I love this post. It reminds me of Jennifer Kara's post last year, "There Will be a Time After This." I am amazed by these doulas and the work that comes with being on the receiving end of help and service. Health is something taken for granted, and when our state changes suddenly, adjustments become necessary, and often the biggest one is within our brains. What also happens, though, is a change in the heart. I love that Sejal shares her change of heart here.
Today as I sit and write this, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be sitting in this cozy bed with all my gadgets and chargers next to me, and my constant companion for now (my pain, that is), motivating me to write. On the morning of March 28th, 2016, as I am going down the stairs outside my clients’ home from an overnight shift, I slipped on a thin layer of ice. I heard a snap and I saw my left ankle being twisted while I tried to hold on to the side rail to avoid the fall. I screamed loudly due to the excruciating pain, and I thought I must have woken up the whole neighborhood. I started to see stars and began crying like a baby getting his vaccinations, surprised by the needle. I felt sad for myself, and then I tried to remember my client’s address because I am in no position to get up on my feet.
I called my client instead, since I am sure she knows her own address. She comes and calls 911 for me. I am so grateful she was there and that she picked up my phone call. The firefighters come first, and they ask me if I am hurt anywhere else. I am so happy to see them since I am thinking they are paramedics! Pain messes with your brain. They put a temporary splint on me while I tried not to scream.
The paramedics and firefighters tried to carry me down the rest of the flight of stairs, since I am in no position to walk. At this point I am blabbering stuff at them about how sorry I was that I had to call them, and blah-blah-blah. I get nasal Fentanyl since my veins are fried, from panicking probably. I think I am in a good place as they take me to the ER. The x-ray tech comes and wheels me out to the x-ray room, and I hear myself begging, “No! No! No! Please don’t!” as she is trying to position my leg the best she can without causing me pain. The x-ray results confirm there is a fracture of the distal tibia and I am going for surgery the next morning. Loads of morphine helped me come to my senses, and I start thinking, “Oh my, I have to work tonight and tomorrow night for the same client!” I texted my client and asked her if she wanted someone else to come for the following two nights. She says she will be okay.
I talk to my husband about how I am feeling. He says that he understands, but that is why we call incidents like these accidents. I think in my mind, he does not understand me at all, and I quietly lay in bed. He has been working from home for the past year developing his own business, and many times it has been difficult on our family to adjust to that financially and emotionally. I am worried about our income, and I know he is too. We had to cut down on our kids' extracurricular activities and extra spending to meet our budget. I thought I was helping ease the financial burden by doing my doula work, and that income is gone as well. I am not good for anything. I am not a good wife, mother, or postpartum doula.
I am really grateful that he is at home and ready to help me anytime -- if I need to go to the bathroom, or if the pillows under my leg need to be adjusted, or if I need to hold his hand while my pain meds kick in. Besides doing all that, he also takes care of the kids and all the household chores while still trying to build his business. I am just overcome with guilt and fear. That does not help me or anyone else, but that is the reality.
I am very fortunate to have a circle of friends, family, and clients who have brought me food, flowers, chocolates, and given me their time to just sit and hangout with me. I am still recovering from the injury, and my splint has come off and sutures taken out. The hard part now is the physical therapy and rehab. The hardest thing for me to learn from this accident is accepting help from everyone and not feeling guilty about it. I had to practice what I preach, and it is not as easy as I used to think it was, even to this day. I thought that I was being a hypocrite to feel that way, and then to expect mothers to follow my advice. I decided to learn to accept help, even though it is still one small step at a time.
I had to acknowledge the fact that I did help people when I could, and it would not be so bad if some of them chose to help me and family. I started calling people to see if they were available to visit me, and as daunting as that question was for me to ask, I was surprised how many actually said yes. I am a social person, and I felt the best way for me to heal is to socialize. I didn't think people would have the time to hangout with me, but even if it is half an hour, it is worth my sanity. I kept talking to friends via Facebook, text, and phone. Some even stopped by to view an online conference with me, or to bring me lunch or dessert.
I called my brother up on my worst day of pain and told him to drive from Washington state to come hangout with me, and he did that more than a few times. I asked my sister to stop by to see me on days that she may have been doing something else, and I felt guilty about it, but seeing her and my nieces made that guilt go away very quickly. I learned that no matter how busy I thought she was, she was happy to come see me. I am learning not to feel guilty for laughing with people when they visit me while my husband is cleaning the kitchen or doing laundry. There are good days and bad ones, but most of them are good and I learn a new thing everyday about having patience and bowing down to my circumstances instead of fighting them.
Some very important life lessons that I have learned from my injury and the process of recovering from it:
Hitting the pause button has taught me how to be the gracious receiver of help that is offered. It is not easy, but it is helping me become a better and more understanding caregiver for all my future postpartum families.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)