Pride cometh before a…wall


“What hurts?” The triage nurse in the emergency room asked, “My ego,” I groaned weakly.

The day had started out so well. No, the day had started brilliantly. I was having one of those mornings where I felt completely on top of my game; focused, efficient and supremely productive, I was nailing it. I am a master multi-tasker, but even I was impressed at how well I was juggling tasks. Like a logistics expert, I had crafted my daunting schedule to the minute, and as I darted nimbly from one event to the next, my only struggle was finding a free hand with which to pat myself on the back. I was on fire. And I was going to win Friday.

Then I walked into a wall.

I had just dropped my car off at the dealership to get new tires. At my direction, my daughter had left just five minutes after me, and was due to arrive any second to pick me up and take me with her to her doctor and orthodontist appointments, with a brief stop in between to purchase a new curling iron so we could do her hair for the school show that night. As I thanked the service rep and turned to leave, I saw a text from Tessa saying that she wasn’t sure if she was in the right place or not. She had taken a picture of the exterior of the building where she was, and I squinted at the picture on my phone as I took off for the exit at my usual brisk pace. I looked up from my phone as I approached the glass door, and just as I was reaching for the handle, something struck me in the face with a force so hard that it knocked me back a few steps. As the deafening sound reverberated in my ears and a stinging pain spread across my face, I realized: it wasn’t a door. I had walked into a glass wall.

If you’re like me, your first reflex is to pretend everything is fine. “I can’t believe I just did that!” I exclaimed with a faint laugh as I turned to check how many people had seen my act of supreme stupidity. The service rep I had just spoken with came rushing over, “Are you ok?” “I’m fine,” I instinctively responded, again with a casual laugh. Because people do this all the time, and it’s no big deal, ok? I’m fine. FINE. He looked embarrassed for me, “But you’re…” I could now feel the warm liquid spreading down my face and dripping off my chin. “….bleeding.” Well there goes the ruse. Damn. You can’t pretend everything’s fine when there is blood gushing down your face. It just doesn’t work. As the humiliation washed over me (along with the blood), he lead me to the bathroom, where I got to see what I had done. Damn again. There was a cut across the bridge of my nose, blood coming from one nostril, and my whole face was beginning to swell. I gingerly cleaned myself up, grabbed a bunch of paper towels and held them over my nose as I slid out the closest exit and into the waiting car.

Tessa was, of course, horrified when she saw me. “What happened??” She gasped. “Would you believe I walked into a wall?” She looked at me, speechless, and I nodded. “No joke, I did that.” She exhaled slowly, trying to figure out what to do. “Soooo, should we cancel my appointment? Should I take you to the hospital?” Her appointment! Crap! She had been waiting for weeks to see this specialist, and if we had to reschedule, it would be weeks more. No, we’d go to the appointment, and when we were done she’d go to the orthodontist and I’d have Rich pick me up and take me to the hospital. There. All figured out. She shook her head, shifted the car into drive and pulled out of the dealership. Because when your mom is crazy enough to walk into walls, you don’t argue. You just go.

How not to make a good first impression on your child’s doctor: show up with a broken face. Yes, I did that. Actually, it wasn’t too bad, since the receptionist took pity on me and hooked me up with a bandaid before we saw the doctor. The bleeding had stopped, and the bandaid was big enough to cover most of what I’d done. When we got in to see the doctor, I explained briefly that I had just hurt myself and assured her that I’d be seeking medical attention after the appointment. And then I sat there, with a bandaid on my nose and a swollen, stinging face and pretended everything was fine. I don’t know if the doctor bought it or not, and I don’t care, but we got through the appointment.

When you arrive at the ER with only a broken nose and a cut that has stopped bleeding, you wait. Because the ER is for people with life threatening, serious issues, not for clumsy people with lousy depth perception. At least they don’t have a separate part of the waiting room for us, so thank goodness for that. And at this point, I think it was safe to say that I was not going to win Friday after all, so why not sit and wait? They gave me a bag of ice — oh my goodness, can I just interrupt right now to say how FREAKING AWESOME ice packs are? Greatest. Things. Ever. I still have about 10 in my freezer from my last hip replacement. I swear, they are better than drugs. Ok, enough gushing — the point is, I had a lot of time in that waiting room to think. And by think, I mean whine. Rich was super happy that he canceled his appointments for this, I’m sure.

