Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What doesn't kill you....

I’m a person who has always loved exercise.  Mostly I loved to play, but I have found as I got older, folks don’t say, “Hey, do you want to go out and play?”  They say “are you going to yoga?  Are you going to spin? You wanna go for a surf?  You wanna go for a walk?  Are you going for a bike ride today?”  I have always derived great joy from my ability to move, work, think, play, and create.

I loved how strong I was. I loved being a Big Girl.  I would refer to myself as such.  Most people would say, “you’re not a Big Girl”, like being big was bad.  Maybe when I was over weight… I have had those seasons in my life, and those were not so good from a health perspective, but whether you are 18 or 54 years old and you’re 6 feet tall and 170 lbs.…. you’re big, compared to the general population.  I personally loved being Big, Smart, Fit, Creative, Loving, and Strong.

On July 15, 2016,  I woke up, called work to make sure they needed me.  The answer was “YES!!!” So I got up, put on the clothes I had set out the night before, drank coffee, ate breakfast, loaded up my lunch in my already prepared work bag, I did all the things I normally did to prepare myself for a full day of “saving lives and stamping out disease.”  Before heading out to the garage, I walked over to the sink to give Robert a kiss, tell him I loved him, and then bury my nose in his neck and breath in a good strong whiff.  I then squatted down to my dog, Rodeo, to do the same…. Tell him he’s the best dog in the whole world, get a kiss from him, and then bury my nose into the back of his neck and take in a giant breath.  I stood up, swung my bag over my shoulder, and said “If I could bottle up the smell of you and Rodeo, and just pull it out of my pocket to pull out when work gets too stressful, I’m pretty sure I could handle anything.  Robert gave me the “Oh Catherine” look; I turned out the back door, through the backyard, into the garage, strapped my bag to my bike and my helmet on my head.  I wheeled my bike to the driveway, and took off for work.  Within the next 20 minutes, a truck would hit me.  My life as I knew it, would be turned inside out, upside down, tumbled around incessantly, and then spit out.  Not just my life, but also the lives of my husband, my kids, my parents, and my friends.  I dodged death.

Previously, I had thought ending up in the center of a mosh pit at The Clash concert at the Hollywood Palladium in 1982, or being held under a massive wave and tangled in seaweed while body boarding at Willow Creek in Big Sur, were my near death experiences.  Apparently not, I needed to get hit by a distracted driver of a truck, while riding to work.  Did I mention uninsured distracted driver?

I have recently been given permission by my surgeon to ride a stationary bicycle, “gently”.  What does “gently” mean? Well the first time I got on the bike it hurt like hell after 5 minutes so I decided it wasn’t time yet.  I tried again this past Friday and while it hurt, it wasn’t the same level of pain.  “OK, I can do this, gently.”  Yesterday, after having given myself two days of “gentle bike” recovery, I got back on.  As the wheels turned slowly and gently, I thought about a saying that on multiple occasions people have said to me.  “You know Catherine, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”  In my head I would “Could you just shut up!!!  There is no US here, it’s ME.  I’m the one with the messed up head and broken leg among other things…” I have managed for the most part to keep these thoughts to myself, to later have a crying fit with Robert or Rodeo. Depending on the source, some people mean well, they just don’t know what to say.  Unless a person has experienced a traumatic injury, that person does not know.  Our injuries are our own.  Anyway, as I was peddling away, I thought to myself, “Wow, I really understand that now.  I understand that saying.”  I feel it in my soul.

The reality is that because of my age and the type of injury, I won’t be doing some of the activities I loved.  I literally have to think, every time I put my foot down, turn, and do anything that requires my right leg.  Yes, it is healing, but that is my new reality.  I am not anywhere near the end of my recovery, at least I hope.  I have BIG plans for this body and mind.  Strong and Big do not necessarily mean physical strength or physical size, in my case, it’s starting with the mental portion.  Yes, what doesn’t kill us can make us stronger.  I just have to allow the process to reveal itself.

 I am still unable to drive and my friends and family are worn out from “will you????”  Have you ever heard of Uber Anxiety?  It happens when Uber drivers wear too much cologne, have stinky air fresheners attached to their air conditioning units, they are drivers who don’t show up at the last minute because they got a better fare, they don’t speak English, I have to tell them how to get where I want to go, and cannot seem to know to open the door for the lady with crutches.  I stayed home A LOT because of it.  Problem solved by hiring a driver.   After my second ride, she felt comfortable enough to ask me what happened.  I gave her the short version and she said, “Do you want to know what the psychic who used to be on 101 would say?”  I said I didn’t really believe in psychics, but sure.  “The psychic would say, sounds to me like the Universe gave you a Time Out.”  2 months ago I wouldn’t have had the ears to hear this, but in actuality, they were the right words at the right time.

So now, at this stage in my Universal Time Out, I will focus on what I’m supposed to learn from this, as well as exercise my physical body, within my limitations.  If you happen to see me in the ocean or the pool, know that I am envisioning myself with a perfect stroke, I am thanking God I get to swim and have learned the joy of a seated shower after my swim, that I’m praying for the folks who pop in to my head, including the guy who hit me, or pretending I’m just a regular old land locked mermaid.  Just playing in the pool.

Yes, I can honestly say “What didn’t kill me, will make me stronger.”  I’ll let you know when I’m there. In the meantime, thanks for reading my streams of consciousness.  And if you happen to be one of the many who brought meals, visited, prayed, sent a gift, called on the phone, gave me a ride, sent snail mail, or joined me in a bed party, just loved on me from near and far via social media or real life, Thank You.

This post is dedicated to a most excellent nurse at Sharp Memorial Hospital, Dave Marinelli.  He wheeled me out on my discharge day, my 31st wedding anniversary, and his parting words were in effect, “Catherine, some of us took a look at your blog and I think you’ve got some stories to tell.”  Thanks Dan, for the care of the individual patient, Mind, Body, and Soul.  A real note is coming…. Baby steps… Gentle steps…

I hope this finds each and every one of you having a beautiful day.

In Health and Love,


 Public service announcement.  his is me and my new helmet when the day they were bought, in 2015. Wear a helmet, and if you think you don't need a helmet, wear one anyway.  It could save you life and your brain.  Mine did.  #helmetsarecool And always be a mermaid.  If you can't be a mermaid, be one anyway. #imreallyamermaid  I don't know if the driver was texting, but please please please please please.... Do not text and drive.  Thank you.