Monday, December 22, 2014

To Be Noticed Immediately and Judged Subconsciously

I think I will carry two things with me from this experience.

My body dropped.  Almost instantaneously.  One minute I was jogging next to my wife, the next my mouth and nose were hitting the pavement.  I must have slipped, my foot must have caught. There was no time to anticipate the pain, not even a millisecond to reach out my arms to cushion the blow.  Moments later, I felt the sting upon my upper lip and the taste of blood.  I rolled back and forth on the ground trying to shake off the searing heat arising from my face.

My wife dropped to the ground to comfort me.  Pedestrians stopped inquisitively and pulled out their mobile phones ready to call an ambulance.  I stood up shakily and composed myself enough to ward off the attention.  And we hobbled home, my wife and I.  The blustery wind permeating my light jacket and sending a chill through my aching bones.

At home, I surveyed the damage as my children peered around the bathroom door cautiously.  My front tooth was chipped.  My face was bruised, and the skin beneath my nostril was irritated and angry.  Looking in the mirror, it appeared as if my nose was bleeding, although when I wiped the area there was scant debris on the tissues.  My hands were swollen and sore.

My Friday dinner plans were ruined.  We ordered a pizza, sat on the couch, and watched a movie.  I gingerly maneuvered the crust around my mouth avoiding the front teeth that were tender and numb.  I fell asleep immediately, and woke up early next morning ready to go to work.

Almost every part of my body ached.  My swollen hands screamed as I turned on the sink faucet.  My chest collapsed as I picked up my work bag.  And my lips were still puffy and bruised with the ever present appearance of nasal bleeding.

I hobbled into the car and sped towards the hospital.  Every left turn required a twisting of the wrist that sent lightning up my arm.  As I pulled into a parking spot at the medical center,  a spasm of fear over took me.  Once glance in the mirror confirmed my worst fears.

I looked funny.  All day long I would have to explain what was going on with my face. All day I would see the inquisitive looks before the words formed on people's mouths.  I was abnormal.  I was a monster.

Forty eight hours later, my tooth has been fixed and the bruising has abated.  I still have pain when I complete almost any movement, but it's getting better.

But for a moment, I was the outcast.  Distorted and bruised, I had a small taste of what it feels like to  be disfigured.  To be noticed immediately and judged subconsciously.

And to be in pain.  Not the minor aches that we all feel from time to time.  True pain.  The kind that makes you aware of every movement.  Every step.

In a matter of days, I'll be completely back to normal.

Many of my patients, however, continue to struggle with maladies that are far less kind.

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