23 August 2009

about a scar

I was standing in front of a full-length mirror this morning with hardly any clothes on (okay, that was too much information), and I realized--after months of not paying attention--that the scar in my pelvic area has faded and flattened into a pale, almost skin tone shade. Give it a year or two, and it'll hardly be visible anymore.

The very vain part of me really hated this scar when it was new--weeks after that April 2007 cyst removal operation. I didn't like the idea of having a 5-inch surgical scar ruin what I considered to be a perfectly normal, blemish-free body. It depressed me for quite a while.

The scar was a huge discomfort to me, and for these past two years, I had gotten used to it announcing its throbbing presence whenever I run or do crunches after boxing. In a race, I'd find myself talking to it (in my head, of course) and I'd be like, "Oh come on, just a few more kilometers! You and I can do it. Stop complaining! You'll be okay!"

And in a cold environment, like the office, my scar would get all annoyingly itchy as if to say, "Time to moisturize me!" Because I feel it's totally wrong to scratch skin--and scars in particular--my only form of relief is to slather on cocoa butter lotion over it. And then my scar would "quiet" down.

It's like some living, sensory indicator that would warn me every time I was overexerting myself in a workout or if the cold got too much. (I find myself wondering how my scar would react if I went to Alaska or Russia or something.) To a certain extent, I've grown accustomed to it, having it as a sort of companion whom I'd defy in mid-crunch and especially in running. But when I've finally crossed the finish line, I'd say (again, in my head), "See? We're okay, scar!"

I have a love-hate relationship with it, as you can see.

The thing about scars like mine is that they remind you of what you've been through and what you're still capable of. It's annoying to feel the pain when I'm running for example--but when I think of all those weeks I had to hobble around and even require assistance from sitting up in bed, when I had to go without exercise for months to let the scar heal, when I couldn't be in a standing position for more than 5 minutes because the pain was exhausting and unbearable--I consider myself lucky to be running 10 km now, moderate scar discomfort and all.

If one thinks about it, those weeks after the operation were all just about physical pain (and other people have endured much worse), but getting over it has immense mental benefits. Many wonder why marathon runners still run even when they're experiencing cramps and all that muscle pain in mid-race. Or to put it within a more personal context, some people in the office ask me why I still do cardioboxing even when my knuckles have undergone some considerable beating and look like crap. Why? Why go through all that torture, they ask.

And the simple answer is...well, it feels good to beat the pain, that's all. It makes you feel better as a person knowing that your tolerance for pain has increased by a notch or two.

So as I stood in front of the mirror this morning, I patted my scar and thought about two things I want to accomplish: 500 crunches in one boxing session this coming week--and perhaps, just perhaps, a 12.8 km practice run sometime soon. I think we'll be okay, scar.


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