Last week, I fell and hit my head. Hard. It was a typical morning, with sunshiny summer weather, and my hound Gypsy was (typically) begging me to take her for her first walk of the day.
Out we went, into the gorgeous morning, down our usual road.
We’d been walking for about forty minutes and were coming home. What was I thinking about? I can’t remember–some problem with the new novel I’m working on (it blends a historical and a contemporary story and it’s been a frustrating mapping process!); some new conflict at work (please deliver me from the trouble-makers!); the weeds I haven’t pulled from the garden?
It was something–and it wasn’t being mindful of where I was putting my feet.
I’ve often been called “accident-prone” (by my mother); having my head in two places when I should be focusing on the task in front of me (my husband, when he’s bandaging yet another cut from gardening or painting or cooking); being a general klutz who doesn’t look where she’s going (my inner scold). And it’s true–I love to do hard physical work, but I also let my mind wander. Gardening, dog-walking, housework, and cooking are some of the times when I do my best thinking about writing and my best problem-solving.
And so, as Gypsy and I were headed up the last hill toward home, my foot slipped on the gravel. I turned my head to avoid breaking my glasses, and felt my head smack down on the hard, packed surface of the road. Gypsy came and stood next to me, but I couldn’t get up without feeling sick and dizzy. My hat lay a few feet away, but I couldn’t muster the strength to crawl over and pick it up. I did, however, have my cell phone, and I called my husband to come and pick us up.
A good thing (and good that my husband often asks, “Have you got your phone?” when Gypsy and I go out the door). I couldn’t shake the feeling of nausea and achiness. I’d scraped my shoulder, elbow, and hands pretty badly. My daughter (who’s a nurse) said I needed to go to the doctor. And so we did.
Prescription: rest, rest, rest. No movies (OK). No TV (Oh, OK.) No reading (No reading? Wha . . . ?) No writing (WHAT?? WHAT??!)
I didn’t want to hear that. I felt that I was already behind on my self-imposed schedule for the new novel. I had papers to grade. Syllabi to prepare. My new novel needs to be proof-read before it goes to the printer for the final copy. I have to read! I have to write! This novel is beating me and I have to take it on!
So I tried to sneak in a few peeks at email. I opened the students’ discussion board and read some of them. My head swam, and my stomach lurched. I couldn’t eat. I had to lie down–which is what the doctor told me to do in the first place. Gypsy came upstairs and lay beside me, as if to say, “I know I’m just a dog, but believe me: you need to listen to your doctor.”
And I finally, against all of my instincts, did just that. It’s been almost a week now, and I’m slowly recovering. Gypsy and I are finally taking our usual walks again (yesterday, we encountered a bear who was too dignified to acknowledge our presence). I’m able to grade papers without getting sick. I can watch TV, though if the sound is too high my head hurts. Tomorrow, I’m going to start writing the novel again.
I’m going to beat this thing–both concussion and novel. But if I learned anything in the last week, it’s this: in some battles, it’s better to grant the opponent the upper hand and let strength return. Concession to the concussion. It’s shown me that, sometimes at least, when something difficult and beyond control occurs, it’s better to take it lying down.