April (2010), my daughter Megan drives me and her daughters Riley and Emily to a new wooden-structure playground, where my g-girls beg me to chase them. Although I run fast, they dodge me left and right, and with laughter eventually I tag one. Megan is sitting on the wooden bench watching us streak by, sipping her ice coffee.
As I dash up a few steps after my grand-girls, my sneaker slips, letting my left shin crash into the corner of a stair: I fall, my elbow scrapes and a deep slash pours blood out of my shin. I am surprised that no tears form, all I can do is breath hard and weakly tell Megan I can’t speak between heavy sighs. My nursing background pushes to the fore, asking Megan to give me her coffee plastic cup which still holds ice. I push the V-shaped-skin-tear together, pressing the icy cup to my shin.
After hobbling to the car, I make the decision not to go to the ER for stitches although I need them to create a pretty leg again. I have no health insurance. I direct Megan to buy some butterfly bandages and Telfa pads that do not stick to the wound, and some anti-bacterial ointment, while the girls and I wait in the car with my leg elevated on the dashboard. When we arrive home, my son-in-law Ben helps me arrange the bandages, while Megan prepares for a BBQ for friends arriving for dinner.
Two days later, I am scheduled to volunteer at Ithaca’s Free Clinic as an RN. I ask the doc to look at my slightly oozing butterfly-bandaged leg, and he says, “That probably should have been stitched, but it’s too late now.” And, it wasn’t the best treatment to be on my feet for the next 4 hours…miraculously, another RN shows up; she mistakenly thought it was her day to be there. Gladly, I left, to support my leg’s healing.
Although I am educated first as a Registered Nurse, I have been in private practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist for the past twenty years, avoiding medications for my clients as well as for myself as much as possible. I have encountered many experiences where I have learned that our bodies heal well when our emotional currents are cleared with tears. Still, I am very greatfull for traditional-medicine when I experienced a fractured skull (19 years ago), being hit head-on by a bicyclist. And I’m even more appreciative of my medical knowledge when the plastic surgeon told me I would need a tracheotomy in order to repair my facial fractures and jaw. I was scared to not be able to talk or breathe…I knew how helpless I would feel. I immediately asked for an oral surgeon consult…who thankfully said the tracheotomy was unnecessary. Despite a couple small scars, my head is fully healed (Still working on my mind)
And, my shin has healed as a purple-V-natural-tattoo which for me stands for Vulnerability, Valentine and Victory…I love my scar (that’s a first!) because…
when I returned in May to my daughter Megan’s family who live approximately 6 hours from me…I was asked to go to their friend’s house to pick up the girls. As soon as I entered the front door, Emily, who is 5, ran into my arms, saying “How’s your leg Didi? I want to see it!” (Isn’t this the best medicine?)
Today, (June 26, 2010), I cut rhubarb from my backyard to give to an elderly couple (ex-boyfriend’s parents). Teresa likes to make rhubarb pies and Don loves to eat them, as does their son Daniel. When I arrive at their home, Teresa is still recovering from bronchitis, and finds it difficult to talk, because talking makes her cough. She tells me “I need to get more cough drops: I have run out.”
“Oh, I can bring you some after I get my clothes from the Laundromat.”
Teresa immediately gets up from her kitchen chair to pick up money to pay me. “Absolutely not!” I emphatically reply. She threatens lightly, “Then, I won’t take them when you bring them here.”
As I scurry out the door, avoiding the money in her hand, I hear, “Shame on you!”
Briefly, I hear my mother’s same critical words in my head, then smile to myself, ‘this is the first time I feel good shame.’