If you have ever spent much time in the hospital then you are familiar with “hospital tattoos”. They can take the form of the perimeter of the items that have been stuck to your body for treatment or monitoring or perhaps it’s the black and blue from the IV or the glue perimeter from ekg patches or certain heart monitoring devices. More substantial would be the burned skin from radiation treatments or scars from big or small surgeries.
One looks at these reminders days, sometimes weeks, for some forever after you leave the setting and for most of us, they remind us of a time we don’t prefer to be reminded of. A time when we were sick, weak, vulnerable, and fully at the fate and at the hands of the well intentioned practitioners trying to restore our health.
Many of these lingering reminders are temporary, time, showers, scrubbing with soap n water and their outlines slowly fade. But in another more permanent ways, or for heavier wounds that will never fade from the eye, these marks leave an indelible imprint on the patient’s being. Every hospitalization and every treatment mark leaves the patient permanently a little different as the memories of maybe a near death experience or an incredibly painful treatment or set of treatments never go away altogether.
Wether or not you know of these hospital tattoos first person, second person or not much at all (which is my hope for each of you), every one us carries marks, often invisible to the eye, of challenging, sometimes painful experiences that make up part of our life. Although I wish I’ve had far, far fewer of these painful marks, they, along with my joys and successes, which are monumental in comparison, are the fabric of my epi-dna that make up my soul foundation of my experience.
If we are the lucky ones who survive the hospitalizations and the personal traumas we have the opportunity to live better and maybe different then we would have if we hadn’t had the experiences. I’m not making light of your or my heavy challenges or that for a minute I wouldn’t trade all my nights in the hospital for an easier run, I’m saying that we often don’t have any say in what happens to us, we only have a say in how we respond.
These tattoos have the potential to make some give up, give in to fear or just get bitter and name call our life as unfair or unkind but they also have the potential to help us fully come to grips with life on life’s terms and see each day for what it is, A Gift, to be used as we see fit inn the brief time that we have.
What ever marks lay visibly on your skin or invisibly to the eye deep on your soul it is my hope that bright ones make up the majority. It is my hope that your successes and pleasant life learning light up most of your path. As for the darker more painful ones, even the brutal ones, which we all have to some extent, I hope and pray they can be transformational and lead to better, more meaning days. Days of connecting with people, enjoying that which you have been given and just maybe leave you more comfortable with the bitter sweet reality that ultimately the only thing we can control is our attitude and the only thing we have for certain is the air in our lungs right now.
Happy Independence Day, You are not alone