I’ve always lived by the phrase, “Modest it hottest,” yet a this is a picture of me: naked, vulnerable, and dependent.
Anyone who is close to me knows that I am terribly prideful. I don’t want anyone’s help. I can do everything on my own. I might be sick, but I’ll be damned if anyone I love has to become my caretaker.
I cannot fathom the idea of being helpless. To me, the thought has always been repulsive, like two magnets that repel no matter how hard they are pressed together.
For some reason, driving has always been a bullet point on the long list of anxieties that I keep inside of my pocket. And yet, I’ve never been in a wreck, (even though I’m pretty sure I unwittingly encourage the stereotype of “women who can’t drive.”)
So last Thursday, I’m sitting behind a big pickup truck at an intersection, waiting for the line to move forward. All of the sudden, my body lurches forward, slamming my head violently against the steering wheel. My car then jerks forward, crashing into the truck in front of me, sending my body in a backwards motion that accelerates my neck into another forceful blow to the head from an airbag that didn’t deploy (and YES, I was wearing my seat belt.)
Everything in my car went flying. I blacked out, and in my state of confusion, I jumped out of my car into the middle of the intersection. I called 911, crying and shrieking about how a black sedan had hit me from behind and then sped off (which didn’t happen at all; I was hit by another truck that had pulled over to the side.)
I hung up on the operator so that I could hold my head while trying to pull myself together. A swift jolt of nausea abruptly socked me in the stomach. I stood in the middle of the road while people riding by yelled profanities at me for blocking the intersection with a car that had to be pulled apart from a truck by two firemen.
Before I was able to perceive what was happening, a nasty pill was placed inside of my mouth. I sat inside of the ambulance, forcing down the vomit that was creeping up my throat, trying to answer questions in a voice that sounded like I was intoxicated.
I didn’t feel too much pain at the time. At the E.R., I kept refusing to get any X-Rays taken. I was convinced that I was fine.
I wasn’t. My cervical spine was sprained, as well as my lower spine. Not to mention the awful state of my rattled brain.
The next morning, pain hit me like the swift wave of an unexpected hurricane.
As each day passed, the pain continued to transform into agony.
I was supposed to remain in bed until my therapy appointment, but in my pride, I decided that it would be fine if I ran to the store with my mom.
After the short walk from the parking lot to the sliding doors, I was already in so much pain that I had to ride around in an electric cart.
We shopped for about half an hour before I was begging to go home. I needed support for my neck and my upper back. I couldn’t even turn my head.
Once we got home, I plopped down on the couch, attempting to fill out one of my legal agreements. I dropped my pen, cursing to myself as I made a short attempt to pick it up.
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t complete a minute, simple task.
I started sobbing, angrily blubbering between sharp breaths about how useless I felt.
My sister calmly picked up the pen and handed it to me. She hurriedly administered my pain medicine, placed a heating pad around my neck, and stroked my hair until the pain began to dull.
In that moment, I grudgingly elbowed my stubborn pride to the side so that I could be taken care of, only because I had no other choice.
Taken care of. The phrase made me cringe.
At my first doctor’s appointment, I cried like a baby during the first process of realigning my spine. The doctor decided to put the session on hold so that I could visit the pain management doctor next door.
Three times a week, I have to visit the chiropractor. Every three weeks, I have to see the pain management doctor. I’m in the midst of setting up meetings with a neurologist while squeezing in several MRI’s.
And yet, this instance gave me a glimpse into my future.
All of this chaos really forced me to take a deeper look into my future: After the months of rehabilitation that I will have to endure, after the healing of my bones and my physical restoration, Huntington’s Disease will still pursue the deterioration of my independence, forcing my whole life into the care of another.
I used to fear it, fight it, and fracture every hint of dependence that crept into my thoughts. Reliance filled me with hate for my future-self, but somewhere in between my sobbing and fits of rage after my inability to pick up the pin I dropped, a new sense of comprehension introduced itself to my unrelenting frame of mind.
I didn’t know what to call it at first, but I let it possess my body as I handed myself over to an action that would strip me from all of my pride: Nakedness.
I could not bathe myself properly on my own, so I stripped down to nothingness, stepped into the bathtub, and handed over my private responsibilities to my sister.
Without hesitation, she combed through every inch of our bathroom for any sort of remedy that would ease my tender wounds.
While I was being bathed, we talked about the hardships in our lives…and how we survived them. We continued to chat and laugh at stupid jokes as she washed my back and tenderly combed conditioner through my matted hair.
I sat in the warm water, naked in physical form and transparent in my new sense of comprehension.
I felt no shame, embarrassment, or self-hatred. The only emotion I felt in those vulnerable moments with my sister was an overwhelming sense of gratitude and love.
And her love healed me, much like the words of 1 Corinthians 13:
Within a future that is approaching faster than I can accept, I will soon transform into a woman who is completely reliant on someone else’s care in order to live.
Though I may be robbed of my sanity, the foundations I’ve built, and my physical abilities—I will still be loved, and I am certain that even when my mind is gone, my soul will continue to radiate a heart that throbs in adoration for my beloved family and friends.
Weaknesses that you cannot help are nothing to be apologetic for.
I know that I will be loved when I am healthy, when I am sick, and when I am long gone from this world, and I am certain that I will be able to love back, and that is the greatest gift of all.
With that being said: This is my deceleration of dependence, and I am not ashamed.