Climbing Back into the World
By Kirsten Woodend, PhD, RN, MSc
It’s hard to get back into the world
when you’ve been broken.
It’s not so much
the challenge of your mangled restructured body –
you can control how you cope with pain,
how hard you push yourself forward.
You think the “system” is set up to support you
as you surmount these challenges;
in reality it adds another set of hurdles
to those you are already trying to clear.
You suffer a multitude of indignities
in the process of body repair; mostly,
these are inevitable –
though many did not
need to happen. Surprise, surprise. These
indignities do not end when you leave the hospital.
If anything, they become more
challenging, more deeply hurtful.
It’s amazing how, in other’s eyes,
you suddenly become a child
incapable of coping mentally or physically;
how often you are patronized in “your best interests”;
how often, in the name of caring,
you are prevented from exploring
what you are capable of;
how is it OK that your colleagues have been told
not to talk to you about work
to protect your sick leave and recovery.
(at what point did I become incapable of making
these decisions for myself?);
how invisible you are
as you negotiate your walker through the aisles in a store;
how many places are inaccessible to you.
How …..? How …..? How …..?
But worse than this are the barriers
to reengaging in your life. The decision
is not yours (remember you are a child again)
– it rests in others’ hands. You need
to smile and “play nice” to ensure
that all the forms and letters you need are signed,
that all the correct boxes are ticked so that
more barriers to re-entry are not “triggered.”
It feels like a never-ending game of “whack-a-mole.”
Do I not have enough to cope with?
I want to contribute
to the world again.
Why do you insist
on making this
so difficult for me with your low expectations
and your petty bureaucracies?
Don’t you want me back?