Empathy finale: Part III
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 115 Comments
A LOT of Help — from friends
both near and far
“There, but for the grace of God, go I”
We each have the power to change the world for someone
Our society has become very self-focused in the 30 years between my first and last experience with broken bones and lack of autonomy. I may not be able to do much to change it, but I am driven to name it and to speak out against it, especially in today’s political climate.
Perhaps the posting of this 3-part article will turn out to be the silver lining to the cloud of an unbelievably challenging several years of my already challenging life.
Perhaps the world will be just a little bit softer and more supportive, thanks to the efforts of those of you who have taken time from your lives to read it — in any number of arenas, but certainly in that of reaching out to help someone alone and in need.
Time creeps for those awaiting attention or help, especially once autonomy has been stripped.
I hope that reading my story will encourage ALL of you to set aside a moment to pay a bit of kind attention to anyone in your lives who has been waiting for someone to have time for them.
Attempt to cheer them up without making them wrong for needing cheering. Simply listening (without “up-languaging”) is a very kind thing to do and easy to extend, even if you are unable to manage more practical assistance.
As I have said in each of the three parts of this article, I am posting it NOW to put a human face on the reality that we all need to increase our willingness to get involved, before the next DSM is forced to add a new category: EDD – Empathy Deficiency Disorder.
My second experience is coming to a close, thanks to a dear couple several states away, more disposed to empathy than sympathy. They insisted on making the TEN HOUR drive to bring me back home with them — to help me heal emotionally as much as physically.
Again, as you read, I want you to keep in mind that, as disturbing as my experience certainly was, it pales in comparison to what many folks must overcome every day of their lives, and what many of our neighbors may shortly be facing unless enough of us step up and sing out.
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Gang-mugged at gunpoint
In a single moment, my life changed forever.
Only one result was an extremely bulky cast on my arm covering all but the tips of the fingers on a badly crushed dominant hand. For three long and difficult months it was not safe for me to drive.
For almost two solid months post-mugging, primarily due to a protracted period of snow and ice, I was practically in “solitary confinement,” stuck with a temporary replacement phone that rarely worked reliably. (It would take several lengthy trips to the Apple store over many months to finally obtain my fourth iPhone that continued to work beyond a few weeks!)
I was unable to type or journal my thoughts to help me center or attempt to make sense of my experience and my extreme reactions to it.
Once the cast was finally on my badly broken dominant hand and I returned home, there was no one I knew locally willing or able to take the time to help me do the many things that needed to be done.
Replacing my stolen medication, shopping for food or coffee for alertness, even taking my garbage down the icy steps and into the trashcan for pickup, were only some of the many things I could no longer do without help I rarely had.
A total stranger I’d barely met by phone was kind enough to volunteer to pick me up and drive me to my return appointment at the monthly hand clinic so that I could get the next stage of xrays, driving in from a nearby city. If not for her kindness, it would have been yet another month before my bulky cast could be replaced by the removable one that allowed me to do a few simple things for myself once more.
And I was afraid
- I was unable to fall asleep when it was dark out, and too exhausted to stay awake in the daylight, which isolated me further.
- After a college friend in whom I felt safe confiding said she would have to call me back and didn’t, I became afraid to admit how bad things were getting to the few people who connected with me after that — until, that is, it became impossible to have a conversation that didn’t lead to tears I couldn’t always conceal.
- By then I was a mess, and couldn’t figure a way out of the downward spiral. I was afraid of making any decision at all, lest I somehow make things worse. I knew I probably couldn’t survive WORSE.
Halting the downward spiral
A loving, spiritually-based friend 10 car-trip hours away called and said that, unless I absolutely forbade it, she and her husband were coming to take me back with them to take care of me and help me heal emotionally.
They were willing to make the trip again to return me in time for my next appointment with the hand clinic, almost a month away.
As I disclosed in an early article about PTSD, When Fear Becomes Entrenched and Chronic, as much as I truly needed help, I felt guilty accepting it.
After a few false starts . . .
I finally arrived at a home that didn’t look like a bag-lady lived there, and where I felt safe. My friends made sure I had three meals each day, and that the food I ate was healthy. My steady weight-loss halted. I no longer jumped at every noise I heard, or worried how I would manage to cope.
They kept my spirits up with company and conversation
– there were trips out and about in their fair city –
and there was finally laughter in my life again.
I was MUCH calmer and more focused from the very moment they arrived in Cincinnati, actually. The coffee they took me to buy helped quite a bit – I’d been out for a while, unable to get to a store.
Before leaving Cincinnati, these angels on earth drove me to the bank to activate the new debit card attached to the new account I was forced to open, so that I finally had a way to pay the bills that were due and overdue.
We spent much of the remainder of the day after they arrived driving from place to place so that I could pay those bills in cash, to further allay my concerns that something more would go wrong while I was away.
They closed my bulging suitcases and put them in their car, lovingly helping me navigate my way into the back seat. Their patience with me was legion – and I will be forever in their debt.
