I was at a Toastmaster’s meeting a few weeks ago, and one of the speakers was talking about his 2 traumas. The definition of a trauma:
Serious injury to the body, as from physical violence or an accident
Severe emotional or mental distress caused by an experience
An experience that causes severe anxiety or emotional distress, such as rape or combat
An event or situation that causes great disruption or suffering
Notice the main thread is Severe or Serious, Great disruption or suffering. We’re not talking mild annoyances here.
Picture a trauma in your mind: Buildings falling down (This IS Sept 11…), an accident causing death or dismemberment, an attack that causes death or dismemberment and PTSD, loss of a loved one, loss of income. Most traumas take considerable time to heal, if they heal at all.
So what was this speaker’s trauma? He had a colonoscopy, and he went for a trip and couldn’t be home when his large corn crop in his personal garden ripened. To clarify, he spent the better part of the day before his colonoscopy running up and down to the bathroom. The corn he planted was not going to be in peak flavor when he got home, and there were many bushels to be harvested. How much pain can 1 guy STAND! We should get together and had fund raisers and memorials to bring attention to these types of over looked traumas! Sarcasm aside, what part of any of that qualified as a trauma?
How about this for a trauma: Little girl is born without hip sockets. At age 18 months, she cannot walk well, and her legs are different lengths. At age 2, she’s put into a waist to ankles cast in the shape of a table: knees straight out from hips, and lower legs hanging down. She has to be carried everywhere, and when she sits in a chair, must be tied in so she doesn’t fall. The cast is modified as the months go by to a less severe table and finally removed. At age 3 she’s in the leg braces like what you see Forrest Gump wear as a child. She wears orthopedic shoes, not the cute little girl shoes or tennis shoes the others wear. Because she hasn’t walked very long, she tends to sprain her ankles almost every other week during the summer. She would rather do anything other than sit with her foot in ice water, and when it gets good enough to run on, she sprains it again. The doctor warns that because of the manipulation of the joint, it is possible that she will suffer arthritis as soon as age 12. From age 14 to age 39, there is not a single day when every step doesn’t feel like broken glass in the joint every time she takes a step. At age 30, she’s decided she wants to take dance lessons. It provides range of motion exercises and relieves the pain a bit.
Little girl goes to school and discovers that differences exist. Differences are evil and wrong and need to be punished or trained out and is unmercifully teased and taunted and called weird and stupid from Kindergarten through High School. Even the friends are abusive: biting, giving horse bites, teasing, and of course they can only be friends in private, not in public. What if everything these tormenters say is true? No longer a child, this young woman goes to college and gets exactly the same treatment as in high school. The graduate goes on to many jobs and is fired for the same reason. Differences ARE evil! Try not to be different! She has had 25 jobs and been fired from 19 of them. She descends into a cycle of depression.
She’s also been told for years that nothing is impossible for her, that she has a huge potential to work with. She starts businesses, joins clubs and committees, participates in the community as a girl scout leader. She is teaching a ballet class and the pain gets so severe that she decides she’s going to see what Mayo clinic recommends. X-rays show NO cartilage in the joint. The doctor recommends complete hip replacement. She spends about 3-5 months on crutches. The replacement hip is restrictive, and it reduces the amount of free motion in the hip and now she cannot move the leg properly for dance. The doctor beams as he says “You can walk a mile without pain!” She’s been going on 8-10 mile hikes with her family and her troop. This one operation, though allowing movement without pain, has effectively taken her out of her business and her girl scouts. Hip replacements are supposed to last anywhere from 10-15 years; this one lasted 6. The femur breaks along the spike. She has to wait 4 months for the bone to heal, so she’s effectively walking in a brace with crutches on a broken leg from June through September when she has her re-replacement.
How many traumas are we up to?
Do we count the traumas she experiences due to children? Let’s not.
The one thing the speaker mentioned that could have been perceived as a trauma was that the colonoscopy revealed polyps that had to be removed. I assume that there might be some pain involved in the recovery, but he didn’t describe that as the trauma, just the colonoscopy requirements of running up and down to the bathroom. Well, as we get older, they recommend having a colonoscopy on a regular basis. And she had one, but she didn’t consider it a trauma. The most recent trauma involved a 1/2″ kidney stone. Kidney stones usually pass within a week’s time are very painful. Hers got stuck and continued to cause pain for 6 weeks. The actual operation that they used to extract the stone caused more pain almost than the 1st discovery of the stone. On a scale of 1-10, the first incident was a 9, but it went away after a day and settled on a 5-6 for 5 more weeks. After the operation, the pain was a lvl 8 for 2 days! So an 8 for 2 days or a 9 for 1…I don’t know if it’s on an exponential scale but it sure felt like it.
Now I have been ranting on what I perceive as silliness from this guy who described a colonoscopy and over ripe corn as a trauma, but I am not naive enough to think that anything I’ve written here can compare to real trauma experienced by military or domestic abuse or victims of crimes. And it amazes me that it would take a trauma to alter my behavior enough to cause me to exercise more or eat differently, but Trauma is extreme change. Maybe I need more of them. Maybe not…