Not Hiding Anymore

Note: this post is not about food. There is no recipe included today, so if that’s what you’re looking for, I apologize that it won’t be provided at this time. 

 

About a year ago, I crawled off an airplane in DC, asked the gate agent to call an ambulance, then collapsed on the floor. I curled up into a fetal position, and began to sob.

 

I tried to hide behind a board of departing and arriving flight information. But truthfully there was nowhere to hide. I was in the middle of one of the busiest connecting airports in the country, and hundreds of travelers were walking by me in both directions, and I knew they were all staring at me, at this young girl sobbing and trembling uncontrollably in the middle of Dulles airport.

 

A woman came and knelt beside me.

 

She said that I could hold her hand.

 

She said that if I wanted her to, she would hold me.

 

She said she would stay with me until help came.

 

She said she would help me in any way she could.

 

 

 

 

Truthfully, at the time, I wanted her to go away.

 

I felt so embarrassed, so ashamed, so guilty. I felt so unworthy of this woman’s help. Clearly, she was at an airport and must have had somewhere to be. And here she was, kneeling beside a complete stranger, just being with me.

 

But she stayed with me anyway.

 

She stayed with me.

 

While we waited, hundreds of people walked by, and I’m sure they thought she was my friend, or someone I knew.

 

But she was a stranger. She didn’t know me.

 

As the paramedics rolled me onto a stretcher and carted me into the elevator, she walked alongside me, and as the elevator doors closed, I looked at her face. It was one of those moments I will never forget, because as I looked into her eyes, I could tell that she cared. She cared about me.

 

The paramedics loaded me into the ambulance, injected me with some morphine and other drugs, and drove me to the hospital, where I was discharged a few hours later with narcotics, steroids, and other heavy medications.

 

The nurse asked me if I could call a family member to pick me up. I was in between two connecting flights, headed to a conference. I was in the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life, and I felt so far away from everything. It was one of the worst days of my life, and the weeks following were nearly as dark.

 

 

 

The cause of my immense pain was from a ruptured disk in my spine. I have been dealing with the pain of this disk for two and a half years, and it is impossible to explain in words how difficult it has been. How much this pain has taken away from my life. How much it has tested me. The toll it has taken on me.

 

As a reader of Fifteen Spatulas, you may have noticed that things around here have been quiet lately. And though I have never, EVER shared anything like this publicly before, I want to tell you why. I have been hiding this huge part of my life for two and a half years and I don’t want to hide it anymore.

 

Because I need help.

 

And I am no longer ashamed to ask for it.

 

For the past two weeks, I have been unable to walk or stand for more than 90 seconds, I am unable to sit in any chair or surface in my house for more than 60 seconds, and when I say I am unable to do these things, I mean I am unable to do these things even while being loaded with narcotics, steroids, valium and other drugs around the clock.

 

Sleep during the past couple weeks has consisted of passing out from exhaustion in thirty minute intervals at random places in my house, and waking up wondering where I am.

 

I have been to the Emergency Room three times in the past week and a half, knowing they can do little for me, but in such desperate need of sedation and injections of powerful drugs that I needed to keep me from going insane.

 

I have fallen down the stairs several times.

 

I have been unable to complete any basic life tasks, including washing myself, dressing myself, cooking, cleaning, working, and even going to the bathroom (I might as well go there, as I have nothing to hold back). Even with narcotics, the pain I’m experiencing makes 10 minutes feel like 10 years. I have been waiting desperately to see a neurosurgeon to receive spine surgery so I can put an end to this long period of excruciating pain that I have been dealing with for much too long.

 

Yesterday I was finally seen at the Yale Medical neurosurgery department, and the neurosurgeon is nearly certain that another one of my disks has ruptured, pretty severely. The consensus is I need spine surgery done very urgently, so she made some calls to get me into an MRI the same day as my appointment. Despite 15 minutes of attempting every possible position I could, I was unable to complete the MRI because I could not lay flat without excruciating pain, despite taking narcotics right before the MRI.

 

This destroyed me.

 

The neurosurgeon has stated very clearly that I *must* have an MRI done or she cannot operate. She needs to know what she is dealing with before she goes in. When you are waiting desperately for surgery and an end to your pain, every hour seems like a lifetime. The cliche of saying that I’m hanging by a thread sums up perfectly how I am feeling each and every day.

 

My neurosurgeon’s next attempt was to try to get me into a standing or sitting MRI, but we discovered today that there are none available in Connecticut or Rhode Island, and the closest one is in NYC two and half hours away.

 

This destroyed me too.

 

Every day for the past week I have told myself that I am almost there….I am almost there….I am almost there….but obstacles keep coming up and getting in the way, and it feels like there is nothing left inside me. Sometimes it feels like there is nothing I can do. Sometimes it feels like I can’t take it anymore. Sometimes it feels like there is no hope to even cling to.

 

 

 

Asking for help is something I have felt ashamed of for a long time. I have never opened my arms to help, even when it presented itself to me. It brings tears to my eyes to think of that woman at the DC airport, because I never thanked her properly for what she did for me. Yes, I said thank you, but I wanted to hold her hand, I wanted her to hold me, and I didn’t let myself. Because I felt ashamed to receive help and show that I was hurting and needed others to help lift me up.

 

I am asking for help now. I am being vulnerable, and sharing my pain and my story with you. I am asking for your love, support, and prayers.

 

Thank you for letting me share this with you today, and for listening. I hope that I will get through this and will once again be able to share my recipes and joy with you soon, after I have recovered.

 

With love and gratitude for you,

Joanne

 

Update 1 to this post.
Update 2 to this post.