pain

Night has always pushed out day; you must know life to see decay

It’s ironic that the last time I wrote it was about being the necessity of being repeatedly broken, and two days later I’d find myself in A&E (the ER) after falling about ten feet onto cold, hard concrete, shattering my arm in three places. I’ve never broken a major bone before, let alone into three pieces, and the agony was… relentless. I was doing a photo shoot with a good friend of mine, and we were incorporating the idea of levitation shots into our theme—something I was enormously excited about, and had done before, resulting in some really cool images looking like some paranormal force was in play. After spending the day shooting out in a small ghost town in the middle of nowhere, we returned to the city to catch some extreme outdoor shots—all with the assistance of my to-be-invisible balancing box. The final shot was going to look awesome—balanced on my box I was going to appear suspended in an alcove halfway up a building—but I had to make sure my feet looked suspended, too—not as if I were standing on something that wasn’t there. As I moved my feet to the edge of the box, it gave way, tumbling from the nook I’d climbed up into and down to the pavement, taking my bones and cries and scrambling limbs with it.

This was the front of the building, but I think nooks above the entryways were about the same height around the back in the alley where we were.

Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 5.21.55 PMThe building was all locked up for the weekend and not a soul was in sight. I didn’t have my phone with me and didn’t know AC’s number by heart, and as I sat there screaming my poor friend ran to find out what street we were on and call an ambulance. As she was on the call I realised there was no way I could afford an ambulance and told her in a panic to hang up, but she said she’d cover it, and stayed with me until some downtown security patrol officers showed up. I was in frightening makeup and a hospital gown already, which likely did me no favours, and they kept me talking until the paramedics arrived. I remember them telling me my shoulder had been dislocated and being confused because the pain wasn’t in my shoulder, it was throbbing in my bicep/tricep area and radiating down my entire arm, and the lump seemed way too far down for a shoulder joint to fall to. My friend accompanied me to the ER in the ambulance and I remember arriving in a hospital hallway, screaming, the words “it has to stop, make it stop” repeated a hundred times, my only vocabulary. I kept calling for him, and I didn’t know how at the time but he’d made it.

I was there for four days. Bags of morphine, fentanyl, and hydromorphone were pumped into my veins and they did nothing to relieve the pain. I remember having to have x-rays taken of the arm, wrist, chest and shoulder and crying out, unable to move my body the way it needed to be moved for the excruciating pain and fear. Eventually they got what they needed, and confirmed the humerus had been broken in three places, and I’d have to be immobilised for a number of weeks.

photo (1)Every shift that came and went brought a new wave of doctors, nurses, and assistants, and the communication seemed to dissolve with every passing day. Naturally they wouldn’t let me leave until the pain was manageable, and it wasn’t anywhere close even with an IV, and I couldn’t leave on oral medication if that wasn’t cutting it. I had to—and still am, 2.5 weeks later—sleep upright, and was unable to shower for my entire stay. AC didn’t leave my side once; off work indefinitely just to take care of me, assuring me nothing was more important. I was and still am an emotional wreck with the gratitude of everything he’s doing. Timing and dosing my medication, helping me overcome my mortifying insecurities by helping me shower and dress, addressing the embarrassing side effects of strong narcotics alongside me and making me laugh in the process, holding bowls while I throw up into them (and onto him), cooking for me, cleaning my entire apartment, doing my dishes and my laundry because those I live with have offered zero help in the slightest… if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be able to have got through these past few weeks. Basic things like washing and dressing are impossible, as are cooking and doing dishes. I feel simultaneously like the luckiest soul in all the world to have this angel looking after me, guilty and frustrated that I can’t do anything in return, and lonely… so very alone. So scared of becoming the biggest burden, despite an arsenal of reassurances to the contrary. It’s been nearly three weeks without income; and every second of the day I’m in pain, useless, and dependent on someone else. It’s so frightening.

This took three days of writing in shifts with one hand, being propped up for as long as I could with pillows and pills, but I had to get it down. The emotions, the fear, the experience… I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. If you were able to get up today after a comfortable night’s sleep, shower yourself, put on an outfit, do your hair and make food for yourself while you replied to emails and checked Facebook… if you got to go to a job where all your limbs cooperated without second thought and got through a day without pain… if you’ll get home tonight and be able to embrace someone you love, and you know you’ll have a paycheque within a couple of weeks… if you have friends you can go visit or take a drive or have a glass of wine, or put on your own pyjamas… count your blessings so, so hard. I’m scared, hurt, and afraid because the world moves on without you. But more than anything, I’m grateful from the bottom of my heart for the small handful of friends and family who’ve come to keep me company, to bring me food and movies and a robot arm, to clean for me, to clean me, and to make me smile. To make me feel I still belong. I cannot thank them enough. And mostly, to my AC, who’s given everything and more to take care of me right from the very beginning. My protector.

