May 23, 2018
In the span of six years, I was cut open in the same place four times to implant, replace or revise the device that keeps my heart rhythm functioning correctly. Four times I was stitched up and sent home to heal. Each time was different. The first was all new, the second more painful and the third left a worse scar. But one thing remained the same – the healing just took time.
And while it’s been almost six years since the last time, the scar remains. It’s there on my chest every single day. In the early days of healing, it was a constant, throbbing pain that occasionally spiked when I moved a certain way. Later, it became dull but started to itch. The first scar was thin, the third became thick, red and bumpy. The fourth required additional revisions and now remains strangely wide but concave. It’s nothing I ever wanted. I often find it ugly, but it is forever a part of me. It will continue to change as I do. The healing never stops.
Even if the physical scar faded completely, the other scars on my emotions and psyche will always remain. Even now, those scars continue to heal. This is part of my life going forward. I cannot wish it away – I can only move forward and face tomorrow with it. I have to remember that healing takes time, often more than one can imagine. And, while the scar and my heart condition are forever a part of me, they do not define me. Time does not truly heal all wounds, but it does make them less visible and intrusive in our lives.
Last week it was announced that a settlement was reached between the university and survivors. Certainly money and settlements alone cannot heal wounds this deep, but I hope that it is a start. First and foremost, I wish the survivors peace, comfort and healing. They will always be the most important part of any healing.
I also hope this is the start of healing for their family and friends and our entire community. For Spartans, this time of healing also must mean a time of continued work to fix what is broken. The Spartans I know are determined to create change and take action. The pain is strong, and the scars are fresh. We must understand that these scars are with us forever, but they do not define who we are. We have the power to change how we live with these wounds.
Some pretty amazing Spartan students in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences are using their power to make a difference. I previously highlighted them in the feature, MSU Students Spark a Movement, that outlines their Go Teal campaign. This week, they launched an inspiring video, We have the power #GoTeal, that challenges all of us to be part of the solution that addresses sexual assault. They did a really fantastic job and share a very important message.
Also in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences is Joe Grimm. He is a faculty member there as editor-in-residence and professor at MSU's School of Journalism. He and his students have dedicated their time and talents into giving people tools to fight bias that harms our communities. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Busting biases, to learn how the answers to 1,000 questions have the power to change minds.
If questions can change minds, experiences have even more power. Katherine Lundy, a music performance undergraduate majoring in oboe, learned about herself and others recently by performing in a sensory-friendly concert. For her, “This was an amazing opportunity for my classmates and I to learn about sharing music with a different type of audience than we were used to.” Read her STUDENT VIEW: An unforgettable performance experience, to learn more about this special event.
For me, being Spartan means being open to new people and experiences. It’s only through the power of our community that we can face the challenges of today and find solutions for tomorrows.
Do I know what tomorrow will bring? Of course not. This is a time of uncertainty for all of us. What I do know is that Spartans do not quit. We will not give up looking for new ways to make things better and for opportunities to promote healing, no matter how long it takes. William Shakespeare once said, “What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” There are degrees ahead to be sure and scars that will remain, but healing will happen. Spartans Will.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner