Tag Archives: Crying

The pre-surgery nightmare.

4 Jun

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a nervous person. Along with those nerves, I was also very scared, especially as a kid. Rather than using the word “fears,” I was simply told by my parents and my doctors that I had a “vivid imagination.”

Because of this vivid imagination, I remember one specific time when my parents waited a while before they told me about a specific scheduled surgery. I understand now that they didn’t want to alert me to it too far in advance because they knew I’d essentially be a nervous wreck right up until I had to go in for surgery. Though I can understand this now and I know it was a protective measure, I didn’t see it that way when it happened. I remember the night my parents sat me down to tell me about a surgery that would be occurring in about a month. I couldn’t exactly comprehend at first that my parents had waited to tell me, but once I did I immediately started to worry. Not long after that moment, the dreams I would always have leading up to a big operation started. The most common, of course, was the dream in which I woke up during surgery.

Due to my “vivid imagination,” my dreams were exceptionally vivid. In my dream, I was lying on the operating table. My eyes were open, and I was seeing everything. The doctors had the femur of my left leg in their hands, and they were twisting it to the left in order to straighten it out. Though I couldn’t feel any pain in the dream, I could imagine it, which was almost as bad. I looked at the doctor’s gloves, which were covered in blood, my blood. In a room as white as the operating room, the red seemed out of place. And yet, there it was. On the doctor’s hands was the blood that ran through my very veins. As I watched the doctors attempt to “fix” what was “not normal,” I tried to scream out. My mouth opened to make any kind of sound, but nothing happened. I tried to move. I focused so hard on trying to simply raise my right hand off the table, but it was too heavy. The doctors had to know I was awake. If they knew, they’d stop. If they knew, it would all be over. I just needed to do something to get their attention, but they were so focused on my legs. They didn’t even glance up towards my face, not even once, to see the fear and the anguish that was mirrored in my eyes. I wanted nothing more than to get as far away from that room as possible. I wanted to get away from the dead quiet that enveloped me like a blanket that was too heavy, practically suffocating me. The moment I closed my eyes to escape the horror I was seeing, I woke up.

When I woke up from this dream, I felt like I could barely breathe. Without even giving it a second thought, I yanked back the covers to look at my legs. I touched them to make sure they were still intact, still closed up tight. I looked on my legs, my hands, and my sheets for the blood. The blood that had been so incredibly red, so out of place in that white room. With my sweaty palms resting on my knees, my emotions took over. I cried out, knowing that tears couldn’t do this type of fear justice. I rocked back and forth, holding the stuffed teddy bear that was tucked into the bed beside me, and knowing as I started to shake that the tears were coming. When my body finally allowed me to cry, I curled up on my side, hugging the stuffed teddy bear to my chest like a shield, and let my tears speak for me. After the immediate emotion passed and I was curled up into the tightest ball I could form, I began to hum. I hummed the lullaby that my dad so often sung to me when he’d rock me in his mother’s rocking chair on the nights I couldn’t sleep. Eventually, sleep tugged at me again, and I opened my eyes for a pleading moment as I looked into the darkness, knowing the dream was waiting for me.

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“Mommy, why does she walk so funny?”

9 Nov

I don’t remember the day when I became uncomfortable with myself. I just know that I went from being a kid that wanted to experience every part of life with no regard for the opinions of others to a girl who viewed herself based on the ways others thought of her and treated her. Though I may not remember the specific day when my attitude about myself began to change, I know that it started with the staring.

Being physically different from your peers is especially hard for an obvious reason: since you’re not like your peers, you’re “different,” and being different isn’t “the norm.” Even though I find it sad that the concept of being “different” is primarily a culturally constructed concept that is perpetuated by societal attitudes, it’s not surprising. Due to “differences” being culturally constructed concepts, it makes sense that the act of staring is at the center. The center of making those who are different actually feel different, even if they may not think they are that much different from those around them (at least in the beginning). Having others openly stare at them automatically separates them from the crowd that they are trying so hard to fit into.

In the early days of noticing how others would stare at me, it felt like a punch to the gut, causing me to feel like the easy target, unable to move or even breathe. The moments that hurt the most were those in which my differences were noticed through staring as well as through vocalization. I remember one specific day that I was in the grocery store with my mom. As we came to the isle of milk and eggs, there was a little girl who walked past us with her mother. I watched the little girl as she moved past us, knowing that any second she’d turn around and her eyes would lock with mine, her mouth hanging open in shock and surprise. The girl saw me as she was walking towards me, and the staring began. The stare started at my feet, and the girl noticed the way that my feet pointed slightly inward as I walked. The girl then looked at my legs, focusing on the way that my knees knocked together as I walked. Eventually, the stare landed on my face, and the curiousity that I saw in her eyes was mirrored in my own. By the time the stare reached my face, the little girl couldn’t look away, not even for a second. Even as she and her mother walked past me, she would turn around and look back at me, still holding her mother’s hand but so engrossed in me that she wasn’t paying attention to where she was walking. Then, ever so slowly while trying to keep her eyes on me, she’d turn to her mother and ask, “Mommy, why does she walk so funny?” The words stung, and I walked away before I could hear the mother’s response. I followed my mom through the grocery store, thinking back over and over to the little girl’s question, wondering what the answer was. That simple question as well as the sadness and uncomfortable feelings that were associated with the staring has come back to me on a daily basis throughout my life, and even now, it’s no less painful than that early memory in the grocery store.

In the early days of the staring, if my mom caught someone staring, she’d look at them, smile and say “Hi, how  are you?” Even though I knew that my mom was implementing the “Kill them with kindness” approach, I could never make myself do it. For reasons I can’t quite explain, the stares were such a shock that I couldn’t even speak. Over and over, the stares of little girls and boys, and even adults, seared into me, searching for answers. Since I was as far from the answers as they were themselves, I looked away, not wanting anyone to see the pain that was reflected in my eyes. It wasn’t until I was home in the comfort of my bed with a stuffed animal in my arms that I allowed myself to cry. I allowed the tears to fall over and over, hating the kids who stared at me so much and hating myself for letting their stares have such an effect on me. After I couldn’t cry anymore for the night, I’d look up at my ceiling fan, watching the shadows of the blades reflected on the ceiling, wondering if there would ever be a day when I’d feel normal.

Even today, at the age of 20, the stares still affect me. Though I no longer cry at night because of them, they make me angry. Angry at the people who can’t accept that there are people in the world who look different from them, angry that the parents of kids who are gaping at me don’t explain to their children that it’s not polite to stare, angry at the adults who are in their 40s and still gape at me from across the grocery store, not even trying to hide their surprise at the way I walk. Angry at myself for still being so far from the answers as I was as a child, silently hoping that one day it will all make sense.

The thing about best friends.

15 Oct

Me and my best friend, Skidmore.

“That was the thing about best friends. Like sisters and mothers, they could piss you off and make you cry and break your heart, but in the end, when the chips were down, they were there, making you laugh even in your darkest hours.” -from Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

An Emotional Whirlwind.

30 Jul

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” -Henri J.M. Nouwen

I feel like I’ve been through an emotional whirlwind recently. I had a tough travel day on Thursday (even though I did finally make it home), I came home to find out that one of my dog’s has a tumor, Delta lost my luggage and I didn’t receive it until today, and a limb went through the windshield of my car and it has to be replaced (but thankfully I wasn’t in my car when the limb went through my windshield). For the past few days, it’s felt like nothing has gone my way. It’s almost as if anything that could possibly knock me over has slammed into me with full force.

