Thursday, March 13, 2008

Battle Scars

I have a scar - right in the crook of my right elbow. The only vestige of probably hundreds of blood draws. Some women get told they have nice legs, or nice hair or nice eyes - me? I get told I have nice veins. Nice, fat, juicy, ripe for poking veins. Of all the things to be genetically blessed with - I got great, visible veins. The rest - eh, not so spectacular. The vein in my right arm is particularly nice and a favorite of the phlebotomists. Which is why I have a bumpy scar there - scar tissue from all the many many blood draws I have had over the last decade and a half or more. Fertility work ups, hormone levels and the always anxiety provoking beta hcgs. I lost count after a while - though I do know there have been a considerable amount of them over the years.

My doctor sent me for a beta hcg test today. The Lupron shot I am receiving tomorrow is considered Category X and because I still have my uterus and not of menopausal age - she has to make sure I am not "in the family way" before administering it. Doesn't matter that I peed on a stick yesterday - though that was me trying to get my period to show up more than anything. Doesn't matter that the red deluge showed up with a vengeance not even a full hour after I POAS. We must make sure. Well - I didn't really want to "make sure". I really didn't want to take one more pregnancy test that I KNEW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, would come up negative. I didn't want to feel that old familiar pang of past failures.

I have a lot of scars. I have a grape sized scar on my knee from when I brushed up against the tailpipe of my dad's volkswagon van when I was a kid. I have a scar on the side of my hand from when I tripped and put my hand through a window. I have scars from the two laparoscopies I had - one to remove my gall bladder and the other for my tubal pregnancy. The incisions in my naval are a long jagged line working their way up from my belly button; the two separate incisions merging and diverging - sometimes one, sometimes two. The IV scars - little dots on the tops of my hands and dotting their way up the sides of my wrists. I have 7 in a row on one wrist alone that I can easily find. There's also my csection scars - the lines that mark the spot where my babies and I became two separate individuals after so long of being almost completely one. With the exception of the lap scars - the only scar or visible proof I have that my angels existed at all is in the crook of my right arm. A couple of them lay claim to some IV scars. But that elbow scar - that is almost entirely exclusive to my little ones. That is the place where they drew the blood that would give us the numbers. The numbers that told us yes, we had made a baby. The numbers that depending on what they did - indicated things were going well and all too often, that things were most definitely not going well. The scars and numbers that were the culmination of weeks of pills or shots and timing and monitoring and then 2 weeks of waiting, doing nothing but trying to hurry up to the day that we could stick that lovely vein again. and again.

I thought I had left all that behind. I am through with that part of my life right? Today though, I found myself driving to the lab for a blood draw and inexplicably feeling anxious and even a bit excited. Flashbacks? Have I become like Pavlov's dogs? Tourniquet my arm, show me a syringe and I'll begin to salivate? Because for more than the space of a brief second, I felt the tiniest bit of a wish rising to the surface - a wish for just one more positive pregnancy test. To feel that thrilling flush of success after so much failure. A hope I haven't entertained for a while now and a success I won't be celebrating again, ever, when we schedule the hysterectomy for later this year. I sat in the chair. The nurse examined my veins and liked what she saw. "Oh good." she said under her breath. I knew her relief meant she was happy to see I would be an easy stick. I mentioned the scar tissue like I have done in countless previous draws. "You have to go above or below because that scar has gotten pretty thick over time." She nodded. She was good. Swift and accurate - not too far in, but just far enough so she didn't have to wiggle the needle and no scraping up against the opposite wall of the vein. Almost painfree - almost; a perfect stick.

Yes, I have a scar in the crook of my arm. I have beautiful, easy to stick veins. And I have many scars. I also have scars that you can't see. Scars that run deep and don't forget. Scars that bring my heart's song of hope bubbling up again at the merest touch - that this life's blood I give might turn into something beautiful. But not today. No not today. Sadly, I am actually okay with that. Though it is a wistful and somewhat reluctant acceptance. I knew one day that it would be over - that I would be done. I have discovered though - that while I am done with the physical aspects and the logistical aspects - there are some aspects that you are never done with. Now that I am here - I find it hard to believe. Where did the time go and what do I do now? Acquiring those scars had been my life's focus - do I know how to do anything else?

I've noticed my scars fade over time, but they never ever fully disappear. I know where they are - I remember every single one of them and how I earned them.


loribeth said...

Oh wow, beautifully written, Julia. Some scars last a lifetime, but I hope that some of yours will fade in time.

I can still see some needle scars in the crook of my left arm, which was always the good one for me. The scar from the hospital IV, however, has faded. I'm wishing I could have kept that one.

Searching said...

I have some scar tissue in my best vein too.

All your war wounds are marks of love, how much you have gone through for ALL your children. You are an amazing woman.

Wishing you the best of luck with the Lupron.

The Town Criers said...

A beautiful post, Julia.