The Trip Back
My friends both fell ill toward the end of my stay — not well enough to manage the ten-hour car trip as planned (10 hours EACH way!). Getting myself back to Cincinnati turned out to be the only bump in the road during my entire stay.
- My appointment at the once-a-month Hand Clinic mandated my own return on schedule and, checking out options, a l-o-n-g bus trip turned out to be the only way to get it done.
- Had any of us anticipated a bus ride, I would not even have considered taking several suitcases with me, even for a month-long stay. But the angels smiled once again.
The other passengers were incredibly helpful. I could never have managed without their kindness.
It brought tears to my eyes to see how cheerfully these total strangers, many exhausted from even longer bus rides themselves, were willing to provide it.
Several delays en route left me hustling to make my doctor’s appointment – and I arrived at the hospital only minutes before the Clinic closed that morning. It seems that they were running a bit late themselves, and were kind enough to stay later still to attend to my needs. Another gift from above and from them.
Since Greyhound rousted us off the bus to stand in line to reboard at every pitsy stop, I was running on only two hours of sleep since the night before the evening I boarded that bus. Once I made it back to my apartment, I was bushed!
But I was coping well enough, the snow was gone, spring was finally in the air, and I believed I could do whatever I needed to do for myself, even though my now cast-free hand was still not fully functional and ached a bit from overuse.
I slept the sleep of the angels, blissfully unaware of what was still to come.
I was totally unprepared for the next big bombshell.
Skipping the minors to get to the majors
My landlady sent me a letter saying that she decided not to rent to me anymore — I had 30 days to pack, find another place to live, and vacate, or she would proceed to legal eviction.
In this city, a legal eviction on my record meant that it would have been impossible to find anyone who would rent to me ever again – and there was NO way I could manage the long-distance move I would have preferred.
I was given a bogus story about renovating the kitchen in that unit, but I will always believe she was afraid that I might take legal action to recover some of the damages to my life if I were left alone to think about it. Ours was the darkest house on an already dark block lit primarily by gaslight, since she had long neglected repairing the electric lights leading to the building from the street.
If you’ve ever had to pack and move an almost totally disorganized home, suddenly or otherwise, I don’t have to tell you how daunting it is – even with two good hands, and without the backlog of my experience in the three months prior.
Many of my Christmas decorations were still up, for heaven sakes!
I won’t describe the details of my struggles as I attempted to relocate in a rush: packing all my belongings, searching for a place to move TO, handling leasing and funding details, locating movers for the items too heavy to manage otherwise (and a hastily rented storage space), cleaning both old and new apartments, setting up new services, building shelves and retrofitting closets, unpacking — ALL in the face of rapidly dwindling financial and energy reserves
The greater point is that, without help and kindness I would, no doubt, have been forced to leave behind most of my wordly goods – and who knows where or how I would be living now.
Any help I have been able to extend
here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
would simply not have been possible
had I been left to handle things on my own.
One of my brothers quickly mobilized to help me manage financially, and Peggy Ramundo stepped in for yeoman’s duty, taking charge of many of the physical elements involved. She was inspired to help me, despite the fact that she was – and still is – reeling from the murder of her son.
It was a far from perfect move, I am STILL dealing with details resulting from the combined challenges of over seven months that rendered me unable to work, and I doubt I would have chosen the apartment in which I am still living had I sufficient time to recover and plan.
However, many things that seemed absolutely impossible were made possible ONLY because others stepped up to offer help.
And for that I will always be very, VERY grateful.
I’ll leave you with this
For the last time in this article, I want to remind everyone reading that, as daunting as my experience certainly was, it was absolutely nothing in comparison to what many people must live with every single day, and what many who were not born in this country may shortly be facing — unless enough of us step up and sing out.
Who knows who they will go on to help
with a little bit of kindness and support from the rest of us.
© 2017, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”
(reblogs always okay, and much appreciated)
Much appreciation to writer/publisher Sally Cronin for promoting all three parts of this story on Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – 5th April 2017, along with articles by Robbie Cheadle, ALK3r, and, Ned Hickson that are all WELL worth reading.
If you don’t already follow Sally, you are missing one of the most eclectic and interesting blogs on the web.
Thanks also to John Fioravanti for his help spreading the empathy message to his community by reblogging each part of this story as it was published. A writer and educator, his blog, Words to Captivate, is another blog I recommend reading and following, by the way.
I also must express my gratitude to Kate McClelland, who has shared MANY of my posts with her large community – along with those of a great many fascinating bloggers. A content curator of the first order, she is worth reading and following for her own posts in their own right – and I hope you will.
Shared on the Senior Salon
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You might also be interested in some of the following articles
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- Brain-based Coaching with Madelyn Griffith-Haynie
- Group Coaching Information LinkList
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- Understanding Fear and Anxiety – PTSD-1
- When Fear Becomes Entrenched & Chronic – PTSD-2
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Other supports for this article
A Few LinkLists by Category (to articles here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com)
- The Optimal Functioning (Challenges) Series of articles
(about the Inventory & articles from each category)
- The Walking A Mile in Another’s Shoes Series
- The Articles of the What Kind of World do YOU Want? Series
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