Ok the title is a little extreme but you get the point. One of those bad days came. On Tuesday.
There was an emotional precursor on Sunday. Aaron and the kids and one of Aaron's friends and his son were outside swimming. We have a pool in our backyard and it was one of the exciting features to me when we bought this house because I love being in the pool. We installed an automatic safety cover on our pool when we moved in by the way which is an awesome way to enjoy a pool without worry. Anyway, I was watching them swim from the windows that look outside from my living room bed set-up and became very sad I wasn't out there in the pool with them. I watched Aaron help Morgan while supervising Mitchell and thought about how I'm always out there too, playing with one of the kids.
I started to wonder and worry a bit about my "water future". I have a lot to learn and decide about my prosthetic choice but for now I still have open questions. I've heard many amputees simply swim without their prosthetic. They also have swimming legs but those tend to be a separate item/different attachment I believe. And I love water parks (yes, I know that sounds like I'm 12) and I look forward to having an excuse to go when my kids get bigger. All of these thoughts and questions were running through my head as I sat by the window peering out.
If I use the typical pain scale of 1-10 I get asked by every medical professional about my physical pain and apply that to emotional pain, the Sunday window episode was only about a 2. I was able to get happy with some major indulgence. I ate an ice cream bar, laced with monster cookie cookie dough a good friend brought me. And I watched a couple of episodes of House Hunters. I've tried not to eat any junk since I'm lying around so much and I have barely watched TV the last few weeks, but I decided to indulge myself on Sunday. And it worked. I did a dilemma flip inside myself and said, "under what other circumstances would I be lying around watching a show I like when the kids are awake? Never!" :). I aim to not use cookie dough in the future FYI. Ha!
The rest of Sunday and all of Monday were good days. On Sunday, we ventured out to church in the AM and shopping for shoes for the kids in the PM. We were quite the sight rolling around the Legends with Morgan on my lap, legs stretched out in the wheelchair, Aaron pushing and Mitchell opening doors. Our usual routine we developed in the hospital went public.
Anyway...Tuesday. Woke up tired and groggy. Body ached. On the proverbial wrong side of my TempurPedic bed. Helped get the kids ready as usual for preschool/daycare. Went back to sleep to try and feel better. Got woken up a little later to head to my dentist appointment. My teeth had been extremely sensitive since the accident. Most days are full of wound dress changes and PT visits and OT visits and sometimes doctor appointments...thank goodness I just had the dentist on Tuesday.
We did the get-ready dance of Aaron bringing me a washcloth to wash my face, my toothbrush, etc and then loaded me up in my bad outfit I'd been lounging in (which actually included Aaron's shorts - note I have since gotten new lounge clothes that fit over my orthotics!). He loaded me in the vehicle and while he was putting the wheelchair in the back I started crying borderline uncontrollably. I couldn't and can't specify exactly why but I felt very sad and very mad. We sat in the driveway for awhile, oblivious to the fact we were going to be late to our dentist appointments (in the spirit of efficiency he scheduled one too :). I think it was actually cathartic for Aaron to see me that upset in a weird way as he was trying to mask a couple of hard days too. He was wonderful to me as usual, quietly supporting me. And then we started driving to the dentist at some point.
The rest of the day was full of that little junk that can be exponentially annoying if you are predisposed to be in a bad mood...
- very rocky sidewalk leading up to dentist office - not great for the legs
- unsuccessful attempts to find a special brand of wound dressing at several pharmacies only to find out the home health folks should provide (despite what my nurse told me the day before)
- a quick lunch at Chili's complete with the server spilling a pitcher of watcher next to me splashing up on my wheelchair and legs
- a convenient (though ultimately inconvenient) early pick-up of the kids from school as we were right by their school after lunch and we have to drive a ways to get there from home - this included waking Morgan up early from her nap which didn't set her up for success the rest of the evening (and I'm one of those Moms that really doesn't like to interrupt sleeping if you know what I mean :)
- came home and our cleaning service (which I am extremely grateful to have by the way!!) folks showed up and seemed disturbed by me lying in the living room with my legs propped up...the whole scene. They probably felt like they were cleaning that house on the movie Misery with Kathy Bates. Ha. Needless to say the area around me didn't get dusted or mopped! :)
- the list goes on...
