I’m recovering from the Chipotle parking lot accident, two weeks and a day in, and tomorrow go in to get the second temporary bridge put in. I look largely fine, maybe a bit scraped-and-bruised to the casual observer. My side is covered in bruises and a really interesting injury, the “hip pointer“, that isn’t visible, even on the skin, but can be felt internally and by pressing the abdomen gently. It’s an invisible wound that surprises me when my laptop/Kona puppy/lunch bag/countertop/cat bumps it. HEY HERE I AM. And I am incapable of letting bumps heal — I whacked my elbow on a corner of a bookshelf last night, so it’s bandages for a few weeks more for me, there at least.
As I recover, of course the body, as an organic machine, doesn’t do everything in an orderly fashion, so swelling is down here and not there, and the temporary bridge that’s been patched a few times as things heal up, isn’t covering all of the nerves anymore. Another temporary bridge, that, hopefully, allows me to brush my teeth, drink, eat without pain will be installed tomorrow. The permanent one is an undetermined healing-progress-based distance off. And so, maybe are dental implants, but I’ll agonize over that when it comes to it.
It’s interesting the side of people you see when you are recovering from something that to you is massive and life-altering, and to them is…I’ve heard, “Oh I have had extensive dental work done, I don’t know why this is such a big deal to you”. That ignores the “previously-completely-unnecessary-but-suddenly-important-for-functioning-as-a-human” nature of the trauma. This wasn’t scheduled treatment for dental issues, but a detour in my life when I thought I was going to buy dinner. It’s not like I had shit teeth to begin with. I loved (well, didn’t hate) my teeth, and they worked pretty well until they didn’t even really exist anymore.
A few friends have summed it up well in phrases like “when it’s actually your body, it’s a big deal”. Those words have comforted me, and while I’d like to focus on those things, I can’t help but be annoyed by the people who don’t get it. My coworkers are very kind, and understanding when I can’t participate in a meeting or activity because i have appointments or need recovery time. I appreciate that endlessly.
Since the injuries aren’t visible any longer, I know people forget. Like, “Why are you going to the dentist again? I thought it was fixed?” when it’ll never really be fixed. No, I can’t eat that. Yeah, I need a straw. Pain, you know. I have to stick with Advil, also, because Vicodin disconnects my brain and I need to drive, and driving on Vicodin…I look forward to forgetting all about this.
The pain isn’t constant anymore, mostly because I’ve discovered through trial and error a constellation of behaviors that prevents or limits pain. Straws for all liquids, preferably body temperature, small pieces of food, no gum or breath mints (FML), don’t carry bags on the front of my hip, don’t take the stairs…
And I know there are others out there with bigger struggles right now, that if I knew about, would make my complaints sound petty. But it is all relative, and it’s not a goddamn competition. As Crystal said, pain is pain. I’ll empathize with yours if you empathize with mine. 😉
- I found the whole jade bracelet, and it’s safe in a box. It’s done its job protecting me for more than a decade, and now can rest.
- I’m on the prowl for another jade bracelet because I feel naked without it, and I mourn it every day.
- My primary frustration right now is the fact that I rely on this bag of bones to get around. I alternately love/hate my body as a necessity.
- I’m a lot more cautious. Elevator for one floor? Hell yeah.
- I’m not as concerned with vanities as I was before the accident, partly because I’ve got other shit to worry about.
- I feel less attractive (and I never really felt beautiful, anyway), even though my rational mind says shut up, nobody can tell.
- I’m less willing to expose any bravado. I’m no longer sure I’m awesome.
- I don’t trust my body because it betrayed me in the stupidest accident possible. STUPID.
- I haven’t worn my Fearless necklace since then.
- I’m a lot less likely to watch America’s Funniest Videos, or other pratfall shows because that shit ain’t funny.
- My empathy is off the charts. Almost fully vegetarian, not watching nature shows because hello, actual DEATH. PAIN. SUFFERING. nope.
- I marvel that people can eat corn on the cob and the fact that someday, I, too may do so, even though that’s never been a “thing” for me.
- I’ve gotten my elevator speech almost down. There are some bumps with the “accident” part of it (first thing they say is “OMG, THE MINI?!?!? YOU MUST BE DEVASTATED.”)
- I am having difficulty understanding how this impacted my husband because I can’t see past my daily coping mechanisms, and I know it, but I can’t.
- I strive for perspective, have only cried about this in the dentist chair and yoga, put on a brave face everywhere else (fuck yeah. Texas women don’t take no shit.)
- The sensations I felt in my mouth that day I will never forget.
- Planned dental work is no longer terrifying.
- I deny myself thoughts that threaten to strangle me by brushing them off the table in my mind like pieces of scrap paper. It gets easier with practice, but isn’t foolproof.
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” ― Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum