The Long Road Ahead….Beware of Your Flip Flops!

Today makes almost two weeks, since that beautiful Friday morning I was walking around town in my flip flops and took a hysterically inane fall.  I merely tripped over the front of my flip flop, and with my right hand in my pocket and my left hand caring my phone, I took a stiff hard, unbroken fall.  I smashed to the pavement face first, somehow my face didn’t even receive a scrape.  However, my left hand was completely mangled and I knew from previous injuries, fractures where probably a result.  Also, my right knee, especially the top of my shin, and my knee cap, were painstakingly throbbing instantly.  The absurdity of all this: I could see my house in front of me. I jumped back upon my feet, lest anyone saw how ridiculous I was, and I hobbled the 500 yards to my house.

Upon getting into the house, I realized I was quite shaken. Truth be told, I have been battling anorexia for two years, and falling on bones that were fragile was not optimum.  I pretty much knew the worst before taking a cab to the ER for x-rays.  I am thirty-nine years old, and have a very active and athletic daughter.  You wouldn’t believe it today with my frailty, but I went to college on a division 1 full-basketball scholarship. No, I am not tall, just 67 inches, but I am all hurricane with a little bit of sunshine. I have been battling this insidious anorexia for two years, and as of recently had turned the corner, or so I thought…. but the residual effects of starvation on my body for so long have always, on a daily basis, scared me into darkness.

I arrived at the ER in my town, and the triage nurse took one look at me as I limped to sign myself into registration.  She asked or rather said, “I’m going to get a wheelchair for you now.” I was instantly aggravated. I am not one who wants to be coddled, and a wheelchair was completely over the top. I had walked home with my injuries and walked into the ER on my own. The nurse was back in a second, and took me right into the triage room. She began with all the annoying questions of what happened, how much pain are you in, are you safe at home…. then she took my vitals. I had told her I was in pain, but didn’t make a fuss about it, and didn’t want her to fuss about me either. She took my blood pressure which is normally low, and the automated machine blinked 223/125!  I don’t know much about blood pressure, only that the norm is 120/80.  The nurse, dropped her pen, left the paperwork she was filling out, and quite honestly broke out into a trot, pushing me through the automatic doors to the critical portion of the ER.

I didn’t have a clue what was happening, but I was starting to feel the pain of the fall, and knowing ERs, I was already aggravated by how long I would be there. A white-coat (doctor) appeared with a person with IV supplies.  I quickly but awkwardly tried to sit up, as I had only come for some x-rays, and wanted to go the hell home. The white-coat introduced himself, and asked how I was feeling.  Really?  My insurance is being billed for this question? “Great” I said, as what in the world did he expect me to say? He said, “So you have anorexia, I hear?”  I was not happy, as for just this one instance I wanted to forget all about that, and just get the bloody x-rays. I was beginning to doubt why I had even come.  He continued, “You are very thin and frail, and from your blood pressure, it indicates you are in a severe amount of pain.  Before I get you started with an examination and then send you to x-ray, I am going to have an IV placed into your arm, to get you started on some fluids, and if you don’t have any allergies, we need to give you some IV pain medication. Are you alright with this game plan?”  I said, ” I guess, except for the fluids. I DO NOT want to be treated for anorexia today, I am basically in recovery.”   He just placated me with a perma-smile, and promised he would be back to exam me and get me to x-rays after I got the IV and the pain medication.

I was none too pleased, knowing I was now not in control, and lord please help this IV technician, because I feared they were about to be spanked by my wrath of anger and shear disappointment for the fall and this whole anorexia nightmare.  Thankfully, the technician was either frightened or a good profiler, so they just did their job. We didn’t speak any words that weren’t necessary, and in walked a nurse.  She was holding two syringes, didn’t look at me, and said to whom I do not know, since she had not looked or made eye contact with me, “Name and date of birth.” Oh she blew it; she was in fact the person who was going to receive my wrath.  I have been in too many ERs and hospitals to put up with a nurse with any sort of an attitude, before I had really given her a real reason to have one with me.  With caustic fumes smoking out of my mouth I said, “Who are you talking to? Did you miss communications class when you were in nursing school? What about your parents? Didn’t they teach you how to properly talk to a human being?” “I am giving you morphine in your IV, as you are in a lot of pain, and that is worrisome” she said.  Fine, I am not into pain medication so I had no idea what giving me liquid morphine meant.

I soon find out what liquid morphine meant, and I suddenly realized, I was really in a lot of pain, and might need some more!  Wow, I would fall all over again, to get this liquid gold in my veins, which took every bit of hurricane and edge right out of me.  I thought, do as you wish with me, as long as I feel this great, I might just not mind staying as long as possible.  Soon the white-coat arrived, and asked me about my pain.  I say, “Sir, I usually have an incredible pain tolerance but I am still in a lot of pain.” Oh yeah, I made sure to make my blue eyes as sad and naïve as possible. He told me he would order more pain medication, and then took a cursory look at my extremities.  “Let’s get you your medication, and get you straight down to x-ray, okay?” “Sure” I said, and I thanked him for helping me out.

Off to x-ray I flew I think, and then I took a morphine-induced flight back to my room in the ER.  I knew my hand was fractured; morphine or no morphine it didn’t look right at all.  My leg, and my knee had really started to bother me, but I had no idea what to think. I hadn’t a clue how much time passed, and then the white-coat and another white-coat came in.  “Well kiddo, you did yourself in today.  You have a couple of fractures in your hand, and you have two bad fractures in your leg.” Okay, now is where there wasn’t enough morphine to take the meaning out of his words.  He continued, “You are going to require extensive surgery on your leg. We are going to cast your arm, and splint your leg, and you need to see an orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible.” “Okay” I said meekly.  “Is this pretty bad?” I asked. He shook his head yes, and told me they were giving me more pain medication before the casting department came to take care of me.

That was two weeks ago.  A lot has happened between then and now, along with the ingestion of much needed pain medication. I saw the surgeon, who told me without a lead up, that I will never run again. I realize it is nothing compared to others’ real problems, but the thought of not running road races with my daughter, was a pretty jagged pill for me to swallow. The surgeon also told me, I would need multiple surgeries, the first one he could do, the others would need to be done in Boston. As I sat there, fighting back tears, for so many reasons, I could think of only one thing; those damn flip flops.

So today, I am having my first surgery. I am on a medical leave from school, and praying today is the beginning of the mending process.  I have been so fortunate to have so many caring and compassionate people in my life.  So many random acts of kindness; words fail to do justice at all I have received from so many amazing people.  Thank you seems so far, and so empty compared to the gratitude I feel.  I have no idea, what it will be like after the surgery, but a couple of things have happened during this speed bump in my life.  I have gotten really hard-core bare-assed honest with myself on this whole anorexia thing.  Everybody knows, I probably wouldn’t have injured myself if I hadn’t compromised my body with my anorexia. I have truly started to “work” at getting to well with my eating, and not trying to circumvent the real issues here.  I lost my ability to run; to run with my daughter, and any other child I might have in the future.  I lost out on school, and I pray that everything I have planned for my education in the fall does go as planned.  I have learned something, that only my flip flops could get through to me: life is fragile, and I am fragile. So I must enjoy every moment I have, and never feel sorry for myself.  Today, I am putting on my big BRAVE, and I vow never to mistreat this gift of a body I have been given again.