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I Went Out to Breakfast

FEBRUARy 21, 2020

I went out to breakfast with a doctor in my hometown early this morning. That seemingly straightforward statement contains various elements I see as both monumental and representative of clear progress.

I WENT OUT. Leaving the house is no small feat, as the world beyond the safety of these walls contains many variables, unknowns and risks — ones which never phased me for decades, then came to cripple me post-accident, and I am now learning to face, live with and/or overcome. I go outside almost everyday, though primarily to doctors' offices or on rare appointment-less days, make an effort to join my mother for a quick errand, so I can feel a sense of accomplishment (though I sometimes don’t leave the car), or take a short stroll down the block for fresh air.

I went out TO BREAKFAST. While I still cannot bite directly into anything (a result of my problematic front tooth and fractured jaw, both on their own mysterious and prolonged healing timelines), now that my teeth have shifted from the brace and new composite bonding has been shaved down to proper length, I can chew, albeit not without pain. So I prepare or order primarily soft foods, cut everything up small, often still mash them a bit, and carefully lead my spoon (or occasional fork) into my mouth. Eating is slow, concentrated and deliberate, but it happens!

I went out to breakfast WITH A DOCTOR. I have seen very few people since my accident, a conscious choice on my part, and am yet to take many many many close friends near and far up on generous offers to come visit. I do feel I am getting closer to that point, however (so keep asking/offering/reminding me and blessedly stay the course!). In the interim, I accepted an invitation to meet with a doctor friend of mine, though postponed it at least three times over the past month due to medical downturns and general discomfort. While I respect his work and advocacy, I don’t know the man too well, but for some reason, the fact that he's been a doctor for decades made me feel more safe, more comfortable, more like he would be sensitive to and understanding of my complex situation and its infuriating non-linear nature. Our conversation focused far more on a shared passion than my health woes, but his approach, demeanor and wording were all carefully calibrated and highly respectful, as his expertise from years of medical practice shined brightly.

I went out to breakfast with a doctor IN MY HOMETOWN. Wandering West Hollywood or Jerusalem or a faraway city is nothing like being out and about in Mill Valley in Marin County, the place where I was born, raised, ran for office and have resided on and off for my entire life. Elsewhere, I am anonymous, though have been oddly recognized a couple of times on streets or even by a fellow passenger on a plane, experiences that were wholly surprising and rare. Here in our small local community, even hidden behind a floppy wide brim hat and oversized sunglasses, I am anything but anonymous. Even though I am now able to walk and talk, I'm uncomfortable with people coming up to me, let alone running hastily my way (as some have attempted, sparking panic), nor need to speak at length or painstakingly explain my situation — and thus, I don’t go out that much. I haven’t been inside the beloved organic grocer at the bottom of my hill in six whole months! I have gone to a few nearby restaurants, though none where I was once a regular or those my close circles frequent. These isolating behaviors are beginning to shift, but I simply do not yet feel ready to engage broadly — and would never want to put myself in any potentially compromising position for my psychological or physical strength and wellbeing.

I went out to breakfast with a doctor in my hometown EARLY THIS MORNING. As sleeping has been difficult since my accident — a result of my concussion, anxiety, persistent pain and a variety of other factors — and I am often unable to fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning, rising early is not my norm. Unless I have a doctor's appointment or pre-scheduled phone call with a medical professional, I rarely set an alarm, as to allow my body to get the restorative sleep it so desperately needs to heal. Despite not drifting off until after 4am last night, I woke up when my (second) alarm went off at 8.40am to make it to the 9am breakfast — before needing to go to my late morning appointment for multiple additional facial injections.

"I went out to breakfast with a doctor in my hometown early this morning” may seem a simple, non-memorable, unremarkable phrase to some — and certainly to the Erin of six months ago — but to the me of today, it represents noteworthy progress and ongoing positive momentum on my path of recovery.

Read more of my journey here