Being Present in Painful Moments

So, how is everyone out there handling the COVID-19 stuff and social distancing? Or maybe you’re in quarantine, either by choice or due to necessary circumstances…

It’s been one week since life seemed like it got turned upside down – at least in my part of the world. I work at a university library, and one week ago we found out our university was extending Spring Break and moving to online classes for two weeks (which has now been extended through the end of Spring semester, and possibly beyond.) Every day new information would come out, and whatever we had heard the day before wasn’t accurate anymore – things kept on escalating.

Initially I was not worried about the coronavirus, or about how it would affect my life. But by about Monday or Tuesday of this week, I could tell my anxiety was starting to kick into high gear, as maybe it did for many others out there. As more and more news came out, I found myself not being able to think about anything else – I wanted to know more, but also wanted to not know at the same time.

I doubt that my reflections on this past week are novel or earth-shattering, but I’ll share them anyway:

My first thought was that it’s crazy how just two months ago life was so different – I was so busy traveling every weekend – for my birthday, for my mom’s birthday trip to DisneyWorld, for the My Hero Academia anime convention my husband and I went to in Dallas… My worries then were so different, and I took for granted that all my plans would just happen, like they always seemed to. Being forced (maybe “forced” is a bit strong, “obligated” works too) to stay home and not go out or be with friends reminded me that we just aren’t guaranteed much in life – we’re not in control of very much at all. This is difficult for anyone that has anxiety.

My second thought I wanted to share came about because I was rereading a journal entry I wrote back on January 22nd, and here’s what it said:

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Surgeries, Knee-Scooters, and a Case of the Flu

*This is one of those posts where I started writing it a few weeks ago, and I finished it today… sorry in advance for the possibly confusing timeline*

As I write this, my son is playing in his room right now, having no-so-quiet “quiet time.” He’s having a tea party with his stuffed animals, pretending to be their mother – I don’t want to forget these sweet times and memories.

It’s a Sunday afternoon, it’s been an interesting weekend that started out with my husband getting sick and potentially having the flu – so, most of our weekend has involved just staying at home.

At the initial time of writing this, I was almost 3 weeks post-surgery – I had surgery on my foot to reconstruct my fallen arch – it included 4 incisions (3 on my foot, one on my calf) and 2 bone grafts. I am not allowed to put weight on my foot for about 5-6 weeks after surgery, so needless to say it’s been a bit harder for me to do my typical activities.

Yesterday when my husband told me he was sick – initially my stomach dropped. He has been my rock while I’ve been recovering from surgery – he’s taken our son to and from daycare every day, he’s dropped me off at work (my first week back was last week), he’s done all the driving/errands… I quickly recovered from the shock and told myself that my time of rest and recovery was over – it really was a noticeable shift in my mind. I had been comparing my husband to my knight in shining armor the last few weeks, and now I was picking up my sword and shield, donning my own armor, for my family that needed me.

I had never actually gotten in and out of our car by myself yet post-surgery. My knee scooter presents a challenge, in that it’s hard for me to get it in and out of the car without help (especially when I can’t use one of my legs!) But, in the current desperate times, I decided it was time to figure it out. I did a test run – if I balanced my bad leg on the driver’s seat with the side door open, I could fold up my scooter and get it in the car without falling over. Success! I’ll admit, I was pretty proud of myself for my abilities and my level of self-sufficiency.

One of the many humbling lessons I’m learning from having surgery, is that just because you can do something by yourself, doesn’t mean you should, or that you can’t ask for help.

So, I did what any person (well, any over-achieving person struggling with pride) would do: I asked for help by not asking for help. I sent a message to a group of people from church and asked for prayers. I’m not implying that prayers were not appreciated or helpful – but secretly, what I really hoped was that someone would read between the lines of my request and say, “what can I do for you?”

And because I have some lovely and caring (and insightful) people in my life, that’s exactly what happened. And even then, it was still hard to voice what I needed. There’s vulnerability in asking – there’s a chance people will say no, and that it will hurt. Do people really want to spend their time and energy helping me? Am I worth it?

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