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A Scar I Didn't Make: My Lifeline

This is a very interesting take on scarification that I have been meaning to post but have just now gotten around to writing up. I was born on February 17, 1982 at Columbian Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. However, I was due on May 5th, meaning I was almost 3 months premature. I weighed 2 pounds and 9 ounces and was very small. A few days into my life, I started to get sick with a type of colitis known as NEC, which is apparently somewhat common for "premies." My parents didn't even send out birth announcements because they were afraid I was going to die. I have pictures of myself with so many tubes in my body and an oxygen mask covering nearly my whole face; you can barely even see the tiny baby underneath all the horrible, scary devices that they used to keep me alive. Eventually they decided that the only way to help me was to remove part of my lower intestinal tract, where the disease was. So they cut me open about an inch below my belly button. The scar goes almost all the way across that part of my stomach in a horizontal line that curves slightly and is whitish and upraised. It is a beautiful scar. Because they had to go back in after the surgery, I have another very short scar, a little over an inch long, slightly to the right and above my belly button. Then I have a colostomy bag scar. (My mother explained it like this: "Basically you pooped through your stomach into a plastic bag." She's so scientific.) These scars are all very meaningful to me. The one below my belly button is what I consider my lifeline because it reminds me of the pain and anguish my parents went through and the pain I went through (although I dont' consciously remember it), the 3 months I spent in the incubator, and the fact that I am alive today because of a devoted, honorable, talented surgeon and, I like to think, because of some other force that decided I should live. I mentioned before that I don't remember the pain of the surgery or of being so sick, but sometimes I dream about it and I'll wake up with my scar hurting, feeling sort of tight (like Harry Potter's lightning bolt scar!). The dreams are absract, surreal experiences in which I am in a very warm place, probably my incubator, and something very painful is happening to me, but I only know this because everyone around me is upset. Sometimes the dream is less of a nightmare but it's still very strange because I have sensations, almost like a memory, of this pain that I was born into. Sometimes around the beginning and middle of March, I get stomach aches, specifically in that area. I was told that March was the month in which I had my surgery. This scar is an indication of my own strength. I feel that I can survive anything and survive any pain because of it. People ask me about it a lot, if I'm at the beach or something, and I tell them it's from surgery. Usually they're curious about what kind of surgery it was (I used to say that it was stitches from a shark bite!) so I tell them about how I was born and what happened. I remember at first I was sort of embarrassed and wouldn't wear two-piece bathing suits. There was a time in my life when I actually wanted to try and remove it. But now I'm realizing that it is literally the biggest, most significant part of me. After all, not only is it my first body modification, but it is also the reason I am alive. Soon I'm going to put some baby pictures up on my I Am Bme page, my Iam name is SpikeyAnnie, so you can check there if you want. Since I was born, there have been a lot of advances in pediatrics that have helped premature babies a lot. My uncle was a premie and he was born blind, so I was pretty lucky. Also, I very easily could have gotten HIV or AIDS because of the amount of blood transfusions that I had. The baby next to me died of AIDS. However, last year I got tested and I am absolutely fine. It was still scary though because I was at a considerably high risk due to the year I was born, the location, and the amount of blood I was given. I have a permanent bald spot on the back of my head that is pretty small but you definitely notice it if I have that part of my head shaved. It's weird because it feels just like a baby's smooth scalp, no hair grows there whatsoever. It's because they had so many IV's and needles in me that they ran out of room and had to stick one in my head; after all, you have a lotta veins up there! Sometimes I feel weird about this, like I'm some kind of science fiction Eraserhead baby, but I was pretty cute, even though there's this one picture where I look like a very starving Biafran child. :-) Another thing is that when I got better, I got REALLY better and I ended up growing pretty quickly. It's ironic that I was practically born into needles- I hate having blood taken from me because my veins are horrible. My theory is that my veins were overused when I was a baby. However, I don't mind piercing needles or pain, so it's a weird juxtaposition of this primal fear of my veins being invaded by sharp things, and this embracing of body modification as something I believe is important and something I see as beautiful. I used to be ashamed of the fact that I was premature; I was convinced that there were things about me that weren't normal: I can't do sit-ups for shit, I am near-sighted, I had to have braces on my teeth twice, I'm really skinny, whatever, I'd pick myself apart trying to really figure out what could have been affected by my premature birth. However, I have gotten past that point in my life and have instead developed a special place in my heart for premature babies. We're like little tiny miracles!

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 13 March 2001
in Scarification

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Artist: Dr.+Driscoll
Studio: Columbian+Presbyterian+Hospital
Location: Manhattan+New+York%2C+NY

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