A bolt of warmth, fierce with joy and pride and gratitude, flashed through me like sudden lightning. I don’t care about whose DNA has recombined with whose. When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching—they are your family. And they were my heroes.

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Status Update

It’s been a couple of weeks since I got put in the Power Glove, and it’s been the biggest change of pace I’ve had in a long time. I’m still at work, and while I’m supposed to be avoiding using the rebellious buggers, my fingers still have to type from 7:30 – 4:00 – so I figured I could make a quick stop back in the blogosphere too. Because I miss you all an absolute TONNE.

My GOODNESS I miss electronic communication. I was told to stop texting (still not having caught up to the touch-screen generation, the keypad wasn’t doing me any favours), and I have subsequently lost all form of socialisation.  It makes you feel a bit rubbish when you have to stop contacting people the way you’re so used to, and then realise you’re the only one who usually initiates anything. 😦 I’ve run into the odd person on the bus, had one lovely dinner date, and a few phone calls from friends across the country, but other than that? I’m feeling a bit of a social castaway. What doesn’t help is not being able to blog or write – two of the things in life that bring me the most joy. Last week, I was over the moon when I saw Vista came with a fully installed speech recognition programme. I spent an hour training it and all seemed to be going well until I started trying to use it. Five mistakes per sentence soon became more trouble than it was worth, and the novelty wore off immediately. Does anyone have any experience with Dragon?

I’ve seen a hand physiotherapist twice in the last couple of weeks, and though the splints are helping me do things like, you know, actually dress myself and brush my own hair, without them there’s still a tonne of pain whenever I try to grip or hold onto anything at all. Why do we train ourselves to ignore our bodies when they’re trying to tell us something’s wrong? Why do we shut out the signals and hope it’ll go away, until it’s too late?

I recently read an interesting article about early 19th-century artist Henri Matisse, and feel somehow inspired:

Old age or illness are never comforting thoughts. For an artist especially, it can be a real horror. It rings up images of arthritis in which merely holding a brush can bring anguished pain. It threatens the artist’s lifeline to the outside work, his or her vision. It often entails frailty and fatigue where once there was strength and vigour. There can be sadness and despair, yet the creative urge never dies. Sometimes it is the one spark that keeps an artist alive and aware. It can be a harsh taskmaster, driving the aging artist, now with excruciating pain, and an uncertain, but nonetheless final, deadline to do that which in youth would have been quite easy. Where others might simply give up, the true artist adjusts. Claude Monet painted massive garden scenes seen through double cataracts with a brush bound to fingers which could no long grip it. Henri Matisse, in the last decade of his life, following repeated, debilitating surgeries, his eyesight also failing, and so weak he could no longer get out of bed, adjusted to his condition by moving to huge sheets of paper he could still see and large blocks of painted paper meticulously arrange by assistants according to the master’s directions. The work was necessarily abstract. No more could he create the intricate, flat, interior designs or two-dimensional painted figures that had long been the hallmark of his flamboyant style. His gouache on paper work entitled The Snail, created in 1953, just a year before he died, is an excellent example of the adjustments an old man made in continuing to do as best he could what best he loved. Much of his work is a testament to a man’s sheer stubbornness to persist in the face of years of daunting debilitation, giving new meaning to the phrase, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”

I hope desperately that this is only temporary. I hope with all my heart I’ll be able to, some day soon, fix this problem and once more be able to write whenever I want to instead of once or twice per month, to read your stories, email, engage in discussion, and to work on my creative stuff… it is my biggest dream and remains the sole thing that brings me most joy. But for now, I have to take this step back. A friend once told me, “if you have the urge to do something, and you feel like you have to do it, it means that’s what you should be doing“. I still feel I should be writing, but the Universe right now has other plans. I don’t know what those plans are, but, as with all the big things in life, I have faith that this is happening for a reason, and that somehow, that reason will become clear.

