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Healing Ankle, Broken Mind May 28, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Living Life.

Welcome back to Raw & Dangerous. 

Wednesday was Raw.  Today, let’s do dangerous. 

138 days ago, on January 11, I tripped over a dog toy, fell down the steps and broke my ankle.  *Badly.*  Two surgeries and just as many months in Physical Therapy (with more to come), I am looking forward to walking again.

But my mind…

I am a proud human being.  That’s the dangerous truth of it.  Burying invisible frailties is simply preferred.  Ignore the reoccurring nightmares of that overwhelming moment.  Push aside the way I emotionally close my eyes every time I approach that short flight between the breezeway and the kitchen.   

But things have a way of coming back around.

A few days ago, I was inching my way down those two steps again, and my foot slipped.  Every second of January 11 blazed through my mind in vivid, heart pounding detail. My breath was gone, my eyes were not seeing, but I caught myself.  I did not fall.  No damage done. 

Except to the mile-wide brick wall I had meticulously built around those moments of January 11.

In his book on post-traumatic stress*, Dr. Glenn Schiraldi opens Chapter One this way:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.  Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.  All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.

This is how I feel.  Healing Ankle.  Broken Mind.

Dr. Schiraldi goes on to say that, post-traumatic stress, resulting from an overwhelmingly stressful event (or series of events), is a normal response by normal people to an abnormal situation.

This is so comforting to know.  And, according to Dr. Schirald, half of the battle won, when dealing with post-traumatic stress (PTSD).

Some may consider it ironic, or perhaps a wicked form of poetic justice, that, two years ago, I chose to afflict my current (proud and bull-headed) Waterloo hero with PTSD.  It is his greatest shame.  It will also be his greatest victory.

Perhaps it will be mine, too.

If you, or someone you know**, is trying to ignore or constantly reliving an overwhelmingly stressfully event, slip them Dr. Schiraldi’s book.

Soon, when I’ve gathered enough courage, I will post the first chapter of my current work-in-process titled Love’s Freedom. 

Until then, have you ever read a novel where PTSD plays a part?  I would love to add the title to my TBR (to be read) pile.

(comment option at top of this post)

**Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D..  The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A guide to healing, recovery and growth. Lowell House, 2000

**The National Institute of Mental Health reports that approximately 3.6 percent of the adults in the U.S. between the ages of 18 to 54, or approximately 5.2 million people, have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder during the course of any given year.



1. Brian - May 28, 2010

Wouldn’t it be great if we had the ability to relive pleasure and joy as easily as we do fear and pain? Why is it that the criticism of a stranger will ruin the day and the praise of a friend so easily forgotten?

ninapaules - May 28, 2010

Yes, it would be great if we easily relived pleasure, joy, praise and even success. However, such memories could prove most daunting if all we ever wanted to do was “go back.”

The act of reliving fear, pain and even the criticism of a stranger has everything to do with how adrenaline impresses such memories into our brains. The more adrenaline involved, the deeper the impression.

Thanks for stopping by, and for commenting.


2. Laurie Schnebly Campbell - May 30, 2010

Nina, have you heard about that drug they’re trying on PTSD soldiers? Supposedly it leaves the memory intact but removes the emotions associated with that memory.

If such a pill were available over the counter, do you think you’d take it? (Gee, here’s where I should contact you offlist with a Special Private Offer .) Or do you feel like the emotional pain has given you anything worthwhile?

Laurie, figuring there’s no right or wrong answer to that!

ninapaules - May 30, 2010

Wow! A drug that leaves memory intact but removes the associated emotions. Would I take it? My concern would be, how does the drug know which memory to impact? There are many memory-associated emotions that I treasure.

The emotional pain of this experience has not given me anything worthwhile, IMO. But the personal strength and empowerment that will come from the unpacking process that leads to recovery will likely be priceless. Both in life and in writing.

But, for those who have/will experience far more traumatic events (abduction, rape, war) than mine, I can see where such a drug would be most desirable.

Wonderful question, Laurie. You are so good at making me think.



3. Mary Jo Putney - May 31, 2010

That book sound well worth finding, Nina–I like the idea of Humpty Dumpty as a metaphor for PTSD. (The hero of my book ANGEL ROGUE has PTSD after years of continually stressful work as a spy in Napoleonic Europe. He’s home and safe while people he felt responsible for had died, and he can’t bear it.)

A practical suggestions. Get railings put up by ever set of steps in and around your house. Preferably railings on both sides. They help both physically and mentally.

Mary Jo

ninapaules - May 31, 2010

Hi Mary Jo! Welcome to Raw & Dangerous.

Railings… great point! We have them on our longer flights, but the one I tumbled down… with only two steps… building codes did not requre it. There is one in the works, now.

ANGEL ROUGE is one of my favorite books. The way Robin comes emotionally alive… I need to go pull it off my shelf.

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