It was exactly three years ago, November 1, 2020, that Sebastopol Police were called to mom’s condo for a “welfare check” because I was in so much distress. They had been called to the condo just a few days before when mom was taken to the hospital for the last time. After they took mom, I was left with so much grief, despair, pain and stress-exacerbated exhaustion that I went to bed for three days straight.
I no longer had the responsibility (nor capability) to care for mom around the clock, which I had done for years without a single day off. I had turned over medical power of attorney to my brother and to our lead relief caregiver, Alicia. I was so badly damaged and broken that I was no longer competent to handle the administrative arrangements that I had managed for years.
I was also in relentless, agonizing physical pain from a low back injury 18 months earlier, that I mistakenly thought was a piriformis syndrome, which would resolve itself once I attended to it with some stretches and exercises. (Little did I know then that my injury was far more serious).
On the third day I rose from my bed resolving to start the new month with a new start in my life. I had taken care of mom for years, now it was my turn to take care of my broken self. Whatever affliction had put me in insufferable pain, I was going to heal myself out of it by pure force of will.
I pulled myself up to the bathroom sink determined to stand up straight and shave off days of stubble no matter my entire backside searing with pain. I gritted my teeth, I grunted, I groaned, I growled so loud that my concerned neighbor called the cops. Then she called me to let me know and check if I were okay.
I told her to call them back and call them off. I was out of my mind with pain and PTSD. I would have assaulted them if they had come in. This would have been my fourth police intervention to check on my welfare in less than a year and all I wanted was for everyone to just leave me the fuck alone.
Through the bedroom window I watched the police cruiser park out in front. No officers exited the car and after five minutes, they left. My neighbor must have called them off, thank goodness.
Fast forward three years and today, November 1, 2023 I completed a vigorous one-hour Zumba class, still in pain (not as much), still with a structurally compromised low back (that doctors lately tell me “will not get better”) and still with faltering resolve to heal myself by force of pure will.
This sounds like great progress and it is: instead of being bedridden for much of the day, after years of grueling physical therapy and exercises, I can do a few activities and then I’m bedridden for only parts of the day. Over the years, I’ve conditioned myself to agonize in silence (mostly), and I am thankful that no one is calling the cops on me these days.