However, the one thing that I am holding on to is the fact that I get to see my best friend Skidmore on Friday. I’m holding on to that one simple thing with every fiber of my being because if I know that if I give myself even a small chance to stop and think, I’ll just fall apart. Though I know that once I see Skidmore I’ll most likely finally break down, I’m trying to hold it together to some extent until then. Not because I don’t want to appear weak. Far from that, actually. I just know that if I give in to what I’m feeling right now, I’ll just start crying and I won’t be able to stop.

Maybe it’s stress. Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t seen my friends in what seems like forever. Either way, this feels like the eerie calm before the storm. But waiting to break down until I get to Skidmore’s is exactly what I need. Though the waiting wouldn’t really change much, it would change everything all at the same time. Skidmore is the easiest person in the world for me to talk to, and I know that if I was talking to her through body-heaving sobs, she wouldn’t even say anything. She’d just hug me and wait until I was able to get out what I was feeling. I need that kind of patience, that kind of willingness to listen. For so long, Skidmore has been the one person that I’ve turned to for everything, and even though it’s never a good time to feel like your world has been flipped upside down, I feel like it couldn’t have come at a better time since I’m going up to see Skidmore this weekend anyway for her 21st birthday.

Either way, all of this is hard to grasp right now….especially the weight hanging on the fact that my dog, Roxy, has a tumor. My family put our oldest dog, Max, to sleep at the beginning of this summer, and the fact that Roxy may not be far behind is the most heartbreaking thing I can even imagine right now. I want to cry….and scream…and run…and throw things….and hold on to Roxy for as long as I possibly can. None of this is fair. I understand that losing a pet never is. However, it’s just as if all of this stress has hit me like a bulldozer, and I don’t even know what to feel. So I’m just hanging on for a few more days…hanging on until I can fall apart in the company of my best friend.

To Grace (Part 3): Accepting Love.

10 Jul

To Grace. To Grace (Part 2): Walking Through The Fire.

Dear Grace,

I don’t know what it is about writing these letters to you that makes me feel better, but they do. Even though I know that you aren’t in the same place as me in terms of your CP, simply being able to say that I personally know another girl with CP who has faced what I have makes me feel that much closer to you.

I’m in Ireland right now, and I love it. It’s been such a wonderful experience. However, it’s been so hard too. Physically and emotionally. I’ve walked more since I’ve been in Ireland than I have in a long time. Though I know that it’s making me stronger, it hurts. It hurts physically and emotionally because there’s no one here that understands. There’s no one that can say they know what I’m feeling. I know that I said in my previous letters how hard it’s been on me that no one can understand what I’ve faced, but it’s just so so so hard, Grace. I know that you know this.

Having no one who understands is almost as if I’m walking down this dark corridor with all these different doors. The doors lead to people who want to understand, but can’t. The need to go through each door and cry is so strong. The only thing worse than not having anyone who understands is knowing that there are people in my life who want to understand but aren’t able to. I can see it in their eyes. There isn’t pity there. There is just the desire to want to know me on a different level, and the degree that I want people in my life to be on the same level as me is stronger than I ever imagined. It’s close to impossible though, Grace.

I know that you understand. However, I also know that it’s not something I’d easily be able to discuss with you. I’d like to imagine that one day when we are older we could try to talk about it. Right now though, it’s too fresh for both of us. It’s too true, too real, too close for comfort. You’re closer to it now than I am. You’re still having to go to PT and face the pain that I’ve been reliving over the past few months through attempting to write my memoir. Even though I’m not facing that pain in the same way that you are right now, I’m facing it in my own way. Saying it’s emotionally painful doesn’t even come close to what I have felt over the past few months. Recently, I really have wondered why I keep putting myself in this position. When you think about it, it’s as if I’m bulldozing myself with all these really painful memories that I never wanted to think about again.

Over the past few months I’ve had multiple people ask me why I have openly placed myself so far deep into my past that I feel completely and utterly stuck. I don’t know how to answer that question because I myself don’t know why. At first, I stuck to the reason that it was because I wanted to reach a point where I could accept myself. However, now that I think about it, self-acceptance is something that every single person struggles with. I don’t think I’ve ever come across anyone who can openly say that they completely and totally love themselves. It’s not an easy thing to do. It’s hard to block out all the negative feelings you have about yourself, even if you do feel like it would benefit you if you didn’t dwell on them.

