Lessons Learned In the ER

I am sure by now that many of you have seen the photo I put up on the Facebook page of me, in the ER waiting room, with an ice pack strapped to my foot, hands over my face, in what may have looked to you like absolute agony. While I can attest to the fact that yes, I was in an unbelievable amount of pain last night, when that photo was taken, I was in fact laughing hysterically. I had just been seated in that chair by two men from Hatzala (the Jewish ambulance service), who had only minutes prior, carried me out of a wedding hall on a stretcher. I was laughing, mostly because I could not believe that that was how the course of the evening’s events had taken place, and also, because….well, it was funny!

There I was, dancing to my heart’s content, doing the shimmy and the shake as though they were going out of style, when I stepped down on my right foot, and my ankle gave in, causing me to twist it. I let out a shriek of pain, and within seconds, my friends had lifted me off the dance floor, onto a chair, and had called for an ambulance to come take me to the ER. By the time the EMTs arrived, I had stopped crying, and possibly out of embarrassment, I started laughing, and the laughing did not stop until I was settled in the ER.

I attended a wedding last night of someone that I did not know personally. A close friend of mine had invited me to come partake in the dancing, a fairly normal favor in the Crown Heights wedding circuit. How could I turn her down? It was a chance to dance and celebrate at a wedding, to bring joy to the new bride. It is, after all, a mitzvah (good deed) to bring a smile to a bride’s face. I heard later that the wedding was quite a success, and that everyone very much enjoyed themselves, which I was happy to hear.

So, there I was, in the ambulance, with a dear, dear friend at my side, holding my hand and laughing with me. It seems that whenever I lose track of my life, when things are spinning out of control and I do not have enough time to manage myself or my time properly, G-d sends me an injury as a way of telling me to sllloooowwww dooowwwwnnnn (I’m sure the ‘grammar police’ are going to pound on my door as soon as they read that.) When I was in twelfth grade, in the midst of the madness of my final six weeks as a high schooler, I fractured my pinkie toe, and was reduced to wearing an ugly boot and walking with crutches for 4 1/2 weeks. It caused me to do everything with an extra step, thus giving me more time to enjoy the world around me, whether I wanted to or not.

We tend to get caught up in life, fairly often for months or even years at a time, without really taking time to enjoy the world around us. For me, the case is most pertinent as I am running to the finish line with Shattered Illusions.  With just a little over two months until the release, I hardly have time to breathe most days. Between book work, self promotion, my 9-5, and just trying to live my life, there is very little room for error. Well, here is the error. As I write now, I lie on my bed with an ice pack strapped to my ankle. I have no energy to move, no energy to work, and so, until the pain subsides, I will confined to my bed.

In the rush of life, it is quite easy to forget what’s important. As cliche as this is, it’s easy to take life for granted when you don’t have time to focus properly. It is only when life diverts from the ‘plan’ that we suddenly take time to see what is really important. Not until I was confined to my bed with a swollen, sprained ankle did I realize how grateful I am for the fact that I have the ability Thank G-d to use both my legs properly. It’s as though I was getting a message from ‘upstairs’: Hey, slow down! Stop and smell a rose once in a while! Now I have all the time in the world to process. How am I going to look at this situation? With anger, or with relief and gratitude?

So, throughout three hours in the ER in excruciating pain, I managed to continue laughing. As serious as life is meant to be taken, there are also times where it is best to just let go and laugh it off. I don’t know that it was necessarily appropriate for me to spend my time in the ER laughing at the fact that I would not be able to walk for some time, but there was nothing else I could do. I could cry, but what good would crying do? It would not magically heal my ankle. I had the option to cry, but the whole incident was so funny in my eyes, that all I could do was laugh.

I guess what I am really trying to say is this: Enjoy life, even in the most chaotic, hectic moments. Take time to breathe. Take time to consider what is important versus what is rubbish. Those are the times where slowing down is healthiest. Those are the times where it really counts. And, if you come across an impossible situation, crying will not help. Open your mouth, but instead of sobs and wails, give out a little chuckle. It’ll make all the difference in your attitude and therefore, in your situation.