Shock, a reaction oftentimes associated with trauma or injury, is defined as: “a jolt to the mind or emotions.” To be stunned is distinct. It takes over the body and mind beyond the initial shock. The definition is: “rendered incapable of action.”
Astounded, dazed, and overwhelmed are worthy synonyms. For me, “frozen” seems to best capture its essence.
Six weeks ago I went flying off my bicycle and was thrust face-down in the street. Because of the speed of the bike and position of the fall, the resulting injuries were brutal and many.
The intensity of the pain instantly transported me to another realm of consciousness; one that precedes panic—a heightened state of awareness. My body felt weightless, head dizzy and baffled, and the jaw was locked in a half-open position. My mouth bore a catatonic expression.
My nervous system interrupted.
Blood poured out from lesions everywhere.
Thoughts raced in and out of my mind. Images appeared and quickly vanished. Voices merged. Pain consumed me from all directions. I felt hyper-alive and strangely calm. Weary.
My lids grew heavy.
“Drift off to sleep. Everyone will take care of you,” my head belied.
But the adrenaline flowed and kept me sharp enough to keep my guard up. And despite my suffering, I listened intently to all words uttered amongst the converging crowd and those directed to me.
Because being at the mercy of strangers making decisions without my input, or perhaps, consent, was scary. And staying awake and alert was the priority.
So despite the trauma and inability to speak, I participated—as much as I possibly could—in the decisions being made.
And if not for my expressive eyes, darting about the crowd, trying to communicate with those taking control of the situation, lucidity would have been impossible to determine. Via a combination of aggressive eye contact, brow-furrowing, and hand-gesturing, I maintained a sense of responsibility and control over my well-being.
If nothing more, life’s experiences had schooled me in survival and resilience– the ability to bounce back from adversity.
A life hung in the balance—my own.