Okay. Enough whinging. I just wanted to check in to let you all know I miss you, and hopefully, if I can find some decent software, I’ll be able to rejoin the Internet soon. 

Have a wonderful weekend everyone 🙂

Back on solid ground (well, sort of)

I’ve always tried to live my life with a positive outlook. Crap gets thrown my way – it’s okay, it could always be worse; I’ve got a lot of things that aren’t totally pants, and well, I always try and learn from whatever it is. The last couple of weeks have been a little tougher than normal, and I’ve kind of put myself on the line; feeling pretty low about myself I turned to those I held dear, and now, after a serious of really good talks, a lot of time to myself to think about things, a potential promotion in the works and really realising I have all I need in the world, I can safely say I’m back on track.

So I might have tendencies of social anxiety. It’s okay – I’m finally getting to be okay realising I don’t have to be a great public speaker to move ahead in the world, I don’t have to look picture-perfect to be attractive, I don’t have to be the life of the party and have plans every Friday night. I do have to realise that it’s not the end of the world if I have to make a speech and I stumble over my words, that nobody’s going to think I’m weird if I eat messy food in public, that nobody’s going to really think I’m an idiot if the back doors on the bus don’t open properly. I’ve realised just how much energy I’ve been wasting on things that really don’t matter at all, and I’ve been allowing it to consume me, to exacorbate my insecurities, when I should just stop worrying so much and use the energy to actually enjoy myself.

I’ve also unfortunately learned the hard way that some people in the world could care less about anyone other than themselves, and would rather take advantage of someone’s vulnerability and use it to provoke drama and conflict rather than help. I’ve been really hurt by a few people recently, but it’s just made me realise how hard it is sometimes to find truly good people in the world, and how lucky I am to have them in my life. So what if I only have a handful of people I can call true friends? They mean the absolute world to me. Their support, encouragement and advice have been invaluable over the last few weeks and you know who you are – thank you, thank you so much.

So I’m sitting in a pretty good place right now. I have people in my life who I know are still going to be there fifty years from now telling me to get my arse in gear. Football season’s started, which means my lovely is gone from six in the morning until ten or eleven at night, but it makes those fifteen morning minutes and the hour before bed together so cherished, so magical. His support and love have also been incredible over the last few weeks, more so than ever, and though we don’t get to see each other much right now, I’m feeling more steady on my feet, and I know in just a few months there’s so many good things to look forward to. I also applied for an internal position at work, a senior position to mine, with more graphic design, more PR, more marketing and less tedious tasks and being in front of people. And my own office, hopefully. Fingers crossed! So I’m sitting in a pretty good place right now – well, not the most comfortable place, considering I got second degree burns on the bottoms of my feet last night and spent the day bandaged and walking on my toes – but other than the flesh wounds, the world’s looking a whole lot better. 🙂

Clubby McGee, re-inspired

Since Thursday I’ve been affectionately addressed by my boy as Clubby, after I fell down my exciting shiny new stairs (whose novelty has since very much worn off) and broke my wrist. It’s been a few days since I’ve got used to my uber-cast and felt okay enough to write, but I’m off today and figured I’d spend it with a combination of blogging, watching a girly movie, and with my current love, The Time Traveller’s Wife.

Tomorrow, at work, is the end of my 30-day probationary period. I believe this comes with some kind of Employee Review. I’m hoping my boss looks more at me showing up with a broken arm, sick, offering to redesign the corporate image and getting referrals from my old work rather than missing 2 out of my first 30 days and going home because my throat hurt so bad nobody could understand what I was saying. I’m not hugely worried – I’ve had lots of positive feedback and I get on well with everyone, I’ve just had a bit of bad luck… right?

Other than work, I’m happy to say I’ve reconnected with a couple of very dear friends who both recently took (separate) extended trips away; one to Germany, Amsterdam and Rome and the other to Egypt and Morocco. Both these people arrived back in Winnipeg in the middle of a bitterly cold winter after experiencing new cultures, new people, and entirely new ways of life that are all happening all over the globe this very second while we sit here in a city so cold nobody wants to leave their bed for 6 months of the year. It reminded me of when I got back from England and Ireland last summer – I’d gone to a place I feel at home, I’d seen historic sites, spent a day in a wonderful city full of life and colour, visited a university I spent the next few months researching in a desperate attempt to find a way to attend and live in, and saw manuscripts over a thousand years old that moved me to tears. Seeing my friends again who’d taken trips come back into the Winnipeg Blues brought it all back; I heard stories of camping out under the stars in the Sahara desert, taking trips down the Nile, standing next to enormous pyramids that defy historical engineering, and how their way of and thinking had changed entirely after seeing the value of food, of water, and of people in places so far away from the life we lead here on a daily basis. Me and the boy had a Big Talk soon after, about how badly I wanted to go somewhere and experience something like that again, and how desperately I wanted to share it with him. I admire his way of thinking and finding positivity in everywhere he goes in this little city, but I so badly want to explore and learn and just take him with me. We talked about taking a trip, maybe in a year or two, but then we talked about maybe doing a World Vision trip.

