New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is always melancholy for me. It’s the arbitrary end of the year, which can be a mixed blessing. More importantly, it’s the anniversary of my car accident – 24 years ago tonight. Sometimes it feels like yesterday.

The facts are simple: we exited the Brooklyn Bridge, the exit ramp is sharp and short, and we slipped on a patch of ice. The car slid and we ran head-first into the concrete bridge footing. The emotional memory is far more complex. I had gone to NYC to spend New Year’s with my boyfriend. Being young, in college, and possibly a little hypomanic, this seemed like a good idea at the time. So did the idea of hopping into a SUV with four boys to see the ball come down in Times Square. “Bad weather” doesn’t mean much to a teenager. Life is a cruel teacher.

I don’t remember everything. They thought I might have hit my head. My two front teeth were never found. But I remember the last few moments before impact. They say that in situations like this that your life flashes before your eyes. Bullshit. Time slows down. Your brain registers every nanosecond. And you think really stupid things. One minute you are laughing and talking, the next your brain is calculating. See bridge footing. Check. Impact imminent. Check. Bridge footing getting closer. Check. Am I supposed to relax my muscles or brace for impact? Time’s up.

My next conscious memory is of the paramedics ripping the door open. Strong arms beneath my armpits dragging me across the frozen grass.  I couldn’t feel anything. Shock can be a blessing.  I recall watching my legs bounce along the grass.  My left leg was on the opposite side of my right.  Something didn’t add up, but I couldn’t quite figure out what. I was cold. So cold. They kept asking me how to contact my parents. I recited my brother’s phone number over and over again. Really, I just wanted them to leave me alone and stop asking questions they already knew the answers to. There was a nice lady paramedic who held my hand and talked to me. I don’t remember what she said. I just remember she was nice, I was cold, and I was really sick of repeating my brother’s phone number. I didn’t even like him that much.

Next memory: the ambulance.  Shock started to wear off.  My nerve endings came back to life.  I felt every bump the streets of New York had to offer. I yelled. I cursed.  I asked the driver if he could find anymore fucking potholes to run over. The sound of emergency sirens blazed trails of emotional memory in my brain. Mercifully, the trip finally ended.  They ripped open the back of the ambulance. As the pulled me out, the driver said to me, “Happy New Year.”

The rest of the evening is a blur. (I posted some of this in Donation.) Someone shoved a clipboard under my nose and asked me to sign. It didn’t look like my signature. Was that important?  I was in and out of consciousness. I swore. A lot. Where does it hurt? Fucking everywhere.  Later, it didn’t hurt anywhere.  I couldn’t feel anything below my neck.  That’s when I screamed.

Meanwhile, my parents got a call from the nice paramedic lady.  Five words a parent never wants to hear: “You should go to her.”

I woke up strapped to a board.  One of the most terrifying moments I’ve ever experienced.  You can’t even move your fingers. They couldn’t operate on my leg until the neurologist came to drill holes in my skull for the halo traction. A nurse fed me ice chips while we waited for surgery.  A priest stood by my side all night, ready to give me last rites should I need them.  When my parents arrived, they told them to be prepared.  I only had a 40% chance of surviving surgery and I would never walk again.

Good thing no one ever told me the odds or I might have given up. I don’t know if I would have or not. I am a stubborn S.O.B. And I was hell bent and determined to go back to college.  Eight months and one cane later, I was back in school full time.

Eleven years later, I had my Ph.D.

I never take the easy route.  But you wouldn’t be reading this if I had.

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Christmas: Happy and Sad

Depression has been creeping back into my life.  It was at dysthymia for a while and I thought I could ride it out, but that is apparently not to be.  Even my OCD is coming back.  I snapped off my husband’s head one night because he wanted to go into The Room.  The problem is that The Room contains all of our Christmas wrapping stuff.  Argh.

