(This morning’s blog post is brought to you by Edie Brickell and 1988. 1988 – the year of the hot pant!)
This morning someone asked me a question on Formspring about the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it got me to thinking about my accident and everything that came after.
To just back it up for you folks that maybe don’t know the story, on June 1st, 2002 I got into an accident that left me an amputee. I was at my part time job and I was closing up for the night when the large metal back door got stuck. Thoughtlessly, I grabbed the door by wrapping my fingers around the edge instead of using the handle. My coworker who was on the other side of the door did not see me do this and to help, he put his shoulder against the door and pushed. Because of the force and the sharp metal edge of the door, the tip of my index finger on my left hand was severed and crushed and the tip of my middle finger was crushed and split.
In many ways, I was very lucky. My coworker and my friend Henry (who I’ve mentioned before) rushed me to the hospital which was nearby. I got taken care of right away by a very good team of doctors* who did a beautiful job reconstructing my hand. I had excellent aftercare and I managed to regain much of the use of my hand.
It could have been much worse and I appreciate every day of my life that it wasn’t. I pulled through and that is a good thing.
But thinking about everything this morning, I have to admit, in spite of the fact that I am physically healed, there are times that I realize that the accident did more than alter me physically but mentally as well.
The first time I really felt this when when I first got engaged to Boy. I was really happy about it but I felt incredibly self concious showing off my ring because it was on my left hand and the idea of showing people my misshapen hand freaked me out. To add insult to injury, it turned out my skin had a bad reaction to the metal of the ring and somehow managed to turn it (the ring) black and I became paranoid that there was something wrong with me that was poisoning the ring. We eventually used a replacement ring, but anytime I was asked to show it off, I did so with my fingers balled into a fist so no one could see my amputation. What can I say? I know it was ridiculous and insecure, but at the same time, I didn’t want my pretty bride time sullied by a physical imperfection.
More recently, I’ve been dealing with an offshot issue from the amputation – weight gain. When I lost part of my hand, I also ended up losing a lot of weight because of the medicine they put me on. No one told me that percocet can be really hard on the stomach so for a while, it was pretty much guaranteed that if I ate something, it was coming back up in about 40 minutes. I went from being thin skinny to emaciated skinny. Twenty pounds in two weeks gone. I lost so much weight that my mother ended up having to take me out and buy me a new summer waredrobe because my pants were falling off my hips, the bones of which you could now see popping out from under my skin because I WAS TOO DAMN SKINNY. I didn’t even want to look in the mirror at myself because I was creeped out by how much I had lost, but at the same time, I felt incredibly aware of my body since I was having to do regular maintenance on it to whip it back into shape. By the time I went back to school, I had gained a little of the weight back, but mostly I’d gotten used to how I looked and was just living with it.
In the past year or so, I have started gaining the weight I lost back. Maybe it’s because my body is finally ready to do that or maybe it just has to do with my age and my metabolism slowing down, but I’ve been putting on the poundage and then some. I’ve gained about 20-25 pounds and I can feel the difference in my thighs and butt (mainly because I now have a butt). Recently, I went clothing shopping and when I grabbed my usual sizes, I realized they didn’t fit anymore . Not only that, but it appeared I had gone up a couple of sizes which stopped me in my tracks. So there I was standing with my ass half hanging out of a skirt when I had three conflicting thoughts:
1) The mildy paranoid/deflecting part of my brain – Stupid women’s clothing stores always changing their sizing and trying to make people feel fat. Why we can’t standardize like men, I have no idea. What does size 6 even mean?
2) The coo-coo nutso/emotional part of my brain – OH MY GOD WHY DID I GAIN WEIGHT? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN? WAAAAAHHH!
3) The rational/over it part of my brain – You guys are both freakin’ squares. I can’t believe I have to share a brain with you. It’s not the end of the world. Just suck it up and ask for a larger size.
While the rational part of my brain won out and I “sized up”, the experience did leave an impression on me. I used to think that women who complained about clothing sizes were a bit wacky, but there I’d been that afternoon, standing in a changeroom with watering eyes because the size I thought I was didn’t fit me anymore.
I’m not writing any of this in a “boo-hoo-look-at-me-and-feel-sorry-for-my-whining-ass” way, but because I think I am finally coming to terms with the fact that not everything about being in an accident like that ties into a little happy resolved bow. About 99 per cent of the time I feel good and happy and strong and don’t even think about it. But then there’s that one per cent of the time, when I feel tired and frustrated and plagued by phantom pain and it’s like my entire field of vision is taken up with my “gimp” hand. And I hate that one per cent of the time, I really do, but it happens and that’s okay.
What happened isn’t my whole life, but it’s part of my life and just as I had to deal with the fact that I have physical scars from this, I have to learn to deal with the fact that I have some emotional ones too. I guess it’s all part of that whole “growing up” thing I’ve been hearing so much about.
Has anyone else out there gone through something like this? If you have, leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
*My cousin’s husband had a similar accident in rural Quebec and because they couldn’t get him to a doctor, he had to settle for a vet.