Hello dear friends,
In my post to you last week I forgot to tell you of two somewhat momentous events that occurred during my “pilgrimage” to learn from CPE, that is, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. One is quite wonderful, the other, not wonderful at all.
The “not wonderful at all” event was seriously spraining my wrist the first night in Colorado. I was sitting in my motel room, leaning over to reach for something, when I lost my balance. I was tired and out of my physical comfort zone. I’m learning that that combination is risky for me and I need to exercise extra caution at those times. Alas, I fell, all my weight landing on my hand, wrist, and arm. As I lay there on the floor, my whole right arm pulsating with pain and visibly swelling, I thought I might have just broken my wrist. Of my writing arm. On the day before a 5-day writing intensive. That I had looked forward to for at least six months.
I slowly got myself into a sitting position — not an easy act with my go-to arm out of service. Then, after another 10 minutes, sort of climbed up the wall to a standing position. Then I sat down for an hour and figured out what to do. Fortunately, I had already gotten ice, so immediately got some onto my hand and wrist, now twice their normal size. Anti-inflammatory and pain medication followed. (Did I mention that I travel with a mini-pharmacy?) Prayer and relaxation exercises calmed my trembling.
It seemed that nothing was broken, as I could move my wrist and fingers well enough, if painfully. With a trip to the nearby Walgreens I was able to wrap it up in a stretchy bandage, which helped with both the swelling and the pain. (Picture the almost surreal scene with the check-out person over whether I could tear the bandage with my teeth, or if I’d need to also purchase scissors which I’d only use for a week, as I could not bring them back home on the airplane. I bought the wrapping tape, opened it at the counter, and proceeded to chew a length off of it — using only one hand, of course.)
Throughout the week my arm turned colors that matched my black, blue, and purple wardrobe, yet I still took 44 pages of notes with my purple fingers. Yes! Notes for a second harvest of what I was learning!
And I totally forgot about all this when I wrote my last post! Why do we forget these kinds of things? I think it’s because when there are so many chronic challenges, one more thing feels almost unremarkable. Already practically overwhelmed with the challenges, extra pain, and the unexpecteds of travel, one more thing is just subsumed under the psychic category of “things I have to balance, attend to, manage, and cope with.” And, I’d really rather focus on the neat stuff, like new learning and wonderful people.
But this ignoring of the “one more thing” continues to have repercussions: I finally needed to see the doctor, twice, since I’ve gotten home, as the nerve seems to have been bruised and it’s wreaking havoc with alternating tingling and numbness. Yet even that has taken second notice to the mammogram last Monday. I got the dreaded phone call to come back the next day for an ultrasound, and the really dreaded phone call early the next morning from my doctor’s office saying I needed to come in to discuss the results. That day. Gulp.
Fortunately, though I’ll be getting a biopsy on Friday, it’s more than a 90% chance that it’s just a lymph node that didn’t shrink after an infection. That makes sense and fits with my history. Yet I find myself still magically hoping that because I already have more than my share of health problems, it should somehow make me immune to other things, like cancer. Moments like these remind me that the question shouldn’t be “why me?” but “why NOT me?” What’s so special (and immune) about me? I’m just another person, weak and vulnerable to the human condition.
But I’m also oh, so very, very strong. Hey, I can forget about a bruised nerve and a sprained wrist! Seriously, though, what we choose to focus on can deeply impact our experience of daily life. I want to focus on all the neat stuff — and thereby recognize the really amazing, privileged, rich life I live in the midst of the oh so human travail. Five trips to the clinic this week have been exhausting; those were also five trips in which I had the good fortune to experience caring and competent health care, care that is still out of reach of so many in the world today.
And the wonderful momentous event? I won one of only two prizes in a lottery at the CPE event, a lottery benefiting Dr. E’s Guadalupe Foundation which supports literacy projects, especially for women. I won a package consisting of a rare 1995 edition of Women Who Run with the Wolves, a truly beautiful book with embossed cover and signed (of course) by the author, a copy of CPE’s book The Gift of Story, a 6 CD set of her The Power of the Crone, 2 cards designed by Dr. E, and a tote bag that displays her quote “Friendly . . . but not tame.” Truly, it all made me smile! I was so excited to win! AND, on top of it all, it will be a multiple win: since I already own all of those treasures, I’ll be gifting these extra copies to others, along with the story that goes with them. Happy day!