“Seriously, who does that??” I groaned as we sat there. “Don’t beat yourself up,” Rich reassured, patting my hand. “I charged face-first into a wall,” I shot back at him. “Ok, don’t figuratively beat yourself up. Your eyesight isn’t great, what can you do?”

Was it my eyesight, though? Or the fact that I was sprinting through my day? Probably both. Not only was the door closer than I thought, turns out it wasn’t even a door to begin with. So the vision might be worse than I want to believe. But I was also walking fast, with my eyes on my phone and my mind already on to the next thing. And if I’m honest, I find myself doing that a lot, this living ahead of myself. I think a lot of us do it actually, because that’s how we get everything done. We even take great pride in it: “Look how much I accomplished today!” Yes, the triumph we feel when we can go down that list and check off all the boxes is so satisfying, it’s almost like a drug. You think that was good? Wait till you see what I’m going to get done tomorrow! Yep, living in hyperdrive is seductive, but we can’t stay there. Our bodies can’t sustain that. Eventually something’s gotta give, and we hit a wall. Sometimes literally.

“So what happened?” The doctor asked once we were in the exam room. “I hurt myself pulling an old lady from a burning car.” She just looked at me. “I got in a bar fight.” Again, the look. “Fine, I walked into a wall.”

Five stitches and a broken nose. I didn’t just not win Friday, I lost Friday. Big time. And maybe this was the 10-run rule that mercifully ended it early before I could do something worse. Although, as I sat there, that didn’t seem like much comfort. I laid back and gingerly placed my trusty ice pack over my face as Rich answered texts from friends for me. “Why do they all keep asking for pictures?” He said, shaking his head, “That’s mean!” “No,” I laughed, “They’re curious. And they’re moms, they don’t gross out easily.”

Speaking of grossing out easily, I would be the exception to the mom rule. I do gross out, and I know this about myself, so when the doctor proudly asked if I wanted to see my stitches, I politely declined. Disappointed, she left the room, but later poked her head back in to check if I’d had a chance to look at them yet. “Nope, not looking,” I answered stubbornly. “They look great!” Rich enthused, feeling bad for her. Just then a nurse walked in and chirped cheerfully, “Oh, look at your stitches! They look like whiskers! How cute!”

I snapped a quick selfie for my curious friends before they bandaged me up and sent me home. The whiskers/stitches are dissolvable and the broken nose should heal on its own (although when cleaning out my purse a few days later I found an otolaryngologist’s business card, so it’s possible I missed something as I was slinking out of the hospital). I woke up the next day with black-ish eyes, but between my glasses, the bandaid and some very good coverup, it wasn’t very noticeable. And I discovered that my skin tone is a perfect Bandaid Beige, so that’s a bonus. For what I did to myself, it actually doesn’t look very bad. The funny thing is, I live in Minnesota, the Land of Polite. I can see people looking at my bandaid when we’re talking, but no one dares to ask about it. I’m guessing they think I had a nose job, which should make for some interesting reactions when the bandaid comes off. I can hear the whispers now: “Worst. Nose job. Ever…”

Later, I was looking back at some of the text conversations between my friends and my husband on my phone. One had asked him, aghast, “OH MY GOSH, WHAT HAPPENED???”
“Well, you know how birds sometimes fly into windows?
It was a lot like that.”

And that, my friends, is pretty much it. It’s a sad tale, but I would like to think that it’s a cautionary one as well. If I can prevent any other bird friends from meeting the same fate, I will consider this a worthy sacrifice. So please, learn from me and don’t try to win Friday. Or any day, for that matter. The seconds we save by being über efficient will ultimately cost us when we go so fast that we live ahead of ourselves. “Living in the moment” is such a clichéd phrase, but I’ve never heard of someone who was living in the moment walking into a wall. I’ll admit it: I take an immense pride in being one of those women who gets it all done. And it’s kind of my personal “F You” to cancer and hip replacements and rheumatoid arthritis to be able to carry on like none of those happened. I think a lot of us are like that – we press ahead at our crazy pace, in spite of whatever challenges we’re living with that day. Because screw those challenges, that’s why. We’re bigger, we’re stronger, and we can get everything done.

So my personal challenge to myself right now is to slow down. Just a little bit. Try to not muli-task the crap out of every day and be a little more careful. And I’m already finding that really hard, even with a sore face to remind me, so this is not going to be an easy fix. But maybe, just maybe, there can be some improvement.

Happy Friday to all, and keep your heads up, birdies!