So as of right now, I’m walking down that dark corridor…feeling alone and yet realizing that there are people who reside behind the doors who are ready and willing to take me into their arms and simply hold me. Because sometimes, no matter how many times we try to be strong, the only thing left to do is sit down and just let the tears come. I used to hate giving in to the tears. It used to make me feel weak. But Grace, we’ve faced so much. We’ve been through pain that people can’t understand. So I guess the thought of walking down a dark corridor and feeling completely and utterly alone isn’t as depressing as I’ve made it seem. It’s just accurate, especially when we realize that the people that we care about aren’t as far away as we imagined. They’re close…patiently waiting…waiting to try to feel what we’ve felt….even though that feels close to impossible right now. It shows love, Grace. It shows a strong emotion that I’ve been so nervous to let in. Nervous because of the strength and power of love. But also nervous because I feel like I’ve been walking through my life recently not knowing how to accept love from people who want to give it to me. I just don’t know how. I’m trying though. I’m trying so hard.

I’m thinking of you. Please know that.

Love,

Amelia

A Dog’s Life: All You Need Is Love.

29 Apr

I found out this afternoon that my first dog (who is very, very old now), Max, will need to be put to sleep tomorrow. Max has been living with my grandparents for a number of years, who live right down the street from us, because their dog, Joe, who was put to sleep last summer, was Max’s best friend. During the last few years that Max was living with us, he frequently got out of our yard and went up to my grandparents’ house to be with Joe. It reached a point where we realized that Max would be happier with Joe. However, we always showed him love on the days when he’d come down to visit us.

Today I went down to my grandparents’ house to see Max one last time. My dad and I found him on the screen porch laying down in his cage. Due to Max’s age, he hasn’t been able to see or hear hardly at all for quite some time. Therefore, when Max had his back to us when my dad and I came into the screen porch, my dad had to reach in and turn Max around so that he was facing us. Even though I know that Max probably didn’t recognize us, my heart broke when I saw him. He didn’t seem to be in pain. He just seemed tired. I could see it in his eyes. Though he didn’t have the energy to move towards me, that didn’t stop me from holding him and crying harder than I ever have. Part of my heart broke this afternoon. For the loss of Max and for the amount of love that I have for him. Since he was my very first dog, he was my first indication of the amount of love that one can have for an animal.

Max loved playing fetch. You could throw a tennis ball for him over and over again, and he’d never get tired. Often times, I was the one who had to eventually stop playing, even though Max would continue to drop the ball at my feet and look up at me with excitement and anticipation, wondering where I would throw the ball next. My dad brought a tennis ball with him when we went to see Max one last time today, and the fact that Max didn’t even have the energy to hold the ball in his mouth was heartbreaking. Max also loved water. Any time we would take him for a walk out on my grandparents’ farm, he would always run straight into the pond, no matter the outside temperature. He loved swimming, and when you added playing fetch while he was swimming in the pond, you could see that he was just happy as a clam.

Though I know that after tomorrow Max will finally be at peace and will finally be able to be near Joe again (since Max will be buried next to Joe), it’s no easier for those of us who have to go on living without him. Though some people would make the comment that Max is just a dog, anyone who has ever had a dog knows that they aren’t just a pet. They are a part of your family. Heck, in our family, our dogs (Max, Roxy, and Hoss), who are all springer spaniels, have had their own Christmas stockings for as long as they have been in our family. They are one of us, and that’s all there is to it. Though I am sad to lose Max, I am happy to still have Roxy and Hoss to show my love to. When I came back from saying goodbye to Max today, I curled up on the couch and held on to Roxy as I cried. I figured she knew something was wrong since she looked up at me and licked my face. Even though that made me cry harder, I don’t know what I would have done if I would have lost Max and then had to come home to a house without dogs. It would make things so much harder.

