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Friday, December 16, 2011

I'm not sure why I want to write here again, but I do.

Physically, I have always been incredibly blessed. I get a cold/virus/flu/whatever every two or three years. Usually it's very mild, lasting only 2-3 days. Occasionally I get something that knocks me off my feet and keeps me down for a week or longer. That has happened twice in my life:

1. I was teaching 44 private students (six days weekly), running a bookkeeping/tax prep business, and trying to raise three small children while Darrin was traveling most days and weekends from 2 p.m. till after midnight. It was grueling. And given my exposure to the variety of germs from students, I contracted something which impeded my ability to inhale, gave me an incredibly sore throat, kept me from sleeping at night, and made me miserable; naturally, my doctor said, "Virus--get some rest. It will go away." A month later it was still hanging around. Two months later there was no change and I was exhausted. Three months later, in the same condition, I went to the doctor again. I sat on his exam table and listened to him tell me it was a virus--then I interrupted him: "I don't care if it's a virus. I don't care if there is nothing you can do for me. I don't care if you don't like prescribing antibiotics that aren't helpful. I've had this crap for three months. I haven't taken antibiotics for more than four years. I'm not getting better. At this point, I believe we should try the placebo effect. I'm not leaving without a prescription for something." So the doctor prescribed an antibiotic and a decongestant. I was better in a week. No doubt, the virus just ran its course.

2. Being quite busy, I did not get a shot for the H1N1 virus when I should have. One of the schools in which I accompany the choir ended up with 60% of the student body contracting the virus. Two of those students were also part of my piano studio. I, of course, ended up with H1N1. I seriously considered dying as a possibility. It was awful. Because I have asthma, my chances of that dying thing were greatly augmented. Because I'm ridiculously healthy, I survived--but it took many months before I could breathe normally once again, which interfered with my running. It was during this time that I took that miserable fall which messed up my hip. I blame H1N1.

Prior to my surgery, the doctor's assistant was going through a list of questions with me: Do you have high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, high cholesterol...those types of things. I said no to every question. When asked which medications I take regularly, I said, "None." The nurse checked my blood work report, my medical history, and said, "You might be the healthiest person I know." This was repeated to me by several other medical workers as I was prepped for surgery, as they took care of me post-surgery, and in all my follow-ups with doctors, nurses, and physical therapists.

It's true. I'm the healthiest person I know, too. No allergies. I don't have problems with blood pressure, cholesterol, bone density, diabetes. My asthma is managed with an inhaler which I use as needed. I've needed it about five times in the past 10 years. Sometimes I forget completely that I have asthma at all. My cardiovascular fitness is amazing...

My surgery was painless. I took no pain medication and I had very little swelling. The only times I had discomfort were when they missed the first IV placement prior to surgery (and when they flushed the IV), and when my stitches were removed (I heal quickly, so the skin was already trying to grow over the sutures). Yesterday, 15 days post-op, I was cleared to walk in water and ride a stationary bicycle daily for 20 minutes at a time. The scope sites look like three small pink stars on my thigh. They get smaller each day.

In the midst of this, it feels that my emotional healing is taking forever. I suppose one can't have everything, though.

I've had a number of very difficult days in the past couple of years. I believe this is, in part, because I've not been able to run as I'm used to, I've had physical injury and pain, and I've had a number of outside events which have caused me stress.

I spoke with my physical therapist about this yesterday. I told her of the PTSD symptoms I find most daunting:
1. Inability to connect with people.
2. Inability to interpret body language, implied meanings, and humor.
3. Confusion about my role in the lives of people I love.
4. Lack of self-worth.
5. Depression.
6. Phobias that exhibit themselves in elevators, crowds, and any type of touch.

Her response, "I wish you had told me. I've been touching you for months with deep tissue massage and muscle manipulation. I've probably talked about things that have triggered memories or phobias. If I had known, I would have been more careful."

But I don't want "careful."

I want to be treated like everyone else. It's why, when I ask for help in an email or chat box or phone conversation, I always say, "This is something I'd appreciate, but I completely understand if you can't do it. And it's okay. I'll figure something else out and we can just pretend I didn't ask." And then I do my best to honor that statement.

Sometimes I can't. I try, though. Sometimes the answers I seek can only come through particular people. So I might, occasionally, ask again. It sucks. I hate asking for help. I hate even more, asking twice. I go through this cycle:
I asked for help--I'm an idiot to do so in the first place--no one has the time or inclination to help and that's completely valid; why would they want to help me in the first place?--but I'm unable to work through this on my own and it's hurting beyond my ability to ignore it--I need help--I hate this, but I'll ask again--but it's stupid because if they couldn't help the first time, they won't be able to help now--but I don't know what else to do--

Wow. The ridiculousness of that cycle is enough to keep me from asking for help again usually for more than a year. And maybe that's all part of why I take such a long time to heal, emotionally.

Emotional healing requires people. It requires challenging persistent beliefs which keep us trapped and isolated. It requires positive feedback and responses. It requires a model of trust and love which can be emulated by me.

Quite honestly, there are times when I believe the emotional healing I need is not possible--which doesn't mean I won't keep trying. This is something I want more than anything else. I want to reach a point where Samantha feels entitled to love and support; a point where I can love with abandon and know that love is returned because I'm me--not because of anything I do or say. I want to become able to shake hands with warmth and enjoyment. I want to stop feeling that I'm irrelevant, used up, unimportant--because I'm none of those things. I have a voice--it's quiet, but filled with intensity, conviction, and honesty. I contribute in many ways. Most are small and unremarkable and will probably be quickly forgotten; but perhaps they'll have a lasting effect in the future. I believe I bring happiness to a number of people and sometimes I provide a place of rest and relief. That's important. I am important.

I can say those things, and there are days when I believe them, but not every day. I think, however, that this is part of the human condition. Everyone has days when they feel less that the sum of their great worth. Everyone has times when asking for help is difficult and when dealing with lack of response feels personal. Everyone has moments when life feels impossible and frustrating and sad and lonely.

I know this. I've encountered many who just needed a smile or a hug or a moment to talk. So perhaps, while the depth of what I feel is more extreme than most, I'm just experiencing life.

This is my life. Right now it's difficult, but it isn't always this way.

Today is incredibly sunny and windless. The sky is a million shades of blue and in the moments when I'm not working, I'm making a list of books I want to read, music I wish to play, and people I would love to see.

And just so you know: my pansies are still blooming. They're orange this year.