I. At ATLS we learned about spinal cord trauma. How to manage a patient in the trauma
bay after a recent paralysis. Usually the patient is so panicked about
not being able to move his or her arms and/or legs that he or she is screaming, yelling and in shock. It can be distracting, but
there are often other seriously life threatening issues occurring so you always have
to go back to the ABCs. Treat the biggest threat to life first.
He jumped off of something and landed
on his head. Broke his neck. Immediately yelled to his friends, "Guys! I
can't move my arms or legs." After he recovered, he had a tiny bit of
movement of his biceps. Nothing below the nipple line. Every time we’d go into
his room, it was just so solemn. A
lot of tears as the realization that everything he’d dreamed about his life was
no longer real.
My friend met a guy who broke his
back in an accident. Was paralyzed from the waist down. The neurosurgeon came
in to talk about the surgery he’d need to do in order to stabilize the
fracture. “Will I be able to walk again after the surgery?” “No.” And the
realization that he’d never be able to walk again. His family told him they
still wanted him around as he wondered if he’d rather have died.
I woke up late and stretched my
arms overhead. Realized for the first time how miraculous it is that I can do
that. I can stretch from fingers to toes and walk for hours in the nighttime
air and ride my bike and move myself to place to place. I should wake up every
morning with a profound sense of gratitude for the amazing life I am living and
the body I’ve been given.
Please don’t jump or dive into
things when you don’t know their depth or off of things that are too tall to be
jumped from, wear a seat belt with a lap and a shoulder belt, keep your kids
safe in a car seat, don’t text while driving, don’t drive drowsy, don’t keep a
loaded gun where it can hurt someone innocent, don’t ever point a gun at
someone even in jest, and please oh please be grateful for every day in your
blessed, moving body.
And when I think about baseball I think about that time
S-- and I finally went to a game and
it started to rain
I don't even think we got to watch an inning
it started pouring
so we took ourselves,
that blue plaid blanket and
went up under the white canvas
probably sang some neil diamond and
talked about the romance of baseball
the classiness of pinstripes and clean-shaven faces
redemption and home runs
Last night I went to a bonfire. There was a guy there who started this absurd and offensive racially (and otherwise) inappropriate dialogue, which I'm sorry to tell you I participated in. I could defend myself and say I did so minimally, that I didn't say anything as shocking as what you're probably imagining, but really, that's not the point. The point is that I failed to stop or leave or change a conversation that never should have happened in the first place.
Of course today I watched this TED talk by Jonathan Katz (it gets fantastic about minute 12 or so). He said, "If you don't say something...then, in a sense, isn't your silence a form of consent and complicity?" I started to reflect on how I handled, or in this case, didn't handle the situation. The way my silence indicated consent, my laughter indicated complicity and my comments indicated concession.
I wish I had asked him to stop.
I wish I had asked him to tone it down.
I wish I hadn't laughed at what he said.
I wish I hadn't contributed in any way.
But life isn't about regret. It's about change. And so, here I am, Internet, committing to do it differently next time. I don't know exactly how or what I'll do to handle it in a sincere, direct, and honest fashion, but I'm committing to you that I will do it differently, because I will not be a silent bystander to hatred or oppression.