Monday, March 12, 2007

The Scar That Broke The Camel's Back...

This afternoon, instead of working out or walking my dogs or reading to my daughter, I slouched on the sofa for a TiVo-a-thon of, "What Not to Wear". Oh, Stacey and Clinton, how I love thee and your fashion rules. Stacey, how I covet your kitten heels and smart skirts... Clinton, your carefully gelled hair and fitted argyle sweaters... they make me want to scoop you both up ... little figurines to dwell in my closet, advising me against my most heinous of fashion mistakes.

Anyhoo... today's episode (or last Sunday's, I don't pay that much attention) was all about Leslie, a 37 year old woman, born with a congenital heart defect, yet who has defied the odds to live a long and wonderful life... she is a wife, a mother, and, whoo-hoo, a spokesperson for the AHA's "Go Red" campaign.

You know I was totally in her corner.

Because she is a lot like me.

Yea, for survivors! Cue the Destiny's Child soundtrack...

So, Leslie gets a lesson in shedding the "mom" jeans and the boxy sweatshirts and lo and behold, she has a cute little shape and Clinton and Stacey help her find the perfect LRD... little-red-dress.

And, if you follow the show, you know it is now off to that Scottish dude for hair and foxy Carmondy (who is a good friend of my cousin, but that's another story) for makeup.

Her hair is saucily styled and her pretty skin is enhanced and then.

Then Leslie hits me with this -

I want to cover my scar, she says.

Rewind.

Seriously?

Cover your scar?

Um, why?

Be proud!

You MADE it!

Don't carefully blend it away with a little powder... not something that you fought for.

Oh, Leslie, Leslie, Leslie... stick it out there.

It's beautiful.

Because without it, you would be dead.

It's that simple.

I love my scar.

I wasn't sure if I would because, let's be honest, it is 7" and runs right through my boobs...

But I am proud of it.

And I would never cover it up.

I wear V-neck tees and bikini tops and strapless sundresses and occasionally someone will inquire about my "zipper".

And I say-

I was sick.

And now I'm not.

And I think back to that time in my life when I really didn't know what was going to happen. I think back to my husband, so reluctant to discuss the "what ifs" with me. I think of trying to shove memories down Jake and Jacks' throats... remember me, remember me. I think of my parents who put the ugliness of their divorce aside to support me... I think of my friends who flew up and stayed for days at a time... I think of my aunts and cousins and my mother in law who came to be there for me... some of whom I never saw because I was so out of it.

I think of all those people but what I remember most are the moments right before they wheeled me into the OR... the loneliest moment of my life.

And I remember my first thought when I came to in recovery-

I made it.

So, Leslie... fair warning. If our paths ever cross at some American Heart Association event... well, you know what I'm going to say.

58 comments:

carrie said...

Wow Kristin.

Am I glad you made it too.

Wear it proudly and if you happen to run into the make over woman (well, stranger things have happened) you will give her the courage to live in her own skin, I know you will. (((((hugs)))))

Carrie

Mel said...

I'm glad too! (((Kristin)))

AdventureDad said...

That was a nice story. If you're a confident woman (or man) you will approach things like you. by embracing stuff instead of hiding it. Some might be ashamed of a scar but they must be missing something in their lives.

Normally, the people who are hiding scars etc. act in a way that only attracts more questions and looks. Which is exactly what these people don't want.

Glad you made it and have such an awesome attitude.

AD

dodo said...

the US presenters of WN2W sound much cooler than their UK counterparts

C.J. said...

Love that outlook on owning what makes you who you are today.

Marmite Breath said...

What awesome writing! Have you posted about this before? I'd love to read more about it.

Oh, The Joys said...

Wow. This post brought tears to my eyes... and made me want to give you a big kiss right on the scar...

not that I want to kiss your boobs or anything... well, you're hot and all... so...Heh.

Seriously, though - wonderful post. I salute you!

wzgirl said...

XO, you.

Kristin said...

I just realized how ironic it is that while I have issues about the face, I do love my scar!

Anonymous said...

Having faced a very serious illness, I can relate to your thoughts of loneliness and the sense of utter triumph when you come out on the other side!

To men and women everywhere: A scar is not ugly, it is a badge of honor.

Pattie said...

:)
I want to give you a big hug...
(((((HUG)))))

Glinda said...

In the words of the Great and Powerful...Oprah, you have to live your own truth...I admire your ability to embrace yours.

Lisa said...

YEAY Kristin. (Stands up to give you a standing ovation!) I'm glad to hear you don't ever cover up that scar! It IS beautiful. It shows women can be beautiful and tough, yet tender!

Tori said...

