Perspective...or, imagine how you'd feel if you really had a problem

I am in a foul mood. I have had a run of dumb luck so epic I cannot even believe it: a series of freak injuries that I have not experienced ever before in my life.

As a surgeon, I pride myself on good hand-eye coordination and technical skills. I do not consider myself clumsy and I am sufficiently proficient around the house that I once installed a new garage door opener, built an above ground garden, and once installed a light fixture in my kitchen…all by myself.

In the past 3 weeks, I have sustained more traumas to myself than I call ever recall. Three weeks ago I was getting ready to do an office procedure when I cut myself with a surgical knife…held in my right hand and into my left thumb. It was deep enough and in just the wrong spot to require 3 sutures. Thank God I know how to get to someone to sew me up. I was asked why I didn’t just sew myself up…putting the sutures in wouldn’t have been a problem but tying the knots with one hand would have been an exercise in frustration and futility.

Two days after the assault on myself, I was between cases in the operating room and had just pulled up some local anesthesia for the next case. Let me clarify something here: the sutures on my left thumb were covered with surgical glue so I could safely and effectively scrub for my cases that day and there was never any concern for loss of function of my thumb so not a big deal. The syringe of anesthesia that I was carrying still had the rather bulky needle on it that I had used to pull up the medicine…for those of us in the business, it was an 18G needle. Anyway, I somehow dropped the syringe during which time the cap came off the needle and it landed in my right second toe: right through my shoe, like a lawn dart. I still wish I had the wherewithal to have taken a picture because it was just too fantastic to believe. Yes, that needle and syringe were discarded and the patient received fresh anesthesia. I didn’t think much of the injury at the time as it bled just a little but the next day my little piggy was purple.

I had an uneventful week after that until 3 days ago. I was at our house hanging a clock in the kitchen. I have always been very competent to handle matters around the house. The clock was not heavy, not even bulky. I measured where I wanted it, made a special trip to the store to purchase appropriate hardware to accommodate it. Once I got it on the wall I had a sense that it was a little squirrely. I imagined if and when it fell it would bang up the wall, the cabinet and the floor. Yes, all of those things happened when it fell. I had just turned around to clean up my tools when it fell…I spun around and lunged to grab it (unsuccessfully) and in the process sustained a partial tear in a muscle in my calf. Yes, profanity ensued. Now I am wobbling around trying to conceal my limp as the reality of the injury is so uncool. I am on crutches for any distance as it is just not fair to society to watch me hobble and it would take me hours to get to where I am trying to go. I had a case at the big hospital here yesterday which necessitated my crutch walking, with a bag holding the patient’s chart strapped around my neck…and my recently lacerated left thumb banging into the crutch handle and my bag with every step. Good times.

I had agreed to participate in a marathon relay a month from now and had started running again after many years. It felt good to run and I was ready to start increasing my mileage after surviving 3 miles last week. I had gotten into Zyn22, a local sexy spin class, pretty regularly and had stepped away only to try to focus on running. I was ready to go back and ramp it up…get cute and fit for the holiday.

Nope. Not going to happen right now. Have to let my bum leg heal while I watch the world go by.

I have been tripping over my lower lip pouting. I have complained to anyone that will listen how irritated I am that I cannot do whatever I want to do without dragging my sore leg around. Today I was complaining that the sun was too bright when I was trying to do injections on a friend in the office. I complained that the chair she was sitting in wouldn’t anchor in one place. I complained about the service at lunch so slow after my sweet Jeff surprised me midday to take me to lunch after a dramatic text to him stating that I was having a mini nervous breakdown and that I needed him. (I am not having a nervous breakdown…it was a cry for attention. Fear not.)

Do I need a vacation? Perhaps a financial windfall so I can sit at home and eat bon bons while I pay the bills out of my money market account would ease my angst. Do I need a personal assistant or better disability insurance?

Nope. What I need is a big fat dose of perspective.

My leg will heal. My thumb is fine. There will always be road to run on and there is a race every weekend on the calendar if I feel the need to compete. The clock in the kitchen is where we wanted it and the painters will fix the wall and the cabinet. My little purple piggy is long since recovered.

I have a dear friend that is facing surgery next Friday….double mastectomy for advanced breast cancer. She is enduring chemotherapy, radiation, pain all over her body. She is widowed after losing her husband ridiculously prematurely over a year ago. I have another friend that just announced she was diagnosed with breast cancer last week…she has a beautiful young baby girl. I am not a county music fan but have followed the story of Joey Feek, fighting terminal cervical cancer now on hospice care. Heart breaking.

I have an office full of amazing women that are tripping over each other to help me navigate the halls here without injuring myself further. I have patients that ask me about my injury (because of the damn limp…so embarrassing) before I can even ask them how they are. I have family and friends that field my complaints and concerns and pep talk me through it. I have a beautiful home to return to every night. I have food in the pantry, wine in the bar. I have a car to drive to get me to my beautiful office and to the hospital to do surgery when I need to and to get back to the hospital to check on my patients.

I have the most amazing husband I could dream up that runs around the house to get me what I need and save me the steps right now and surprises me at my office when he thinks the Blue Funk Demons are really getting me down. I’ve got it so good. Sometimes you really do need a little hiccup in your world to allow you to truly grasp what crisis is…or isn’t.

‘Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light.’ –Dan Brown

My light bulb is shining pretty brightly right now. That’s a good thing because I probably shouldn’t get up on a ladder until this leg heals…

Here’s up to it!


Emily Mclaughlin2 Comments