In a 2011 paper on the medical effects of scurvy, author Jason C. Anthony offers a remarkable detail about human bodies and the long-term presence of wounds. “Without vitamin C,” Anthony writes, “we cannot produce collagen, an essential component of bones, cartilage, tendons and other connective tissues. Collagen binds our wounds, but that binding is replaced continually throughout our lives. Thus in advanced scurvy”—reached when the body has gone too long without vitamin C—“old wounds long thought healed will magically, painfully reappear.”
Given the right—or, as it were, exactly wrong—nutritional circumstances, even a person’s oldest injuries never really go away. In a sense, there is no such thing as healing. From paper cuts to surgical scars, our bodies are mere catalogs of wounds: imperfectly locked doors quietly waiting, sooner or later, to spring back open.