You sure did make it and I was there. I saw you in that far corner of that awful holding tank ward where the flimsy curtain is supposed to help you somehow stay private with your peeps and your pounding fear. You, my friend, never skipped a beat and had your black glasses on till the last minute because they had your contacts. You were amazing. Then you woke up from the endless surgery and said to me...
"I think they did surgery on my throat, I thought it was supposed to be my heart..." You were making a joke. You looked the same Kristin, just a tad pale. Still with the deer in the headlight eyes and the great hair. It was a fabulous day and you've worn your zipper with pride ever since - and so should what's her name....

What a silly irony for her role with AHA....

I remember there was nothing I liked better than when you let me hear your valvy thing ticking. It was like that bloody crocodile but it was our savior.... and yours and we (as your humble friends) are eternally grateful for it!

Kayce said...

Kristin..wear that scar proud girl! It's a wonderful thing to look at and remember what you have today, in this moment.

I too have a nice scar that reminds me of that very lonely trip into the O.R. I look at my scars daily and remember when life could have come to an abrupt end.

Kristi said...

Very sweet. And it's never a bad time to cue Destiny's Child.

"I'm not gonna give up (what?) I'm gonna work harder!"

I'm going to go work out now!!!!!

Muah!

Los said...

Bravo, Kristin! Good for you!

MotherReader said...

That was a wonderfully written post. Really impressive.

I don't know if you've ever discussed the back story, as I'm fairly new to your blog, but what you've written still says a lot about who you are.

Stephanie said...

Only you can make me cry when posting about What Not to Wear. You, my girl, are the coolest!
Stephanie
www.forksandchopsticks.wordpress.com

Mrs. Chicky said...

Can I give you a hug? Huh? Can I?

{{{hugs}}}

Scars are beautiful.

sweatpantsmom said...

You're inspiring.

(I've never heard your story - is it on your blog somewhere?)

M3 (Mary-Mia) said...

Aw, damn, you make me grin. So glad to know you.

Slackermommy said...

I haven't been reading you all that long so I don't know about your surgery. I was a cardiothoracic nurse for 7 years so I'm guessing you had a valve replaced or some other congenital defect. Good for you for wearing your scar proudly. I wish Leslie could see this post. Very well written. Thanks for sharing.

Mamma said...

Here via Midwestern Mommy...

You so ROCK for showing your scar. Damn right you should be proud of it!

Terrific post. So glad to find you. I'll definitely be adding you to my reader.

kim said...

Kristin ... you are awesome *hugs*

Kristin said...

Backstory-


I have mentioned my surgery here and there, but no, I have never actually posted the story...

The short version is that I was born with aortic stenosis, a congential defect... in 2002 I developed an ascending aneurysm... they watched it for a few months and in Feb. of '03, I had the whole shebang repalced and removed... and like Tori says, I now tick like a Swatch Watch.

furiousBall said...

Amen! My father had a quadruple bypass four years ago and when we go sailing in the summer time, I smile at the large scar on his chest. Without that scar, I wouldn't be sailing with my son and father.

Bonnie B said...

You have a fantastic attitude-- way to go! So many people have so much to learn from you, even ones' whose scars are more trivial-- those who are trying to banish the belly "mommy" stretchmarks (that would be me. Each day I pray for a miracle stretchmark cure). Thanks for the inspiration to be proud my little badge of honor-- that looks like a faded marble

mrsmogul said...

yeah! you made it through the rain....(isnt that a barry manilow song?)

I once met the original what not to wear girls. Umm...they were dressed not so good at the malL!

Perrin said...

Oh Kristin how awesome! I too have lots of yummy scars related to my lumpectomy and catheter for Chemo placement and reconstruction. Who cares? Then remind me that I am alive too and I don't mind the swimsuit season at all. Survival battle wounds. Makes a girl tough if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

. I think of trying to shove memories down Jake and Jacks' throats... remember me, remember me.

How beautiful and yet, so sad.

Glad you made it through.

CBReedER said...

Our baby girl, who will be 21 months old tomorrow, had her heart surgery at 6 months old. Every bath time she points to her scar and say "dat?". We tell her all the time that "dat" is her pretty, pretty! Now she points and says "pitty, pitty!" Yes baby, yes. Very pretty indeed!

Carol in Iowa
(I think we told you last week you were "pitty, pitty" too!)

Kristin said...

Carol-

I am so glad your daughter is ok!

Our younger son, Jack, had corrective heart surgery for TofF at 2 months old and we have always referred to it as his Lucky Scar!

Or, sometimes I call it, "the reason for all my gray hair.";-)

Rach said...

Wow, you're truly an inspiration! I'm proud of you and I don't even know you!

Occidental Girl said...

I didn't know that about you! Having a scar is a badge of honor, representing all that you went through and what made it possible. Absolutely.

I'm so glad you made it!

Jodi said...

