FACING THE WORLD ONE STEP AT A TIME
I am back. As hard as it is to find words to write these things it was even more difficult to live them. I have been able to talk about all of this before and even find humor at times. There have been times that I pop off with some comment and people including me laugh weather they want to or not. One time my husband looked concerned and asked me why I would ever joke or laugh about such a thing? I do not remember what the comment or topic was but I know the reason. I told him, “There are times if I do not find a way to laugh, I would cry all the time.”
After seeing my face for the first time after the accident I slept so soundly there were no dreams that I recalled. The shot they game me made that possible. I woke feeling drifty and almost fell back to sleep when I remembered what I had seen. Such emotion welled inside of me it felt like a pressure from within and bearing down. I drew in a gasping breath and knew tears would do no good. With that thought, came the next. What would help? How would I survive? How could I face life, family and the world looking as I had observed in the mirror?
The medical care was so good they were there like magic any time I needed them showing not only care but compassion. They explained how what I saw was not what it would be. The swelling would go down and the bruising would heal. There were amazing things that can be done with plastic surgery. The doctor patiently sat and visited and talked with me explaining honestly that it might require multiple surgeries but I would not have to live looking as it was right then. I will never forget him or the nursing staff.
I explained that without insurance I could not afford that and he assured me not to worry. He made me promise right then to concentrate on getting better, healing and getting stronger. I was so weak. The bones in my foot were still broken and joints dislocated but there were other issues more important. In addition to all of the other injuries we could not let my lungs fill up. I had to get up. I had to walk.
Just standing was a problem. Walking would be a problem for not only me but the staff. The danger of me falling was real. I was weak, hurt, and on a broken foot. They normally have a big strap they put around you so they can support and protect you from more injury if you go down. There was no way they could put anything around me or pressure of any kind with broken ribs.
I could do it. I had to do it and I did do it. One step at a time. That is what I thought. I refused to allow myself to dwell on all of the problems or what I looked like….just one step at a time. At first that was all I could take. Little by little I made it three or four and to the door. The time came to go out that door into the hall. The hall had many people coming and going. The expressions on the faces ranged from shock, sympathy and those who had to look away and quicken their pace. The staff and family were keeping a close eye on not only my physical progress but emotional too. I was surrounded by love, care and compassion.
My husband and daughter came all of the time as they could. Friends and family came and showed their love. I was not alone but in some ways I was all alone. No one could deal with the emotions and have to find a way to face life but me, and I would need more than any human could give. I really do believe in prayers and the power of God’s love. I do not believe we are puppets on a string or that God was punishing me. I think it is his strength that helped me find my way.
I worked. I worked as hard as I could. It was amazing how I was recovering. I was healing. When I say amazing I do not use the word lightly or for a way to describe good progress…I mean amazing for the shape I was in.
At one point not long before I left the hospital, the doctor sat and visited with me. I thanked him. He asked for what? “You saved my life. From the time I hit the ER and you sewed me back together and all of the care since. I would not have lived, let alone be doing this well if it were not for you and all you have done. Thank you.”
He sat quietly beside me before he spoke. “I did not save your life.”
“Who did, the nurses? I know how close I came to leaving this world. Dieing was easy. Living is hard. You will never know how hard it was to come back.”
I could see how serious he was. “I did all that I could do to help you. I worked and tried my best to save you. You needed more than any and all of us could give. The man upstairs is who saved you. He is the one we need to thank. I did not do it.” He pointed upward toward the heavens as he spoke. “It is unbelievable how well you are doing. It is more than that.”
When I left the hospital, my face was still a mess. They did not want me to leave but I was adamant that I had to go home. I had to. I had been there for so long and assured them that I would have round the clock care. They told me I could not do it. It was too soon, but I was so sure that I was tough enough.
