A Meditation on First Aid

I took a pretty dramatic tumble a couple of weeks ago and skinned my knee- something I don’t recall having done since childhood.

It’s only now beginning to heal, and here’s why- no first aid was administered. And absolutely no second or third aid was given either.

I was too busy attending to my other injuries to actually consider what my knee might need.

I was embarrassed. The first injury I noticed was absolutely to my pride. I narrowly avoided falling in front of a balcony FULL of high school students. After realizing none of them had seen it, I still had bitten the dust in very dramatic fashion in front of my husband who is newly enough my husband that I don’t like to look too silly in front of him. I want him to think I’m the epitome of grace and beauty at all times (lol), and seeing me sprawled on the concrete with limbs akimbo was definitely going to challenge that thought.

I was angry. I was angry with myself because I was looking down at my phone to use an automated security system when I fell, knowing full well that walking and texting, scrolling, etc. is DANGEROUS. I was angry with the property owner because I tripped on a break in the concrete which probably should’ve been repaired long ago.

I was scared. I was scared because I had turned my ankle severely, and having to baby a joint for a period of time (and maybe forever since once an ankle is sprained the ligaments are never quite as stable) is particularly difficult in my line of work.

And so my pride, anger, and fear took precedent over the skinned knee. I began working to mend them right away.

When I remembered there is sufficient evidence proving no stumble will shake my husband’s esteem of me,  my embarrassment relented.

When I remembered we’re ALL human, the anger ebbed.

When I iced and propped the ankle, did some mindful careful yoga and fortunately found it much better than I’d anticipated,  the fear subsided.

But as the week went by, the skinned knee I’d left unattended brought all the other feelings back in turn. I was embarrassed by how it looked, so I kept it covered and didn’t wear the dresses or shorts I would’ve ordinarily worn. I was angry because each time I approached a kneeling pose in Yoga or Pilates it hurt, but I certainly didn’t stop doing the poses. And, finally, I was scared because I realized on Monday that after a week and a half, not only had it not begun to heal at all, but it was hurting more.  It was red. It was hot. It was demanding more attention than a skinned knee should.

You see, I’ve had to learn (again) that the injuries we leave uncared for, unaddressed, don’t just go away. Time does NOT heal all wounds, and, eventually, most of them will become so painful that you will have little choice but to address them.

A little antibiotic ointment and a bandaid two weeks ago could’ve saved me a good bit of pain. The moment I began to take action toward healing rather than withholding the pretty minor attention this particular injury required- it started to heal. Go figure.

The same is true for nearly every pain imaginable. Whether you’ve hurt yourself, another person hurt you, you’ve hurt someone else, or you simply find a wounded friend or stranger who needs help, address the injury immediately.

Assess the scene. Are you safe from further injury where you are. If not, move.

If you can, wash your hands first! Who knows the yuck you’ve touched physically and emotionally. Try to come in clean before addressing a wound- yours or another’s.

If it’s too big a problem for you to address on your own, get help.

While this metaphor could go on ad nauseam, one of the most important things about first aid is keeping it simple enough that we all believe we can give it with tools we probably already have on hand.

The wounds in my life that remain are the ones I didn’t notice right away. They’re the ones I denied the treatment they needed once I did notice them. They’re the ones I refused to get help with and instead relied on my own means of treatment, denying that there are people and powers FAR more capable of healing me than I am of healing myself.

And while my wounds aren’t all healed up just yet, today they are getting the care they deserve. I hope yours are too.

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