited the same cardiologist who deemed surgery necessary back in 1981. He looked at my scar and smiled. “Only Denton Cooley would suture something so perfectly.” I dare say—I think it’s quite perfect myself. Jessica Alpert
Abdominal surgery happened for me in the same week that President Jimmy Carter tried to rescue 52 Americans held hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, in late April of 1980. My lengthy vertical scar, bending out to the left as it skirts my belly button, is a lingering reminder of an incision that when it was made held the likelihood of revealing cancer. Exploratory, my doctor said, though he also described to me the likely scenario of lymph nodes being removed and ovaries tucked back to protect them from radiation in treatments that he believed I would need. After scraping cells from my "diseased" liver and sending them frozen to pathologists a positive reading of cancer was relayed to the surgeon while I was still asleep on the operating table. Believing they'd found their cancer, they explored no further, stitched me up and declared the strong probability of a Stage 4 lymphoma. About a week later I left the hospital, then returned to my surgeon to have the stitches removed. As my scar healed, so did I. After nearly three months of weight loss, spiking fevers, drenched nightgowns and bone-rattling chills, I was still thin and weak but feeling good and gaining strength. Turns out it wasn't cancer. To this day, there has been no diagnosis of what brought me to the hospital, took me to the operating table, and prompted pathologists to speculate that I had cancer. All I ever had is my scar. Melissa Ludtke
Summer of 1979, I was seven and riding my shiny blue bike with a banana seat around the neighborhood. I rode out of the Bornstein's driveway, skidded in some sand, hit the hydrant on the sidewalk and bit my tongue in the wipeout. Teenage neighbor Steven Bornstein carried me home and my oldest brother, Tommy, who was 19, started cleaning up my bloody face and realized my tongue was split. My mom was praying to every saint in heaven while calling the doctor. She took me to the pediatrician, trusty Dr. Leigh, who put in what was remembered by mom as a beautiful stitch. I proceeded to fiddle with it and we were back in a few hours for a do-over. Dr. Leigh wasn't about to have another stitch come out, so this one was extra tight and created a little overlap effect. My reward for being a good patient was a frappe from my brother that night and a gag order that required my older sister Rita to serve as my spokesperson at summer day camp that week. Thus, my scar! When I had to hold my own three year-old down for stitches over her eye last year, I realized that a mother earns her stripes when a kid is getting stitches. Ann Walsh
From the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology: "Laparoscopy was performed on 114 patients under general anesthesia and no major complications resulted. The authors cite the method's advantages over pelvic endoscopic technics. It was used to achieve permanent tubal sterilization in 44 patients." The tools seen here are more advanced than the ones surgeons would have used in 1969. But use of similar tools by gynecologists inspired surgeons in other specialties to try minimally invasive techniques.
I have a lot of scars. Here are some of the stories, beginning with the spit burn I gave myself after a fight with my mother in 1968. My colleague Margaret Moth, who I talk about in the video, was shot in July 1992.
In the Spring of 1968, when I was seven months old my family was in a car accident in Los Angeles, CA. My mom was driving and my dad was in the passenger seat holding me on his lap. This was before car seats for babies were required. My mom was talking to my dad. She said she looked at him and then looked back at the road and a car from the on-coming traffic had swerved into her lane and hit us in a head-on collision. As my dad would tell the story, I flew up and hit the glass and lay on the dashboard bleeding like a “stuck pig.” I have a scar on my chin and on my head in the hairline to this day. As I was told, a man in the neighborhood who witnessed the accident ran over and, thinking my parents were dead, pulled me out of the car bundled me up and took me to a local hospital. Apparently back then, there was a law that said doctors and nurses couldn’t treat minors unless they had their parent’s permission. Since I couldn’t get treatment, the man took me to another hospital where he decided to just leave me. Meanwhile my aunt, who was a general practitioner, heard about the accident since it happened just a few blocks from her office. She was driving to different hospitals looking for me. When my aunt arrived at the hospital where was I being treated, a resident had stuck an IV in my ankle which caused me to go into cardiac arrest. She apparently pulled it out just in time – thus the scar on my ankle. My mom had just gotten a job as a teacher, and she had health insurance through the school district, but she hadn’t had time to add her husband and daughter to her policy, so me and my father were uninsured. Apparently, back then, the type of insurance you had, or being uninsured, determined what hospital you went to. So my mom was sent to one hospital, and me and my dad were sent to another. There are a lot more family stories related to this whole experience, but to surmise, we all survived, brandishing several scars. Jameel Davis
President Lyndon B. Johnson raised his shirt at a press conference to show reporters the results of surgery to remove his gallbladder in the fall of 1965. He was away from the White House for more than a month to recover (AP).
Indiana 1958 - Born scar free 1960 – Hernia 4” scar left abdomen 1961 – Hernia 4” scar right abdomen: First memory of operating room, Nurse asking me if I like the smell of popcorn then the operating room smelled nothing like popcorn. 1962 – Severe fever results in white spot on front tooth once permanent teeth came in. Tough start in new world. 1966 – 1” scar on top of head, Father dive bombs tethered model plane into my head. Placates me with ice cream and treats hoping I won’t say anything to mom when she comes home. Wisconsin 1977 – Industrial accident – Left arm bicep and triceps muscles severed, 6” scar. Inability to work led to a 3 week van trip west to the Grand Tetons and most points south to the Grand Canyon. Left a lasting impression on me. 1979 – Motorcycle accident – broken left femur, 12” scar on thigh and 3” scar on left buttocks where rod was inserted and later removed. Inability to work leads to first trip to New England then once back in Wisconsin immediately packed up and moved to Vail Colorado, left Colorado 6 years later. Colorado 1980 – 1” scar above left eye. St Patrick’s Day, first time able to ski since moving to Vail (after 2nd surgery on femur from motorcycle accident), skiing with beautiful co-ed from U of Arkansas and chair lift operator releases chairlift too early striking me in the eye. After bleeding all over the left side of my face on the chair ride up, I skied to the bottom got 6 stitches at the Hospital and quickly returned to the mountain but never found her again. Massachusetts 2005 – Surgery to repair torn ACL right knee, ½” scar and two pin holes. Quit playing basketball and picked up tennis 2009 – St Patrick’s Day- Routine x-ray leads to diagnosis of rare form of cancer. 2009 – Surgical biopsy left rib cage, 2” scar 2010 – Chest surgery to remove remaining tumors in lungs, 10” scar left rib cage. Cancer currently in remission, feeling very well. Jay McMichael PS – numerous unseen scars on heart from long lost loves.
When I was five I found a broken milk bottle in the front yard and like a good scout went to take it to my mother. Before I could get to her my loving and sweet older brother came up behind me and tossed me up in the air like he often did. That day squeals of laughter were replaced with screams as the bottle flew toward my face and cut me along my chin and above my eye. It seemed like forever in the emergency room strapped to a mummy board but I was sutured and sent home. The scar is in the crease between my chin and lower lip. No big deal as I was growing up, but as I get older I see more wrinkles along the scar line.