I’ve been in a dark place. It’s kind of weird because, being from Florida, I constantly live in the light. I’m not accustomed to this place. I wonder if this is what it feels like to live near the Shetland Islands or a Nordic country close to the Arctic Circle. But I suspect what I’ve been feeling is not geographically induced.
It is not necessarily a conscious choice, I’m sure genes have a lot to do with it, but I am a pretty optimistic person. I’ve been accused of being Pollyanna or wearing rose colored glasses. I really do see silver linings in dark clouds. Until six weeks ago when I underwent knee replacement surgery.
Playing Euchre (a card game originating in the mid-west) with friends one night in May I detailed the various surgeries I’ve undergone. I counted 12! All have been quite successful to the point I had become cavalier about the surgical process. “Oh, it’s nothing”, I would say to friends. “I plan to have all my body parts replaced.”
It feels like my carefree attitude came back to teach me a lesson. I awoke from my knee replacement surgery with a drop foot on the same leg. “This is extremely rare” was the response of my orthopedic surgeon. “I only kept the tourniquet on for 23 minutes. We used to keep them on for an hour.” Tourniquet?! I realized how little I knew about this process. Once again, my jaunty mindset never prompted me to question the doctor about the process.
I’ve been told nerves heal quite slowly. In the meantime, I’m wearing a brace in my shoe to keep my toes elevated so I don’t trip and fall on my newly renovated knee (which is doing quite well by the way).
My flappy foot is a source of annoyance, anxiety, and humility. I’ve been panicked about not being able to do the very things I was hoping to be free to do following the installation of my bionic knee—bike riding, hiking, golfing, walking. I haven’t been able to drive so I’ve been dependent upon others. Therein lies the real rub. I love my independence. I don’t want people knowing where I am at all moments of the day. I love hopping on my bike and riding out on a spontaneous shopping trip.
I don’t think I’ve been particularly empathetic with people about the psychic results of an injury or health issue. The panic. The depression. It’s easy to pull in, tending to your wounds, not having to put on a happy face.
But a funny thing happens when you have really good friends and family members. They keep reaching in and pulling you out of the quick sand of self-pity. They start out by bringing over food. Then they drive you places- physical therapy, lunch, shopping. Then they have faith when you lose your own. Then they remind you of the things you enjoy in your life. “Come ride with me in my golf cart. You can drive the cart. You can chip and putt.” The prospect of golf, a game I enjoy, seemed far removed. But it worked! And I had an ear-to-ear grin covering my face for the rest of the day. Even returning to work part time was therapeutic. Obviously, this diminished nerve in my foot managed to travel up to my brain diminishing my memories of what makes me happy.
I think this is the plight of many people in our Lose the Beige years. Now that my self is peeking out like tulips following a hard winter, I’m vowing to pay attention. There is an inevitability to depression following a loss or prolonged illness. So I will reach out and reminding them of who they are and what they love.
Oh, and yes, I’m seeing a few sunbeams.