Almost 3 years ago, I was cutting a piece of metal very routinely, when the sawblade grabbed it, threw it, and left me with a nasty cut on my thumb. I didn’t ask to get hurt. I didn’t think what I was doing would hurt me. I had done it before, I thought I knew what I was doing, but that time it went wrong.
After the racket, everyone around looked up to see what happened and if I was okay. I shouted out that I was fine, then wrapped my thumb in a paper towel and ran away before anyone could see me bleeding.
The first thing I did when I got to the first aid station was drown it in alcohol, apply medicine, wrap it in a band-aid, and go about my day like everything was okay. I knew things weren’t okay when I started bleeding through the band-aid, but I just put another one on and went about my business.
By the time I got home, my cut really hurt. I wouldn’t tell the world, but it was getting harder to do basic things like hold the steering wheel or turn a doorknob. I wrapped my cut in gauze, knowing that I needed to care for it, but I tried my best to hide it because I didn’t want anyone thinking I was being dramatic, lecturing me about getting hurt, or worrying needlessly.
I should have gotten professional help. I should have gone and gotten stitches, even though it would have been unpleasant. I knew that then as well as I know that now, but I denied it and ignored it and kept applying band-aids and medicine and alcohol in hopes that my cut would go away.
It did heal. It healed slowly, but it got there. Slowly it quit hurting quite so much, slowly I was able to go back to doing things like normal. However, it left a scar. The scar isn’t long, it doesn’t look gruesome, but it runs deep. The scar tissue is tough, much tougher than the skin around it. I can’t feel anything where the scar is, but I can feel the dead space where I quit feeling. From time to time, the tissue around the scar hurts, just enough to remind me that it’s there, and that it will always be there. Bending my thumb feels a little different than it used to. It works just fine, but it will never feel quite the same as before.
One day, the scar tissue may build up so much that it causes problems. If that happens, I’ll need surgery to remove the scar tissue. That could have been avoided if I had sought professional help and gotten stitches when the cut was fresh. If I had done that, the scar would have been much smaller, and in time I might have forgotten all about it. That ship sailed though. The scar is a part of me. It doesn’t bother me much, but I definitely know it’s there.
Some of my coworkers said they had also gotten hurt trying to cut that same piece of metal, and that I was lucky I wasn’t hurt more seriously. One guy broke his finger doing exactly what I was doing. I felt silly for not knowing any better, but there was some comfort in knowing that I wasn’t the only one who had gotten hurt like that. I was ashamed every time they saw my thumb, but they didn’t judge me for it. They wouldn’t have wanted it to happen to me, but they understood exactly what happened. They were glad to hear I was okay, even if they didn’t know just how deep the cut was.
What did I take away from all of this? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t hesitate to seek medical help when you’re hurt. Sometimes keeping things managed with temporary fixes just prolongs the suffering and causes rough healing. You may need painful intervention later if your scars cause more damage under the surface. Healed scars can be tougher than skin, but they still stand apart from your skin as permanent reminders of the trauma you went through. Scars can go far deeper than they appear on the surface, and affect the way you feel in ways you only barely notice. Don’t hide your hurts. People are surprisingly understanding, and may have gone through the same thing. It’s not your fault you got hurt.