sympathy [sim-puh-thee] – ,
So, I’m sure that at some point in my life I was only able to be sympathetic to someone or something due to my inexperiences. But in the last few years, pain has definitely become a new friend that I didn’t necessarily invite to the party! This post from 2015 talks about one of my interactions with serious discomfort – PAIN…
And in the last year, I’ve had more run-ins with the Big P than I’d like to admit! September 17, 2016 was like any other Saturday. Teach in the morning until noon or so and then the afternoon was free. We were slated to go to the EatSeeHear outdoor movie to watch a showing of the epic movie, Purple Rain. And the following weekend, we were headed to Kauai!!
In general, the way I deal with my random levels of anxiety or other feelings of funk, is to do some kind of a fairly mindless workout. This day, I was kinda stressed about going where I knew there’d be TONS of people and so I decided to take a short run around our neighborhood. Truth be told, I was also feeling a bit overwhelmed and a little “less than” as a person… Either way, I needed to expend this bundle of energy somehow to guarantee I made it to the evening’s commitment with Dawn and friends. With phone in hand, knowing I’d only be out 20 minutes max, I kissed Dawn bye and headed out the door.
My first few minutes were hitchy, squirrely and anxiety-ridden. I pulled my sunglasses down so I would’t have any opportunity to make eye contact. 3-4 minutes later, I saw the CAYOOTEST (cutest) puppy with his owner and the little girl in me had to stop and say hello. The dog was sweet and the 2-3 minute interaction I had with the owner was literally life-changing. He was a young veteran, maybe 24, and had just come from his final session at Peak Brain Institute to help manage his PTSD. I was wearing my Catch A Lift tee shirt (Catch A Lift Fund – nonprofit for veterans) and we talked briefly about all the awesome ways veterans can now get help. I bid him and his adorable pup goodbye and went on my way…
…around the corner out of sight to have a seriously heaving, deep-down, WTF cry.
And then I continued on my run down the next neighborhood street and that’s when my life really shifted. My sunglasses (or my mindset) clouded my vision and I stepped on a magnolia bud on the sidewalk and went down. HARD. “Running at approximately 6 miles per hour” hard.
My sunglasses went flying. I skidded at least 8-10 feet on the cement. Immediate tears, fear and adrenaline pump. Thank goodness I didn’t smash my phone when I fell because after a few minutes of shock and assessment, I knew I wasn’t walking home. I could barely stand up. My left ankle was already swelling to an outrageous fatness and my elbow had blood dripping off it. It was sheer luck I didn’t smash my head on the ground. Dawn – thankfully – answered on the 2nd ring and drove the 1 street over to pick me up. I was definitely in shock, was experiencing nausea, could barely hop to the car on one leg and was in a crap-ton of pain.
As soon as we got in the house, the Home Depot bucket was full of ice and water and I was dunking my aching ankle and foot in for 5-6 minute bouts. HOLY OUCH! Even the icing hurt. Gratefully Dawn cleaned up my elbow and bandaged it for me, too. I continued the icing and elevating routine until around 8 or 9pm to hopefully decrease the swelling as much as possible. It definitely helped even though my ankle was still huge and started to bruise. I ate dinner, took some ibuprofen and it took me about 10 minutes to get up the stairs on the crutches to make it to bed. And remarkably, I slept pretty well!
When I woke around 5:30 that Sunday morning, I knew moving around was gonna suck. So I took my time, sat up on the edge of the bed and grabbed my crutches. Dawn was downstairs taking care of the dogs already. I put my phone in my pocket and made it to the foot of the bed before I started to feel “off”. Woozy, lightheaded, pukey – just plain bad. I called Dawn on my phone because I was too weak to call out her name. She came up immediately, handed me a trash can in case I got sick and that’s all I remember…
Apparently I experienced a ‘vasovagal syncope’ with a side of seizure. Basically the pain in my foot was so bad my brain said “Sit the f**k down or I’m taking you down!” And that’s what happened. Within 10 minutes, there were a lot of firefighters & first responders in my bedroom to carry my broken body down the stairs and into an ambulance to the hospital in Marina del Rey. Tons of tests and 3 days later, I came home with nothing seriously wrong with me and no apparent lasting issues. My ankle had become background noise/pain compared to my being so scared from all of this other stuff.
Fast forward to today, July 9th 2017. I’ve had a few other small and short visits from the Big P. And one pretty big one about 3 weeks ago that literally dropped me to my knees. But that’s another post.
So what is the bigger meaning behind this otherwise really long blog? That I am more compassionate, more aware, more sympathetic and definitely more empathetic with my clients and friends than I’ve ever been in my life. I now KNOW what scary, possibly life-changing & debilitating pain feels like. I know more about what it takes to be an advocate for yourself and to have another person advocate for you in the current healthcare system. And I definitely know what it takes to walk – and sometimes crawl – the road of recovery. As slow as it may feel, it’s still forward movement…