In case you haven’t noticed……there’s a pandemic going on. It kinda snuck up on me. I may have even been like an ostrich with my head in the sand. One day I was keeping grandboys, and the next we were in complete isolation from each other. And I don’t know about everyone else, but the novelty has worn off. Tried it, don’t like it, so let’s get back to normal. All in favor, raise your hand. If only it were that easy.
Our journey through this thing was fairly simple until this past weekend. About a week and a half ago I did the obligatory grocery shopping. In fact I’m rather proud that I was a bit ahead of the curve on that one. The morning I went shopping was several days before the government recommended 15 day quarantine. I was the only one in the store with a full basket. And, NO, I didn’t hoard anything, just stocked my freezer and pantry with the basics. I felt a certain smugness when everyone went crazy a few days later and picked the stores clean. I will confess to ordering toilet paper and hand sanitizer from Amazon, but only after my husband came home and asked the TP question in a concerned tone. I figured this was a guy thing, so I decided to reassure him. The man has enough worries without fretting his daily business.
As a family we decided to heed the “social distancing” request. Thankfully, my parents are in lockdown in their retirement community, while the rest of us retreated to our own homes, fully intending to play by the rules. I saw it as an opportunity to catch up on some little projects that have been on my list for awhile. The weather chose to cooperate with warm sunny days, just perfect for heading up to The Little Woods. I spent several days raking and gathering all the winter debris in preparation for spring planting. It was such a peaceful place to get my mind off the chaos of the world.
But even in quarantine life finds a way to interfere. A few weeks back our sweet kitty started limping, which progressed to refusal to use her left front leg. We took her to our regular vet who took X-rays, but couldn’t find the source of her pain. Just about the time this pandemic ramped up he sent us to a specialist, and as we had started to fear, he pronounced bone cancer. After much agonizing, and on advise from the vet, we chose amputation of her leg. This past Friday was her surgery, using a curb drop-off to accommodate pandemic procedures. We spent a long day and night before picking her up, again at the curb, and bringing her home to recover. We found ourselves actually feeling grateful that we could spend the next few days with our girl in the quiet of our home, no little grandboys to lovingly terrorize her, no borrowed dogs to frighten her. We can just let her peacefully settle into life on three legs, which we have been reassured cats can do just fine.
After getting her tucked into her own little recovery space in the laundry room, Billy headed to the dump with a load of yard waste and I headed to the woods to rake some more. And then it happened, one of those moments you never see coming. While pushing the open yard waste bin from one raked pile to another I tripped over a tree stump. The Little Woods is full of them, small stumps only about 3 inches in diameter, leftovers from the original land clearance when the neighborhood was developed. We have seen them as a small annoyance, never realizing how dangerous they really are. As I started falling forward, the bin flipped backwards towards me, and my head slammed into the open edge. I was completely aware, yet it all happened in an instant and couldn’t be stopped. I even recall saying out loud “NO, NO, NO!” The next thing I knew I was basically laying inside the bin, bloody head buried in twigs and leaves and dirt. (Go ahead, laugh at the vision.) My glasses had gone flying and I was in incredible pain.
I instantly knew I was in trouble and needed help. I think I weakly even said “help me” while realizing no neighbors could see me and my hubby was gone. Then I remembered I had my phone out there with me, on a bench about 20 feet away. I started crawling. In my bloody haze it felt like I crawled a mile. It took me a few minutes to get my gloves off and make my fingers work to reach Billy. I’m sure when he heard my quivering voice his first thought was that something had happened to the cat. Thankfully, he was on his way home, not that far away, but the minutes I laid in the dirt waiting for him felt like hours. And all the while my head was pounding, gushing blood into the soil around me.
What followed was a panicked rush to urgent care (because we felt we shouldn’t burden the ER with a non-coronavirus situation), followed by being sent to the ER anyway because it was determined I needed X-rays beyond what urgent care could provide. At the ER we found out Billy couldn’t go in with me, which led to hours laying on a table by myself, him in the car in the parking lot. And I got an up-close look at pandemic procedures. Since I had no fever I wasn’t considered high risk. My nurses and doctors were wearing just the usual masks and gloves, not the hazmat suits we’ve been seeing on TV. Somewhere in my delirium I was thinking that this didn’t seem cautious enough. After a CT scan it was determined I had not cracked my skull or dislodged the hardware I have in my neck from fusion surgery a couple years ago. My forehead was sewn up, four internal stitches and fifteen external, this after bark chips were washed from my cut. Six hours after my fall I staggered out to the curb for Billy to pick me up.
Needless to say, I’m a pretty scary sight. The upper left quadrant of my face is an ugly combination of blue, purple, and red with a jagged row of stitches that bisect my left eyebrow. The vaner side of me is fretting the eventual scar and probable loss of half an eyebrow, all the while knowing I am lucky. The damage could be much worse. I could have even been knocked unconscious and bled to death in The Little Woods, a very sobering thought. My ever witty husband informed me that my half-shaved, 3-legged cat looks better than I do. When I’m brave enough to look in the mirror I tend to agree.
I’m still pondering the lessons of this pandemic and it’s reverberations in my own life. There’s a bigger meaning to all this but I haven’t quite worked it out. I was doing what was being asked of me, staying home, social distancing. I was trying to make this time productive. Now I’m reduced to couch sitting, nursing my wounds alongside my kitty. I’m grateful I can hide my face, that no one has to see me like this, but gosh, would I love a hug from all my little guys about now. Billy is the best nurse, bringing me food and drink, and reminding me to take my Tylenol. He’s taken on all the cat tending as well. But I’m reminded how much we need our people. Life is pretty empty without our loved ones, family and friends. Yes, I’m grateful for FaceTime and all the ways we can keep in contact, but as a human being I need touch. I need more hugs. My head is definitely out of the sand, or in my case, out of the garbage can. I just want this thing to be over. Let’s take a vote.