fight, flight or freeze
by Bella Rum
Immediately before the procedure, I joked with the cardiac catheter team that my heart was accelerating because I was in the midst of a fight-or-flight response, but found myself in a situation that was all about submitting and enduring. They thought I was very funny, but I wasn’t kidding. Submitting and enduring is not an easy thing even when we know it’s necessary. It contradicts our instincts, but I learned that the the-fight-or-flight response is sometimes called the-fight-or-flight-or-freeze response.
There are times when our instincts and bodies tell us we are in danger, but even though the pounding pulse and intense fear is telling us to run, the best response may be to remain compliant. Since they had already strapped me to an ironing board, I wisely decided to wait for the drugs. I also told them that if we were in Colorado I’d have already been medicated before I arrived. They pointed out that maybe they would have been, too, and maybe I wouldn’t be so happy about that. Point taken.
The past few days have been delicious. After the first flush of visitors who had to see exactly how bloated my face had become from massive steroid use (my chin is on my shoulders), and hear all my tales of close calls and being strapped to an ironing board and fountains of free-flowing morphine, life slowly settled down. It’s the settling down period that feels just right.
Mornings of thick fog and dark afternoons of low-hanging skies and gentle but persistent rain have cast a soporific spell over our house. I’ve been jell-o-ing myself into the sofa with a frighteningly orange and green afghan that I crocheted sometime during that burnt-orange/avocado-green decade of the seventies. It is a homely thing but undeniably luxurious in its texture and warmth, and I’m eternally attached to it. I watch Food Network and House Hunters and only a smidgen of news – categorically mindless things that don’t interfere with my newly acquired habit of dozing and waking and stretching and dozing again. H made a huge pot of my mother’s chicken and rice soup, and he makes sweet, steaming cups of tea and milk for me like she did when I was a child. I’m so happy to be home.
H will venture out to the grocery store today for supplies – no public appearances for me for a couple of weeks. NO contact with humans. That’s okay. I’m settling and healing and it feels right. So grab a soft and ugly blanket, ooze into your sofa, and eat your mama’s soup. It’s good for heart and soul.
No fight-or-flight response around here today.