See, you're super duper cool and awesome! I knew it all along but now I just have another reason to go WOW when I read your posts. Rock on!

Dan said...

Kristin, I'm giving you a million hugs and kisses right now for this. I had no idea. I'm so glad you are a survivor. The world is a much brighter place because you are in it. And I mean it!

Wow! I almost had to grab for the box of tissues. Almost! I'm still a very manly man, remember. :)

Damselfly said...

Wow, that's amazing. I love your perspective! I'm glad you made it, too.

And Clinton and Stacy dolls for your closet? Fabulous idea!

Joannah said...

Great post, Kristin. You're a wise woman.

Hey, a former co-worker is Carmindy's BFF! Small world, huh?

Lesle H said...

I would say, my dear, that if you were watching the show closely, you would have seen that my scar is not covered up at my reveal wearing the LRD. Think about what television is for a while.

Kristin said...

Lesle H.-

(I assume the above is truly you)... I in fact did notice that your scar was slightly visible at the event, however, you also very clearly stated, "I want to cover my scar."

If there was more to that conversation and it was edited to project a certain view, so be it... I think that anyone on a "reality" show runs the risk of having their words manipulated.

However, the point of this post, which was jump-started by said comment, is more about me and my feelings about my scar and the road that brought to having it.

As you know, it is not an easy journey.

I applaud you and the work you are doing on behalf of women and the AHA and I wish you nothing but the best in your endeavours.

-Kristin

Jill said...

I don't know this story Kristin. What happened? I bet your scar is the ending to a really amazing story.

InterstellarLass said...

I've always thought scars where characteristic, not ugly. I've never understood people's obession over them. Except stretch marks...I've got plenty of those and it just means I'm fat.

Anonymous said...

Leslie,

I am not sure if you were mad at Kristin or not about her post, but I saw the episode and you do ask about covering the scar. I don't read this post as specific to your reveal, but that it is more about not needing to cover anything up because your scar, and Kristin's, and all the other people who have posted here about their scars, are beautiful.

Marissa

Petite Mom Blogger said...

Wow...and I'm glad your ok.

mamatulip said...

Quite a story, Kristin -- a very inspirational one. Thanks for this post.

Sandra said...

I had chills reading this.

Be proud of your scar. It is inspiring and grounding all at the same time.

rubyiscoming said...

A rockin' post. Am in awe of how strong and Helen Reddy-like you are!!! YOU WEAR IT PROUDLY, GIRL! :) I worked for the AHA for the first 4 years of my career and would meet survivors like Leslie and survivors like you. It's a toughie - survivors treat life differently, don't they? I hope Leslie gets the courage some day to not being a shrinking flower about her scar - as you said, it is the scar that saved her.

Grim Reality Girl said...

I'm glad you made it. I'm glad that your scar is a badge of courage. Sometimes it is nice when people can catch just a glimpse of what you have overcome. You did make it, and you SHOULD be proud!

Mr. Fabulous said...

Great post! I think you might be my hero!

Jenny said...

I'm sitting here with tears running down my face.

I'm so glad you're here.

mollymcmo said...

you're amazing chickie!
i'm thinking leslie needs a bit of your confidence :)

m

Becky said...

wow i'm glad that youre ok now. and i'd be the same way- wear the scar proudly!

hautemama said...

You rock! I'm so happy that you made it too.

You are a brave, strong woman. A hero in my books.

uyuhw

Lena said...

Amazingly well-written. I feel the same about my c-section scar. As a matter of fact, I was sadly noticing that after five years, it's fading! And I cried.

More power to you and your beautiful strong heart Kristin.

Stephanie A. said...

Damn, Kristin, this is an excellent post and I am glad that you're the feisty survivor that you are!

Anonymous said...

I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU. I am 22 and was born with a congenital heart defect, and have the scar too (which i've had for most of my life, but regardless...)

I was in shock that she was that self-concious about her scar when you look at WHAT SHE DOES AND WHY SHE DOES IT. She goes up there and says that she has a congenital heart defect, so HELLO... why would you not SHOW OFF your scar and get people to ask you about it, and raise awareness that way! It's ridiculous!

I found your comment because I was going to figure out how to e-mail this lady. haha :D

Anonymous said...

My now one year old daughter had Open Heart Surgery at 6 weeks old. After her health was fine and the crisis mostly over I went through a bit of a "oh god, what about the scar" phase. I mean, it was something that happened when she was 6 weeks old, but would be marked forever... I quickly decided I was being ridiculous (after polling all my guy friends about where it would bother them, and meeting a few adult patients to see healed scars. I saw that episode last night-- The covering the scar thing caught my attention. I hadn't even seen it on her before that. Your comments help me to think of what I will say to my daughter when she's old enough that people comment/ask. Thanks.