Back to the topic at hand…

Christmas is a time of year that I normally enjoy, albeit sometimes with a little melancholy.  We are never surrounded by family.  My family is a scattered mess of psychological disorders and most of the individuals are toxic people.  The exception is my youngest niece.  She is a sweet young woman who is so much like me that we could be mother & daughter. Right down to the bipolar, but with a little schizophrenia thrown in for good measure.  Despite that, she is still highly functioning, graduating with an A.S. and a near 4.0 GPA.  She is looking at 4-year schools right now.  Anyway, the happy part is that my niece is coming to visit and I am really looking forward to her trip.  We have lots of exciting things to planned for her trip. (Art museums, the Zoo, etc.)

As to the sad part… DH will be with his family and not with us for Christmas. We had already committed to my niece’s visit when his mom invited us.  She is disappointed that I’m not coming too.  It’s the last Christmas in the house that DH grew up in because his mom is selling it.  This will be the first time in 15 years that DH and I will be separate at Christmas.  It hardly feels like we’ve been together that long but yet he’s a stead-fast piece of my life.  I would be lost without him.  I can’t imagine what Christmas will be like without him.  Basically, we will just try to keep ourselves occupied with fun stuff.  We’ll probably go to the zoo without him and we will spend Christmas day with a close friend of mine.  Usually DH & I spend Christmas with this friend and her husband, but my niece is welcome too, so that should be fun – at least it will be a busy day.

I still have mixed feelings about it all.  I understand why he is going (Christmas Conundrum) and that he feels it is a family obligation.  I know I’m not being shunned by his family because my mother-in-law is sad I can’t make it.  DH’s brother and his girlfriend are disappointed too.  But I’m still sad that he will be there and we will be here.  Heck, it would have great if we all could be there!  (We are giving our nephew the coolest thing for Christmas.)  But this is just another wave to ride, I guess.  A test of my endurance.  There will be other Christmases… the important thing is to enjoy what we have now.

Speaking of which – I’ve got to go to the airport!

University Love

I love learning. I love sitting in a classroom, mathematics scrawled across the board, my eyes drinking in formulas and my mind questing for more. Seeing connections between A, B, & C. Reading, understanding, interacting. Learning.

And now I’ve stopped learning. I’ve gone corporate and there is no time for learning. I get short courses in technical writing or Excel, and I sit at the front of the class and ask a million questions – yes, I’m that student you always hated in school because she wouldn’t shut up and let the class go on at its rapid fire pace. I stay after class and ask the teacher questions. I am an A-student sponge. That is, if I’m interested in what I’m there for. If not, forget it – I’m daydreaming.

Today I am sitting here in hallowed halls of learning, waiting while DH sits in on a class. He is visiting local graduate schools looking for a PhD program. (He doesn’t want us to be known as Dr. & Mr. anymore.) I can understand to some degree, although to be honest, for about the first 5 years after I had my PhD, I would have told you it was a waste of time and effort. But as I sit here waiting for him, I long for those days.

I tried going to the library but eventually got tired of their squirrely organization system. Why would one floor contain books in the 300s up to 495, then stop and start again with 650? Meanwhile, books in the 500-649 range are on another floor (3 floors away, actually). I’m sure there is some method to this madness, most likely subject grouping, but to the untrained eye, it seems like nonsense.

So I ended up at a coffee shop. It wasn’t a very good one, but it was warm and quiet. But I was just in a coffee shop. I wasn’t transported to that magical land of learning like I am in a university. Even at home, trying to read Stahl’s book on psychopharmacology doesn’t do it for me. Sifting through pub med articles are not enough. School is in my heart. Learning is in soul.

When I was working on my graduate degree, I took nearly every class I could. I took more than was required. My advisor asked me, “why do you keep taking classes? You can just take research credits.” I responded, “because I enjoy it. You’re going to pay for 6 credits regardless and I’m going to do the research anyway, so what’s the harm?” I finally reached some pretty high level theoretical stuff that was my undoing. (A severe bipolar cycle was going on at the same time and I nearly failed the class.) But I climbed pretty high on the intellectual totem pole, and for that I should be proud.

