Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Proud of My Scars

I don't recall too many details from the day of the accident. I remember snowboarding and going off the jump and the fall after. I remember the excruciating pain all throughout my body and not knowing where the source of it was. I vaguely recall being flown to the nearest hospital and feeling the gush of the wind on my face as I was being rushed into the emergency room. I felt oh so cold and was shivering as I was put under a huge french fry lamp and covered with multiple layers of blankets. I was told I was going to have surgery right away. The next few days were a blur. I learned later that team of wonderful doctors and nurses spent a total of 16 painstaking hours, pulling out hundreds of teeny pieces of what used to be my vertebrae and stabilized my back with a titanium rod and one of my left ribs. It's a bit surreal to think of all my body endured. The result of that was a brand new life.

However, that is not to say that it was all rainbows and butterflies afterwards. Although infinitely grateful for those life-saving surgeries, it was still difficult for me to accept my new reality and the scars that were left behind served as painful reminders of what happened to me. I knew there was a really long gash that runs straight down my back with a fork in the road midway that detours left onto another jagged remnant. I had felt it many, many times but avoided looking at it to prevent a long lasting image of imperfection on my back. It was months before I could muster enough courage to finally take a look at them. I knew had to in order to progress in my healing process, but I was really hesitant because I knew it would make me sad. My hands were shaking excessively as I lifted up my shirt and turned to look at them in the mirror. The sight of the scars was harder than I imagined. I was saddened by the fact that these scars had replaced my once smooth back and would stay there for the rest of my life. I remember feeling uneasy about going out in public with my swimsuit on because I knew everyone would look at me weird and stare at those scars and wonder (as if they didn't have enough questions already of why I was in a wheelchair). I felt extremely insecure about my body at that moment and decided I was never going to wear backless swimsuits ever again! Because of my scars, I no longer felt confident in what I could wear, which began to weigh down on my self-esteem what I determined to be  the beautiful aspects of me.

After the accident, I read from the "Heaven is Here" book by a burn victim, Stephanie Neilson about her encounter with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. He told her to be proud of her scars. "We look for Christ's scars because they are evidence of what he did for us. They'll be the first things He shows us when we see Him again. Our scars tell a story, too. Although they may not make you feel attractive, they are a witness of a miracle, that God blessed you to live, and that you have accomplished very difficult things" (292).

Reading that passage changed my perspective on the significance behind scars, both the visible and invisible ones, and made me feel happier about my own. It gave me a sense of pride in my scars because they are a reminder to me of how far I've come since the accident. It's been a bumpy journey but I didn’t let that stop me. The scars tell me that I've been entrusted by God to be brave and do hard things. He loves me and wants me to make something of all of this. He wants me to share my story. It's been years since the day I peeked at my scar down my back, and I'm happy to say I no longer worry about others seeing the scars on my back for I understand the significance behind them and I am proud. 

I also know that my scars are not what define my beauty. What makes me beautiful is the fact that I am a daughter of God; I have a brain and a heart to share with all of God’s children and that is most important. My heart dictates my actions and is the driving force behind pursuing my passions. It motivates me to serve my fellow man through labor and kindness in my everyday dealings. My hearts makes me brave and going beyond what people think I'm capable of. That means wearing a nice backless swimsuit at the beach and embracing the stares of wonder even when it was something I didn't think I could do before.  The life saving efforts of my miracle workers have permitted me this heart to survive and grow and become stronger, and I must make them proud.

I think Mindy Gledhill said it best: "It's not about your scars...It's all about your heart."

Embracing my scars by wearing a nice open-back swimsuit and enjoying life.


  1. That is an amazing quote by Elder Holland. I so admire you, Martina!

  2. Your blog is beautiful and inspiring!! I am glad that I found it.


  3. I love this post! And what a great quote.

  4. When something happens to us, it's good to have comfort in knowing God has a plan for each one of us. What a beautiful post!!! :)