Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.
Rehabilitation is supposed to be a time of healing, of learning a new way of life. I wish I could say my experience was all sunshine and rainbows, but it was not, not even close. My denial was already thick, but soon it would become cemented, a permanent way of life. The rage and anger and frustration overpowered until almost becoming fatal. I shut down so immensely during rehabilitation, so deeply, returning from this numb state seemed painful and entirely too maddening. It was far easier to remain detached than to relive my darkness and my sadness. When I arrived at the rehab hospital, I could feel the ambulance pulling up the long hill and turning into the entrance. I knew this road and this entrance, I used to dance for the patients at this hospital. I felt my eyes sting and my lips quiver, knowing, just a few years ago, I was running through these same sliding doors ready to perform. And now, I would now enter, flat on my back and on a stretcher. Orderlies and EMTs quickly pushed my stretcher through the hallways, past the nurses station, and eventually entered a large, lonely room. As we whizzed through the hallways, I peeked in the rooms to catch a glimpse of fellow patients. Everyone was in bed and watching television. I heard breathing machines and the Golden Girls chattering about cheesecake in the background. Several nurses and a few orderlies lifted me into my new hospital bed. I looked around and saw the same white, grey, and mauve color scheme. I have no idea why hospitals choose this color combination, it is really nauseating. I was surrounded by blood pressure machines and monitors, something I was quickly becoming accustomed to. Nurses started asking questions and pulling back blankets and sheets and checking my legs and arms and IVs and anything and everything they could check. I continued to smile. Inside, I was hysterically crying and yelling. I was screaming shut up, shut up, all of you just shut up. I was pounding the bed and sitting up and ripping off my blankets and IVs, pulling the gown over my backside and saying peace out, catching a cab and heading home. I was trapped. A feeling I was beginning to loathe. I knew I was still inside, I knew just a few short weeks ago I was buzzing around and asking questions without thinking how I was affecting someone else. I too was walking and taking every step and every motion of my job for granted. But, no one seemed to notice this or care. I was now broken and damaged and easy to ignore. I expected so much compassion from the doctors and nurses at this hospital. The hospital I just left was filled with understanding and loving doctors, nurses, and staff. I thought rehab would be overflowing with fighting angels rooting me on and encouraging me the entire time. My new doctor entered the room and she was aloof and cold. She shook my hand and started her examination immediately. Abruptly, she rolled me on my side and started performing what I would equate to torture. She decided my chest tube sight was too much and the surgeon who bandaged it was typical in his over-zealous bandaging. I am now an over-zealous bandager...it is wise and helps prevent infection. The new doctor dug her ice cold acrylic nails into my side and lifted the edge of the sealed tape. She ripped the tape as if a human with nerves and skin was not attached to it. And she didn't tear in tiny little sections, no she grabbed large chunks at a time and tore vigorously. I gripped the handrail so hard my hand was bruised. Hot tears streamed down my cheeks and I clenched my jaw in anger, pain and humiliation. Her response to my tears was that it wasn't that bad. She didn't care that it hurt me, I was a patient now, a prisoner. I needed assistance with almost everything. My new life was becoming degrading. She left and a new nurse came in and helped me prepare for bed. I didn't want to talk to anyone. She shut the huge, wooden door and I turned my head and wept. I looked out the window and felt the wicked and impending loss of freedom. I couldn't even get out of the bed alone, much less down the sidewalk and into a cab. Morning came and so did a new and demanding therapy schedule. I started gaining strength and shreds of confidence and meeting therapists and nurses who actually cared and empathized. I still felt defeated, but it was defeat speckled with tiny bits of hope. Some moments were awful and some were incredible. I was beginning to feel less and less trapped. As a sign that I was returning, I was constantly begging for a shower. I was not able to take one yet for some reason. Sponge baths were my only option. The whole process makes me dizzy and want to faint if I think about it. I hated those baths in a plastic tub so incredibly much. One evening, two nurses came into my room. Again, I should have listened to my gut who was telling me how odd it was for nurses to come in at ten o'clock in the evening. I am still honing this skill of listening to my gut, but I am a far cry from this day, I promise. Nevertheless, I ignored my butterflies and entertained their question and idea. They entered wheeling a large, rubber stretcher. The sides were able to come up, creating a bathtub on wheels. The one female and one male nurse asked me if