Being a teacher, I always looked forward to snow days because it was an unexpected day to catch up, get some things done around the house, or just wake up when my body was rested instead of when the alarm clock gave the command. (I especially loved those snow days when the meteorologists’ predictions were wrong, or when the weather was cleared up by lunch time.) As a mother, the best thing about a snow day is having an unexpected day with my kids.
Recovering from trauma is a process, with it ups and downs… three steps forward, two steps back… and can be unpredictable.
Yesterday was a pretty good day until, on my way home from a trip to the store, a bus pulled up right behind us at a red light. I thought I had overcome all of my anxiety surrounding buses. Evidently, I have more work to do.
After having been hit by a school bus while walking to my car in November, I worked with a cognitive behaviorist who recommended exposure therapy. Right after my accident, the hair on my neck stood on end every time heard a school bus drive by my house. This was particularly difficult as three buses pick up children in the morning and the same three drop off children in the afternoon.
My therapist suggested I overcome my fear of the bus by gradually getting closer to it until I could tolerate the fleeting feeling of anxiety that always came with hearing it. After standing at the front door with my walker when the bus came by in the mornings, I eventually had my husband take me outside in my wheelchair when the bus dropped off my son in the afternoon. This strategy enabled me to pass buses on the road with no physiological symptoms… until yesterday.
When I realized there was a bus behind our car, I felt a bit queasy. Then I heard its brakes and almost immediately developed an excruciating headache. By the time we got home, I felt physically sick and cried intermittently for the next 30 minutes. I felt completely drained and remained on the couch for the next several hours.
Having participated in a trauma survivors’ class and individual therapy, I knew that I needed to talk about what I was experiencing. I talked to my husband and gave myself permission to feel what I was feeling. I forgave myself for having what I saw as a setback. Although I was emotionally exhausted, I was feeling better before I went to bed.
I slept late this morning, and woke up feeling calm. In fact, I had the thought that I felt unusually peaceful. Like a still lake, I felt emotionally placid. The day was peaceful and quiet, with no surprises. Once again, I am grateful for a good day and the fact that there are increasingly more good ones than challenging ones.
I look in the mirror and see a few grey hairs,
lines that weren’t there before,
and the toll that gravity has taken.
In my body, the aches and pains whisper.
Sometimes they scream.
Some on the inside…
And I’m here.
I have breath
I am grateful.
Today has been a good day. I’ve spent much of it reading, writing, meditating, and listening to personal growth speakers online. My physical therapist massaged my neck and put ice on my back today… not to mention went easy on me, as I had a couple of rough days on Sunday and Monday. A friend came and cleaned house for me (I pay her, and I’m happy to do it.), and another friend brought us a hot delicious meal. My husband washed dishes and cleaned the kitchen. What more could a girl ask for?
Today I finished the process to obtain my coaching certification. I am ecstatic, as this is something I have dreamed of and only recently had the intestinal fortitude to do. I took what could have been a tragedy (traumatic injury) and used it to create something good (Alchemy-turning base metal into gold).
Tomorrow, I embark on a journey I had begun 2 weeks before my accident in November. I planned to optimize my health through an exercise and eating regimen that I abandoned when my accident prompted me to accept meals prepared by caring souls whom I would not ask to meet all of my dietary needs (although they did a great job of keeping me Gluten free). It is time to reinstate my transformation.
I am also happy to celebrate my son-in-law’s 24th birthday. He and my daughter dated for several years before they married in November of 2012. I have watched him grow from an unsure teenager to an admirable young man that I am grateful to have as my daughter’s helpmeet. (My oldest son’s birthday was on Wednesday, making it a week full of celebrations.)
To top the day off, today I was asked to write for an organization I support. I nonchalantly shared my experience with them, and later they asked me if would share my story. I am finally beginning to feel like a real writer, even though I know the only thing necessary for me to be a writer is that I write.
I had a different post planned than the one you are now reading. I have spent some time today reading the writing of fellow bloggers, as I do most every day. It occurred to me that I have gained as much from reading other blogs, as I have from writing my own.
I follow several blogs of differing subject matter. Some of the topics I would not have sought out, but another blogger recommended the read. Sometimes I am led to other bloggers’ sites because they make compelling comments on something else I am reading. At any rate, my horizons are forever broadening.
