How I Finally Learned to Accept My Stretch Marks
Since I was 16 years old, I have hated being shirtless in public. That was when a sudden autoimmune disorder turned my life upside down. It ravaged my body, destroyed my spirit, and shut down my kidneys. The doctors placed me on a medication that caused me to expand, quickly and ceaselessly. Within a month, deep, jagged stretch marks carved themselves into my skin.
The whole ordeal lasted two years. I suffered through a misdiagnosis, more prescription medications than I could count, peritoneal dialysis (a process which replaces kidney function), a proper diagnosis, a new treatment, remission, and finally, a kidney transplant. My quiet but brave brother, Jason, donated his kidney to me, and just after I turned 18, my nightmare was over.
After this tumultuous journey, I was left with souvenirs: deep scars and stretch marks on my torso. The marks appeared as a purple color before fading to pink. They're translucent, too — you can see the veins underneath them. I thought they were gnarled, monstrous, and ugly. For women, stretch marks are open territory. They complain about them, they buy fancy creams to treat them, and together, they try to embrace them. But as a man, I didn't have access to the same open dialogue. I felt isolated by my own body issues.