Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Slow Process of Healing

Well, it's been nearly a month since my accident and by all accounts I'm mending properly. Still, it's a hard thing to get used to - especially being cooped up in a wheelchair, having little or no personal freedom, and depending on others to do many of the simple tasks that one normally takes for granted. While I'm still amazed at the doctors' ability to reconstruct and repair the human body, and the body's own miraculous God-given ability to repair itself - I still find myself impatient that the process seems to take so long.

Yesterday was one of those days where it all just kind of hit me at once. I felt useless, trapped, frustrated, and a little stir-crazy from basically sitting around the house for the past few weeks. Even my recent effort to return to school last week was somewhat thwarted as I found myself unbelievably tired and worn out after only a few hours of attempted study. I had to go and lay down on the couch in the lobby with my arm and leg elevated and rest for awhile just to summon enough strength to sit through my three-hour Greek class.

Still, I'm trying to remain open to what God has to teach me through all of this. One important lesson I believe I'm learning is an increased empathy for the wounded veterans I will be dealing with in the future. Though my injuries aren't as severe, and will heal with time, I now know what it's like to be a cripple, and to have one's life placed "on hold" for the time being. I know the teeth-grinding frustration of chronic pain, and the havoc it can create with one's emotional stability. I know the embarrassment of bodily functions suddenly gone haywire, and of the creeping despair as one wonders whether or not his body will ever become "whole" again.

I'm grateful to be surrounded by loving friends and family, and am becoming increasingly aware of the role they play in the healing process, especially as it relates to keeping my morale up.


FbL said...

One important lesson I believe I'm learning is an increased empathy for the wounded veterans I will be dealing with in the future.

I've had the same thought about your injuries, and I hope this will be one of the silver linings for all you're going through.

Anonymous said...

Remember that sometimes God puts us flat on our back so we HAVE to look up at Him......

Anonymous said...

Great perspective there. I understand nearly totally about the loss of independence thing as well. While I am mobile with crutches and can bear weight as I am able, it's still crutches and no independence. Can't make a move without them, if they are out of reach I'm toast.

All the little things that you lose - you gain back along with some humility and perspective on the rest of the little things in life we think are so important.


HMS Defiant said...

I'm not sure where to begin. I call our mutual friend Lex by that name because that is the name I know him by. I'm not sure about you.


I went through a similar sort of physical destruction about a decade ago. I happened to be skiing with my extended family on our annual get together in Colorado. After the seven breaks in various bones were aligned and screwed into position, my mother accompanied me back to my place on the beach in Southern California. On the one hand, it was great to have someone to help me on the other hand....well, I wasn't expecting her or company and it was one of those 4 level condos (basement garage, living room, dining room/kitchen, bedrooms upstairs.) When you get out of the wheelchair and "advance" to the crutches you will probably learn for yourself what a lethal combination stairs and crutches are. Its OK going up but God help one going down stairs on crutches. I learned it was far easier just to go up and down without the crutches.
Now, since my mom decided that I needed the TV in my bedroom, she moved that 100 pound beast up there with my nephews. Since I don't want a TV in the bedroom I moved it back downstairs 1 day after she returned to the east coast. You can see me there, perched at the top of the steps leading to the bedrooms on belay as I sent that TV below on a, fortunately sized, TV table I'd bought at PIER 1 ages ago tied in place with the small stuff that makes up my life as a small boat/dinghy racer/sailor. Yes, I used the mainsheet for a Laser sailboat for the drop.
As all who have crutched and worked know, the hardest bit is getting coffee in the office. One learns to take a thermos to work because there is no way to crutch back from the coffee mess with a mug of coffee. As an officer under certain circumstances, I grew to understand that I could safely trust people to bring me a mug of black coffee from the mess decks provided I didn't point to some sailor and order him to bring me a mug of coffee. OK, it only applied in combat when they knew I was bound in place and could not leave under any circumstances without getting relieved by the skipper or the XO. Nevertheless, I never send anyone to get me coffee.

I digress. You're in pain. I live in San Diego. If there is anything that I can do for you, give me a shout. The little sister, brood and bro-in-law all threaten to join me in August. They all speak Greek. Mostly classic but some modern plus Latin of course, the bastards! If you'd like to practice, they'll be at the Best Western in Del Mar for a bit before taking up quarters somewhere else in Del Mar (they think, dreamers that they are, but they'll settle for Cardiff or Leucadia or perhaps Del Mar Heights or Carmel Valley).

I have found that being broken opened my eyes to a world of suffering and accommodations to alleviating it that surprised me. It was kind of like fatherhood. I never had any idea at all until I had my own.

You will do very well from this experience. I am sorry it happened but every lesson we are taught comes with a price. Profound lessons come with profound consequences.


Wilko said...

Didn't realize you spent time in Chicago area (where I now reside) and that you attended Wheaton. Great place and great people. I did have the opportunity to spend a small amount of time there in my younger years.

I graduated from a different University than NC but occasionally still visit Wheaton. Prayers for strength to you and the family as you recover. One day at a time.I recall the challenges of recuperation during a few injuries. God will see you through.