My Scar Stories


The Final Scar?

To read my previous scar stories, click here.

My two greatest hits are on my neck. Oddly, both remind me of God. I wrote previously about one. The other began with a woman doing her lipstick in her rear view mirror as her car sailed blithely into the back of my sardine tin Samurai.

Several bulging neck discs made their debut that day. The pain level was bearable. However, if more trauma were to occur, I was told, I could end up paralyzed. Not acceptable. So a discectomy was scheduled.

The day before surgery, I was laid on a tiltable table and my spine was injected with glow-in-the-dark goo in order to create a scenic map of My Spine, USA. I was fine with that. Of course, I was on Valium, so I’d have been fine with them cutting my toes off and selling them to gypsies. The technician warned, “Don’t bend over, if this stuff gets to your brain it’ll give you a horrible headache.” Then he proceeded to tilt me over for 20 minutes.

When the Valium wore off, my brain exploded. After eight hours of sleepless pain, I desperately longed for anesthesia. “How are we doing?” the Doctor asked. “I don’t know about you,” I replied, “but I need to be unconscious. Now!”

When I came to, I discovered a jagged set of railroad tracks below my Adam’s apple, covered over by a plastic replica of Hoover Dam. I had to wear the dam for two months. Every now and then—roughly every 5 minutes—I’d think, “If I don’t rip this thing off I’m going to go howling mad.”

The neck pain subsided, but my head continued to throb, despite the fact that I was on enough oxycodone to set up my own dealership.

It turned out my migraine had nothing to do with the surgery; it was from the accursed spinal scan, and no amount of drugs could fix it. It lived in my head 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If I was conscious, which I generally was since I rarely slept, it was there. It made me so sensitive to light that when I went outside to get the mail I had to wear sunglasses and a hoodie draw-strung to a peephole.

The opiate-induced euphoria was like watching an android cheerleader shout, “Go, team!” while the team was being slaughtered on the field. I wanted to feel something not induced by chemicals. I loved my family, but they were outside. I was alone inside the dam with the non-stop pounding of my brain.

Then, one night, a month into my isolation, I watched the two-part miniseries Abraham with my family. In the movie, Abraham is approached by a mysterious king named Melchizedek. Seeing Abraham’s longing for God, Melchizedek observes, “Nothing else matters, does it?” Abraham bursts into tears, and replies, “No! Nothing!”

In that instant, I remembered that I was not alone, that God was with me–always. I kissed my wife and pulled my kids close, and suddenly they were there inside the barrier with me.

Month two was inexplicably tolerable. By month three, the dam and the headache from hell were gone. But the scar remains, like an Abrahamic altar made of stones. It’s my constant reminder that God is faithful,

And nothing else matters. 

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to My Scar Stories

  1. Pingback: My Scar Stories | Mitch Teemley

  2. Eliza says:

    Wow. This post really touched me. Someone was telling me recently about praying and connecting…
    Happy monday!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bill Sweeney says:

    This is one of my favorite scar stories, Mitch. So good, so personal. Thanks for sharing this encouraging story. I can relate.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Such a great story and inspirational to say the least. Our youngest son was knocked down playing basketball his sophomore year. He had a migraine pain syndrome develop and he was rarely without a migraine. He missed about 55 days of school each year and could barely tolerate it because of the pain. His subsided also but he still gets them. The pain shaped part of his growing up years but it made him a lot stronger in the long run! We can so relate to your story! He spent a lot of his time in the dark also!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So much like my experience (“What Else Matters?” – May 3). My first thought in all this is that the most dangerous challenge is being able to forgive the woman who caused it all while applying her lipstick. Only God can give you the grace for that kind of forgiveness.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lprslr says:

    I am happy that G-d made himself known to you despite your pain… and you were astute enough to receive the message.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a brilliantly written, humorous account, of a not so funny situation!
    The lessons we learn along the way – even when painful!
    Thank you for the reminder that so long as we have Him, nothing else matters!
    May you have a blessed day!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pam Webb says:

    Humor is one of the better coping mechanisms and the Lord has provided a bounty within you, Mitch. Deep pain is wretched without hope and the ability to rustle up joy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Garfield Hug says:

    Haha I wore the Aspen Collar too. 3 cervical discs fixed with titanium rods and screws. I feel you 😲

    Liked by 1 person

  10. JOY journal says:

    Wonderful words, Mitch! And, I hope we are having a good Tuesday. (There really isn’t a smirk emoji, is there?)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ann Coleman says:

    What a powerful story! And a poignant reminder that sometimes when things seem the darkest, that’s exactly when we find the light of God…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ms. M says:

    Your storytelling style is golden. It has this sense of you just sitting there, coffee cup in hand, telling a friend what happened.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. nancyehead says:

    What an awful experience with a wonderful ending. Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

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