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Holidays and the Emergency Room

Updated on January 12, 2011

“I meant to write but…

"I meant to write but..." then one reason turns into a thousand before long. I know that all too well. That is exactly what happened to me on November 29th.

The stay at my parents’ was wonderful. I finished my holiday shopping. The season had officially begun for me. Every day hearing my parents speaking of holiday plans, seeing mom busy with preparing the house for the Grandkid’s arrival – the tree, the lights, stockings, presents. It wasn’t even December 1st and she was finished. Finished enough that they could walk in tomorrow and everything would be ready, but just like Mom – until the 21st or 22nd of December she would still be adding touches and frills to embellish the beautiful wonderland she’d been preparing for months. It was her excitement and my Dad’s playfulness on the one day she could round us all together to decorate that tree that marked the official beginning of the holidays. My mother made every holiday such an event. And swung the doors wide open to invite everyone in so our house was the place to be and no one was ever left out. Somehow mysteriously, even if you wandered in from one of the far reaches of the planet, there was a gift under that tree with your name on it. She was determined to be the angel that made every Christmas bright – fill every soul with a sense of belonging and family – and add the comfort of warmth and a good meal. There was no bible verse attached, no obligation throughout the year, no price of admission to be paid – my parents just worked together each and every holiday to create family memories, and memories for everyone there - full of love, warmth and comfort. Easter, Halloween, 4th of July, Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, Summer Vacations – all great events in their own right. My parent’s created occasions to remember – but Christmas was always their masterpiece. These days Mom does a lot of it on her own – Dad still doing what he can – but for scaling back – On Christmas Eve, I’d still rather be in the home of these Christmas Angels than any other place in the world.

Okay, back on track….I had driven home listening to Christmas Carols…- ha! No, that’s way over the top. I was listening to Country music because I feel like I never hear it anymore since I don’t drive much anymore. And I was eating Honeycrisp apple slices, drinking a Pepsi with my dog Teddy in the back seat enjoying the fresh air from the windows. For late November, it was a beautiful day and I was paying attention very carefully to everything. Why? Because this was going to be a very long ride home, I thought.

I’ve been having trouble sleeping, racing thoughts again, and experiencing more numbness. The pain is still there in my nerves and muscles, but my skin feels like it’s numb. I can feel the bone inside my legs and arms when I press, and the muscles – and it hurts to do that – but my skin and the outer layer it seems, is numb. Sometimes I feel like I could be a poseable Barbie doll. That’s what they used to feel like. My friend Lynn and I would pose them into positions, move the furniture or rooms around them and sometimes they would then tip over and their bodies would remain frozen in the same position. They looked dumb like that, really.

Everyone says me and my Dad are a lot alike. We have most of the same health issues. We definitely understand each other on the anxiety and depression fronts. We also have helped each other stay on track with our meds and checking in – because we both know how important it is for us to be strong for other people who can be left to deal with us if we check out – and both of us have witnessed what everyone has gone through when either of us has had a breakdown. Policing each other is so hard, especially when you are the only other person in the world who really understands how fragile your mind really is – but when we’re in a world and families where people are stronger and healthier, we know how lucky we are to have that structure of those who refuse to give up. We have an obligation to them no to break them, no to push it and not to take advantage when we can help ourselves. But we’ve been the advocate for each other when others just can’t see that this behavior is not on purpose – not meant to hurt anyone – and we just don’t know how to get help for our own hurt anymore.

I really need to write more often. Enough sidebars.

I came home last weekend, and I was unloading a couple of things from my car. It was a long ride because I decided to quit smoking last Saturday night at 0330. Cold Turkey. There are so many reasons and lots of jokes in there but the main thing is I did and I’m already stronger. Another story about that later.

Not fifteen minutes after I got home, the cat ran out the front door as I was coming in with a heavy bag. I spun around screaming his name with as much authority as I could muster - like Rob had said to do- hoping he would just come back. But in that split second I had lost my balance, and felt the cold glass door of the curio crack against my forehead. With all my weight on my knees, I fell on the tile. I was stunned for a moment and called the cat again. My whole body was numb until I saw that blood pouring from my head to the floor. Luckily the front door was open, because I couldn’t stand. I just started yelling and crying. “Somebody Help Me Please!”

It seemed like forever, but I know it wasn’t. My dog stayed in the house, barking. He didn’t run out – oddly enough – he usually does once there is an unguarded door. My blood must have spooked him. Three of my neighbors came to help. Two of whom I had never even met, but they got my things together when the ambulance came, cleaned my foyer, took care of the pets, called the hospital then even came back to wait to take me home later that evening and checked on me until Rob came home from his business trip.

That night I also decided that I should not be having numbness in my arms and face or anywhere above this tumor on my spinal cord – only below. So this must be a reaction to my medication. My doctors just aren’t listening to me. I don’t want to be another Anna Nicole. I don’t know what the quality of my life is going to be but I need to be rid of this tumor, and all these medications. I just want to know life as a normal person again.

So I saw my neurologist the next day who took me off Lyrica, which we think is the major culprit - why I am swelling so much and have lost my reflexes to stop myself from falling. I'm still in so much pain, we're still working to find the right neurosurgeons to help me. More appointments, more begging for help, I'm so tired of this. And I can't seem too needy, because then they think I'm too depressed or have psychological issues and don't want anything to do with a risky surgery on me. I have a concussion and slivers of glass in my forehead and a huge gash from the fall. My knees are swollen like grapefruits and pretty black and blue. Slate tile is pretty unforgiving. I was supposed to be supervised to 24 hours at least after the fall, and Rob was supposed to go to a party when he got back from his trip. He still intended to go. Some things he does are hurtful, and he minimizes anything going on with me if it interferes with his social life. He did end up staying home with me after I cried because I was afraid of dying, but I know it was begrudgingly. I don't understand what's going on - I wouldn't even blink to do it for him. I don't think he's ready for this and he can't handle me being sick. He didn't sign up for it and he's going to want out. He'll resent me if he doesn't already and I haven't the strength to battle him and take care of all that's being thrown at me. The writing is on the wall, I wish it wasn't because I love him. I wish I could do all he wants me to do with him. He wants someone normal.

What is normal you ask? I know I’m not twenty or even in my early thirties anymore. Things start having problems and parts start needing more attention. I know I could have it a lot worse. I also live in an area of the country where most people have it a lot better so there isn’t much sympathy or accommodation if you can’t keep up. You just get left behind. Luckily I don’t also live in a place where you also have to be beautiful night and day – like Hollywood.

Okay, I’ve been given the time’s up signal for right now. The dog is whining for dinner and his medication. He hasn’t willingly left my side since the accident last week. Priceless.

So much to catch up...

I have much writing to catch up - and I am already feeling very far behind in my own holiday wrapping... I was planning to make many presents this year and have only begun one of them. I will try to catch up with all of this as time allows. Thanks for your patience!

me, mom and dad

Mom, My Christmas Angel and Dad, Santa's Helper
Mom, My Christmas Angel and Dad, Santa's Helper


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    • Erin LeFey profile imageAUTHOR

      Erin LeFey 

      7 years ago from Maryland

      Thanks Nell, it was last year, 2009 - it took me until April to find the right surgeon at Johns Hopkins. I'm still on disability for various reasons and fighting with pain and walking and getting by but I have faith and work at it with dr's and therapy. Things will happen in their time...I just don't know what those things are going to be yet! Cheers my friend!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      7 years ago from England

      Hi, one little slip and the whole day changes, I hope you are okay now? I didn't realise that you were ill, I hope that it gets sorted out, take care of yourself and I love the photo of your mum and dad, cheers nell


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