I get the e-mails every year. $1,000 – $1,500 and you can take a “Destination Life Change” trip. You join a group travelling to either El Salvador, South Africa, Ecuador, Indonesia or Rwanda. You get to see child sponsorship first-hand and really experience what it’s like out there. I think I want to go. I’ve been sponsoring a little boy in Ghana for the last few years and in just over a month I’m doing a 30 Hour Famine to try and raise money for the charity. Right now I’m sitting at $35 in donations. A lot of people are giving me their apologies, which is fine – but all I’m asking for is a few bucks. If everyone chipped in the cost of a Starbucks it would go a REALLY long way, and I just really want to not only spread awareness, but try and make a little bit of a difference too. So I’m doing that on the 3rd of April. But I’m definitely thinking about looking into one of these trips. How life changing would that be?

The day I almost lost my toes

Yesterday I lost all my shoes. It could’ve been worse, I suppose – it could’ve been my toes, but it was still a very distressing horrible day. I don’t usually have a whole lot of bad things to say when I write and I apologise for the upcoming vent.
I got up bright and early at 6:30 so I’d have some time to clean my apartment a bit as I knew I was going to be showing it to potential subletees when I got home from work. I swept and mopped and then made myself a nice cup of tea and some breakfast, and sat down and started watching an episode of Casualty. A while in, I hear some scratching coming from by my front door. Rose Kitten is sitting quietly on the couch, so I get up to see what it is. Any early morning chipperness was quickly replaced by an awful sinking feeling in my stomach. Chloe, my usually well-behaved sweetheart of a cat, was wiping her feet just as she does after going to the litter box… on a pile of all my winter shoes . I quickly shoed her away, but the damage was done. There was cat pee all over every pair of shoes I own.

I’ve had cats pee on my stuff before. I’ve had to replace mattresses and duvets in the past because no matter how much you wash it, the smell never goes away. So yesterday morning began with throwing all my shoes into big bin bags, and throwing them all away. I was mortified. Probably about 6-8 pairs in total, including my only pair of running shoes, brand new knee-highs I hadn’t even worn yet, ankle boots, work shoes… and my winter boots I need every day to walk to work in.

Winter boots I’d need in fifteen minutes to walk to work in. I called my dear boyfriend in a panic, realising after he picked up that this wasn’t going to bring my shoes back, but vented anyway. He suggested putting plastic bags over my feet and then putting the boots on – but as much as I love him and as good as his intentions were, I couldn’t bring myself to touch the Cat Pee Shoes let alone walk for 40 minutes in them. So I called my boss, who had a wonderful idea. I still had all my summer shoes – put a pair of those on, and she’d come pick me up on the way in! I’d only be outside for a minute, and could get to work and not arrive smelling of urine. Awesome. I went and grabbed a pair of open-toe sandals from my storage closet and put them over my socks. I still had bags of shoes and rubbish to throw out before my apartment showings, and I was going outside anyway, so I braved the blizzard and ran to the back and threw them out. This took a couple of trips, and then my boss called. She was on my street, but didn’t know exactly whereabouts I lived, so asked me to come wait on the side of the road.

I waited. And waited. Did I mention the blizzard? Finally after what seemed like an eternity of walking pretty much barefoot in snow and ice and minus 25, she called again. “Where are you? I’m at Sobeys”. Blinking back tears from the pain I told her she’d gone too far, and to turn around. “Well come over to the other side of the road so I can see you. I’m at the stop lights, I’ll be a bit. Traffic’s crawling.” I shuffled across Taylor in my sandals and waited on the other side of the road until finally she pulled up. At this point I was crying because my feet hurt so bad.

