My kid and I were on vacation the week before he went back to school. On the last day of our week together, we both took a nap, and I woke up with a numb arm. I figured that I slept on it wrong and kept it pushing . . . until it was still numb a couple hours later. It was numb but not weak, and I wasn’t sure what to do. On one hand, I knew that numbness in the left arm isn’t something I should ignore. On the other hand, I didn’t want to jump over to the ER and pay for some that turned out to be a minor, non-emergency.
I called my husband to talk it out. I also called my primary doctor’s office. We all agreed I should at least get it checked out. I packed up my little one. My hubby came home early from work, and we made our way to the local Urgent Care facility. When I walked into the lobby, the nurse asked me what was wrong with me. Almost the moment I said arm numbness, the staff said I needed to go the ER. I did NOT want to go the ER. I wasn’t sick. My body was just doing a weird thing I couldn’t explain, and I needed someone to tell me what my body was trying to tell me. I didn’t want the ER hassle, and I didn’t want the ER bill. I kept thinking about that bill. But alas, I went.
We pulled into the hospital driveway. When I entered the hospital, I walked up to a desk that had a registration sign above it.
Nurse: “Can I help you?”
Me: “Yes, my left arm is numb.”
Nurse: “Oh honey, you want to go to the ER for that.”
Apparently, I walked through the wrong door, and was in one of the “non-emergency” sections of the hospital. I didn’t feel like my arm was an emergency, but all the people with medical degrees were treating me like I did. So, I found the right door and checked into the ER.
Nurses checked my vitals, asked me all sorts of questions, and within twenty minutes a doctor was in the room with me. As she walked in, my arm started to feel better. I thought, “Am a going crazy here? Is this whole thing a hoax?” My arm had been numb for hours, but the moment the doctor entered the room, it felt better. We talked, and the doctor said I probably slept on it wrong. She did not recommend running blood tests, etc. I didn’t show any signs of heart attack or stroke. It just seemed to be a nerve issue, specifically in my arm. I felt a little silly for going to the ER in the first place, but I thanked the doctor for helping me and my hubby for taking me. I got back to life and tried to forget about it.
A day later, it happened again. This time, I wasn’t laying on it or anything strange. I tried to put it out of my mind and went for a walk. Within hours it got better again.
Two days later, it happened again. I wasn’t laying on it. I was in church, listening to the sermon and taking notes. So, we headed back to the ER. On our way out of church I cried out of frustration. I just wanted to feel better and get back to my life.
This time they asked questions, checked my vitals, checked my heart and head. I even got a pregnancy test. Surprise of surprises . . . I’m not pregnant. I felt a little silly for doing all this, but I kept moving forward. My body was telling me something, and I hoped to find out what it was this time around.
The doctor came back in with the results. My heart and brain were normal, but there was a small amount of arthritis in my neck that was probably causing some inflammation. He said, other than that, I appeared to be in good health. He referred me to a neurologist for a follow up visit and said I would probably just get better with time.
“Other than that . . . “
It’s such a funny phrase. I little neck issue took so much of my attention. My mind obsessed over the arm numbness for three days. I had perfect health otherwise, but before I knew that, it took everything in me not to freak out or believe the worst. To a doctor who sees real emergencies all the time, my issue was minor.
“Other than that . . . “
I have a good life, but the moment something threatens that good life, I tend to obsess about what needs to be “fixed.” The awesomeness I get to experience everyday becomes background noise to the issue at hand, and I forget what living means.
Should I have gone to the ER? Absolutely. I needed to know what was going on in my body, no matter the financial cost. My wellbeing is a priority. But in many ways the whole thing was more of a metaphor for how I choose to live my life sometimes. Sometimes I am in reactive mode, running around my life trying to fix things that I think are wrong. But a better way to live my life is to slow down and decide what I want the “garden” of my life to look like. I need to plant those seeds, tend to the garden and enjoy the fruits of my labor. If some weeds get in there, I can get them out without neglecting the whole garden. I should tend to my life with patience and compassion because it is a gift from God.
To the person dealing with much more difficult health issues, I see you. You are brave, you are loved and you are so much more than the thing that’s happening in your body. Keep tending to your garden, and don’t let this thing distract you from your good life.
About me . . .
I'm Cyrah Hill. I'm a woman of faith, an actor and an everyday black girl.