How Not Yelling Helped me Manage a Hospital Visit

Dear Orange Rhinos,

I love champagne so naturally I love the sound of a champagne bottle popping open signaling me that bubbly goodness is sips away. POP!

I love playing tennis so naturally I love the sound of a new container being open signaling me that stress relief is moments away. POP!

I love eating popcorn so naturally I love the sound of kernels cooking on the stove signaling me that buttery deliciousness is moments away. POP!

DSC_0162And I love jumping on trampolines, especially with my kiddos on a beautiful spring day when the sky is crystal blue and when every time you jump your eyes see nothing but splashes of spring pink, purple, yellow, white, and green.

What I do not love, rather, what I did not love two Saturdays ago was the loud sound my knee made when I landed incorrectly on a trampoline, signaling me that horrific pain, a long recovery, and probably surgery was not far away but imminent. POP!

Champagne bottles are supposed to pop. Tennis canisters are supposed to pop. Popcorn is supposed to pop. Knees? Not so much, like not at all. But that is exactly what my left knee did.

I had just finished instructing my kids how to jump and land safely. I launched myself into the air (with complete and utter confidence mind you since I did this as a gymnast when I was a kid and since I daily jump on a small exercise trampoline while working out) and then got distracted talking to my friend and didn’t pay attention to landing. The result? I landed, my knee POPPED and I dropped, immediately grabbing my knee. You know the football players who get sacked in a game and immediately drop and you wince at the same time because you can tell they are in immense pain? Yeah, that was the kind of pain I was in.

My friend ran and got my husband while her brother stayed with me and graciously let me grab his arm and squeeze it with all my might. I still wasn’t crying as I was just focused on trying to breathe and not scream so bad as to freak out Mac who was right there watching the whole thing. My husband came out and asked, “Oh babe, what happened this time?”

He had a smirk that I totally got. I mean, two falls ago I fell going down one measly stair and broke my right foot and this fall I busted my shoulder while helping Mac during his seizure. I mean, I just have a knack for hurting myself in the most silly, ridiculous manner. I smiled back a bit and squeaked out,

“No, it’s really bad. I can’t move my knee. I can’t straighten it. I don’t want to. You have to take me to the ER now.”

As soon as we got in the car, my husband ever so delicately dared to ask, “Well, was it at least your left leg?”

“Yes, thank goodness!” I said. “I have already had that thought. So at least I can drive a bit!”

We laughed and then I returned to grimacing and screaming as every few seconds a shoot pain stabbed me in the knee. Folks, did I mention how much this sucked?

Luckily for me, we live five minutes from a wonderful hospital. And luckily for me, the ER was not crowded! We went in, I got registered and then my husband headed off, as he needed to get the kids from our neighbor.

Cue: tears.

I cried because of the immense pain.

I cried because I knew walking outside in the glorious spring weather (a favorite past time of mine) was now out.

I cried because of the revelation that my newfound focus on exercising and eating healthy in order to gain weight was mostly out.

I cried because I had a strong feeling that surgery was in the future and I have feared ¬–and successfully avoided¬–surgery my entire life.

I cried because I knew from last year’s broken foot what having an injured leg meant: relying heavily on others…again, feeling stuck at home…again, feeling helpless…again.

And I cried because I have needed to cry about all sorts of things for months and I have been holding it together for some asinine reason.

The tears, well, they just kept a coming and coming as I sat in the waiting room and then as I laid down on the stretcher in the pediatrics hallway (apparently the ER registration was empty because the actual ER had already filled up with all the waiting patients!) Side note: of all the places I had to be put, I had to end up in the Pediatrics section where I so often take Mac. And yes, that made a lot of tears fall as I cried about being grateful I was there for me, and not him.

The ER doctor FINALLY came over and took one look at me and said, “Let’s get a quick overview and then get you some pain medications it is clear you need some.”

“Uh huh,” I sniffed.

And then when we he finally said, “Okay, you need an x-ray but first, I want to give you your pain medication because moving your leg for the x-ray will hurt. Do you want oral meds or via a shot which will work faster?”

I hate shots. But I didn’t hesitate,
“Shot please. Now.”

Notice the frozen peas! My boys were psyched I took that night's veggies with me to the hospital. LOL!

Notice the frozen peas! My boys were psyched I took that night’s veggies with me to the hospital. LOL!

And the tears started again because the pain was just growing as the swelling grew and grew. And the tears started because I have actually never had such a severe injury and it was all-new to me and I just wanted my mommy and my hubby. I didn’t want to be alone – but also didn’t want to bother anyone because in a screwed up manner, I guess I wanted to cry in peace, you know? Don’t ask 😉

And the tears didn’t stop until, well the Monday after really, and well to be honest, they still sneak in every day. I left the hospital with a knee brace and strict instructions to get to an orthopedic surgeon on Monday. I slept all day Sunday…literally. Pain is exhausting it turns out ☺ At last Monday came and after getting a late afternoon STAT MRI done (the doctor took one look at my knee and my face and said, “I am certain you have a torn ACL), I cuddled into bed with all my boys and put a movie on so we could rest and they could hopefully just fall asleep nice and easy for me.

The doctor called within ten minutes of everyone finally settling down (of course!) and told me what I feared,

“Well, you have a torn ACL, a torn meniscus, and a torn something-or-other ligament. Given the extent of your tears and your age, I strongly suggest surgery.”

And what do you think happened next? Well after I got off the phone? Yep, more tears.

Torn ACL.

I am an athlete of sorts and have always feared “the torn ACL” and the recovery. I have also feared surgery since I was a kiddo and increasingly feared it since having to put my kids under anesthesia numerous times for important MRI’s. And yet here I was, being told I did one and need the other. Blech.

DSC_0168I have until May 22nd to get over the surgery fear for after getting several opinions and weighing the options, I have decided to have the surgery. I am getting over the ACL fear – the knee is torn, not much I can do! Until then, I am doing physical therapy three times a week to strengthen my leg so I recover better. I am daily feeling grateful for my friends who have stepped up to help me with the kiddos. I am hobbling around the best that I can, sitting in my rented wheelchair outside taking in the spring as best as I can even though I can’t walk. (Side note: my new ride is a lifesaver in preparing meals and cleaning up when I am tired from crutches or “walking,”)

And I am trying my best to find both the humor and perspective in the situation. As I keep saying, “What can I say? I like to go all out. Why tear one ligament when you can tear three?”! I mean after all, I am the crazy person who committed to 365 days straight without yelling ☺ And on that note, I’ll bring this entire post back to The Orange Rhino Challenge and well, to the title of the post! In addition to finding humor now to help soothe my frustration, while on the stretcher in the hospital, between tears, I was trying to find perspective to calm me down. I was thinking how grateful I was that I had access to good care. I was thinking how glad I was that my husband was home. I was thinking that hey, at least it is my left leg. And yes, I did think, well at least I got a pedicure done recently. Ha!

Do you know why it was instinctual to find humor and perspective in the face of stress and frustration? Because I learned to do so on my journey to Yell Less and Love More! Both actions are now habits that I apply to so many tough moments in my life making me that much more grateful for The Orange Rhino Challenge!

 Do you know why it was instinctual to find humor and perspective in the face of stress and frustration? Because I learned to do so on my journey to Yell Less and Love More! Both actions are now habits that I apply to so many tough moments in my life making me that much more grateful for The Orange Rhino Challenge! For real.

Lets all keep moving forward, one step, or one hobble at a time!
All my best,
The Orange Rhino