Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Friends like these

I avoid going to the doctor for anything except the most extreme circumstances. When I broke a rib a few months ago, I held onto the hope that the pain would just go away and didn't end up at the doctor's office until four days after the incident. And a few years ago when I burned my hand so badly that a chunk of flesh actually fell off my finger (how's THAT for a mental picture?) I just dunked it in cold water and bandaged it sloppily, convinced "it should be fine in a day or two."

I hate being a bother. I always think my complaints sound dumb and whiny.

"Well, Doc, I just don't feel very well," I'll tell him.

"Aww, does Princess feel yucky?" I imagine the doctor saying. "Well, Cupcake, maybe you just need to toughen up and stop wasting everyone's time with your widdle boo-boos."

This is why, even after three and a half days of excruciating head pain and nausea, I had absolutely no intention of making an appointment with the doctor. My roommates forced me (and by that I mean Gretchen physically picked me up, shoved a coat on me and plopped me into a waiting car) to go to the hospital after I blacked out while standing at the kitchen sink and slammed my head into the rock-hard linoleum. According to them (I don't remember any of this), I was decidedly against leaving the house and fought violently to remain exactly where I was on the floor.

Their stubbornness, surprisingly, exceeded my own and I soon found myself curled up in a wheelchair in the local emergency room complaining about the brightness of the lights, the coldness of the room and the "fish swimming in my eyes." I lay in the hospital bed shivering violently as the cold IV fluids flooded my system and Liz jumped up to get me another blanket. "No," I protested, "I'm fine. Really." She ignored me, as usual, and tucked extra covers around me tightly. I scolded her gently for fussing over me but still blinked back tears of gratitude.

As I regained my strength over the next twenty-two hours, Karen was ever-present with "Can I get you anything?" "Do you need anything?" "Can I get you something?" I might have pretended to be annoyed with "all the fuss" but, in reality, each question was translated in my mind as "I care about you," "I care about you," "I care."

And my dear friend, Keith, touchingly rushed to my side. He sat next to me, held my hand, made me laugh. He made me feel loved.

It's a strange thing, people doting over you, especially when you take pains to avoid this situation. These people I see every day were suddenly a troop of mothers whose only goal was to secure my comfort.

Sometimes it's easy to feel alone. It's easy to think and accept that no one really cares, that you're in this thing alone. And you learn to look out for yourself, to take care of yourself, to resist relying on anyone else. But someday you find a patient roommate lifting your sobbing, limp body off the kitchen floor, you'll get a text just checking on you, you'll feel gentle fingers pressing your own and then you'll know: you're not alone.

And you will feel loved.

With friends like these . . . well, a girl could do worse than friends like these.


Kristina P. said...

What happened? Are you OK?

Karen said...

I'll be annoyingly stubborn for you anytime!! :)

Amie said...

Good gravy! I am assuming you are okay because you're blogging. I hope all is well...

Oh, and did you know your blog is sometimes like a TV show cliffhanger? Except we don't get to know the conclusion. I'm still puzzling over the bloody hand picture!

Sherrie said...

Wow! Hope you're feeling better, KJ.

Rachael said...

So, was it the flu? Are you feeling any better? So glad your roommates were there to help you out. Get feeling better!