Step One: The “Aha! Trouble!” Moment

It’s taken me a lot longer than anticipated to actually start, and finish, this second post for my blog. I had no idea that it would be so difficult to decide how to actually dive into this Trouble-business. Every draft I’ve written so far (and there have been a lot!) just hasn’t felt ‘right’ to me. None of them have seemed like good ways to start discussing the main topic that this blog revolves around.

It was suggested to me that I try starting with my first experiences with trouble, or possibly starting with my most memorable experiences. Both of these seem like awesome choices for opening the floodgates of trouble. But then I’m left with the decision: which one do I open with – my first experiences, or my most memorable experiences? To continue with the ‘step-by-step guide’ sort of theme I’m going with here, it only makes sense to start at the beginning, at ‘Step One’.

 

Step One: Defining When You First Found “Trouble”

Not everyone can easily follow through with this step, for various reasons. Some people haven’t really found enough trouble to be able to define that first ‘Aha! Trouble!” moment, or some simply have been finding trouble in such frequency, for so long, that looking that far back is a bit difficult to do. There is also the possibility that so many of the initial experience of trouble involved some sort of mind-altering substances, making the details of those experiences a bit ‘hazy’. If you’re lucky and haven’t gotten into any trouble at all, and simply have no way to define when you found trouble for the first time, because it hasn’t happened yet (which could imply that you’re very young, in which case you should probably leave this blog now, and go play a video game, like Rock Band or something).

If you don’t fall into any of the above categories, then this step should be possible, even if it’s not necessarily easy. It may take some time to think about it; I know it did for me. When contemplating which experience could be your first one, there are a few criteria (but don’t worry, not a lot!) that this pseudo-guide follows:

  • The experience or moment has be a “trouble” moment. Either some sort of “trouble” that was intended or unintentional. It cannot be a generic life event, such as, “If I hadn’t been working at FastFoodPlace, then suchandsuch trouble wouldn’t have happened.” Generic life situations, events, or circumstances don’t qualify under the criteria because if they’re considered ‘generic’, then that means no trouble is being gotten into at the time, and generic life situations generally encompass more than just a singular moment, such as working at a partiular place, living somewhere specific, etc.
  • The experience can be either good, or bad. Some of the trouble we get into is fun, enjoyable and in some ways a positive experience in our lives. Trouble can also be fun and enjoyable, but also turn out to be a negative experience in our lives. Whatever your first trouble moment is, there are no restrictions on whether that moment has be good or bad, as it can be either one.

Finding Trouble Behind the Wheel

More often than not, most trouble is gotten into when you’ve left your house, whether that’s what you set out to do or not when you walk out the door. Whether your ride, or your “wheels” consists of a car, a bike (bicycle or motorcycle), a skateboard, rollerblades, or simply your own two feet, everyone’s got to have one in order to get anywhere.

Trouble found me on Monday, October 25, 2010, sometime between 1:00pm and 1:30pm. I was in my blue, 2010 Ford Focus, with my house not even out of view yet in my rearview mirror. I had no idea just how much this day would impact my life, but it torments me every single day, even now. While this car may have been my initial ride to trouble, it didn’t stay with me beyond that first day.

Every time I recall that afternoon on October 25th, the memory always feels exactly the same. I was so excited that day, because the furniture I’d purchased a week or so prior was going to be delivered. I was disappointed I couldn’t be there with my boyfriend, when it got to the house, but as I pulled up to the stop sign at the end of my street, I saw the furniture truck coming down the side-street to my right. I couldn’t contain my excitement, I was elated to see the truck turning in front of me, headed right for my house!

Maybe the excitement and distraction clouded my judgement, I’ll never know for sure at this point. Maybe it was a sad case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’ or it’s entirely possible that when I turned my head to the left, any cars headed my way were blocked from my view in that split second, by the cars parked along that side-street. But when I looked both ways for oncoming vehicles, there were none, or so I thought. I felt like my foot was no sooner off the brake, and it seemed as though my entire world in front of me had just exploded. It’s interesting how our brains manage to ‘blip out’ certain milliseconds of our lives, specifically that moment when an SUV bulldozed through the front of my car, totalling it instantly. That ‘blipped out’ millisecond of time was quickly followed by my initial shock, the anguish and terror welling up inside of me, overflowing in the form of tears running down my face. I’ll never forget the first thought I’d had, after realizing what had just happened. “Why couldn’t that have just killed me? I wish it had killed me, it should have killed me.” I remember the woman who’d been driving the SUV rushing over to my side of the car, somewhat panicked, asking me if I was alright. She told me to get out of my car, that the front was smoking pretty bad. I’d looked up, saw the smoke, and I remember thinking, “I can only hope that the car blows up while I’m still in it.” I felt as if I’d been sitting there for a lifetime. I remember my boyfriend rushing out of the house, heading towards my car. I saw him in my rearview mirror, which is when I decided to get out of my car. The other woman asked me if I was all right, and before my boyfriend even made it over to us, she was talking to me about how she had no auto insurance, that she couldn’t stay to file a police report. Then just like that, she was back in her seemingly undamaged SUV, and driving away. From that moment on, all I could think about was work, that I had to call in, I had to tell them what was going on, explain that I couldn’t come in for my shift. Despite the accident though, I did end up going into work that evening, with the help of my boyfriend.

