Ironically, I’m less concerned by my scars the more I accumulate and these days I have quite a collection!
I was somewhat of a tomboy growing up and spent a lot of time up in trees or down in the dirt. Needless to say, this came with its fair share of grazes, scratches, wounds and what I now consider very minor scars. As were the ones I accumulated through years of rock climbing and outdoor pursuits both here and overseas.
Like many teenage girls, I was a little conscious of my acne scars but now I realise that awkward period of time was just ‘resilience training’ for what was to come...
In 2005 my life went from sweet to sour in a matter of minutes. It’s a long and somewhat complicated story filled with seemingly unpronounceable medical jargon so I’ll skim over some of the finer details.
I was a fit and healthy 24 year old with a successful corporate career, newly promoted and academically accomplished when a rare strain of the Streptococcus-A virus caused me to have a brain haemorrhage, like a Stroke. I was in a coma for three weeks, on like support for two months and in hospital for over a year – the first time.
Although the virus left my body it also left extensive and permanent scarring in its wake.
Machines kept me alive for two months and each left a calling card after they were removed. A trachea ventilation tube kept me breathing during that time but I also kept the scar on my throat. There are several other entry points where machines, now removed, left permanent reminders of their presence.
My left leg was the first part of my body that was amputated. Although the line of stitches is barely visible, the void below my knee is unmissable.
Around this time I celebrated my 25th birthday in hospital. It was certainly not how I had planned to spend the day but I was still grateful to be celebrating it at all.
Nine of my fingertips were amputated after that followed by all of my remaining toes. They had turned generous (black) like my left foot and had to be removed by a very talented plastic surgeon. In hospital (in the plastic surgery ward) I used to joke that I was the only one there having body parts removed!
The first of my heart surgeries was next on the list of ‘things to do’ and my amazing surgeon was one of the few who was able to perform a minimally invasive procedure whereby only a small wound result on the side of my body. The operation went well but a small scar was certainly not the result when I had open heart surgery several years later.
This time a much larger wound, several inches long, trailed down my chest. Under which still sits a metal plate, wires and screws to hold my sternum together.
I also celebrated my 26th birthday in hospital and at 27 years of age I had a total hip replacement. Again the surgeon left a prominent calling card.
Over the years there have been many more operations and procedures which have left their mark.
My body is now a patchwork quilt embroidered with victories. Every single one of my scars tells a story of resilience and is testament to the battles I have lived through.
Some of my scars have faded with time but others have just changed shape or texture. Many are under clothes but wheelchair is usually the most obvious indicator that ‘something has happened.’
But they’re the visible scars, even if some are only visible to me. I also have scars on my brain. They’re the invisible ones.
Although they aren’t as prominent as a missing limb, their side-effects play a far more detrimental role on my life. The invisible scars on my brain have caused vision loss and I’m over 25% blind (so can’t drive). My speech has also been affected along with my memory, coordination and concentration. Fatigue, anxiety and Epilepsy have also been the result of my invisible scars.
As a professional Copywriter, I was devastated learn that the ‘tools of my trade’ were gone forever. Nine fingertips, over 25% of my eyesight and part of my brain function had all disappeared and all that remained were the visible and invisible scars.
Despite my losses, I had not lost my passion for writing and have since taught myself to type again with my ‘new’ hands.
Since 2005 I have published two books and continue writing professionally, even if I am a little bit slower these days. My hands look very different but I still love them for what they can do rather than what they look like.
Human bodies, both yours and mine are absolutely amazing when you think about all the things that they can do – regardless of scars...
An excerpt from Lisa Cox's story
for Made Beautiful by Scars - Real Women's stories Book Two (out 2017-8)
Copyright Made Beautiful by Scars 2016
Lisa Cox is a Brisbane based Writer (Author, Huffington Post contributor and Copywriter), Speaker and consultant. She lives with her husband and an undeniable love of coffee. You can contact Lisa, find her on social media or read more about her work and personal story at www.lisacox.co