Underneath my yellow skin

More lessons I’ve learned

There are many lessons I’ve learned from my medical trauma. I mentioned some of them in my previous post and I want to expand on the topic in this one. When I started that post, my intent was to talk about my family dysfunction, but I got caught up in other things.

I would never wish what happened to me on anyone. It was terrifying, confusing, and messed with me on many levels. However, ultimately, I believe it was a net positive for me. Why? Let me count the ways. One, it cleared up the is there an afterlife question for me (no). Two, it made all my body issues disappear. Three, it helped me see that life is short and that we really do only have one life. Er, maybe not so much that as I did die twice. Four, I’m cute AF! Five, I don’t have the patience for nitpicky bullshit. Six, I have a point of view that is unique and worth expressing. There are some other ones, but they’re similar to the ones I’ve stated.

I used to have low self-esteem. I thought I had to earn the right to live. I was disgusting, toxic, and bad for the planet. Yes, that’s what I earnestly believed for decades. I thought that it would be better if I was dead, but I didn’t have the courage to kill myself.  I’m not saying this was sane or logical, but it was the way my brain worked at the time. Therapy couldn’t shake the belief that I had to earn the right to live.

Taiji helped me start inching my way to a healthier outlook. I could go into a crowd without flinching, even if I still didn’t like it. I was more at ease with my body, even if  I still avoided looking in the mirror. I didn’t like the way I looked, but I didn’t hate it, either. I had reached a detente  with my body (and my face), which was the most I could hope.

Then, the medical trauma hit. And being cared for by a team of 2 -4 people, 24 hours a day. They had to intimately handle my body, which they did with respect. They afforded me dignity in a time when it would have been easy for them to treat me like a piece of meat. My experience in the hospital completely erased my body issues. Not just because of the way I was treated, but because of the awe I felt for what my body went through.

Walking non-COVID-related pneumonia, two cardiac arrests, and a stroke. No therapy or rehab once I left the hospital two weeks later. Back to my full Taiji routine within three months of being home. It’s been almost eight months since that night, and you would not be able to tell by looking at me that something of that magnitude had happened to me. As a result, I have nothing but love for my body. I t saw me through the darkest days of my life without breaking a sweat. My body is better than ever, and I am so grateful to it.

The only thing that hasn’t been better since then? Family dysfunction. If anything, it’s been worse, and it’s weighing heavily on my mind. I want to write a memoir of what happened to me because I truly think that others can get something out of it. Any time I tell the abbreviated version to anyone, the response I get is one of wonder and amazement.

If I did that, however, I would have to include a section about my parents because they were an integral part of the whole situation. I told my brother I really wished he hadn’t told them, but I understood why he had. I joked that he should have just told them I was traveling somewhere for an indefinite amount of time–maybe visiting Ian. But it was during the pandemic so they probably wouldn’t have believed him or they would have freaked out because of the pandemic.

In addition, it’s easy to say that after everything is said and done. Once it was clear that I was going to survive and come out intact, I mean. But back when my brother found out I was in the hospital, he was told I would probably die. Maybe not in so blunt of terms, but it was pretty clear. He had to decide what to tell my parents, and I cannot really blame him for telling them it was serious. And when they planned to fly out here, they had to plan that there might be a funeral, too. They wanted to come right away and my brother convinced them to wait a week. There was no indication that I was going to wake up right before they came. And, as my medical team told my brother, even if I did wake up, there would probably be brain damage and months if not years of rehab ahead of me. They were talking about me needing to go to a rehab facility before going home.

I remember the  week I was awake. I had a litany of tests done to me. Memory, occupational, physical, and more. I passed all of them with flying colors, ranging from fine to outstanding. There wasn’t a single category I faltered in. Yes, I did have blurred vision, some short-term memory issues, and ticker-tape synesthesia, but other than that, I was golden. All of that cleared up within a week of me being home–well, except for the short-term memory issues. I still have a few of those once in a while, but it’s not a big deal.

I had an angiogram and it showed that my heart was perfectly fine. I also had an…EKG? EEG? EKG, I believe, three months after the trauma happened–which I sailed through as well. I’ve passed every test they’ve given to me and both my brain doc and my heart doc have given me a clean bill of health.

I’m indestructible! I’m 100% that bitch as Lizzo so aptly sang. I’ve been obsessed with Lizzo lately because I slept on her when she first blew up. But she really channels what I’m feeling into song. I may not be as unrelentingly sexual as she is, but I’m really feeling myself. I love how much she loves herself and that she has so many big beautiful black women backing her up.  Plus, she’s so high energy and her smile is infectious.

Anyway, back to my parents. I can’t help but think that if my brother had waited a week before telling them, everything would have been so much better. Yes, my mother helped me when I first came home, but it was at a steep cost. I could have hired someone to cook for me and take care of my cat–which was what I basically needed. Seriously. It was food, my cat, and the laundry. I did everything else myself.  My brother put together a commode, but I never needed it. I did appreciate the shower chair, though. I still use that. Other than that, though, there’s nothing special or different I need to get about my day-to-day.

We could have not said anything to my parents and it would have been the same. It would have been better, actually, since they freaked the fuck out about what happened to me. Understandably, but they made it MY problem. The second day I was home, my mother guilted me into showing my father a Taiji exercise for his back. I was drugged up, exhausted, and still couldn’t see properly. I was tired out by the second repetition, even though it was a stretch I did every day. That’s when I knew that I was in for a rough recovery.

On the same day, my father asked me to Google something for him. I literally could not read the internet–which was very distressing. He said, “Just one article!” as if that would make a difference. When I held firm, he knocked my meds onto the ground accidentally on purpose. Then, later on, he was talking shit about how I should get a roommate. I stated very clearly that I did not want one and that my system had worked. He raised his voice and said I didn’t understand what he and my mother had gone through.

Excuse me what? You are actually saying this to the person who literally died twice? Because yes of course he was. He really is just that narcissistic. What he went through (and he threw in my mother just to make it look less egregious, I suspect) was more important than what I went through.

I’m not saying it wasn’t traumatic for them; I’m pretty sure it was. What I am saying is that it was more traumatic for me and that they should not dump that load on me. But it’s so typical of my parents and part of the family dysfunction. Once again, I am running late, so I’ll end this here and pick it up later.


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