Since I live close to the Gulf of Mexico, I often hear rip current warnings issued. In a rip current, the water current is so strong that it pulls you away from shore as you are trying to move forward toward it.
I have never been caught in a serious rip current, but experts say you are supposed to relax and go with the flow of the current instead of fighting it. Many people panic, fight against it, and drown from exhaustion.
Saturday, nowhere near the water, I had my own rip current experience. It came without any warning whatsoever.
Since Wednesday, I hadn’t really gone many places and when I did, I made sure I wouldn’t have to go far using the cane. I found myself not wanting to because it was too hard to get around.
But Sunday I had plans. I was very excited to take my friend to watch my little brother play ice hockey, so after finalizing the details I was really looking forward to going.
Oh crap. Ugh. I remembered that I couldn’t walk far, and that my arm hurt walking any distance using the cane. It seems like a simultaneous wave of panic shot through my body with this reality.
What if it is too far to walk? What if my arm just can’t do it?
The panic was short-lived, and in its wake was a sense of sadness.
I have watched my little brother play hockey from a wheelchair before, years ago, when I was unable to get out of the chair at all. There are elevated stands up the stairs, which is where most people sit.
Some people stand along the side of the rink to watch, and if you are in a wheelchair, that is where you are too.
As if a wave of water came crashing down on me, I remembered exactly what it felt like, smelled like, and sounded like for me to sit down there by myself watching the hockey games.
It was lonely down there. And I couldn’t see any action on the rink over the three-foot boards either.
These memories and emotions came upon me just like a rip tide sneaks upon a swimmer in the ocean.
So much drama generated inside my mind and my body as a result. It nearly zapped the excitement of right out of me.
At least it zapped it until I was aware of what had just happened. My rip current took no more than one full minute to experience, but it certainly knocked me off my feet.
Once the current lost its grip, I reminded myself, “This is not like then. This will never be like then.”
The plan and its details were already set to go watch my brother play hockey, so I was going. I opted not to take the manual wheelchair along, although it would have been helpful, and I would have been less limited through the day.
I will make a different choice for HEP today.
My dry land rip currents are likely to continue to happen as the symptoms return and mobility becomes more challenged. These emotional currents, tied so closely to my physical abilities, are pulling me away from the present when I only want to stay as grounded as possible.
My plan this week is to expect to have rip currents as I revisit what was so traumatic for me the first time around. That way, I can do better at relaxing, not fighting the current, and flowing with whatever comes along.
Do you have your own rip current experiences to share?