Monday, July 8, 2013

The Shoes That Tried to Kill Me

Last week I went swimming with the extended family. Or rather, I did not swim, because, like my friend Misty, I prefer to sit and be comfortable poolside. Except that I hate being poolside. Or near a pool. Or even looking at a picture of a pool. And yes, I can swim. I was a really good swimmer as a child even though I never seemed to be able to swim without nose plugs. YES I WAS THAT CHILD. I feel like you already know so much about me by that one little fact. Somehow I didn't look as fabulous as a nose-plugged Esther Williams.

After baking in the sun, watching everyone swim and experience this thing called "fun,"one of my nieces needed to go pee and so I volunteered to escort her to the pool bathroom. She was dripping water all over the floor and one minute I was showing her where the toilet was and the next minute I was on my arse. I didn't fall straight down. I slipped as if an invisible rug was being pulled out from under me. I managed to hit every single limb and shin bone. (Fact: the human body has nine shin bones.) I smashed my arm on the side of the bathroom stall. It hurt like a mofo. But all I could think was, I DID NOT HIT MY HEAD! Ever since my head injury last year, I have feared nothing more than another concussion. That was one of the worst experiences of my life. This time, not only did I not hit my head, but I did not break any bones, even though my right arm felt like it had been crushed by Mj√∂lni. I had a few bruises on my legs and a large dark bruise on my arm that at first glance resembled a nicotine patch. 

While I walked my (emotionally traumatized) niece back to the pool, I looked down at my shoes and realized that they were the same shoes that I had been wearing last July when I slipped on a wet rock and conked my head! The same damn shoes!

I threw the shoes away. I didn't risk donating them to a thrift store since obviously they are possessed by a homicidal demon. 

This non-head-crushing fall reminded me of just how awful that concussion had been. It has been an incredibly hard year, trying to normalize, working to regain my short term memory abilities, and resurrecting my old, carefree personality. My friend Eileen sent me a link to a TED talk on youtube of Jane McGonigal, game creator and recent victim of a head injury that left her suicidal and bedridden for months. The only way that she crawled her way out of the depression was to create a game. The first itineration of the game was called Jane the Concussion Slayer.

I love that so much. Eventually she tweaked the game to be accessible for a broader audience. It is an online mood-booster game called SuperBetter. I have looked it over and it is pretty rad.

Last year, I didn't create a game to deal with the pain, instead, I stitched my way out of the funk. (And yes, I also went to the doctor a kazillion times.)  This quote by Kurt Vonnegut helped me more than anything else:

Everything was Beautiful and nothing Hurt.
Sometimes life is craptacular. And the best way to deal with it is to follow Neil Gaiman's advice and 'Make good art.'  That is what Jane McGonigal did. And that it what I did, too. (Although, calling my embroideries 'art' might be a stretch. Shut up! It helped me!)

Here is an excerpt of Neil Gaiman's speech.

Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.
Make good art.
I'm serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it's all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn't matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.

And if that moved you, check out this awesome animation. 

I am so thankful that I have reached the anniversary of my head injury in tact and mostly normal! And from now on, I am double-checking the tread-adequacy of my shoes. 


  1. Those shoes lured you with their adorableness. I'm glad your noggin is healed and that you have continued to "make good art" all this time.

    1. From now on I'm wearing orthopedic granny nurse shoes! White!

  2. See? Water is the devil, I say. The DEVIL!!

    Happy one year survival anniversary! You are doing good, kid. And your embroideries ARE art, damnit. Don't ever even suggest differently.

  3. I read about Jane McGonigal last week!
    I hadn't seen her TED talks, though, so I watched the one you linked to and found another. She's pretty interesting.

    And despite talking to you about your concussion, I had no idea how common really unpleasant, lingering symptoms like the ones you and Jane suffered really are. I got a concussion on my mission and also ended up with some of the horrible symptoms myself. But because it was 1986 and Taiwan and no one bothered to talk to me about the trauma involved in a major fall and a brain injury (I had a hard time even convincing anyone that my rib might be broken after my fall because, as the hospital attendant told me, with considerable impatience, I wasn't even bleeding), I just thought all my problems were because I was a bad missionary and a bad person. Ah, good times.

    In any event, thanks for sharing and I'm glad you didn't conk your head again.

    1. I can't even imagine having a head injury in a foreign country on a mission. That time in your life must have felt so surreal!

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