THE BLOG

Healing Is Exhausting and Hard Work

08/13/2013 05:51 pm ET | Updated Oct 13, 2013

Forgive me, but I'm a little stuck on the topic of healing and recovery, as my husband's and my life became instantly transformed three weeks ago when "the accident" occurred.

I want to go on record and say that we are 1,000 percent grateful that he survived his bike accident. We know how lucky we are -- he knows how lucky he is to be alive.

We get it -- we are lucky. I mean, when you survive a near-fatal accident and end up being able to sit at a dinner table with friends just three weeks later making jokes about "the accident," you know you are on the "road" to healing. (Better than being left on the road, not having been able to walk away.)  So, we pinch ourselves (not too hard, because it hurts physically and emotionally), but we pinch ourselves knowing we have "us" and we can carry on -- limping a bit and exhausted... but we carry on.

The truth is, macro-gratitude is easily devoured by the micro-reality of day-to-day survival.  Frankly, it's hard to feel like we're carrying on as we are both enveloped in a haze of healing. He has real wounds, real pain and body parts that ache, agitated by a mind that wants to move and fatigue that keeps him still. He carves a new runway hour by hour, and day by day, takes a longer walk to the end of our driveway, the end of our street, the end of a path. But it's frustrating and it hurts and staying positive requires full-on discipline from both of us.

The Body: We have been witness to the transformative powers of the body's healing. I actually watched (despite my fear of blood and broken limbs) as his gaping wounds, moments after his accident, were taped together until they could be sutured, hours later. Then, only two weeks later, I witnessed the miracle of these same stitches snipped from his head, from both arms and from the knee -- the skin holding together on it's own. Looking at the pile of stitches on the floor, my husband laughed, remarking, "There's enough stitches here to knit a sweater."  We have watched magic as his thigh skin, grafted to his broken and now plated arm wound, found its new home and melded with the skin on his forearm, like slip securing the seams of a slab pot: first uncertain, and then firming, but by no means invisible as time will eventually, hopefully make happen. And all the while, we repeatedly say to each other, "We are so lucky." We are awed and grateful that we have the most amazing team of Doctors as Mass General Hospital, and that his body has responded to all their brilliant time-sensitive work.

No longer reliant on the day-to-day work of the doctors, our focus has now shifted to the job of healing. We have no skill set for this healing process. We are admittedly untrained. With no clear finish line as to when he/we will "feel better," this task is huge.

Training our minds to stay in the moment and settle quietly to the task of healing is like training a wild horse who wants to buck and gallop and whinny so loud that it could clear a barn. I mean really... baby steps all day long? Yes, yes, we remind ourselves -- no cavalettis (small, horsey jumps),  no galloping, or cantering... even trotting is out. So, we pull back on our reins, painful as that bit feels on our jaws and we are humbled into baby steps as we harness our runaway thoughts. Bite-size goals must be chewed and digested -- and we know we can't take on the next bite until we've finished this one. This takes work.

While we mourn the loss of our summer, feeling it slip away into cool nights and wake to the chill of the August mornings, we know three short weeks ago when our lives shifted that "it could have been worse."  We sit with our macro-healing thought and let it drape sweetly over us. This usually lasts five minutes (ha, ha) or until we being to negotiate our next real micro-task.