Part of me would love to go back to school. I would study mathematics. Math is solid. There are no judgement calls. It either is or is not. It is cool and structured, powerful and necessary. It is not influenced by my moods or state of mind. It is a silent giant but it requires focus. A focus that I need but have lost over time.

But what I really wonder is do I want to go back to school for the right reasons? I feel like my career has been a series of accidents – some good and some bad – but all of them left wreakage behind. I feel like I should be somewhere in my career by now instead of flip-flopping career paths, leaving a trail of employers in my wake. Has my bipolar been an issue? Of course it has. It cost me one job and is on the verge of costing me another. It was only the one in between that (mostly) wasn’t caused by my illness.

And that was probably the job that meant the most: in academia.

Too Much TV?

Is there a limit as to how much television a person can watch? A person can drink only so much water (at once) or it will kill them. I wonder if TV has the same limitations and if I am reaching them. I watch TV all afternoon, evening and weekend. Life is passing me by and I am missing it because I’m watching TV.

It’s not that there aren’t things I could be doing. There are. I could read. I could look for jobs. I could surf the web even. But using the computer one-handed is a pain in the ass. Seriously, try it. Take your dominant hand and set it in your lap and don’t move it. Now surf the web, reply to email, and write your blog. Use the mouse with the “wrong” hand. It’s a hassle isn’t it? Consider expanding this one-handed experience to using your phone, eating, and personal grooming. Imagine doing this for weeks on end. Imagine too that your “good” hand isn’t all that “good” either.

Am I whining? Maybe just a little. But it’s been like this over a month. I’m trapped in a house that I love but I see all its flaws. Repairs that need to be made and the $$ that will be required to make them. I cringe when the heat kicks on because it means there’s more $ flying out the windows. One entire room is closed off from the house in part to help with the bills, but mostly to hold my OCD demons. One of the things that makes reading so hard is that my “good” wrist cramps up while I’m holding the book. Add to that anxiety and depression… It’s hard to focus. 😦

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for all the wonderful people in my life and for all the things I can do that I talked about in a previous post Things I’m Thankful For. But today is all about the things I still can’t do and all the things that keep me from doing more. Anxiety, fear, depression, frustration, pain and their result: a bored little coward that watches TV ad nauseum. Yes, I’m even nauseated.

I’ve been told before that people look up to me, respect me, even admire me for my successes in life, but they don’t see the real me. The sad creature in heap on the floor, draped in a blanket of worthlessness, enveloped by a cloud of depression, attacked by flies of fear, anxiety and self-doubt nipping at a hypersensitive soul trapped within a cage of my own creation. It sucks to be here. Why can’t I get out?

 

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Driving???

OK, so I’ve been working really hard at PT and I can almost eat by myself. (I’ve got 1-2 inches to go before I can reach my mouth with a fork.) When I asked the doctor about restrictions, he said to ask my PT. Weight restrictions are a can of soup and range of motion only. The doctor and PT say no typing or writing. Certain motions are restricted and others are encouraged, but the biggest things are no weight and no strain that would result in elongation of the tendon. I’m still supposed to wear the sling when I go out in public.

So imagine my surprise when I talked to the doctor’s nurse today about driving and she said I could be driving now. WHAT THE %*^# ?!?!?!!! This strikes me as something that flies in the face of ALL of my other restrictions. So I talked to my PT and she agrees that driving is not a good idea. The way she put it is: do you feel you could steer out of the way in an emergency situation? No. I don’t think I could even turn a corner. I get nervous just thinking about it.

I feel the nurse is giving me different information than the doctor and I don’t know how to approach him about it. DH, who believes that everyone is fundamentally good, calls this nurse a bitch. I think one of you (Lulu?) called her evil. I think she is just incompetent. Why give medical advice that contradicts everyone else? With this nurse’s attitude, how do ANY of his patients get better? Once I’m better, I plan to report her to the facility. In the meantime, I still need her to fill out my damn paperwork.

I am so frustrated right now that I can’t even focus on writing this post. I think every day I get more and more terrified of going back to work. I think I need a Klonopin now.