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.