Thursday, June 13, 2013

I feel like writing again

I didn't want to hear it, and a large part of me wanted to pitch a fit. I wanted to stick my fingers in my ears and make nonsense noises and wake up and laugh at the silly dream I just had. 

You need surgery. 

Three small words have upturned the past year. Last autumn I had a back injury that took me out of the game for a few months. I haven't written about this because it has been incredibly depressing. I am a pretty active person and went from going to the gym 3-5x a week to mandatory bed-rest. Just as I was feeling better, my knee buckled out from under me and I couldn't walk. 

This has been a trying 10 months. I haven't cooked, or written about food in the ways that I really love to. I haven't shared as much because I didn't really know how to. Chronic pain zaps a lot of you and makes it hard not to be angry. That combination is exhausting and made it impossible for me to be able to cook and really hard for me to want to write. In hindsight (those are beautiful words!) I wish I had written more. It would have been funny to see the mini milestones documented in the amount of senna I did or did not need while on pain killers. (you know I am only half kidding)

If I have to shine this turd I would say that I have learned two things:
-there is a lot more out of one's control than in
-we are incredibly interconnected and interdependent

Two weeks ago I tried to grab something on the bottom shelf of the grocery store and got stuck. I could bend down, but I haven't built back enough muscle yet to get back up. I looked like a new born horse, minus the cuteness. I had to ask for help.

I have had to ask for a lot of help. I have had to ask for rides, for people to carry anything over a few pounds, for people to slow down, for people to give up their seats. (If you ride public transit never ask someone "do you want this seat" just get up and give it to them. If you don't need the seat let someone else have it without having to beg.)

I have realized that we all need help, a lot of help. Just think about how many people were needed to make the computer you are using right now happen! We rely on so many people very day, but most of these people are invisible and distant. Being sick makes those people very close and highly visible and that can be pretty uncomfortable. I wish we could shake this feeling and just be ok with the fact that today I might need someone to help me stand up, tomorrow another person might need me to hold a door. That isn't bad, it is a good thing, and important thing.

In addition to realizing that asking for help isn't a weakness, I have had to ask myself to chill out.
I am slowly trying to be more compassionate. A big part of that has been acknowledging that my body isn't going to be perfect. Even after surgery and PT and even if I do everything "right" hold on - there is no "right". My body just is. That has probably been the hardest part to accept. Right now this is my body. It sounds so simple, but it is very hard to not think about my aspiration self or past self or what-I-might-look-like-if-I-sucked-in-my-gut-all-day-in-this-outfit self.

For several weeks I needed a cane. It messed with my head more than it should have. Canes, braces, crutches are tools to help us. We live in such a culture of able-bodyism that even knowing that couldn't get me passed what I would look like with a cane. I actually put myself in jeopardy because I was afraid what other people would think of me with a cane. As I type that I realize how incredibly foolish that sounds and how foolish it was. Why do we judge people for using tools? Tools are awesome!

Not so surprising I have lost a lot of muscle and gained weight. This has been really hard to mentally get over. I don't look that different - to others - but I don't feel me. It has been challenging to let go of a lot of negative self image. I didn't know how bad it was until I could no longer feel "guilty" for not exercising. It is weird that now that during the least active part of my life I am the most accepting of my body. There are moments in the day where I am even proud of it - it has accomplished a lot!

Today I was able to walk down stairs, for the first time in 6 months without pain in my knee. This is a huge feat. It means all of the not-so-comfortable physical therapy and less than ideal surgery is working. It also means you should hold on to your hats because more food posts are on their way!

I am grateful for everyone who has helped get me here. I would not have stayed sane without friends. I would not have clean clothing if people didn't do my wash. I would not have kept moving without the motivation of things to look forward to. I am grateful to everyone who has been patient with me, especially grump me, and who has still been able to see that I am a creative person who wants to read, cook, knit, create, watch films, and gossip. I am really grateful for those who fed me. The circle of love, compassion, caring, and help is pretty fantastic.

I am a super dependent person and maybe for the first time ever, I am loving it. 


  1. "There is no 'right'. My body just is." So important! It's hard to balance my fierce desire to be in "optimal health!!!!" with the knowledge that some of my health issues just won't go away. Sometimes I don't even realize how much I am beating myself up for all the ramifications of my autoimmune disorder, as if it were some sort of moral failing.

    So interesting, how disability isn't a fixed category. We can become sick or well, and experience different kinds of disabilities that change our lives in very different ways. I'm glad to hear of all the good friends you have, and the way you bravely asked for their help. And I'm glad more food posts are on the way!

  2. Jessica - yes, yes, and yes! We are all in perpetual states of (dis)ability. This is so important. And once we acknowledge this, it has huge ramifications for how we see ourselves and others. Just think about access! If we admitted that we all, at some time in our lives, are or will need physical assistance - every restroom would be fully accessible, every building would have elevators; think of how our lives would look and feel so different!