Everything that followed the accident – the police report, calling the insurance company, having my crumpled car towed away – it flew by in a blur. Even my shift that evening at work passed by in a fog, of sorts. When I got home that night though, I was very thankful that the accident had occurred on a Monday, rather than Tuesday. Tuesdays were my days to bring my dog to work with me. With almost six years having gone by since the accident, I am still grateful that she wasn’t in the car with me that day, because she was the only thing that kept my life together, from that moment on. At some point along the way, she also became my “partner in crime”, being my sidekick for some of the trouble I would end up getting into after this detrimental point in my life.

The SUV had been going at least 40 mph, down a residential side street (where the speed limit is only 25 mph), to be capable of completely totalling my car. My foot didn’t have time to press on the gas, before the impact was made. My airbag went off, my car looked like an accordion, but other than being completely shaken up and wanting to pull my hair out from the stress of the whole situation, I was okay. I didn’t feel as though I’d suffered any injuries, there were no aches, or pains. The only physical signs of my accident were two decently sized bruises on my kneecaps. They hurt as any ordinary bruises would, and went away within a week or so. I was constantly told how lucky I was, that I hadn’t been seriously hurt, that I was lucky the SUV hadn’t hit the side of my car, which would have hit me, rather than the front of my car. I had wished for my demise when the accident occurred, but overall I did consider myself lucky. I had no idea what was going to come.

I was completely unaware at the time of how unlucky I really was. Roughly six months later, I started to become aware of the ‘luck’ that had been bestowed upon me. In the beginning, my luck started as a very minor, somewhat annoying, chronic ache in my knees. Now as I write this, roughly five and a half years later, that luck has turned into a chronic pain that I can only describe as completely debilitating on mediocre days. On a good day, I can function at about 80% – 90% of what my capabilities should be, if not for the pain. On a bad day, I’m crying, I’m offering up anything I can (except my ‘partner in crime’, of course) to whatever possible higher power there might be, to even just lessen my pain a little bit. On those bad days, I’m doing anything I can to try to take the pain away: I’ve hit and punched myself, to redirect pain elsewhere, I’ve bit myself to the point of almost drawing blood, I’ve considered taking hard objects, like a hammer, to other parts of my body to redirect pain elsewhere, and I’ve considered taking that hammer to my knees, because maybe if they’re completely broken and shattered, I could just have them removed completely. The only thing that has stopped me from taking any particular objects to my body is honestly, the unknown. I have no idea what kind of damage I could possibly do to myself, and I’m not willing to risk adding another chronic pain to the one I’ve currently got. My pain gets worse all the time, every day. I used to hate how I felt, three years ago when I was dealing with this. Now I long for those days, I would give almost anything to have those days back, because they pale in comparison to today.

I’m almost 28 years old, but I often feel like I have no clue what a 28 year old feels like. I couldn’t go out and party, or dance if I wanted to. I can’t go to a concert where I’d have to stand the entire time, because the pain would be too much – why would I want to go, if I have to sit there for half of the show, and be unable to enjoy it to its fullest? I can’t go to the movie theater with my boyfriend, because sitting there for possibly two to three hours, when the AC is always cranked unbelievably high, is agonizing – what is the point in going, if I have to constantly get up and leave the theater, just to get up and walk around, so I’m not stiff and crippled by the time the movie is over? I can’t be in any position consistently for more than an hour or so, at the most. My knees, and the surrounding muscle and bone, scream at me, probably asking me why I would do this to them. I can’t run with my dog, I can’t ride a bike, and I can’t even play with my dog in the snow, who’s a Siberian Husky that loves to run through the snow. I know that there are so many people who have it worse than I do, I am not naive to this fact at all. But that’s the interesting part about what each of us feels – it’s all relative. My boyfriend suffers from chronic pain as well, but we’ve never “compared” aches and pains, because it’s simply not possible. Everyone has a different tolerance for what they can handle, a different scale that their pain is based on. My boyfriend and I could both rate our pains at a seven, on a scale of one to ten, but if someone else felt his pain, and then felt mine, they might say his feels like an eight, and mine feels like a six, or vice versa. There is no comparison (unless you’re comparing, say… a broken femur bone, to a paper cut. No comparisons needed there), because we all feel differently, and we all think differently about what we feel.

Thank you for sticking with me through this really long, second post. Going forward, most of my posts will be at least half this size, but the beginning of my story in this guide took a bit longer to tell than what I had anticipated. Hopefully no one is snoring and drooling on their keyboards, or onto their phone’s screen. With “step one” out of the way, the steps to follow should be a bit easier to tell, now that I’ve dipped my toes into the pool, so to speak. I’m ready to dive in, and hopefully so is anyone else who happens to stumble upon this and read it.

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