Even more than reading the work of other bloggers, I have enjoyed connecting with them. I have quoted writers whom I respect and whose work inspires me. I have had some “moments” with other bloggers in the form of shared experiences, stimulating discussions, and giving and receiving sincere compliments. So while I began writing for a variety of reasons, the gratification I get from connecting with other bloggers was a bit of serendipity.
I waited to post until later today because I was hoping to entitle this one Writer’s Hands, Part 3. I went to the hand surgeon today, thinking the stitches and pins would be removed from my left pinkie. The former were, but not the latter. But I did get the go ahead to remove the splint from my right pinkie.
I have resisted putting pictures of my finger online because they are quite graphic. I find them quite fascinating but when I’ve offered to take my splint off and show people what’s underneath, I often get responses like, “That’s all right” or “I’m good.” So my next “Writer’s Hands” post will have to wait for two more weeks.
On the other hand (no pun intended but after it came out, I decided to leave it), I was happy to hear that a woman who has been cooking for us every Tuesday would be bringing dinner. (I still have difficulty cooking because of my hands and because standing for long periods of time is painful.) I had not received the usual heads up she sends, so I thought we had enjoyed our last meal from her. Instead we arrived home from my doctor’s appointment to a hot meal of roasted chicken, green beans, and scalloped potatoes.
And really, when I looked back over the rest of my day, I even more for which I am grateful. I completed 2 hours of physical therapy this morning, without the usual fatigue that follows. Afterward, I mailed a coaching contract and assignment to a client. I completed the last module of an online course I am taking. I designed my own business cards and ordered some. I tackled a technology issue that I normally would have asked my husband to show me or do for me. In spite of my limitations, I was productive today.
Albeit, I was disappointed that I will still have a splint and pins for two more weeks, I really can’t complain. This day may have been a mixed bag, but there was much more good than anything else.
For Valentine’s Day I made a list of 14 things I love. (They are in no particular order… unless stream of consciousness qualifies as an order.)
1. baby giggles… especially my granddaughter’s
2. exercising, especially outside
3. frozen Margaritas
4. when my kids ask for my advice… and really want it… and take it
5. reading (especially non-fiction, spiritual, and self-help books)
6. my family (the whole crazy bunch!)
8. learning new things
9. Sunday lunches with my kids
10. spicy food
11. when my dog curls up on the couch with me and keeps my feet warm
13. swimming pools and beaches
14. hanging out with my husband
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I am noticing that my recovery is not linear. Today I struggled to get up and get moving. I managed to make it through an hour and a half of physical therapy. Initially it was wonderful. My therapist did some soft tissue work, relieving the tension in my muscles from my previous visit and the headache I endured much of the previous night. She then assigned several exercises that quickly reactivated all the tension she had just relieved. I then returned home only to struggle to stay awake a short while. I finally gave in to the exhaustion and slept for two and a half hours. This evening my husband suggested dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, to which I quickly agreed. I will complete this post and my day will be essentially done.
This has been the pattern lately. If I take a shower, that’s the most physical activity I can endure in one day. If I go to the store or to run an errand, I’m done. It is somewhat frustrating for someone who has been used to running at full speed all of her adult life. I am learning to accept the low energy times, although I do regret the “lost time” until I remember that it isn’t “lost.” I have to remind myself that these afternoons when I have to recover from therapy or other activities are times my body needs to heal itself.
Above all else I have to remind myself that I am fortunate that these obstacles I am facing are not permanent. So I will accept the fact that some days my body’s need for rest will win out over my will to be Wonder Woman. In the long run, this will ensure that I keep moving forward. After all, three steps forward and two step back does equal forward movement… one step at a time.
During a particularly tough time in my life, I was having a conversation with my dad. I told him that I felt like I was just making it from crisis to crisis. I had already grown accustomed to hearing my father telling me, “It’s going to be all right, Baby.” So his answer was a bit of a surprise.
He said, “Welcome to life!” He said it without an ounce of negativity. It was as if he was congratulating me for discovering the key to something wonderful. And in a way, I was.
What I learned from his response, was to look at what I had once perceived as problems in a different light. I had always thought of myself as resilient and resourceful, so I began to think of crises as opportunities to exercise my problem solving skills.
While I still experience events in my life that I would not have chosen from the infinite possibilities out there, I have learned to maintain a positive outlook and enjoy each day regardless of what it holds. So rather than living from crisis to crisis, I live each day as it comes and find the good in every one of them, deal with what needs to be dealt with, and then let it all go until the gift another day arrives.