As my recovery from a fall on an icy sidewalk drags on, I’ve learned a few things. At the risk of being too clever by half, let’s call them the Five A’s.
Alone. As much as some of us (okay, it’s me) value time spent alone, it is absolutely impossible to get through this life alone. For starters, there are some real safety issues. Having a health emergency without the ability to summon help from an ambulance or anyone else can be deadly. Moving through the house and the world, doing things one is physically unable to do, and having a sounding board for questions and concerns is best done with a cadre of others.
Accessibility. The issue of access to health care becomes real personal real fast when it’s you or your loved one needing help. All of us understand (and accept) the concept of triage in an emergency department because it’s a golden rule kind of thing. I’d expect to be treated first if my need was greatest, so it’s okay if you’re treated first when your need is greatest. The other part of accessibility is built structure. Our house would not accommodate a wheelchair. Even using a walker wasn’t exactly a picnic. Toilet and countertop heights are all wrong.
Awareness. Am I alone in having sensitivities to drugs? I hate taking meds. But long ago I learned no medals are awarded for trying to power through without medication, that you can’t let the pain get away from you, and that pain management is part of the recovery process. As headache and nausea rivaled the pain and discomfort from the actual injury I got scared. Paying attention to what our body tells us requires awareness. And a willingness to trust ourselves despite what experts may say.
Accomplished. When I decided I couldn’t stand the nausea and headache another moment, I got Roy to take me back to the hospital. This time, through sheer dumb luck, I got a remarkable doctor. Her thoroughness astounded me. A sad commentary when a doctor being thorough is noteworthy. This doctor asked probing and follow up questions; listened; actually examined the injured leg; ordered an ECG, blood work, and urinalysis; got me on an IV to relieve symptoms; offered advice and reassurance that I would get better. That is an accomplished professional.
Attitude. Through this whole bloody mess, I’ve had to monitor my thinking. That meant accepting missing a planned writer’s retreat, asking for and accepting help, managing pain, questioning treatment, and believing I will get through this. It’s meant breathing and calming myself during what could have become panic attacks. It’s meant making the best of this enforced inactivity by reading as much as my headaches allowed.
Because no one can escape challenge or misfortune forever, it’s wise to spend some time formulating a plan. Keep caring people in your life, minimize risks for falls or injuries in and around your environment, don’t disregard what your gut tells you, seek out accomplished experts, and think straight. It improves your odds, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.