Helpless, Helpful, Helped

Much like my favorite heroine, Elphaba, and probably much like every other human alive, I am limited. Deeply flawed. While I might try to live my best life, and be my best self, in times of crisis…Well, actually I rock in times of crisis, it’s just the rest of the time that I could use improvement.

One of the issues I struggle the most with, is the issue of control. Having it, keeping it, not losing it, knowing when to hold it, and more importantly, when to fold it. And so when I am put in a circumstance where I don’t have control, and where I have to give up any idea of maintaining it, it’s a struggle. And that includes needing, and asking for, help.

I have had some pretty significant health “events” in my sweet life, and each one has brought its own challenge of opening up and letting people help me. When I have resisted help, it has contributed to delayed recoveries and other complications. So one would think I would be an expert at it by now.

Last year, I had to have pretty intense foot surgery. It involved no walking at all (except to bed, couch and bathroom) for a couple of weeks, and no driving for 6 weeks. While I knew about it months in advance, I was pretty sure the lack of independence was going to be the worst part of the whole thing. But, I listened to the wisdom of some very good friends, who reminded me that it is a kindness and generosity in itself to let people help. And, the most compelling argument is that I wouldn’t hesitate a second to help anyone in need, so why would I be so “selfish” to deny other people that same generosity.

So I planned mightily, and asked for help in a way that worked for me and my recovery. I had great nurses, shoppers, chauffeurs, fig pickers, and even dog rescuers. The recovery went smoothly, I didn’t lose any part of my soul accepting all of the wonderful support, and I learned a lesson in gratitude and acceptance.

Well, sort of. Last week I woke up in the middle of the night, and something was not quite right. After twisting and turning in pain for a few hours, I drove myself to urgent care. After 5 hours of continued severe pain, much of which was spent sitting by myself in a cold cubby between blood tests and CT scans, I realized I should probably let someone know where I was. I called my parents, trying to downplay the whole thing, and told them most likely I would be home in a couple of hours with meds, and would let them know I was okay.

2 hours later, I was being wheeled into the operating room, for acute appendicitis. Fortunately I had called my parents again, and a couple of very close friends, by that time, and the Kathi “emergency network” was being engaged. It turned out my appendix had actually ruptured, it was a pretty serious thing, and I spent several nights in the hospital. Of course, this was all unscheduled and quite unplanned, and involved my needing immediate help from a number of quarters.

Now I’m back at home, recovering a little slowly and uncomfortably. I’m well enough to be struggling again with what I need, what I want and when and how to ask for it. Really, I suck at this. So I can’t say there’s a lesson learned in this week’s meanderings, except to say, life is a journey. We never run out of opportunities to learn and be better people. I will try to embrace this latest “scar” as reminder of how lucky I am, not only for surviving this scary crisis, but by being surrounded and overwhelmed by people who love me enough to help, and who forgive me and understand me enough to know that that part is harder for me than losing the appendix.

The End, for now

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