The scars we live with: My Healing Story – part 2


I just had an angiogram and they had to make an incision in the groin area to see and pump iodine up to my neck.  You forget just how much you use this muscle until it has been cut into.  Sneezing, coughing, and walking, all very hard. It had me thinking of scars though.  We all have scars in our lifetime.

Although each scar is unique, some physical and some emotional, often we try to cover up our scars.  Understandable as I hate re-explaining what happened, reliving it over and over, answering if I’m “better now” and then have that sad face look back at me.  I’m not looking for pity and I’m so much more than my scar.  Yet sometimes that is all we can see of a person.  We do it in so many areas – typecast the person who is divorced, has credit problems, is in a wheelchair, or using an oxygen tank.

Let’s face it, I’ve had a bad year physically and this includes weight gain.  I know under it all though that I’m definitely not lazy and have good eating habits.  My body reacted to the stress, less activity, change in age and it reflects physically.   I don’t come out often and tell people about what I’m going thru.  I can tell that judgment is there just based on my outside physical appearance.  I’ve been passed over for some yoga teaching positions based on this.   Society views those strong and skinny as healthy after all.

With yoga I’ve often been interested in our scars and using meditation to help relax the mind.  We often run off and can’t settle our mind.  Meditation isn’t about sitting cross-legged and looking like Buddha though. There are many forms which is great because each of us can find styles that help us; never just one method.  I used mediation a lot the other day in my procedure;  I did a mix of mindfulness and sound.   I could tell from my breath I was getting excited, stressed and anxious.  To calm down I used visualization and sound.

I have a great appreciation for the hard working people at hospitals but one nurse came in and started to give me so much information on what to expect including the feedback they have had on the pain, pinching and complaints.  I do appreciate it but it was right there I decided to just breathe.  Counted my breath first, long inhales and exhales.   As I settled down I moved on to sounds – I would just hum a tune of positive words over and over.  (“Candy Girl. You are my world’) Lastly stuck in a strange, cold room, with a machine all around me, feeling a bit scared, I focused on one staring point above me.  Eyes open I watched this one point and counted my breath; Inhale (one), Exhale (two), Inhale (three) etc.

Turned out meditation helped manage the pain and experience.  The procedure was over before I knew it and the hardest part was lying on my back flat for 6 hours.   I had to stay on my back and eat that way as well.  That was quite an experience.  Don’t choke, do eat something and lay flat.   I’ll spare you the details of trying to use the bathroom lying down.  But just know, it is quite hard.

Now days later the pain and recovery is from the muscles.  The emotional healing is taking time as well to heal from all that has happened in the past 11 months.  Last week I walked thru the halls at the hospital where I was earlier this year; found it strange that I wanted to cry.  It was here in these cold halls that I would be wheeled down to MRI rooms, going slowly over bumps, wait and wait, then wait some more.  Did all that with such pain.  I had thought so much was behind me until I walked these halls last week.  Maybe I’m still healing then.

We are often so quick to cover up our scars, make others feel comfortable.  I know I did.  Let’s cover that up and act like nothing happened.  I’m fine. That is what others want to hear right?  Then comes the comments from others like “If anyone can kick this you can” or “You can win this war”.  Don’t get me wrong I do understand the comments and always appreciate those that care enough to follow up.  But let’s face it, the comment is there to help them – not me.  The person in the midst of any pain, health crisis, trauma etc feels alone.  This is their experience and sometimes it just happens as a part of life.  There don’t have to be reasons why.  Sure there are things that may help ease but then again it may not.  I often used to say control is an illusion.  Not that I’m giving up but let’s face it, I’m certainly not in control, don’t have all the answers and as we often say in yoga, I have to – let go.

It is hard enough keeping track of my medical history, prescriptions, dosage and records.  Not to mention various passwords I have in my life. (Topic for a different article though).    I see areas in medical practices where so many are running around, aren’t eating healthy, over-working long 12 hour days and with all the data to track on each person something is missed.   Therefore you have to be your best advocate.    Know yourself.

I saw my family doctor the other day.  She and I were talking about the fact that so few have a family doctor who knows them anymore.  This doctor would have seen you healthy, knows what is normal for you.   I was explaining to her that I see her even though her location is not as convenient as others.  She knows my background, that my temperature runs a bit below normal, so 99.1 definitely makes me feel quite warm and that I prefer to do without prescriptions as much as possible.  This doctor would know what is common or unusual for you.

I see the same with yoga though.  So many jump from yoga class to yoga class – moving around to places for the best financial deals, locations and time slots.   Never a concern for the quality instruction they are receiving.  Furthermore I know from a student/ teacher prospective that the more you see the same person, even for a bit, the more you learn about yourself thru them.

Every class I teach I see those with various injuries.  Each time I’m hoping they will return again as I know it would only help them and me to work with  them.   Yoga was never about the position they wanted to get into.  I just want them to heal and to do what they need to grow awareness.  Not worry about being  some image they want to be.  For example,  I have a young lady who has scoliosis and is also pregnant.  I know that the shape of her spine is changing during this time and what I do is offer her positions for one side of her body.  So much in yoga is taught linear, done in a line and then the same pattern repeated immediately on the other side.  What I’m trying to do is separate the comparison for her and just watch one side for a while.

It takes a lot to let the scars show and then try to love yourself just as you are.   There may be those that understand where I’m coming from and that I’m not weak for sharing it.  Instead I’ve used what happened to me to teach others; pay it forward and understand the mindset, obstacles and fears.  I’m not there to do more than listen, guide and sometimes I just have to tell them “that sucks”.  Now let’s move on with who you are right now; after all it could be worse.