I had not told the whole truth. My daughter had to go to school and my husband had to go to work. I thought if I had water there and what ever I needed I could do just fine. I would stay still and take the pain meds if I needed them and I did need them. The foot would have to wait to be fixed. I had lost too much blood to go through a surgery for another month. The ribs were unbelievably painful. Everything on me hurt but that was nothing compared with the muscle spasms that set in. The back felt as if it would bend me backwards until it broke but the muscles around the ribs nearly killed me. I could not breathe. I found out later the hospital was so sure I would be back that they had even kept my room for me.
I hurt so bad the thought of riding or moving to go back was the only thing that kept me from returning. I had to keep working to recover. I could not just sit. I did work and try. When I first saw my face it was not just depressing it was shock. As the shock wore off the fear and depression set in. Life goes on and one way or another I would have to find a way to deal with it or it would destroy me. I thought, I prayed, I cried a lot and then I decided to make a plan.
I would face life. I had always dealt with stress by walking. I loved to go for long walks and for a while was walking 3 to 4 miles a day. I would see deer occasionally or the birds and squirrels at play. I would see the clouds drift lazily across the sky and feel the gentle breezes and warmth of the sun on my face….my face…..
I would never be able to walk like that again. I had to use a walker to walk at all shuffling along. I did not even want to think about facing the world with my face. If I smiled at anyone would they even see the smiles or would they only look at the scars? We often see what we look for and they might only look and see that and never see me. I would have to find a way to find me and then deal with the world.
The time finally arrived for the surgery to try to rebuild my foot. They had to take out one of the joints completely and put in pins, reposition the dislocated joints and hope for the best. I will go ahead and tell you now it did not work. The bones are too damaged and fragile and they broke back apart. I can still walk but it is with pain and a limp. I am still able to walk though. I may not go far or fast but I will not give up. I have heard many times I should ride in the carts at the stores but I believe if I give up. I will end up in a wheel chair. Use it or loose it. I use the baskets that you push as a walker and a shopping cart. The more I do, the long and more I can do.
I was taking one little step at a time. I remember the first time I did go anywhere in public. It was one of those times you never forget and a time that made an impression allowing me to adapt a new outlook.
We stopped to get gas and I was determined to go in and get a soda. There were other people there in the store but I was determined to face the world no matter what. As I hobbled in the door with my walker, there was no way to miss the sight. I was crippled and appeared as if I might fall in the floor. My foot was encased in a special thing with pins sticking out of it after the surgery. My face was better but still did not look like a human. My hands had been sewn back and were bruised and discolored but healing well.
I could do it. A small child stared at me with mouth hanging open and his eyes wide with shock and fear. It was fear in that child’s eyes so great he seemed about to break into tears. Instantly he clung to his mother’s leg trying to hide behind her and said, “Momma, Momma…IT’S looking at me.” The tone of his voice was almost hysterical.
She looked horrified. The sight of my face may have shocked her but she understood that I had suffered some kind of horrible injury. She was upset with her child’s reaction and words.
The child was not trying to be mean or bad. He was so frightened he literally shook. I did not try to get closer to him. He would surely have broken into tears. The thought that the sight of me could evoke such a response was enough to make me cry but there was no time right then. I could cry later.
As I was trying to squat lower the mother instantly reprimanded the child saying, “Be quiet. That is a lady. Just be quiet. I am so sorry. I am so very sorry. He did not mean it. I..”
I interrupted her. “He did nothing wrong. He really is afraid and I have seen my face and it scared me. Trust me…it scared me a lot. It is all right.”
I looked at the child and took my hands to cover as much of my face as possible. I spoke softly. “I want you to look only at my eyes. Only my eyes. You can see me now. I am just an old lady that was a little ugly to begin with and got hurt really really bad in an accident. You don’t have to be afraid. If you understand… it makes it better… and I am not near as scary anymore now, am I? Just because someone is different does not make them bad…just different. You have to look and see the real person inside.” As I said that I was slowly removing my hands.
He still did not want to come closer, but he no longer appeared to be ready to cry. In helping him to find a way to look at me, I had found a way to face the world. I could do it. Life was not over.
I chose these pictures to share because it remind me that as the with the end of one day and new day will begin and we have to look for the good in life to find it. Albert and I were so happy there.