Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pain in My Butt


I’ve never been more envious of a man’s ability to pee standing up than now, at this moment, when the worst part of my day is the trip to the restroom. You see, as my friend, Kitch, eloquently said about her own experience, I broke my butt.

It was an ordinary day (don’t these things often happen on the most unexpected, unexceptional days?) and I was on my way downstairs with Pickle to put her down for a nap when I slid and landed my tailbone on the corner of the step just as we neared the bottom.

Carpeted or not, it hurt like a mother, and I yowled like an animal. Thankfully, Pickle didn’t fall with me, and My Guy, who’s often at his client’s office but chose to be home on this rare day, heard my distress and came running to my aid.

I couldn’t move. I could hardly breathe, the pain was so intense. I wanted to hold it together for my concerned two-year-old, but realized I’m just not made that way, and cried onto her lap instead as she sat next to my crumpled body by the stairs.

She wiped my tears, asking, “why you crying mommy?” and My Guy explained to her. And since then, she would intermittently ask me throughout the day, “is yours [sic] butt feeling better mommy? I want to kiss it.”

Oh, how I wish she could. The slightest touch would send me howling, so the order of the day (and probably the days following) was to “stay away from mommy,” which, of course, broke my heart.

However, it’s probably wise, especially considering that my dear, affectionate Pickle’s a ferocious hugger - I would probably pass out from her good intentions. Little Miss, who was at school when the accident occurred, was slightly more conscious and careful but still needed the occasional reminder: I’m sorry, but no, I can’t do your hair, I’m sorry, I can’t sit next to you at the table; I’m sorry I can’t tuck you in tonight; I’m sorry we can’t snuggle…

Yes, I have uttered many sorries. My Guy would not hear of it, but I told him to suck it up, because saying I’m sorry was about all I could manage and it made me feel 1.2% better. So he sucked it up.

But he was also Super Guy as he kept it together for all of us and made sure I had an ice pack on my bottom (my daughters’ Little Mermaid ice pack, nonetheless - bet Ariel wasn’t expecting to be that up close and personal with me), and fed us, and got the girls to bed and school by himself and [insert all domestic chores here].

On top of that, he also has to do all of the packing for our trip to Florida himself.

Oh yes. Is this what they call insult to injury? Going to the “happiest place on earth” with a broken butt is like going to an ice cream social with your mouth sewed shut.

I should be looking forward to this trip with my girls as it will be our first time at Disney World, except I’m thinking about my flight to Florida and our subsequent car ride to Orlando from St. Augustine (where their grandparents live) with sheer terror.

How the hell am I going to sit on an airplane? Or climb in and out of an SUV, let alone ride in it?

“We can do this. We’ll manage,” says My Guy. Easy for him to say, his butt is fine. (In every sense of the word. Ahem.) The only thing I managed was to cry. Again.

In fact, I did a lot of that. I cried when it hurt for me to change sides in bed. I cried when I couldn’t be near my babies. I cried when I felt bad that My Guy had to shoulder so much. I cried when I realized I couldn’t go for the run that I had planned for myself that day. Or this week. Or probably in the next month, which means goodbye October half marathon.

Having run for a year now, I can finally say that Fall running is my favorite, except now, I've probably ruined that for myself too. Yes, I’m feeling a little - a lot - sorry for myself, but the injury is still fresh, so I think I have a 48-hour window for all this sorry business. And I intend to use it up. Every last second, dammit!

But then something happened. I read this article, 21 Habits of Supremely Happy People, that serendipitously showed up on my Facebook feed today, thanks to a happy friend, and it inspired me to change my own habits. No, I’m not aiming for “supremely happy” because that's just setting myself up for failure. Instead, I’m setting my sights lower and going for “trying not to be depressed”. I think that’s more my speed right now.

It involves being optimistic about my recovery, which I am, or at least I can fake it with the help of My Guy, who’s the eternal optimist. And an opportunist, who suggested I got a wheelchair for Disney so we could move to the front of the line!

I’m also learning that being strong isn’t about not crying from the pain (because, good lord, if that were the case, I may be the world’s biggest wimp); it’s about asking for and accepting help, and knowing when and what to let go. Kind of like the Serenity Prayer, minus the God part.

As for running, well, at least I’m mobile, which means I can still get some fresh air and relish the changing leaves I so enjoy about Fall running. After reading that article, I promptly shut my laptop and went down to the park by the beach and walked - no, ambled - ever so slowly that even a hunched, silver-haired man passed me like I was standing still. But the breeze and sun felt nice, and the sight of Lake Michigan calmed me.

The walk also gave me perspective; I know this is all temporary. The helplessness, the disability, the snail pace - it’s all part of the healing. Better to miss one race to heal completely than to rush my recovery and risk not being able to run for the rest of my life.

To quote a dear friend, who announced over Facebook today, “My stress is down a little, sleeping a little better, eating a little better, starting to workout again - a little. Change can be difficult, if inevitable. The power of a strong family, regardless of it's size, is a beautiful thing.”

It is indeed. I do so believe in the strength of my family. Because of them, I will get through this.

And one of the most important things I learned from the article is the positive effect of a constant, unwavering practice of gratitude regardless of our own circumstances, and I, myself, am a believer in its power, so here I am, being grateful that I can walk even when I can’t run, that My Guy possesses the kind of strength and humor that will see us all through this, that I’m still able to get outside to enjoy this unbelievable weather, that My Guy’s brother will be flying with us to Florida so he can help with the wrangling of active kids, and that his parents will be there as a welcome extra set of hands and distraction for my girls, making this injury both inconvenient and strangely convenient at the same time.

Oh, and I’m grateful for a mama friend who newly delivered a baby and offered her super-strength but nursing-friendly painkillers to me, which I will definitely need for my travels as it would be a miracle if I don’t accidentally get bumped by at least two dozen different things and people - namely my own little people - while in transit.

And I’m grateful that being forced to rest allows me to finish one book, the refreshing and sweet children’s book, "The Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo, thanks to my best friend who brought them for my girls, and start another, “This is How You Lose Her” by Junot Diaz, recommended by dear Cecilia, whose taste in books I absolutely, unequivocally trust.

See? I’m already feeling better. Gratitude. It's a wonderful thing. As is the love and patience of an amazing partner.

I’m extraordinarily grateful to him for being there for me and the girls, but how do I tell him that I still need the kitchen spotless, the floors swept, the toys put away, the bed made, the cats fed, the litter cleaned, the trash out, and the living/dining room tidied before our early-morning flight tomorrow? Because that’s usually what I do before we leave for vacation?

I’m realizing that in my attempt to lose the pain in my butt, I will probably end up being the pain in his. But wait - this is where the practice of letting go comes in doesn’t it? Messy house be damned. There’s healing to do and a vacation to be had!

Hey, I’m learning! Baby steps. Which is good, because I can ill afford any steps larger than that now.

At this moment, My Guy is on his way to get me a donut, to which my two-year-old rubbed her belly and responded, “mmm...donut…” and we had to disappoint her with, “no, it’s not the kind for eating; it’s for sitting.” And while he's gone, the two-year-old is napping, Little Miss is still in school, and I'm vomiting my tirade onto this blog post because writing helps too.

Thank you for listening to, or rather, reading about my woes, my friends. This has been wonderfully cathartic for me, but wait, I'm not the only one who benefits, because according to the article, being a good listener is also a habit of supremely happy people.

There. Don’t you feel better too? You're welcome.


image source: stairs by Denis Jacquere.