It was late November, my parents 25th wedding anniversary was approaching and they invited me to join them for the celebrations at the mountains, in Romania. I felt this slight discomfort on my lower back while I was on the plane but I thought I might have slept in a weird position.
They planned for their communion to take place in a picturesque setting, a church surrounded by the mountains. When I got in the car I somehow managed to hit the specific spot that was slightly sore by then with the end bracket of the seat belt. I kid you not, it felt like lightning struck my back. The pain was unbearable for a few moments, but then our journey began.
Later on, at night, the area started to swell slightly and the discomfort grew into a definite pain. I told my parents but they just said maybe something bit me and that it will go away. I hoped they were right.
I woke up the next morning and by this point I the area swell almost double in size. I wasn’t in the mood to do anything and I just wanted to lay in bed and ignore the world, hoping that it would go away if I just rested.
My parents thought I was just trying to ruin their anniversary which I had no intention to, after all, I decided to book a whole week off work just for this occasion. The last day of the trip came about and they finally realized that the problem wasn’t going to go away.
We drove all the way from the mountains back home that morning and straight to the GP. They quickly referred us to a specialist, by this point I was feeling very exhausted and I just wanted everything to end.
“We will need to do a surgery today as things are advancing very quickly and if we leave it for longer we will have to remove a wide area of tissue and skin,” the doctor said. In that moment I just froze. Blank.
I have never been through with a surgery before and his words made it sound like I was going to be disfigured for the rest of my life. I was scared. It felt like I was in a nightmare, except I was, unfortunately, more awake than ever.
They took me to my private room and told me to have a shower. It was the most frightening shower I’ve ever had in my life. Thoughts were speedily passing through my mind of literally everything, especially what could go wrong and how scarred I could be for life. I kept on crying and crying and prolonging the shower for as long as I could. I thought that if I stay there long enough I might not have to go through with the surgery.
The nurse knocked on the door and asked me if everything is okay. I tried to murmur the most unsure “yes”. Shortly after I was told to lay on the bed as they were going to hook me up to an infusion of nutrients and the like before prepping me for the epidural anesthesia.
Not being able to feel half of my body was never on my bucket list, yet there I was just watching the clock ticking and dreading what was soon to come. That night I was supposed to go out and enjoy a Friday night out with my best friend, yet there I was hooked up to this machine waiting for someone to cut me open.
“You’re ready to be taken to the operating room,” the nurse said. Walking down the long hospital corridors felt eerie like I was there but I wasn’t at the same time. It was late at night now and no one to be seen but me and the nurse.
“It’s all going to be fine and you will feel better afterward,” she said. Sure, the doctor made it sound like I had a life-threatening infection from which I would have to have skin and tissue removed but yes lady, everything will be just fine. I wanted to either die or kill her in that moment. I just wanted to stop existing.
I was told to lay on my stomach on the operating table and relax my muscles as they were going to administer me with the anesthetic.
“Please stay still,” the doctor said. My body was uncontrollably shaking and I just couldn’t stop it.
Five minutes after I couldn’t move my legs. It was all so strange as I was trying to control my body with my mind yet the signals would just not send over to my limbs. I began wondering what would happen if they accidentally hit a nerve and I would be left paralyzed.
“You will feel a tingling sensation as we begin the incision,” the doctor said.
All the bad thoughts started going through my mind again. From the first time I saw the specialist, they haven’t been very precise with the actual amount of tissue they will have to remove or if they would have to remove any skin and they just kept me in the blue. I constantly imagined myself with a big scar on my back that would never heal. As a person that has always had a low self-esteem, it was a big blow. It made me think that I would never see myself as pretty and that anyone would be disgusted by my appearance. I also thought I would never be able to go to the beach because the scarring would just make me hideous.
They kept on going around and around the area for what felt like ages, yet I couldn’t see anything. I wanted to so bad because at least I would have a clear image of what I would have to cope with afterward.
After about half an hour or so I was back in my suite. I have never felt as dizzy as I did then, not even the drunkest I’ve ever been could compare to it. At least I wasn’t feeling any pain as the effects of the anesthesia would last for a couple more hours.
The nurse told me to try and rest, but how could I? The dark thoughts kept on racing through my mind. I kept on staring at the clock on the wall. I don’t know what I was expecting to be honest. The only thing I found a bit entertaining through all of the dark thoughts were my limbs coming back to life. It was amusing trying to make them move as one would work better than the other. Probably I was slightly high from all of the painkillers I was being given too so that enhanced my slightly elevated mood. But that didn’t persist for too long.
Throughout the night I kept going through a pain roller-coaster; one minute there was no pain, the next minute my back is burning. It was the most distressing moment of my life.
The following morning my dressings were replaced and the doctor told me all is “looking well.” I asked him what the scar is like and he said it is too early to comment on it. My self-esteem was pretty much non-existent by this point. I thought I would never recover from it.
The next night at home was even worse. I felt like the scar was extremely big as my whole lower back was hurting badly. Another night of countless bad thoughts.
The day to fly back to London came, yet I felt frailer than ever. For the first time in the five years, I’ve continuously flown back to London, I was afraid. Afraid of what’s going to happen next. Afraid of being alone and not knowing how to deal with possible complications that might arise. I began crying uncontrollably as I passed the security gates and waved goodbye to my family. They were crying too.
I wanted to disappear. That night was terrible as I constantly thought I have to deal with a huge scar and probably a lot of lost tissue. I kept on reading online about the condition and seeing people with scars that would even take years to heal, if ever.
The next morning I had to go to the A&E and have my dressings replaced. As I was laying on the bed I asked the nurse to measure my scar.
“It’s about two centimeters long and 0.5 centimeters wide and it’s healing very quickly actually,” she said. In that moment it felt like a weight was lifted from my mind. Sure, it is still a scar, but two centimeters can’t be that bad.
After about a month or so you couldn’t even spot the scar anymore. It was like everything had vanished and the experience was nothing but a nightmare…