The wonderful thing about dogs though is the fact that they have only love to give. Growing up, Max didn’t care that I had CP or that I was different. In his eyes, as long as I showed him love, he loved me right back. Sometimes I wonder how the world would be different if we as humans could have that sort of mentality. Granted, each one of us is too judgemental for that. However, in a dog’s mind, “all you need is love.”

To Grace (Part 2): Walking Through The Fire.

25 Apr

Since I got such awesome feedback from the first post I wrote To Grace, I decided to write a part two. Who knows…this could just be the beginning of posts I write out to kids who have CP just like me. But this “letter” in a sense is simply reflecting on what I have gone through while having CP. By addressing it to Grace, I am connecting with someone I know personally who also has CP. However, this can apply to anyone who has CP, so I’ve decided to not include a “To:” line, and instead, I’ll just jump right in.

First things first, don’t be afraid to cry. I know that you have been faced with so many struggles and you feel like you need to act like you’re not afraid so that other kids who don’t understand will refrain from taunting you. However, you can be afraid. I know that you don’t want to, but you shouldn’t feel bad about being afraid. If anyone else was in your situation, they’d be terrified. Anyway, as I said before, don’t be afraid to cry. I know that you want to be strong for your family and your friends, but crying doesn’t mean you’re weak. Sometimes, it means you’re that much stronger because instead of holding back how you feel, you’re letting it out, tears and all.

Find your own sense of security, something that makes you feel safe. For me, that was my stuffed animals. For every one of my surgeries, I took a stuffed animal into the operating room with me. My stuffed animal of choice even got a hospital band of its own so that it was like we were experiencing the pain together. When you split fear or pain between 2 people, even if one of them isn’t a real person, it’s as if there’s someone holding your hand as you walk through the fire. I mean, it doesn’t make a huge difference….but it could be the difference in feeling like you have a friend beside you and feeling totally and utterly alone.

Find a release. Whether it’s watching tv, reading a book, or writing in your diary…find something that can get your mind off of things for a few moments. Trust me, I know it’s easier said than done. When you’re in the hospital or you’re going to PT, all you can think about is the fact that in a little over an hour you’ll be crying. And you wish that just for one day, you could not end up hurting so much after that hour of PT. I know how hard it is. I’ve been there. In your mind, you wish you could be anywhere else, and in your mind, enduring that pain, even for only an hour, is the worse kind of pain. That’s why it’s good to find some sort of release. Some way to let out some of the anxiety. I’ve suffered with a lot of anxiety throughout my life, but it was especially bad when I was going through all my surgeries and PT. My way of letting out my anxiety was through writing. I’d write about what I was feeling. I’d write about the fact that I wish I could be anywhere but on my way to PT. I’d write about how much it hurt, and how I wished that there was someone who could understand. I’d write any and everything, and even though all the pain and fear was still there when I was done, I was happy that for a few precious moments I was able to vent to not a person, but to something that seemed more trusting at the time: a blank sheet of paper.

Lastly, probably one of the most important things I could say, is smile. I know it seems like such a simple task, but some days, even though they could be few and far between, are good. Some days aren’t quite so tough, or rather, parts of some days aren’t as tough. Smile during those times. Though it may not seem like it, you are so awesome. You’re facing a level of pain that few people can even imagine, and best of all, you’re getting through it. You’re not letting it tear you down. Yes, lots of days are hard, but you’re fighting. That counts. Rather than sitting on the floor feeling sad that you can’t do things as well as other kids, you’re standing there trying to figure out how you can do it in your own way. It may not be perfect, but guess what? It doesn’t have to be. All that matters is that you’re walking through the fire that’s your life, but instead of standing around and letting the flames consume you, you’re running straight into the flames and that, my friend, is so freaking awesome!