Today has been hard. Really fucking hard.
Have you ever been fishing? And when you initially reel the fish in and it lands on the dock or on the ground and just flops around relentlessly, desperate to find water? And then you struggle to get the hook out of its mouth before letting it go?
Last night, I was that fish out of water; flopping around in my bed. Tossing and turning, with an unsettling feeling coursing through my body. Restless leg syndrome times one thousand. At night, typically, I limit myself on illuminated screens – computer, tv and my cell phone. Yet, at times of desperation, I have a tendency to open my photos folder on my phone and scroll through, gazing at digital memories. In an effort to take my mind off of the pulsating negative energy in my legs, I reached for my phone. This is what I found.
Not just photos. Evidence. Proof that I am loved and supported by people from all over. Friends and family. It was a temporary distraction from the pain and a permanent glug of love into my emotional tank.
The discomfort went on for hours until I finally woke dad up, took another nerve blocker and attempted to reposition for the umpteenth time and wriggle around some more. Around 3 o’clock in the morning, sleep and I found each other.
Fast forward to 9 o’clock in the morning and I awoke to dad dropping something on the floor. My head was clouded with the struggle that plagued me over night. It was Monday morning. Yuck.
No, Kristen. Stop it. Change your thinking.
Letting out a massive groan mixed with some sigh, I unlocked my phone which opened to one of the pictures from last night. There was still some love in my tank and I was determined to use that to fuel my day.
You’re ok. The discomfort you’re feeling is nothing.
Dad dropped me off at physical therapy around two o’clock this afternoon. Sitting in the chairs outside the gym, I was fighting back tears.
Kristen, it’s ok. Healing isn’t linear.
Shifting in my chair, something in my lower spine clicked.
Never in this lifetime will I be able to say enough about my support system here in Florida. With white knuckles on the arms of my chair, a PALLI therapist and sweet friend, Vanessa, rounded the corner.
Shit. She’s going to ask me how I’m doing. Hold it together, K.
Too late. Tears began to percolate in the corners of my eyes. With a huge hug, and we all know how I feel about hugs, I quickly explained about my night. It had to come out. A second hug was in order and then she had to get back to her patient. We had happy hour plans so our conversation would continue then… accompanied by liquid painkillers.
Sitting back down, I took the corner of my sleeves and dabbed the water from my eyes. Was I overreacting? Everything that I have been told to do, I was/am doing. Even wearing my brace, religiously. And I have continued to walk around nearly waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Stop waiting Kristen.
The door across from me, a short cut from the operating room, opened. Dr. Feldman walked out and our eyes locked.
Shit again. He knows.
In the most relaxed manor that you hardly ever witness a surgeon embody, Dr. Feldman walked over and sat in the chair right next to me.
Yep. He knew. Perhaps it was my already tear stained eyes or my white knuckle death grip on my chair. Whatever it was, he knew that something was nagging at my heart. Turning my whole body to face him, twisting is a big no, no, I unloaded about my lack of sleep and fear of movement in my spine.
“See you in clinic on Wednesday.”
Just like that. My fears are of his concern. Standing up, he walked back towards clinic, not after giving me a hug and noticing my increased strength in my ‘sit to stand’ which also warranted a little bit of welcomed laughter.
As Dr. F rounded the corner for clinic, Dayle was now at my side ready to start my hour worth of cajoinking [our coined term for getting my SI joint back into place] and hard work. Another hug warranted more tears as we made our way in to the seated bike. It didn’t matter that there were people all around us, the tears continued to fall as we talked.
“Kristen, you cannot blame yourself,” D said in a lovingly yet serious manner. Point taken.
As always, she was right. Our hour together consisted of more emotional expression, heartfelt conversation and welcomed perspective. These people here, in my life, who are helping me heal… they are exceptional.
After a little post torture session ice down, Vanessa and I headed out for a happiest of hours. Lawd knows that I needed it! Time spent with like minded women is time I value SO much. Being far removed from the place I call[ed] home has made that a little difficult. Venturing out with people down here in FL, who heal me inside and out, and whom I get to call friend, is just a little bit of the magic amidst the mess.
After sitting down at our table outside, putting our order in and continuing our conversation, we were very rudely interrupted. As a gentleman on a bike rode by, he looked at me and said, “You’re a midget.”
Without hesitation, Vanessa verbally offered him a piece of her mind and was ready to jump up and toss the dude off of his bike. For a hot moment, I thought she was going to get up and she probably would have if it didn’t mean leaving me and her beer stranded. My point being is that she was visibly upset by the benighted biker’s words. And if our roles had been reversed, I would have done the same thing for her. Many of my friends have witnessed events such as these. It happens. More than most people realize. And it has nothing to do with me.
People just want to be heard. They want to make their opinions and thoughts known. Whether it be about politics, driving habits, food quality or the way someone looks; they’re going to express their sentiments whether we like it or not. Despite our ability to prevent it from happening, we can choose how to react.
Since I was old enough to understand that the word midget was derogatory, I allowed it to bother me. Until I learned that judgments made by others are a reflection of them and not me. Many times it’s ignorance. Our choice in reaction comes when we either give the power to the speaker and get upset or come from an empowered standpoint and kick it back to our elementary roots, killing it with kindness. Our ignorant friend made a quick getaway on two wheels and I sure as hell was not going to hobble after him. And if I’d had the chance to talk to him, I simply would have introduced myself as Kristen. His response to that would have determined the continued direction of the conversation.
Let me tell you though, you would have been proud of me that evening (and so would T. Swift) because that man on the bike and his ignorance, I shook it off. That’s right, it didn’t get under my skin. I swear. Vanessa and my lovely, delicious beverage (one that was bright green and had a sprig of parsley sprouting from it… so, clearly healthy, warranting a second) were far more deserving of my time.A day that began difficult ended with laughter, hugs and my own strength that came from I don’t know where. My reserves, I suppose. The fear, doubt and sadness I’d felt since my feet and crutches hit the ground this morning was killed with kindness from some pretty badass people that I am so, so lucky to have in my life. (I know, I know, I’m repeating myself. And it’s TRUE.)
Be kind. Everyone is fighting their own battle. Sometimes it’s hard to flip the compassionate switch on. And trust me when I say, just do it.