Friday, February 11, 2011

The Unkindest Cut

Marcus Antonius: For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel.
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar lov'd him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms,
Quite vanquish'd him: then burst his mighty heart. . . .

-- William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar Act 3, scene 2, 181–186

The last place I expected to find myself at 5:30 am this morning was sprawled by the front door and staring at the ceiling while two Shelties whined and barked as they circled around me, unable to understand why Mama was horizontal and dripping blood all over the floor.

Yet the math is very simple: Rain + dogs tussling + tangled leash + wet floor + slick-soled flats + drowsy writer = nasty spill.

Of course the noise -- and the two bad words I shrieked on the way down -- woke up my kid, who came to my aid and then (very calmly) woke up her father because I was afraid to get up even with her help. I could see myself having a second tumble and taking her down with me.

I don't think I've scared my guy this much since I woke him up one morning nineteen years ago by telling him that my labor pains were three minutes apart. He kept it together, though, and after checking me over he got me vertical and helped me to the bathroom, where we took care of my wounded hand. I kept thinking Stitches concussion emergency room x-rays oh God I don't have time for this now until I realized I wasn't feeling broken bone-level pain. I had a small bump on the back of my head, a slightly sore shoulder and a cut hand. We washed off the blood to examine the wound, which didn't even need stitches.

Everyone has gone off to school and work (my guy didn't want to leave, but I made him go.) My daughter drove us to school so I would only have to drive home. I'm fine. No, actually, I'm not. I'm an idiot. I have a throbbing hand and a bruise on my shoulder and lots of angry hindsight. Why didn't I take the extra three minutes to put on my sneakers this morning? Because, stupid me, I was tired and sliding my feet into my flats was easier. Why didn't I go to bed earlier last night so I'd have been more alert? Because, stupid me, I stayed up late working. Why didn't I control the dogs better? Because, stupid me, I refuse to scold the dogs unless they fight and try to hurt each other. Along with the realization of my own stupidity comes the unnecessary what-if terrors: What if I'd been alone? What if I'd lost consciousness? What if the cut had been deeper, or sliced open my wrist? What if I'd broken something, like my leg/hip/neck?

I am being a drama queen, and I know it. My hand is already mostly useless, so the cut will just cause me a few days of inconvenience and discomfort before it scabs over and begins to heal. I have every bandage known to mankind in our first aid cabinet, so I can keep it dry and protected. End of story, or as my pal Raine would say, Onward.

Perhaps the unkindest cut is the one that could have been easily avoided (if only we'd known it was coming.) We're just doing our thing, and out of the blue, wham, someone knocks us down. No matter how accidental it is (and no matter what we did to contribute to the situation) it feels undeserved. It's the sort of thing that gleefully climbs into our baggage, and forces us to lug it around until we get over it. Unless we don't, and then we have to feed it and give it attention and let it breed until we end up hauling around it and dozens of its spawn in industrial-size crates of resentment.

As with real wounds, allowing the unkindest cut to fester instead of heal poisons you. Imagine if I'd punished the dogs for what happened this morning. Some people would say I had the right to, but my pups didn't wake up this morning and conspire to hurt me. They were just being dogs. I was being human. Add in all the other factors, and it was probably inevitable.

I could stop walking the dogs, but I would be depriving myself of daily pleasure to eliminate the remote possibility of getting hurt. Besides, I've fallen before, and I know it's likely that I will fall again. If the dogs don't knock me down, someone will bump me, trip me or otherwise make me lose my balance. Next time I might blow out the knee, or fracture a hip, or break my neck. I could do that just getting out of bed, too.

The unkindest cut is difficult to forgive, and painfully tough to forget. Learning from it, and taking whatever positive steps you can to guard against a repeat injury, however, is absolutely essential. So tonight I am going to bed an hour earlier, and tomorrow morning I will take three minutes to put on my sneakers. I think I'll also put the little one in her crate before I take out Cole to avoid any future tussles at the door.

My hand feels better already.

20 comments:

  1. Jesus, Lynn, that's a nasty cut. Feel better soon!
    And you're right--there's no avoiding the occasional fall, even if we take precautions. But I'd say you're...er, 'handling' it very well.

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  2. Hugs on your fall. Glad the damage wasn't worse, especially the self-castigation. Seriously, this is why I started writing the canary posts on my blog. These things happen. All we can do is learn from them so when whatever happens next does (as it inevitably will) at least it'll be something new.

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  3. Aww. Well at least you survived (relatively ok) the experience. I have things like that happen to me a lot and I always think to myself "if only I hadn't..." but I learn from them so it's a good thing. Don't beat yourself up over it--but maybe take a warm soak later in the day when you have time. The muscles will probably thank you.

    PS. the cut looked pretty nasty---are you upto date on your tetanus shots?

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  4. Ack. Sorry that happened to you, but I'm glad it wasn't worse. :hugs: I hope your bumps heal fast and you feel better soon.

