Realizing Pretensions - 09.29.97

With this essay, I'm going to talk about a condition that I have, but it inevitably leads to several other discussions. I'm not sure what the medical term for my physical situation is, so I'll just explain it in plain english. For some reason or another, my body creates too much scar tissue. Whenever I damage my body in some way, it feels the need to overcompensate for whatever has happened. Even a small cut or burn will most likely leave skin discoloration or a raised area of flesh.

I'll be the first to admit that this isn't a huge deal, there are many other worse things I could have. I'm really thankful that it isn't anything worse, although it has led to some small problems. One of these deals with my eyes. When I was a kid, I had a couple corrective surgeries to try and fix my vision. Basically, my eyes didn't work together and one was getting strong while the other just kind of drifted off. To correct this, they tightened some muscles and loosened some others to hopefully make them align better. I went through this procedure a couple time and everything was working until a couple years ago. They had to go in and do almost the same surgery again about 5 years ago. Because of this scarring problem, they had to go into where I had previously had surgery and scrape away excess tissue for over an hour so they could even get to where they needed to.

Although it hasn't caused me any physical problems, the scar that has undoubtedly been of the most interest is located on the front of my neck. About halfway through my freshman year of college, I found that I literally had a lump in my throat. After visiting three doctors who had no idea what it was, I discovered that I had nothing other than a thyro-gloccal (spelling?) duct cyst. Although it was kind of weird, it wasn't harmful and I had it removed. I was, however, left with a rather large scar. With most people, even surgery scars fade away with time. After almost four years, though, I still have a big, reddish, almost inflamed looking scar across my adams apple.

At first, I was completely self conscious about it. Like any new scar, it felt completely foreign to my body and it wigged me out even if I happened to brush across it. After awhile, though, I got a lot more used to it and even got to the point where I could touch it.

In the weeks and months following the surgery, even stranger things started happening around me. The college I went to was very small, so I heard a lot of interesting things about my new aquisition. One of the first rumours that circulated was that I was in a cult and I had done it (cut my throat) during a ritual. I went through a bit of a goth phase that year, so I could see the basis for that one, although it was still quite funny. The other rumour I heard (that was a bit more vicious) was that I had tried to kill myself. I again linked this with my goth phase, but wondered why someone who didn't know me would come up with this idea and then tell it to other people as truth. Even though it bugged me a bit, these different stories actually helped me in the end. It just got to the point where things like that didn't phase me anymore. It's even been good for an occasional self-depreciating joke once in awhile.

One of the weirdest things about it, though, has been watching people's reactions to it. Being a taller-than-average person, the scar usually ends up being about eye level with someone of an average height. I've had several conversations with strangers that began with them talking to my neck. If I'm talking with someone that isn't as blatant in looking at it, I usually bring it up and tell them what happened. It's the people that stare, though, that I like to drive insane by letting them wonder. In a way, it's become almost a way to measure how long I will talk to someone. For the most part, if someone is really hung up on it, I can tell that they're someone who is more outwardly interested in appearence than what I have to say. I've actually talked with some people (who I've gone on to become good friends with) who admitted to not noticing it until after hanging out with them a couple different times.

In a way, it's also taught me a few lessons about how I look at people. I used to catch myself making a lot more generalizations about people, simply based on their outward appearence. I know that I still do it sometimes, but I've tried to change the way I look at people before I get the chance to know them. Basically, I try to look at it from the viewpoint that the more different people I talk to, the more general knowledge I'll have of humans in general. Plus, I still have the choice of never speaking to them again if I don't end up liking them. At the very least, I'll have given them a chance, though.