I Don’t Do Needy

I don’t do needy. Which means, I don’t do sick. I don’t do broken bones. And I don’t do hospitals.

At least, I didn’t do those things until four months ago.

In late March I was bustling around a friend’s kitchen, blending graham crackers and dumping crumbs; all to whip together a graham cracker crust.

But somewhere in the rhythm I mis-stepped, failing to unplug the blender and accidentally pulsing it while my left hand was reaching inside.

Blood sprayed around the kitchen before I could get my hand off the button. I stood shocked, hand still in blender, terrified to remove it and see the damage.

Deep breath, Katy. The blending hadn’t hurt at all, which told me how bad it was—my body was reacting in shock. I knew I needed to act fast. Removing my hand revealed my left pointer finger, mostly attached but pointed in the wrong direction. With blood pouring down my arm, I wrapped my hand in a towel and pressed it tight. Then, turning to my friend I said, “Alisha, I need you to take me to the ER. Grab my shoes and my purse.”

Later, my friends would laugh as they relayed how calm I came off: the picture of logic. In reality, my mind was racing, and I was placating anxiety by focusing on each next task. “If you lose this finger, it’s your left hand, you’re still going to be able to write,” I recited the words in my mind.

What ensued was a wild night: emergency room, phone calls, good friends, panic, relief, and then numb weariness as my fractured finger was sewn back together.

At 11 pm, I returned to my car, bandaged and drugged, to head home. All was miraculously well.

Yet on the drive, I felt the ripple effect of almost losing a piece of myself. I knew it all could have been so much worse. A part of my mind clutched to that thought, trying to distance myself from how scary it all felt. But another part of me rocked just a bit, nauseous and tearful.

For the next month, I went to the hand specialist weekly. He examined how my finger was mending, tested where I had lost sensitivity and carefully watched the bone fragments under the skin.

These doctor visits became a kind of rhythm, as did new manifestations of anxiety. Mostly, I looked confident and asked good questions, internally reminding myself, “You’re ok, and this is all normal.” But I also tested my finger in the shower to see if I could feel anything along the ridged scar of the wound. 4 weeks post-accident, I started noticing puss pockets around my sutures, sending my mind on a quantum leap: What if my body is going septic from infection around the bone chip?!

In reality, my body just disliked dissolving sutures. The hand specialist put me on antibiotics for good measure and assured me that everything happening was part of my body healing, not shutting down.

Whoops.

I felt a bit bashful as I took the round of antibiotics. I had to keep reminding myself, You experienced something traumatic, it is ok to be a little reactive and worried.

Little did I know that same week a different set of doctors’ visits was just beginning, bringing different anxieties. Those doctors remain unsure if what we treated over the next two months was one very resilient UTI or a series of small ones. At one point a nurse doing her job went through the details of a potential kidney infection with great fervor: “You have to be vigilant, because the UTI medication won’t help that at all!”

For the next 48 hours I felt like a crazy person unsure if my lower back was in pain or if I was so anxious my lower back muscles had simply knotted and tightened. Temperature checks confirmed my body was not battling infection, nor was my kidney shutting down.

I finished the last course of antibiotics a month ago, but I still feel a bit fragile. 3 months of seeing so many doctors. On top of that, it feels vulnerable to own all I have navigated as a young woman, and I’ve remained largely silent about all of this, fearing peoples’ assumptions.

I find myself noticing this entire scenario revealing something deeper.

I fear falling apart. I fear you’ll hold my needs as harshly as I do, and so I neglect to share them—gaping and unstitched or sewn up and still tender.

Then, as all the needs pile up, the fear feels harder to hide, the tears are closer to the surface and the longing in my heart increases:  “If only you knew.”

Sitting here, wondering how to end this post in a way that honors the raw and the real, my boyfriend messaged me a song unbidden, hoping it might help inspire whatever my heart needed to say today. I think it says it all.

 

“Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.” James 5:16

Often, the healing of Jesus comes in our choice to be for one another.

Who might long to be with you in your need today? Who might need to know that you are with them in theirs?


Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world.  She’s a 28 year old seminary student, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart. Her favorite creative project right now is called Will I Break?, and someday, that manuscript may see the light of day. For now, she shares her thoughts here.
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