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  5. Anonymous8:15 AM

    We must be related. If I could write that would be exactly what I've experienced many times. Feel better & be kind to yourself.

    Marie

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  6. Have you tried Nu Skin? so long as the bleeding has stopped... it comes in a little brown bottle and goes on like nail polish, clear, and seals the wound away from the air so you can type. I get insane paper cuts from cardboard files constantly, and my fingers really don't like typing with bandaids or anything.

    Walgreens typically carries it.

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  7. wow, what a start to your day! Hugs and prayers for quick healing.

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  8. Scary. Glad you're going to get a little extra sleep and take time for sneakers. Very glad you're okay.

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  9. Ack! So glad you weren't hurt more seriously. Don't beat yourself up, Lynn. I can't tell you how many times I've done stupid things because I was distracted, or in a hurry.

    Heal quickly!

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  10. Hugs! Falling is scary enough without the bumps, blood, and bruises to remind you for the next week. I hope you heal up soon.

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  11. Eeeeouch!

    Excellent advice, though. Take good care of yourself!

    I have a bad knee and a huge dog (think 80 pounds of German Shepherd). I have taught him to sit to get his leash on and for waiting at doors and to get out of the car. I use only positive methods (he loves it). You might enjoy the book Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt. It's about helping dogs who are a bit anxious learn some self-control for a dog sport, but it works great on happy dogs, too. It's extra gentle and it's written by someone with a very scientific background in animal behavior. It's a lot of fun to do, and quite easy, and it's saved me numerous times with my wild dawg.

    We've had a lot of nasty ice around here, so I'm missing my walks, but after seeing your hand, I'm going to suck it up and wait until the ice melts. Be good to yourself!

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  12. Oh dear. I fear I accidentally logged in and lost my comment. Rats.

    Ignore this one if there's another one from me, I guess. Technology, why so hard?

    Feel better! Take good care of yourself.

    I wanted to recommend a neat book I use with my own dog. I have a bad knee and have to be extra careful, and he's huge (80 pounds). I've taught him to sit and wait automatically at doors, to get his leash on, in the car when I let him out, etc. It's an upbeat, positive book, no scolding, and he loves it. It's called Control Unleashed and it's by Leslie McDevitt. It is designed to help anxious dogs get a bit of self-control for dog sports, but most of the people I know just use it for regular dogs. It's written by someone with a animal learning background, so the science is neat, too.

    In the meantime, be gentle with yourself! I'm going to take your advice and not go walking today, because we still have some melting ice. Better to wait (even though I miss my walks). Be well!

    (Again, apologies if this is a duplicate! I am not good with technology!)

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  13. Anonymous2:08 PM

    Lynn,

    What I love about your approach to challenges is that you are an I will person.

    Nice job of wrangling the positive out of a bad start to your day.

    You go girl!

    Rebecca

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  14. Twice in the past few weeks I've taken a nasty fall that, while I didn't get seriously injured, sure did scare me. On both occasions, as it was happening, I had the time to think "This is going to be really bad". Both times were outside on a set of steps, one concrete. And both times I was in a hurry. How many times I tell my kids to slow down or be careful or take their time and I'm the one who needs to listen to that advice.

    I'm glad your injuries aren't serious, and I hope the aches don't keep you down for too long.

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  15. Hugs. I'm glad you're okay and that the damage wasn't worse.

    Stupidest fall I've taken was when I fell over our German Shepherd. He was asleep in the back hall and I didn't bother to turn on the light so never saw him. With a hot drink in one hand and a sandwich on the other, I couldn't even break my fall.

    When I stumbled over him he jerked awake with a whimper and shot out from under me the way I'd come, whipping my feet off the floor. Think long cartoonish pause with me suspended in mid-air, followed by a crash that brought the whole family running.

    Both knees and one elbow were bruised beyond belief. They still hurt two years later. But it was the twisted hip that'll probably stay with me forever. Or until someone persuades me to have the thing replaced.

    I always turn on the light now, when I use that passageway at night. Lesson learned.

    Get well soon.

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  16. Stephenia6:47 PM

    Ouch! Hope you're feeling better soon. I second the nu-skin stuff, I have used it alot over the years for minor cuts, as a nurse, bandaids just get wet and messy with constant handwashing.

    I had a similar fall last year, off the back porch, clunked my head, but no blood. It was my fault for rushing. The dog just sat patiently next to me until I gathered myself together. I am learning to slow down, injuries at middle age take so much longer to heal. Take care and wear your tennies! Stephenia

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  17. Wishing you fast healing!

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  18. I would have said this yesterday but ironically, was at the ER. I'm so glad you're okay! More than the hand, I would be worried if your bump on the head was worse. But you handled it all with grace because you're right, the dogs were just being dogs.

    {{{Lynn}}}

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  19. Sending lots of hugs and healing energy. Feel better.

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