The first scar I got was when I was 2 (3?). My preschool went to visit the Little Land of the Ponies in Gettysburg. Because I was so young I don't remember much from this trip other than a pony named Ariel and wanting to feed the various animals that were there. Not knowing any better (aka there were no signs saying not to), I fed a zebra. Big mistake. The zebra seemed to think my finger was a much better snack than whatever I paid 25 cents to actually feed him. My mom told me that she yanked my finger out of the zebra's mouth, not knowing if there would be a finger left. Luckily for me there was no damage other than needing stitches. Out of my five scars this one is the least significant to me but probably my favorite. What two year old gets bit by a zebra?! In Gettysburg no less.
I got my next scar at swim practice during my junior year of high school. I was at swim practice and was kicked by the girl swimming in front of me. I remember stopping in the middle of the pool to scream after it happened. I then finished practice, assuming I had only broken my finger. My swim coach was not the type to let you make excuses for anything. After practice was over we did dryland training. I was riding a stationary bike in tears when my coach came over and yelled at me to be more like Lance Armstrong. One of my other coaches came over and saw how swollen my finger was and told me I needed to go to the hospital. But I didn't. I planned on going to the orthopedic urgent care center where a friend's dad worked the next day.
While there the doctor that saw me (not my friend's dad) wanted to try to manually set my finger. At that point I didn't even really know what was wrong but I knew that was a bad idea. Once my friend's dad looked at the x-ray he sent me to a hand specialist about an hour away because there was a lot of damage. We went there that day. By then I was starting to realize that something was really wrong. When the nurses walked me in and asked my pain level I, for the first time ever, said "10." After looking at the x-rays the doctor told me that I had crushed all of the bones, ligaments, and tendons in my finger, and that I needed surgery at the end of the week. I was devastated.
After the surgery the doctor told me that I may never be able to make a first again. I had no idea what this meant for my swimming but I did everything I could to ensure that my career was not over. I later learned that my finger was as good as amputated before the surgery. Scary stuff. After a month, however, I was back in the pool with my finger in a neat little brace. I had to swim in my own lane so that my finger wouldn't get hit.
What my scar looks like today
Now, more than four years later, it is hard to tell that anything ever happened to my finger. There is a pretty large scar (for a finger) and the knuckle is a bit enlarged but at first glance these things are not very noticeable. What's also not noticeable is the pin holding my finger together.
This is my favorite scar. It feels like a part of me. I know it wasn't a life threatening injury, but it definitely changed my life at the time. During those months after the surgery I worked harder than I ever had before to get back into decent shape before nationals. I never would have thought it was possible at the time of the surgery but I ended up dropping time in my best events. I knew my hard work paid off. This scar reminds me that I am a fighter and I have overcome injury before. I know if I want something and I work hard the sky is the limit.
Stay tuned for part 2!
How did you get your scars? Do they hold a lot of meaning to you?