Well, nothing like a little bit of crisis to give yourself perspective.
On Saturday morning I tripped on a plastic bag on the floor of my closet and bent back my big toe. It hurt. A lot. And turned bright red. I swore. A lot. And Nala looked concerned. I put some ice on it while I talked to my friend on the phone, and I took some Ibuprofen, just to be safe. Then I carried on with my day.
It wasn’t until several hours (and several miles walked) later that I realized something was wrong. I’d gotten back to my car after attending Wesley Chu’s reading at Borderlands, and I realized my toe really hurt. It hurt so much I felt queasy. It hurt so much that as I was driving the hour home, I had to take deep breaths and use lots of willpower to not cry.
So there I am, driving home, doing some deep breathing, in terrible pain, starving, exhausted because I’d had insomnia the night before (which, incidentally, is probably why I’d tripped in the first place), and what do I think? Maybe it’s not so bad. I don’t want to tell people I’m hurt. How can I make this easier for other people?
I wish I was making that up, but I’m not. But even in my I-want-to-sink-into-a-puddle-of-tears-on-the-couch state, I reined myself in. Nope, I told myself. You need to take care of yourself. That’s all you have to manage.
This is a fairly radical thought for me to have at such a time. This injury, then, became an opportunity.
But oh, it is so hard! I hate asking for help. I hate it so much. It feels like willpower in that after I’ve asked a certain number of times for help, I feel like my ability to ask is completely depleted, and I must do the things myself. I must! Who cares about pain? Who cares about RICE? I must put this paper towel in the trash can, goddamnit.
You know what else is hard? Not apologizing. I want to apologize so badly. Especially when I’m asking for help. But I’m determined not to because I know it’s ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is my irrational certainty that people will be angry at me for being injured. You know how many people have actually been angry? ZERO. Because that would be really weird.
Be that as it may, I do see progress. The last time I had a sprained ankle, I remember sitting in my easy chair seriously panicking. I had no idea how I would manage. My mind raced from solution to solution, and they all pretty much sucked, and no matter how long I thought about it, they didn’t improve. In the end, my solution was not-so-good.
But this time there was no panic. There was physical pain, sure, along with significant mental gymnastics about the whole not-apologizing and asking-for-help thing. But I knew it would work out. I knew I would be okay. I knew people would be there for me.
Not bad for a year-and-a-half.
Then on Sunday night I had to rush Nala to the emergency vet. I left my crutches at home. I didn’t care about my crutches. I didn’t care about my toe. All I cared about was my little dog in danger.
And that was right too because it was a genuine emergency.
Anyway, we’re both fine now. Nala is in good health, and I am spending a lot of time elevating my toe. This weekend’s crises were the normal kind of blips that show up from time to time. Stressful, but manageable.
And since I’m not allowed to say sorry, I’ve been trying to say thank you a lot instead. It’s amazing how the words we choose can change an experience from one of helplessness to one of gratitude and appreciation. It’s amazing how the words we choose can change the focus from our own pain to the generosity of others.
It’s amazing how much change is possible.