insides vs. outsides

in November 2013 my grandmom fell while descending a flight of steps.  she landed on a stone floor and broke her pelvis in three places.  home alone, she had to rest for 15 minutes before she could stagger to the phone and call for help.

as soon as i heard the news, i thought, ‘this is it.  she’s never going to be the same.  there’s no way she’ll cooperate with all the medication, physical therapy, and general rule-following an injury of this magnitude entails.’ 

her situation was especially dire because of how the bones broke.  no surgery would help.  healing with time and eventual physical therapy were the only solutions.  more than a year later, her pelvis is still broken in three places.  i wince every time i think of that.

here’s an incident to give you an idea of my grandmother as a patient.  years ago she had the flu.  my mom asked her what she’d taken for it.  “one Tylenol and Fosamax.” 

the three of us looked at each other, then i asked, “isn’t that for osteoporosis?”

ironically, regularly downing pain meds became a requirement for her.  and while she still isn’t at risk of overdosing, this injury turned her into a believer in western pharmaceuticals. 

i called nearly every day of the month she spent in the rehabilitation center. “grandmom, you have to see yourself walking again,” i pleaded, considering how to explain the law of attraction to an 80-something-year-old woman on pain medication.   

but she surprised me, responding, “oh, yeah, julia!  you have to put it in your mind.  i know!”

‘grandmom, you’re visualizing,’ i thought.  i was shocked and pleased by her mindset, but also terrified it might not work.  “it’s a process,” everyone told me. but all i could think was, ‘no.  it’s the end.’ 

but recover she did.  once she was out of traction, she became a star physical therapy student, even attending additional sessions after she was released. 

i’m sorry to write this, but before the accident, i was a pretty crappy granddaughter.  of course i love her tons, and spent holidays with her when possible, but in my day-to-day life she just didn’t figure prominently.  occasional guilt propelled me to call her but i’d soon go back to my distracted, self-absorbed, and negligent ways. 

fortunately, i recognized the accident as a gigantic, unmistakable wakeup call.  ‘if she gets through this, i need to stop thinking about myself so damn much and call her every week.’

and i followed through.  granted, i may have a weekly “call Gmom @ lunch” alarm set in my calendar app, but the point is i’m present where i used to be absent.

basically, you chose to see life events however you want.  i refuse to yap about silver linings because they’re tiresome.  instead, consider this:

never compare your insides to someone else’s outsides. 

from afar, the event looked awful.  and it was.  but it was a brief setback with a big eventual return.

in retrospect, i’m almost grateful for the experience, since it brought us closer and gave me a steady relationship with her instead of a flimsy, sporadic one.  

i have big plans for her on my next visit home.  i’m finally going to sit down with a map of LA to show her how close i am to the movie studios, Hollywood and, presumably, where her beloved soap operas are filmed. 

and the other event is covert, so don’t tell.  over the years i’ve become convinced a certain homeopathic medicine will help her chronic cough.  and while she’s warmed considerably to prescription drugs, she has not taken to the remedies her granddaughter/witchdoctor attempts to peddle.  therefore, i’m ironing out the details of a scheme to dissolve homeopathic pellets into her morning coffee.  wish me luck.