I wanted to go into the shower room using the stretcher. The female seemed irritated and flustered. I jumped at the idea and quickly gave a definitive answer. I actually remember feeling lucky. Feeling like things were starting to turn around, turn a corner for me. I requested all of my special smelling body washes and soap and shampoo. This was going to be a great shower. But, as I was showering and the nurses were helping me, I felt incredibly uncomfortable and uneasy. I was so grateful for the shower and encouraged by their generosity I ended up writing the feeling off as modesty and an inability to one more time accept and deal with the hard things about my new life. I needed help bathing for now and just thought it was something I needed to accept. It wouldn't be like this forever, but I just had to get through it. Two nights later the same male nurse entered the room with the same bathing stretcher. But, this time, he was alone. Yet another red flag I ignored. I stupidly jumped at the chance for another shower. Only this time, it was worse. I knew something was wrong. I knew he was not helping me for the right reasons and was taking advantage of the situation, I knew it, I could see it, and I was sickened. I asked him to step away, finished my shower and returned to the bed, requesting a female nurse to help me with the rest of the process. I fell asleep crying and shaking with fear and humiliation, yet again. Two nights later the same male nurse came into my room and this time I told him to leave. He did. In fact, I never saw him again. And I sent the memory right out the door with him. I did not want to think about it again. I carried a part of it deep, down inside and it eventually grew and grew. Years later, as I was lying sick and alone in my bed and crying and screaming with the same feelings of confinement, wondering why I was so angry and so depressed, I remembered these moments, these incredibly dark stains on my journey to a new life. I thought of all of the dark stains and awakened to the idea they were the obstacles to my healing. Sure the infection was aggressively doing its part, but anger and resentment were doing their fair share. Releasing these moments and forgiving these people were necessary to my healing process. Understanding and using the courage and the strength to fight through the wretched stains is what matters, not the stain. Yes, people failed me. Many professionals failed me and I allowed the hurt and the shame to fester and smolder, until they were finally taking my life. I expected and longed to be rescued and only assumed in a matter of time, that doctor or that nurse or that therapist would come along and make all of the pain and hurt go away. She would take charge of my life and fix all of the wrongs and clean up all of the messes. I waited and waited and became more and more enraged as I realized this person, this figment of my imagination, this person I saw in the movies that took the patient under her wings and healed her was never going to show up. She wasn't showing up and I assumed it was because she didn't exist. Twelve years later, I know why this figment, this person, this savior was so out of reach while also so close and so tangible. I know why I could see her in my mind, rescuing me from the cruel doctors and finding kind and caring doctors and nurses who work late hours on my behalf. I know why I could see her telling that hideous, old, sad man to run and hide because she was going to yell and scream and tell everyone to stay away from him. I know why I could see her lifting my body and propelling my wheelchair with her sinewy arms and not this weak and broken and sick body. And I know why I could see her stand up and not take no or a misdiagnosis for an answer. I know because she is me. I was there all along. I took the fiery ball of anger and doused it with tears of forgiveness, healing, and compassion and finally saw that I am able and strong and tough and brave. I am the rescuer, I am the one I was waiting for all along. Rehabilitation taught me how to physically deal with the changes to my body. It did not teach me how to find myself amongst the ruins. I did that. I picked up the pieces one at a time and started to form a new and better life. I truly rehabilitated myself and discovered a life filled with compassion, understanding, and love and enough of each of them to know these people, these people hired to help me, knew not what they did, they were acting out of their own anger, their own personal demons. Anger is malicious and relentless. It causes wars, rape, abuse, humiliation, and scars lasting a lifetime. If we fail to find that part of us that loves and forgives, we too fall prey to anger's wrath. I ask God, or whomever you may call it, to show these people who stained my journey their own power, their own force residing deep down inside and longing to be awakened. The force that begs to extend love and urges the desire to begin to change lives for the good. I plead for each one of them to find it. It is all I can do. It is what we are called and asked to do. It is what we are required to extend to all souls, all living creatures, it is why we are here, to love and to forgive everyone...everyone. Understanding this is true healing and rehabilitation.