Friday, May 3, 2013

The Change: 26

What It's Like To Be Me
 (This is an ongoing story. If you want to start at the beginning, click here.)

Last night, as I was getting ready for flash mob practice, I must have grabbed a doorknob in a funny way, because I suddenly got an intense pain on the underside of one of my knuckles and it immediately became swollen and black and blue.  I wasn’t overly concerned at the time as this has happened to me before – a fluke bang against the steering wheel or grabbing at the fridge handle wrong has resulted in the same weird injury.  I grabbed an ice pack and went about my business, gathering my sneakers, my iPod speakers (for the music), a jug of water (for my thirsty flash mob guests), and headed outside.

We rehearse at my house one or two nights a week on the driveway. I couldn’t dance with the ice pack on my finger so I put it away, hoping the swelling would go down during the hour we practiced.  It didn’t.

Afterwards, I called my best friend. “I banged my finger and it’s all black and blue. Do you think it’s going to turn into a blood clot and travel through my body and kill me in my sleep tonight?”

“Probably,” she said.

“No, really?”

“Well, if you say this has happened to you before and you’ve never died from a blood clot, I’d say there’s a really good chance that this time you will,” she said. “You know, thousands of people die this way every year.”

I know she’s mocking me, even though her deadpan delivery is flawless, and the fact that she’s treating me like a crazy person with ludicrous ideas should make me see that I’m being ridiculous. And mostly it does.  But not entirely.

In bed, I try to read, not knowing whether to keep my bruised finger up over my head (to reduce swelling) or down below my heart (so that gravity cannot assist the blood clot’s travel).

“Do you think I’m going to die in my sleep tonight from a blood clot?” I ask my husband before we turn out the lights.

“Better to die in your sleep than while driving,” he said.

Really?  No one cares about my travelling blood clot?  Really?

I have a history of hyper-vigilance about my health and AE contends that much of my “worry” comes from my feet not being properly grounded.  Both metaphorically, as in, “you don’t have a solid foundation, so you feel like your ailments will knock you over,” as well as physiologically, as in, “your nerves have been so stressed for so long that they exist in a constant state of high alert.”  In either case (or maybe in both), I feel like even though my foot is not fully “fixed,” I now move through my health anxieties more quickly.

I refrained from calling my friend the former ER nurse or spending the night reading my medical journal and surfing WebMD.  However, I did prop up my hand on a stack of pillows and was hugely relieved to find myself still alive when I woke at 1:30 to pee.

I’m often not sure what to say when people ask why I’m going through all this body work, especially for what was an insignificant pain in my knee.  I don’t know how to explain that almost from the beginning, it stopped being “about my knee,” and about something bigger and more fundamental. I want to believe that this work holds the promise of turning me from a person whose nerves are operating at full tilt all the time into someone who can go to sleep at night with a bruised finger the way anyone else would. Knowing that this, too, shall pass.


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