Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Rude Awakening

One thing that annoys me is when my job gets in the way of my blogging!  I mean really, how dare I not have a chance to write my own post, much less read and comment on others?!  Obviously I'm kidding, but yesterday I never had a minute to do my usual goofing off during quiet times, and after work I did a 3 mile walk and then had to get dinner going.  After I post I'm going to catch up on reading YOUR stuff.  The few blogs I got to comment on yesterday were in the early morning.

Now that I said all that, I realize I really don't have that much to say.

Actually, I do.  I didn't write about this Sunday because I was still dazed and stunned by an experience I had early that morning that was totally preventable had I been paying attention to what I was doing.  I wrote about my weight and food prep and created a nice facade of normalcy, but I was feeling anything but normal when I wrote that post late Sunday morning.

I'm not sure why I wasn't going to post about the experience...maybe because I'm a bit ashamed of how scatterbrained and "unpresent in the moment" I was in a way that resulted in an accident that could have been much more serious than it turned out to be.  Also, my daughter reads this and I didn't want her to see it until I told her about it.  Turns out the event wasn't a big deal, but it shook me to my core and hopefully jolted me solidly into living and being HERE.  NOW.  At all times.

I was up early Sunday morning so I could go to a produce place that opens at 6:30 a.m.  I do this often - get in and get out fast with my goods before they get crowded - which they do.  Then I go to my 7 a.m. daily AA meeting, which is what I did that morning.  This meeting is held at a local borough hall that also happens to house the police station.  All winter, their parking lot has been ridiculously icy, snow covered and very poorly plowed, so we've all gotten used to dodging certain icy spots that seem to refreeze every night.

That morning I arrived a few minutes late and wanted to get upstairs to the meeting fast.  So I got out of my car, noticed a couple of people walking up who I didn't want to get talking to before the meeting because I knew we'd be even later getting in.  So I took off in my usual hyper pace - completely failing to THINK or LOOK at the pavement as I bolted across.  I suddenly hit ice - going fast, and slipped up and hit the ground HARD.  I landed on my sit bones (butt), elbows, and my the back of my head literally bounced on the pavement.  HARD and Loud.  There were police in the parking lot changing shift, and they came running over..."Oh NOing" and noting they heard my head hit the ground.  I know I yelled out because of the shock of my head hitting so hard - and it happened in an instant.  Everytime I think of it I still cringe. 

They gathered round - and I was totally dazed but didn't lose consciousness.  However, almost immediately I got a huge swelling/hematoma forming at the site (which I knew was a "good thing"), that a friend this morning said was the size of half an orange.  The lump on the back of my head was visible under my hair, to give you an idea of how big it was.  Never in my life has anything like that happened to me - it's one thing to fall and twist an ankle, even break an arm or something - but to have this hard head injury scared the living crap out of me.

The police immediately were getting my info, and escorted me inside to sit, which I couldn't do because I was so antsy and freaked out, and very shaky and probably shocky.  3 good friends stayed along with the cops, and then another policeman came in and said he'd call paramedics.  UGH!  I was starting to think I was probably okay because I could tell I was neuologically intact, but still scared that maybe I'd develop a problem that wasn't yet evident. 

Anyway, the paramedics arrived in 8 minutes or so and were basically no help - they shined a flashlight in my eyes and then said, "Well, it's your choice if you want to go to an ER and get checked out."  My choice?  I suggested that they were the experts and they said they couldn't guarantee I was or wasn't okay.  Gee, thanks.  Long story less long is that my friends were insisting I go and get checked at an ER, and I knew it was necessary, so a friend took me over and I called the husband and let him know what was up.  I told him I thought I was okay, and since he had 2 commitments at church, he sent our 24 y/o son Stephen to sit with me at the ER.  Stephen was just a wonderful support and helped me to further settle down.