- I was happy when bedtime arrived and Tuesday was over
In the big scheme of things, it wasn't a bad day at all. Nothing truly terrible happened. I continued to heal. My family was safe. It was just one of those days where an emotional release was necessary.
I tried to use perspective throughout the day and there were moments where it really worked. I won't share the specific details from Tuesday as there many, but there really are perspective pellets wherever you look.
In hindsight, it's also clear how your attitude really can and does alter your outlook on everything. I'm sure I would have seen some of those little annoyances in a different light on a different day with a different attitude.
And all in all, Tuesday didn't score that high on the emotional pain chart. I'd give the peak driveway moment a 5 or 6. I hope I never feel the 10 on this journey. Regardless, like I said after my difficult night in the hospital, the real win is pulling yourself back up.
I choose to share these kinds of moments and days for a few reasons.
1) I do want to authentically tell my story so it has to include the ups and the downs
2) I know some of you are facing your own challenges and I want you to know its ok to have a bad moment or a hard day
3) I humbly hope you'll continue to pray for strength and emotional fortitude for Aaron, myself and our family in addition to the physical improvement
4) I really am learning so much about how to not be down for long and I hope sharing it can be useful to someone!
Elaborating on #4...
The best positive medicine for me remains as perspective. As I've had an active focus on seeking it and thinking it and saying it out loud it is powerful. A sampling, a flight of perspective, if you will:
A sample of the big things bucket:
-I'm so thankful to be alive
-I'm so lucky to have the support I have...I know someone somewhere is going through something challenging all alone or amidst a struggling marriage or whatever
-This is temporary - every day will be better than the last
- I could have had my head or vital organs injured
To littler things like:
-My Occupational Therapist had to come by at 9:45 PM as she works two jobs
So that's Perspective. One of the tools to stay positive. And I truly believe in the power of positivity.
I also think about my personal life pie pieces and how I'm watching some of them get so incredibly strong. (referencing the pie concept I talked about in one of the first journal updates).
The friend piece...every dear friend I have has completely been there for me. Some people have told me you'll find out who your friends are in a situation like this. I guess I already knew. And the friend slice has been exploding with goodness from this amazing Caring Bridge community. I love seeing "representatives" from virtually every era of my life thus far.
The family piece...always strong, now stronger than I could have ever imagined.
The faith piece...I've never felt closer to God. I've never been more aware of being on the path I believe I'm intended to be on.
So that's Pie. Another tool in my toolbox that helps me stay positive.
(spoiler alert, there is a third P coming - I can't help myself when patterns naturally appear...on that note, believe it or not I had no intention of naming our children to start with the same letter - I chose the name Mitchell and Aaron chose Morgan's name...random nugget of the post).
The third thing I've used lately to pick myself up and keep myself positive is public accountability. You all are truly lifting me up. When I read one of your posts that says something amazing like they all do...such as "you're inspiring me to do x", I can't give up!! I'm not going to let you all down. I'm a pleaser you know! :) I keep my word!
The idea of public accountability is no different than telling someone you're on a diet. Or gave up Coke (I have since the accident btw!). You feel bad eating a jelly donut at work the day after declaring a healthy lifestyle.
So that's public accountability. The sleeper. The dark horse. The third P. (I'll be seeking a 4th P marketing people so I can have my own version of the 4 P's). Try it - it does work. Even if you just tell one person your goal. I've done that before too and it's powerful as well.
So that's the story of a few downer moments but a whole arsenal to get back up. I woke up today and officially declared it to be a great day. To Aaron. And his Mom. And my nurses. And even my PT who came right after taking her 18 month old to a new daycare and had to leave with her crying. It was to be a great day and it was!! Everyone graciously agreed to jump on the train.
Wishing you a fabulous Thursday. Let's do this! :)