The painting shown is how I sum up last year’s February. It had been weeks after I was hit and I soon became exposed to a wide range of medical personnel. Up until recently, each visit with doctors and therapists caused great anxiety in the days approaching each appointment. I would have to constantly repeat myself about how the events of the accident took place, why I was too dumbfounded to not have any information on the driver who hit me, and best of all: repeat to each person where it hurt and how much (the ridiculous scale of 1-10)…when in reality everything felt like it was on 10 and I was hurting EVERYWHERE. Do you know how frustrating it is to try and describe the ten kinds of pain I was feeling from my head, down my shoulders, to my fingers, and from my back down my hips, legs, and toes? Think of all of the body parts in between your head and toes, the muscles, the nerves, the joints, the tissues, the everything. Oh, and not just where it hurt or the number rating, but how it hurt; throbbing, stabbing, shooting, burning, tingling, blah blah blah.
I was hit by a vehicle taller than my own height…everything hurt everywhere and in every type of way! But of course, I couldn’t say that. I had to explain in rigorous detail what everyday was like. Another great thing was that if God forbid, I actually forgot to mention something in all of this mess or became confused at who was told what, I get the “well, I don’t see it here in your records so we can’t do that”. Gotta love the people behind the computers calling all of the shots on your well being.
As you can see, I’m still in this mess and still dealing with most of these people. However, I’ve managed to stick up for myself and do what is best for me (take my word for it…don’t let a life-changing event force you into that – do what’s best for you NOW).
Back to February of 2017. I remember vividly sitting in a chair waiting to be called on at Functional Physical Therapy (great team btw) and seeing people of various ages on stationary bikes or lifting dumbells. I remember shaking uncontrollably during my entire visit. Maybe I was still in shock. Maybe I was annoyed that I used to be able to do those things and atm I could barely lift and hold the pen used to fill out my information.
Eric approached me in a soft and comforting manner. He was the kindest any stranger had been since this all began. He is the physical therapist I was blessed to have by my side during the beginning phase. We sat down and talked. He helped put the situation in perspective for me even when I couldn’t accept it. I asked him if I would be ready to get back to work within a week or two. He said it would be a miracle if I was better in a month. At the time I was taking two architecture graduate courses – Eric also recommended that I drop out for at least one semester. That is when the sobbing began. I thought he was crazy and tried to mentally dismiss all of this. But, as time went on, I realized that he was right. That entire first visit consisted of mostly crying and shaking. When my dad came to pick me up, Eric explained to my dad that “we all just need to be nice to her”. I don’t know why, but that stuck in my head. He knew that invisible injuries are hard for people to understand or have patience towards. How can you know of something you’ve never felt or seen? He figured that if I was more comfortable and understood, that that could help to calm my nerves, which in turn calms some of the pain. Not a bad theory.
He mentioned a diagnosis to me before the doctors could realize what this was. He asked me questions not in a way of examining a person, but in a way of just talking with a person. He taught me not to be passive about my symptoms from day one; to state everything.
On my second visit, I was told to try to lay down and just relax with a few heating pads. Eric turned the lights off (thankfully, because my eyes were more sensitive than ever) and told me to simply relax and rest. When I’m forced to rest, my mind goes to the worst of places. I kept repeating what had happened in my head. I was so confused as to what was to happen next. When Eric came back, he could read my face very clearly. He asked me if I had anyone to talk to, any friends who could listen. I had friends. But, they’ve got their own worries and don’t need to hear about mine. I told him I’d be fine and figure things out.
That February was the month not of the most physical pain, but of the most mental distress. This alcohol ink painting reminds me of how hazy and cloudy that time in my life had been. I was completely shook. Everything that I was thrown into scared me.
This February is the month that I feel like nothing can scare me.
I’m not scared of those in suits on the other side of my screen trying to call all of the shots. They can do or say whatever they want on paper but they won’t affect my well-being any longer. Doctors have ceased to intimidate me and make me feel inferior. Lawyers won’t diminish me or my rights because guess what, they all work for me…not the other way around. It took me a while to figure that out but I finally got it.
I’m not afraid of what’s to come because I took on a horrendous blow and I’m still standing! The scariest parts have happened and yes, I have breakdowns at least once a day, but I continue to push through. I may break but I won’t stay broken.
Happier February to you all.