I got seen fast at the ER (Sunday morning at 7:15 is a usually a quiet time in an ER if you decide to have your own incident), and the doc said he thought I was okay and probably didn't need a CAT Scan, but because I take Advil most mornings which can have blood thinning properties, he ordered it, which I'm glad he did.  It turned out totally normal except for the huge hematoma on the back of my head - but OUTSIDE the skull, which is okay.  By then the head would was really stinging, and I was starting to get a killer headache, but knowing all was okay I decided to not even take Tylenol.  We left the ER by 9:30 and Steve took me to get my car and then followed me so I could weigh in at WW before I came home to plotz on the couch for the rest of the day.

As the day wore on, I started getting soreness in my neck, sit bones, elbows and even my ribs.  Yesterday morning when I woke up from a crappy night of sleep, I was really achy and did take some Advil finally.  But overall, I felt okay, and my killer headache was gone and hasn't yet returned.  So against friends' and family's advice, I came to work and had a busy day that kept me from thinking about myself, which I would have done had I stayed home.

It may sound like I'm being a drama queen, but this experience really jolted me into awareness of how automatically I operate through the various activities of my days.  I'm often in autopilot as I do routine stuff, thinking about anything but what I'm doing in the moment.  I race around like a whirling dervish - actually like I'm still a 30-something mom multi-tasking my way through life.  After I told my close friend and neighbor this story she commented, "The young person we still feel like inside doesn't match the bodies we have on the outside when we're getting up in the 50s and beyond!"  No joke.

I did a lot of reflecting and meditating on the couch Sunday afternoon, and I almost feel like God was saying to me that I'd had 2 minor slips on ice this winter where I just ended up on my knee or my side, and still I wasn't getting that I needed to slow down and think before I set off into action.  So I got literally hit over the head to drive home the point.  While my outcome was good, it could have been serious.  People have died from slipping on ice and hitting their heads -  I'm pretty sure that's how Dr. Atkins (of the diet) passed away. 

I can say that I have been scared and shaken into slowing down.  Yesterday and today, I've been trying to stay aware of what I'm doing and paying attention to where I am.  It's not going to be easy.  This morning as I drove home after my morning meeting, I actually started to unfasten my seat belt before I turned on to my street... I was back in my usual "facilitate the next thing" mode by taking off the seat belt long before I even got to my driveway.  TILT.  At least I caught it, and after the initial "how stupid ARE you Leslie?" rhetoric percolated into my consciousness, I stopped and said to self, "Don't judge.  Just notice and correct where possible."

So that's what's been going on with Leslie.  Still lots of lessons for this recovering careless self centered alcoholic to learn about how to live a day at a time and practice genuine self care.  Life is lived in the now, which is a place I am often just passing through on my way to whatever the next thing is.  I am grateful that I didn't incur a more serious injury, and grateful for this wake up call from the universe to slow down and enjoy the ride.  Now the challenge will be to keep the learned lesson in my awareness when the intensity of the scary incident starts to subside.  Remind me of it when you hear my motor running to fast.

***p.s.  My head wound is still very tender to touch, but my headache from Sunday and early yesterday is gone.  You can still feel some mushy stuff back there, which is the hematoma that hasn't yet reabsorbed.  But the biggest swelling has subsided, and since I know the mushy stuff isn't my brain, I'm okay with it!  My elbows, the sides of my neck and ribs and my rear end are still a bit sore, but much better.  I think taking the walk yesterday afternoon probably helped the healing.***


  1. Oh my gosh, Leslie. Whew! Thanks goodness you're okay. And you're not a Drama Queen at all. That sounds like a very traumatic experience. I also use these types of experiences - close calls in the car, hurting myself because I'm rushing - as learning experiences to SLOW DOWN. I totally know what you mean. Once again, glad you are okay.

  2. Wow, that's pretty scary! I'm glad you're feeling better, though. I experienced a head injury my senior year in high school when a girl kicked me in the face while I was spotting her during cheerleading practice. It knocked me out, which resulted in me having a concussion and a fractured cheek bone. It wasn't fun, to say the least! Just try to keep the rest of your body loose so your muscles don't tighten up and cause more pain from the fall. Good luck, though, and cheers to a speedy recovery! :)


  3. Bless your heart! So glad to know you're OK. Best line in this whole post?

    "...I stopped and said to self, 'Don't judge. Just notice and correct where possible.'"

