even when

My grandma was paralyzed on half of her body for most of my life. It impacted her dominate side so, since I was 12 or so, I watched her navigate both asking for help and being wildly independent (to the point that that independence is what also led to her death in many ways). I’d park myself in her wheelchair, scoot up next to her, and talk for hours. We had the same sized hands and I wear two of her rings on my thumbs each day.

When I was six, my brother slammed my left hand in our big wooden front door nearly severing my finger. It held on by a tendon and I remember knowing very quickly that something was very wrong. In the blurry next year, I went through rounds of casts, rehab, etc. I have a hilarious and horrifying memory of realizing I could take my cast off one night with the size of my arm shrinking. Casts are wildly itchy to wear at a certain point and I could hardly stand it. I maneuvered it off only to come to face to face with my very damaged finger. I remember staring at it for who knows how long in the middle of the night feeling both so embodied and so out of body. Recovery was long and painful — I still am missing range of motion.

This week, I found out I have to have hand surgery on my dominant hand and a flood of very specific feelings came up. I last felt it when I had ACL surgery in college. Being cut open and your body changed in ways it’ll never be the same again is overwhelming, even if the surgery is also a positive and ultimately healing.

I am having flashbacks of childhood memories of navigating the world with my cast. Of feeling like a burden. Of not getting help I needed.


I wrote this above a week ago, when I first found out I’d need surgery and abandoned the half written post in a state of overwhelm. As always, it turns out there are multiple ways to view the same thing, even when MRIs and x-rays are involved. Somehow that both unnerves and comforts me all at once.

I don’t need surgery, according to a highly qualified surgeon. Had I needed surgery, I’d have a mountain of friends and support systems, including an incredible employer, that would have had my hyper anxious back. Friends to stay with me to help me heal, make me soup, bring their dogs over for quality time, lend me pillows, etc.

Now, without it, my lists upon lists begin to fade and elation settles in. Trips I dreamed of come back into focus. My body will only fail me more and more from here on out as I grow older but, for now, a moment of relief.

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3 responses to “even when”

  1. Grateful things worked and you’re going to be okay without the surgery. That’s a win. And having friends step up –> well now that’s a double win 🙂

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