Yesterday, I was finally going to write an exciting update about my strength returning, my one good night’s sleep, and the lovely sunny day, but then this happened: I decided to throw the ball for the dogs for the first time since March. They have been starved for Mama play time, so I reasoned a few throws were my first choice over stretches or walking laps around the garden.
One would think that in my sickly state these throws would be pathetically weak, but I’m using a Chuck-it and an extra large squeaker ball and I’m giving it my all because I know I only have a few throws in me. But this Chuck-it is huge and we don’t have enough space and it is always tricky to get a decent lob. Well, my first attempt, flung with all my effort, drilled directly down in front of me instead of in a nice arch away from me… and bore straight into my big beautiful brown-eyed baby’s eye.
This dog doesn’t cry or yelp ever. He injured his back and never made a peep, he just shivered and drooled and couldn’t walk. But the tennis ball today made him cry out and then bolt and kind of run around confused, tail tucked, not knowing where to go. When I got close to him, all I saw was red inside his eye orbit. It looked like his eyeball had been driven back into his head or flipped backwards or something. I had the house locked up, his leash on, my shoes on, my car keys in my hand and my husband on the phone in seconds. I said, “I’m going to the vet. My phone is dead. I need you to call and make sure someone can see him now.” My husband said, “Do you have the strength to do that?” I stopped and sat down on the front steps. I hadn’t even thought about whether I could manage. It wasn’t until I then-when I became still- that I felt the adrenalin like a tidal wave through my body. My legs were jelly, my hands were shaking. I glanced at my heart rate monitor: 125. “I’ll find the strength,” I said. But as I looked at my dog, I realised the red I saw in his eye socket was the inner lid – it’d been completely covering the eyeball and the effect was gruesome. Now that it had retracted halfway and I could see his pretty brown iris, I calmed. The vet could wait until my husband got home.
As I write this, the world is spinning. I haven’t had acute emergency-type stress in my life (luckily) in so long and the feeling is alien. I was mowed over by a speeding epinephrine train and I realised four things:
1. I would be able to handle an emergency. I would be able to mine down deep into my cells for the resources necessary to fight off danger or rescue my loved ones or whatever might crop up… The question is what would (will) the physical ramifications be in the days that follow.
2. I lived with a chronic case of that stress response for YEARS in my job. The feeling was all too familiar. I used to never turn off. There was always a crisis, always a problem, always a fire to be put out (figuratively, not actually, thankfully). And, when there wasn’t an immediate concern, I was looking for one that hadn’t been discovered yet, so I wouldn’t be blindsided. It was a constant stomach queaze, the dull adrenal hum of my sympathetic nervous system stuck in hyper-vigilance, anticipating the next restaurant catastrophe.
3. I, myself, created a lot of that intense stress by being a controlling perfectionist who holds herself to unreachable standards and unsustainable responsibilities. And I still do. It takes work to not blame yourself for getting sick and it takes practice to let yourself off the hook for not getting better. It takes restraint to not take care of the house and it takes discipline to not forge ahead with the life you always wanted. And I try every day to forgive myself for not being the employee, friend, sister, daughter, wife I want to be.
4. I miss it. I miss crisis management and learning how to fix a problem and finding out how to do it better in the future. I miss being an honest adviser, without judgment. I miss jumping into action, making mistakes, figuring it out. I miss being the one that doesn’t need help ~ being the rock and the confidant and the reality check for those I love. I’m kind of sick of calm, quiet, peaceful boredom. I thrive on excitement and stress ~ as long as it is a positive atmosphere and a supportive team with a for-the-greater-good outcome. I knew I should have been an emergency room doctor.
Gratitude for the day: no orbital fracture or scratched cornea or dislodged eyeball. Just some pain and spooked tail-tucking. My pup is okay. But the sunny days are over for a while.