Thursday, July 16, 2015

5 Years NED - Scars

I just read over my post from last month.  I think I should have called it the lonely side, but instead I called it emotional, because I was a basket-case then.  I think the thought of having a scar on my face, right above my eyes, which I consider my best feature was scary.  You learn a lot about yourself and your vanity with this disease.  While you prefer a scar to a cancerous tumor, you still have to emotionally accept some of the scars.  Some of them take some getting used to.

I went through that a little bit with my bicep.  I think my scar is great, it has even had a shave biopsy off the top of it.  It is a line scar, has a little bit of red pigment, and 5 years later it still dimples out on the ends.. While I am so thankful that my 3" scar is not more, I did have to come to terms with it being somewhere that it was always seen.  Now, I love that I have instant access to an example of what melanoma can be, even when caught early.  

I didn't have it so much with the one on my scalp.  It is a 1" scar, a perfect silver line.  He did amazing.  He left a 3/4" scar from the biopsy, then went around that for the wide excision.  By the time he "pulled everything back together like a gift box", as he put it when he asked the nurse to hold it, there isn't even a bald spot. Just a line that you can see because it is right in my part, to the side and where the bangs come forward.  I will point it out to people, and I have made them feel the "divot" that was left behind.

When it came to my forehead, I was extremely nervous.  I guess I tried to express that nervousness to the wrong people.. aka those I know in real life.  I was told that it wouldn't be as big as the one on my arm (3"), I wish she had said the one on my scalp (1"), but she didn't.  So that told me it would be somewhere between.  She did the biopsy as an excision, so that she wouldn't have to go back and take more, if it was something.  Plus a punch or a shave would have left an ugly scar, she wanted me to have a line scar that would blend in with the lines on my forehead.  I heard a lot of "you'll be fine", that may have been their way of support, but to me it felt dismissive.

After the excision, I had to keep pressure on my forehead for 24 hours.  She hit a vessel, and this would keep it from forming a blood pocket underneath.  My bandages went from my eyebrow to my hair line.  I didn't know what to expect.  I knew I had 3 stitches, but were they close together or far apart?  After 24 hours when I changed the bandage, I was shocked.  It was just over the width of my index finger!  I was so happy.

Over the course of the first week, I cut the strings on the stitches a little shorter, so by the end of the week, I was using a strip of gauze and paper tape to hold it on.  I actually got a snarky comment about my bandages getting smaller.  I responded about cutting the stitches down and how glad I was that they were.  "Yeah, it obviously doesn't cover your whole forehead like you acted like it would"  What??  I was told it would be bigger, I'm thankful it wasn't and you are going to act like I was attention seeking.

Then came the stitch removal. I was as excited as possible, because I could tell the incision was going to be a "cute" little line. Unfortunately, one of the knots was inside the incision line.  He had to partially open it to remove the stitch.  I was pissed.  I went from a line to what might as well have been a shave biopsy in appearance.  I had to heal again.  So I kept it covered for another week.  I slowly started going out with it uncovered, because I was sweating off the bandages (gotta love southern heat/humidity). I got so many comments along the lines of what I heard above.  Again, I learned that I tried to seek comfort from the wrong people..

Since then, I have only allowed one picture of me.  At one of my best friends wedding.  I'm not one for selfies, unless there is a reason, but I have avoided group pictures, selfies, everything.  I know, let me repeat, I KNOW, this scar is not going to be noticeable to those who aren't looking for it, but to me (and I am getting misty eyed as I type), it is what I see.  What I see is a hole in my forehead.  Am I thankful that it is just a little hole in my forehead? Absolutely.  My appearance has changed, however slightly, or visibly, it has changed.  I have to come to terms with that.  I know I will.  I know soon I will embrace it, just as I have the other two.  I have already told a tanning family member that her behavior is why I have a hole in my forehead right now.  It's coming.

I just wish that people in my life understood that what I was told, was different than what was. That they were thankful with me, that it was smaller than I was told, not larger, and that all the atypical cells were taken the first try. That they didn't act like I was just making up what I was told.  I mean I wouldn't have purposefully acted like a visible scar would be larger for attention, the truth would come out eventually.

I have many scars, I had 2-3 biopsies at every dermatologist visit over the course of the past 5 years.  They are all over my body, from between my toes to my scalp.  These 3 are the biggies.  I honestly hope that my forehead continues to heal in a way that it is not noticeable unless I point it out. A month later, it is a red hole.  I hope I grow to embrace it, sooner rather than later. Honestly, I feel like a petty little drama queen at the moment, because I am having to adjust to the change, because they are critical and dismissive, because I am vain.  I think I am beating myself up for even having these feelings probably to the point that I am making them worse.  I am thankful for this blog, that I can express the feelings, regardless of what they are, claim them as existing, and hopefully begin to get some closure over them.

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