I stood tall as I felt the cold tape measure run down the center of my spine. Mom said, “15 inches.” This was definitely not something I would wish another Mom to have to do. I had asked my Mom if she would measure all of my scars.
She started with my first major scar: The one that runs down the entire center of my back as a result of scoliosis back surgery performed when I was in 8th grade. It is ironic that the scar I don’t see on a daily basis always bothered me the most. I dreaded bathing suit season and gym class when I would have to change in front of others. I very rarely wore outfits that would expose my back. If I did, I always wore my hair long to hide it. To this day, when I see someone’s scar-less back, I wonder what that would feel like.
Next we measured the scar from my bilateral nephrectomy. This one runs horizontally across my entire rib cage, but not in a completely straight line. This incision was re-opened two weeks after my kidneys were removed for emergency stomach surgery. Several years later it was re-opened again for the third time due to all of my sutures popping through my skin.
Then we moved onto the smaller scars from my dialysis catheter and several spots on my stomach where I had draining tubes. Lastly, we measured the length of my kidney transplant incision. Mom calculated that over 40 inches of scars criss-cross my body.
With each additional scar, I learned not only more about life, but also more about myself. In high school, I was ashamed to have others see my scar. I focused incessantly on the scar on my back. Today when I look in the mirror, I do not concentrate on them. They are just a part of me; the reason I am still alive. I look at them proudly. It is a reminder of how strong I am and how far I have come. If I ever have doubts of being able to get through something, they remind me that I can overcome anything. I was an insecure high school girl and have grown into a confident woman who is ready to fight whatever the future has in store for me.
I have learned that the scars from our past are the lifelines to our future. I smile and feel comforted when I think of what my Mom told me that day after measuring the scar down my back and the one across my rib cage. With her loving eyes, she looked at me and said, “Valen, you have a permanent cross on you.”
Valen – hard to ever imagine you as anything other than strong and confident, but as the father of a daughter who spent a year in a brace because of scoliosis, I know how such differences at a tender age wear on a child.
You are an inspiration to all who know you and I’m glad to see you continue writing about your experiences. Perhaps sometime soon there will be a book for purchase on this site, authored by you!
You are so sweet! Thank you very much! I’m so thankful we have met and really appreciate your continued support. Wow, a book authored by me…guess we never know what the future may bring…that’s the fun part of life. 🙂
Thanks for sharing. I also have Pkd and Pld.. Good luck ad good health in your life xxx
Thank you very much Annette! I hope you are feeling well and wishing you the best of health!
Valen, wonderful post! I love that.. ” scars from our past are the lifelines to our future” … I think your scars are beautiful and interesting just like you my dear friend.
Thank you so much Trinity! A very big thank you for photographing my scars and capturing them in a light that I am ok with sharing with others!
Wonderfully written, Valen. Thank you.
Thank you Sweet Yvonne! 🙂
Thank you for sharing, I was just told by a doctor that they would like to remove both kidneys, that still work fine. I have a fever of unknown origin and they are suspecting it is from one of the many cysts in the kidneys, needless to say I am pretty upset about this idea
Hi Vicky, I used to get fevers when I would have cyst bleeds. Since your kidneys are working fine, why does your doctor want to remove them. Mine were functioning at 60% but needed removed because the cysts would not stop bleeding.
You are inspire me and inspire so many people in this world and A great personality.
Thank you for your kind words of support! 🙂
I too have the same back scar as you for the same reason. You put exactly into words how I felt throughout high school. In less you have been there its hard to explain. I just had cysts removed from one of my kidneys. My questions foryou are- will I get them in the other kidney-will they come back and lastly this is a long shot but is the scoliosis and kidney cysts related somehow? Thanks for sharing intimate feelings with us.
Wow, you are the first person that I have met with PKD that had scoliosis surgery too! We are kindred spirits! It is comforting to know you get it in regards to those high school years. I am in no position to give medical advice, so I would suggest that those questions be directed to your doctor. However, from my own personal experiences, if you have PKD, both kidneys are at risk to get cysts. I do not believe scoliosis and pkd are connected. I’d be curious to hear what your doctor says about all of this. Please let me know if you have any other questions and or if I can help in any way.
This essay is wonderful; you’re a talented writer. The photo of you is beautiful.
Aww thank you very much Suzanne! Your kind words mean a lot to me as this is the first time I have written like this for a blog. I am really enjoying it and hope you will continue to enjoy my blogs!
Your story is very inspiring for PKD patient like me. I was diagnosed with PKD through accidental findings last 1995 when I was 36 years old. Thanks be to God both my kidneys are functioning well until now though its 71%. Hope to learn more about proper kidney care and diet from you.
More power to you beautiful Valen!
Thank you very much Sonia! Wonderful to hear that your kidneys are functioning well. Hope that 71% hangs steady for a long long time! 🙂 Hope you continue to enjoy reading my blog!