She figured it was because I had to throw out my shoes, and proceeded to rant about how stupid I was for keeping a cat that had cost me $1000 in the last 6 months and kept peeing all over my stuff. How I needed to put myself first and stop being irrational and that it was just a stupid cat who’s “ruining my life”. I got to work and I knew something was wrong. I went to the bathroom and took off my socks… to find my toes looking like this:
Ouch

I freaked out a little bit. This is why it’d hurt so bad!! I couldn’t walk, and she had a client waiting for her, who kindly offered to drive me to a clinic or to the drugstore to pick something up… but I said I’d be fine and he rescheduled to come in at 4:00 instead. My boss then started yelling at me again. “You can’t work like this, why does something always happen?? If you’re not here, I can’t make any money because I have to reschedule all my appointments and miss out on making money. And if I don’t make any money then I can’t pay you your vacation pay.”

I sat there and listened to her rant, not once acknowledging how much pain I was in. She agreed to let me go home once her husband arrived with some bandages and polysporin, and to sit in her office until he did. She clocked me out at 10:30 “because I can’t pay someone for sitting here and not working.” He arrived at twelve. I wrapped my feet up, hobbled into the truck, and he gave me a lift home.

I spent the day thinking about what she’d said about my cat, and I got ridiculously upset every time I did. It’s true: I have spent over $1000 in the last six months replacing furniture, bed linen, result-less vet bills and now 8 pairs of shoes – and I am trying to get out of debt. As well, she sheds an insane amount and I have people that no longer come over because it’s impossible to get it off my sofas, and it gets all over their clothes. But at the same time when I adopted her I signed something that said I was responsible for her living a safe and healthy and love-filled life. I couldn’t bear to think of giving her back to a shelter – even if it was a no-kill shelter, just thinking of her in a cage like that not knowing where she is, I just about bawled every time I thought of it yesterday. I’d feel like an awful human being because I love her so much. But I don’t know what to do. Do I keep sacrificing in order to make sure my little cat is safe and loved? Or do I “put myself first for once” and not get all my stuff wrecked, but feel like the worst person ever. I don’t know if I could bring myself to do it. I just don’t know what to do.

What I do know though, is that I’m looking for new jobs. I’m meeting with a recruiter tomorrow morning, and I have an interview at Great West Life on the 23rd. I’m in a huge dilemma about my poor cat. But at least I might be getting a new job… and I got to keep my toes.

A vicious cycle!

So as you all know I had a silly little accident not too long ago which has resulted in a lot of missed work and grandma-like manoeuvres. I’ve had to come in to work this week because I can’t afford to take any more time off. I looked into E. I. only to find there’s a minimum wait time of a month before you can even see the remote possibility of assistance on the horizon, plus you have to send in all sorts of paperwork proving you’ve lost 40% or more of your income. I’ll be back to normal in a month (I hope)! What good is it going to do me then? Oh, but the good news is, as I found out yesterday, my Blue Cross application was successfully reviewed and I’ll be able to start using the benefit system on September 1. Sorry, did that say September 1? Honestly? Yes? Okay, sounds GREAT, because I’m sure all this can wait six months.

But it may very well have to do just that at the rate things are going. Onto my point. As of right now, I’ve been to a physiotherapist, who’s strongly suggested further medical tests (MRI/CT scans etc.) before commencing any kind of treatment, and to see my GP as well. There’s a 4 WEEK wait list to get into my doctor. Which brings me onto the bottom line of a ridiculous situation. In the past, I’ve been on prescriptions that are simple, recurring, and need to be refilled every month. Simply calling the pharmacist and ordering a refill is usually the way to go, but after 6 months or so, they have to call your GP to see if it’s okay to keep refilling. I guess something changed, because now a phone call isn’t good enough – you have to GO AND SEE THE GP IN PERSON so he can write you another note for the exact same thing you’ve been doing for the last year. Why does it take so long to get in to see doctors in this city? Because they’re so bloody busy making people come all the way down to write them repeat prescriptions for things they could easily do over the phone!

I don’t understand the system. I really don’t. Blue Cross – if my application’s been successful and I’ve willingly given you permission to take money from me every month, why do I have to wait 6 months before I can get any kind of coverage? General practitioners, look at your situation. You’re run off your feet all day and your patients are ending up for 4-hour trips to walk-in clinics because your days are full of people coming back for things a simple phone call could take care of. Efficiency people, efficiency…

There would definitely be a head-desk moment here if I could move my neck that way. 😛