Saturday, March 16, 2013
Trauma and Cookies
I know I'm falling.
The realization is repeating itself in my head, a chorus that seems to play for far longer than the actual amount of time it takes me to ricochet forward into the pavement.
I sit dazed for a moment before releasing an instinctual, "Ow!" into the early morning, pre-coffee silence of the residential block. Even though I can't identify a specific sensation of pain, I scream it again. And again.
You know, for emphasis.
I'm still sitting there, struggling to move past the annoyance of the unplanned break in my run when I see a dark-haired woman rushing toward me from the house. It's only then that I realize there were people - two teenage girls - waiting in the car parked in the driveway right where I've so dramatically planted myself.
"Let me look at you," She says, helping me up and leading me in the direction of the front gate.
I want to say "I'm fine, it's nothing" - that I can just continue on my way and move forward with the day. Oatmeal for breakfast. A press release to distribute. Emails to send. The typical mundane details of a Wednesday.
And then I see it.
I gasp as the woman simultaneously meets my gaze.
"Oh honey, I don't think I can clean this up," She exhales in a tone that suddenly changes the entire dynamic of the situation.
"Do you trust me?" She asks.
I nod before finding my voice.
Moments later I'm in the front seat of her car, a paper towel precariously wrapped around my left index finger. I'm calm as she asks me how old I am and jokes about the beauty and grace of my fall. I laugh too, finding the whole thing completely absurd.
"I tripped over nothing!" I chortle to my three-person audience, amused rather than concerned that my finger looks like it's been slammed into a steel door.
And I remain calm as we enter the local Urgent Care medical building and see it isn't open until 12 p.m. (because nobody has need for urgent care before noon). And my uncharacteristic nonchalance continues even as an internist in a nearby medical office exclaims, "Dear Lord!" at the sight of my finger before informing me that I have to go to the emergency room.
By this juncture the woman, Jacki, and I have become friends - a natural outcome from sustaining a serious injury in someone's driveway. We laugh at the seasoned internist's reaction as we cram back into the car, further complicating her daughters' trip to school.
"I didn't think it was that bad!" I quip, even as the adrenaline that was previously numbing my body starts to fade and the first stabs of pain start to set in.
Twenty minutes later I'm resting on a hospital bed in the E.R. A doctor, who is not George Clooney, is telling me that they are going to do an x-ray to see if the finger is broken, jam my arm with a tetanus shot, and then numb my finger to sew it - and my nail - back together.
You know, typical mundane Wednesday stuff.
And yet somehow, I'm still calm. I stare up at the TV screen playing The Today Show, watching, but not watching as I quietly process what is happening like I do trauma all the time. Like it's completely normal to be in the emergency room watching Kathie Lee while I wait for the anaesthesia to kick in so my fingernail can be sewn back on.
It isn't until later, long after my knight-in-shining denim drops me off at my apartment with my giant plastic bag filled with paperwork and extra bandages, that the enormity of all of it hits me.
Fractured. Hand specialist. Possible surgery. Antibiotics.
The words play over in my head as I realize that getting through the trauma itself was only the beginning. The hard part is the next six weeks of one-handed typing, cooking, putting on a bra... not going to Bar Method.
This is the point where I start to cry. And thank God for the kindness of a stranger that distracted me through what, alone, would have been a harrowing morning.
"You fell in front of the right house," she'd said.
So I did what's only natural in these types of totally commonplace situations: I baked her and her family oatmeal cookies - so easy to make they can be done with one hand tied up in gauze.