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Light in the Tunnel

        “I can numb your finger, if you want.”

I looked down at my finger and nonchalantly said,

        “I think the shot to numb the finger will hurt more. Besides, real women do not need numbing shots. Just do what you need to do. I will be fine.”

I kind of chuckled, his nurse grinned, but the doctor just stared at me.

                                                  ~

On a side note, if an ER doctor suggests a numbing shot, take it. Because what he is actually saying is this:

        “This is going to hurt. The pain you are going to feel will be intense. I personally would take the shot. Are you reading between the lines? If not, you really should be.”

                                                  ~

The nurse disinfected my index finger, and laid out the instruments that the doctor was going to use. The doctor picked up the small scalpel and began to cut away more of my finger then I thought he was going to. Originally I thought it was just the dead skin on the outside. Not so! He ended up cutting deeper, almost to the bone. I never flinched, nor did I watch.

After the doctor left the room the nurse looked at me and asked,

        “On a scale of 1 to 10 how bad did that really hurt? Because you didn’t show any pain.”

        “It was about a 9.”

        “You are one tough woman with a great poker face! Do you know when your last tetanus shot was?”

        “To be honest, I am not sure. I think I am due for one though.”

The nurse bandaged my finger up, gave me the tetanus shot and reinforced the importance of following all the instructions on the discharge paper.

                                                  ~

It was Thursday morning, about 1 a.m., when I woke up with severe pain in my index finger on my left hand. I had developed an infection that was looking worse by the hour. My finger was turning black. I soaked the finger in Epsom salt, put a new bandage on the finger and went back to bed.

At 2 a.m. the infected area had spread and the Epsom salt soaks were not working. By 5 a.m. I knew I had a problem. The pain, due to the infection, was extending to other fingers on my hand, and into my arm. An ER visit was in order.

I woke my daughter up and let her know I was leaving but I would keep her informed as to what the doctor would say and do. I reached the ER by 5:30 a.m. and by 6:30 I was in one of the exam room’s waiting to see the doctor.

As I sat in the exam room looking at my fingers I began to recall all of the incidents surrounding each scar on both of my hands. I took a deep breath and that’s when the downward mental deprivation slope began. Before I knew it, I was trash talking myself and moving closer to depression.

        “I am such an idiot. If only I had taken a bit more time, and care I would not be in this situation. What a failure, I mean really! I guess I can chalk it up to another stupid decision on my part.”

I would like to say that I caught on to what was happening, but I did not. It actually took 2 months before I did. It wasn’t until this past weekend that I realized what I had been doing and why I was where I was, mentally. I had lost my joy in life once again. Thought processes needed to be changed and they needed to be changed quickly.

Why is it that negative thoughts about ourselves are quickly embraced; yet positive thoughts are not? Why is it easier to call myself an idiot, dummy, or worthless, and yet struggle to say, “I have value? I am a good person. I am not perfect, but I am a work in progress.”

What brought on the change?

A year ago this month Mariah and I attended a memorial service for a close family friend. He was a man who I admired and looked up to. He had experienced some very hard things in life over the last 5 years, but seemed to be doing well with the life changes. I thought he was anyway. Unfortunately, unknown to those around him, he was in crisis mode. When he couldn’t fight the fight anymore he chose to end his life.

As I spoke with his wife, she made a statement that stuck out in my mind. A statement that caused me to pause and think, because it really hit home.

        “He kept saying he was a failure. I never saw him that way. I loved him and even though he wasn’t perfect, he was not a failure in my eyes. He was my best friend. If only I had seen the signs. If only he would have talked to me.”

There was not much I could say. In fact, I didn’t know what to say. Maybe that was what I was supposed to do, just listen.

Yet I did hear her, and this is what I think, times of depression are like being in a pitch-dark cave. Until we allow someone in, someone who has a light, we stumble alone in the darkness moving away from the entrance and deeper into the cave until we are lost.

My friend went too deep into the cave. He was consumed by the darkness, by his depression, and the darkness won.

It has been said that depression is anger turned inward. If that is the case then the logical first step I need to ask is this: “What have I been angry about?”

Once that question has been answered then the next step is simply this: Call a friend, loved one, or whomever is trusted and allow their light into the cave. Talk with someone!

I did both of these things, and I was surprised. My anger was deeper than I thought.

It took a day for a plan of action to be devised, and I know it will take time for full implementation, but I am glad I called my advisor.

So, here is step one for today. Call it a mantra, meditation, renewing of the mind, or whatever you would like to call it, but the principle is still basically the same. It is a simple step yet a powerful one. Would you like to say it with me?

        “I am not a failure. I am loved. I am not worthless. Life is worth living.”

To think this all started with a trip to the local ER 2 months ago. A trip I thought would be no big deal. Even though my finger hurt short-term there was a long-term benefit from this experience. An experience I hope to not forget anytime soon.

Never underestimate the events in life you think are simple or mundane. You never know what they can stir up within you.

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