Having a Human Experience

I did a Bollywood dance performance eight nights ago, and a few minutes later, I was lying in the parking lot outside the theater screaming in agony. Apparently, as I crossed the parking lot to my car, I tripped over a free-standing cement parking curb. Shattered my left wrist. I drove myself to the hospital (I didn’t want to leave my car in the lot, and somehow, fueled by adrenaline and unreasoning pain, it seemed the most expedient solution for getting to the emergency room.)

After a night in the ER, I was admitted to the hospital until they could do the surgery a couple of days later. When they got me on the cart to wheel me to the operating room, they told me the only panties I could wear were the mesh hospital panties, and since I was already wearing those, I didn’t think anything of it. Then, before they wheeled me away, the nurse came and pulled off the panties under the mistaken assumption they were not allowed. And I started crying. Up until then, I’d accepted the pain, the emergency room, the drugs, the hospital stay and everything else that happened to me with equanamity (or the numbness of shock?) but the removal of the panties did me in. I felt unutterably vulnerable and alone.

I still do.

I’m out of the hospital, dealing as best as I can with drug-fuddled mind and only one usable hand/arm. I’m trying not to feel sorry for myself, and mostly succeeding, but this is the culmination of a very traumatic ten years. It started with the death of the brother closest to me in age nine years and eleven months ago. Since then, I have had to deal with my mother’s illness and death, my life mate/soul mate’s long dying and subsequent death, my elderly father’s care and his death. Also, I broke an ankle, scalped myself, lost a tooth, and now have multiple fractures in my wrist/arm.

Lots of life — and death — going on.

But for now, what’s important is the current injury.

People ask me how I am interpreting this particular experience and what the message is. I am trying not to find messages. Trying to see the fall as simply an accident because anything else, such as the possibility that internal conflicts could manifest themselves physically, is simply too frightening.

Although I don’t believe in rites, such as funerals, I went to my mother’s funeral to see everyone in my family one more time. But shortly after I got there, I broke my ankle. Spend the viewing at the ER and the funeral at the bone specialist’s office.

And now, once again, I’d been faced with doing something I didn’t want to do — that dance performance. I really, really didn’t want to be part of a multi-day show and even told my class if they badgered me into it, something bad would happen. Somewhere along the line, I stopped saying no and ended up being understudy for that one particular show because they truly did need me. I enjoyed the performance, did it perfectly. And then, a few minutes afterward, I lay screaming in the parking lot.

If there is a message, it’s for me to stop doing things I don’t want to do. Or more accurately, to stay away from internal conflict. (There are actually two internal conflicts at play here — the dance recital and the book I am writing. I don’t want to write it, but I want to finish it, and now I am forced to take a hiatus.) But the truth is, I don’t want to believe that there is any correlation between internal conflict and broken bones. Way too frightening!

It’s better if I think of this latest trauma, as with all my traumas, as my being a human person having a human experience.

If I say it enough, I might actually come to believe it.


(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

21 Responses to “Having a Human Experience”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    What is life but pain and growth?

  2. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    Life can be such a mess sometimes, but we soldier on, finding hope and happiness in all the big and little things that go well in between the slings and arrows.

  3. paulakaye Says:

    I hope you will get better soon. So sorry you are going through this!

  4. Wanda Hughes Says:

    My god girl! I’m so sorry to hear of this misadventure! I’m not sure there is any deeper message to this than just a nasty fall. Or perhaps there is but you won’t find it until you can look back at it from the future. At any rate, just know we’re thinking of you and wishing you well. Take care.

  5. Kathy Says:

    Oh, Pat, that’s terrible! I know what you mean, though, about things happening to you when you don’t really stand your ground. I banged my head on a train when I didn’t really want to ride it. And I stumbled in Mazatlan and broke my toe when I really didn’t want to get in that guy’s taxi. And on the last two trips, I came home sick. Maybe I should just stay home – lol! Hope you recover soon!

  6. leesis Says:

    1. So sorry it happened Pat…horrid. 2. I hate hate hate people saying shit like “how I am interpreting this particular experience and what the message is” or “why do you think you brought this experience into your life”. How about because I was born! and 3. Definitely do not do what you don’t want to do. xx

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      So good to hear from you, Leesis!

      You always say the perfect thing to help me get a grasp on whatever trauma I am dealing with. I hope you have someone who does the same for you.

      I am determined not to find any deeper meaning in this event. It happened. That’s it.

      Thank you.

  7. Coco Ihle Says:

    Bless your heart, Pat. You’ve really had a time of it! I’m so sorry. I’m sending super fast healing vibes that have little joy impulses attached. Hope they help!!!!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s been hard, and getting worse. I found out today that my wrist needs more surgery. and my elbow is broken, too. so not fun!

      Thank you for the healing vibes. i need them.

  8. Terry Allard Says:

    Pat, I am so sorry to learn of your accident! You have been a caregiver and support to so many people in your family and to so many fellow grievers through your blog, 0f course you are feeling horrid,,,,it is your turn to want support! Grief isnot rational…you want it from your soulmate/life partner…and it stings sooooo bad not to have it in a painful hospital situation, I am 18 mths “out” from the loss of my husband, I absolutely HATE the thought of being ill (let alone in a hospital) without him to care for me, to reassure me, and to take me home at the end of it. Not rational but I would go from 65 years old to 5 years old and be screaming a version of “I WANT MY MOMMY!!!!” (AKA my husband)


  9. Good Deeds Going Awry | Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] It’s really a joy being part of a community. I’ve had a bad cough the past week, and in the past few days, more people brought me soup and crackers or offered to run errands than in all the time I was housebound with my mangled arm. […]

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