  4. Holy crap Leslie - just holy crap. Glad it wasn't worse. Be careful out there - this winter is out to get you!

  5. Glad you weren't seriously injured. Slowing down is not an easy task! Take care...

  6. goodness gracious! So glad you are ok! :)

  7. What a hard and scary way to learn!!! I am so glad you are okay.

    You know... a lot of people would just be upset at a fall, or dismiss it. But you had a teachable heart, and learned from it. :-)

  8. I came to post exactly what Helen said.

    I am so glad that you weren't seriously injured. That is so very, very scary.

  9. First, Way glad you're okay. :D

    Second, You know, some phrases are relative. Like "too fast" or "need to ease up some".

    I nodded along, thinking of my own stress-driven, blinders on to get it done, push thru life.

    BUT when I read where you were taking off your seat belt, not just before the car stopped--which I did when I was working, by the way--but before you even got to the driveway, WELL, my interpretaion of "too fast" had an overhaul! I all of a sudden visualized you bolting thru life at frantic, breakneck speed. No pun intended.

    Yep. You seriously need to slow down, girlfriend. Join me as I try to ratchet my own too driven speed down to the speed of "mosey".

    It's a speed that lets life in--if I remember correctly. It's been a long time since I've felt like I had that luxury of time and grace. (When did I decide that I was so important, I wonder.)

    Maybe we can give each other tips.


  10. Oh, I'm appalled to hear your story. And I can see where that would give your inner self a terrible jolt! I hope you recover fast and will be able to put it in the past, just taking the lesson into the future.

  11. One of my free weights instructors lost her dad exactly that way - and he wasn't hurrying - stepped on driveway to retrieve newspaper, feet went out from under him, hit back of head, never regaining consciousness, died a couple days later.

    I am the exact opposite, because of knees and lower back, I am very careful about falling. Because even if I did not hit my head, the impact could totally change life as I know it. And honestly, this is maintenance protection for me. I don't want to do anything at all that might impact my cardio.

  12. Yikes! I'm glad you are okay. Remember Natasha Richardson who didn't go the hospital after her skiing spill and died! Glad you got checked out:)

  13. Holy crap! After doing trauma research for years-EVERYONE needs to go to the ER. Glad they made you go! That must have been scary-I find that when other people get worried it freaks me out even more.

    So a lesson out of the whole thing, too. Rushing. That is a great thing to remember-I am all about getting things done yesterday, trying not to waste time.

    Family is awesome, sounds like you got a good one!

    Polar's Mom

  14. Oh my gosh Leslie!! That's horrible! I'm so glad you're o.k. (head wise). How scary that must have been. Again, so glad you're o.k.

    You're right about slowing down. When my husband and I were involved in our church back home, we were never home...never. We missed our children growing up! It's sad but true. We had to be busy in order to feel we were truly "forsaking" the world and giving our all to God. Thank God He didn't agree with us!LOL! Eventually He stepped in, turned our lives upside down and said "I don't think so..this is going to stop right NOW." The last 6 years have been a learning experience of what life is really about. And learning to keep things simple (slowing down), is a huge lesson learned,one many people never grasp.

    Sounds like you have someone in high places on your side!! :)

  15. Well good Lord woman! You sure know how to shake a person up...when you said that people have died from slipping on ice and hitting their head, I immediately got teary-eyed thinking I CAN'T LOSE MY LESLIE!!! Thank God in Heaven that you're ok...thank God. And you better still be coming down here in May to visit me!! I need some hugs after that scare!

  16. I am so glad you are ok. I couldn't believe what I read....that you stopped by WW to weigh. LOl. That is some determination! You go girl. I think this time you had a good reason not to! lol. On a serious note, I am just glad it wasn't worse.

  17. I had an ice incident earlier this winter, as well. Also hit my head, though not as hard as you did. I'm so glad you went to the ER, head injuries are scary. I'm really glad you're on the mend and maybe even learned something from it. You've certainly helped me today. Thanks, and I hope you continue to feel better every day.