Have you ever actually sat in a gutter? I mean, I know we talk about it sometimes. Kicked to the curb, mind's in the gutter, feel like you've been dragged through the gutter...
I actually have.
I fell, crossing the street - this is like seven or eight years ago at this point. It was raining - that coldish, unpleasant rain of early spring. And somewhere, several blocks away, the city had opened a fire hydrant. Lynchburg, you understand, is called the City of Seven Hills. It really ought to be called the City of Uphill, BOTH WAYS! Anyway, several blocks away, there was a hydrant open, and it was raining. Between my office building and the parking lot, there was a rather substantial amount of water running down the street. About ankle deep.
The first thing I remember about falling was that I was now completely soaked. My sweater was drenched across the front of my chest and up to my elbows. The second thing I remember was Thomas half-carrying me out of the street. I couldn't seem to help him. I didn't know why, but my legs weren't working at all. The best he could do was get me to the side of the road. Where I'm sitting in cold, dirty water that's running under my butt and around my legs and I'm so cold. He's shouting for one of the security guards and some strange woman is talking to me, cooing in my ear practically.
I'm completely confused, bewildered, even. What the hell? I want to get off the road. I try to push back with my legs, I can feel the sidewalk at my back. A sticky-wet piece of newspaper comes hurtling down the gutter and splat! sticks to my leg.
"Oh, honey, you're soaked through," says this strange woman. I can't even seem to look at her. What is wrong with me? Why am I sitting here? Where is Thomas? "Here, take my sweater..." She pulls off this horridly ugly lime green and tangerine orange concoction and drapes it over my shoulders. Then she tries to put my arms into it.
Lightening pain races up my arm. Sickening black spots swirl around my vision, and everything goes gray. The strange woman nudges me again, which hurts worse, but clears up the black spots, just a bit.
I scream. Thomas runs back from where he's talking to a security guard in urgent tones. "Don't move her, damnit! She's broken her arm!"
I did what? When did that happen? I don't remember that. All I know is that I'm cold and wet and some annoying woman keeps touching me. And more people are gathering around, staring at me while I'm sitting cold and wet in some gutter somewhere. I want to get up. But the most effort I can manage is to not fall over, to not cry, and to not yell at some woman who I suspect thinks she's trying to help.
Later, at the hospital, it's determined that I've broken my elbow in four places, including chipping off a bit of bone - I might actually need surgery to reattach it, but they'll see if it heals on it's own first. Fortunately, it did. I was in a sling for almost eight weeks, and ended up the proud owner of a lime and tangerine sweater because I never could find the lady who'd given it to me.
That was eight years ago.
I've been following the Weight Watchers Flex plan. I've been following it accurately. I've been not cheating. I've been exercising. I felt really good about myself, and about my weight loss.
Then yesterday, I stepped on the scale at my meeting. The receptionist didn't quite meet my eyes. "Well, at least it's not a gain," she said. "Exactly the same as last week."
In that instant, I was right back in the gutter. Cold and wet and using every bit of my energy not to cry in front of a couple dozen strangers.
Hello, curb. Nice to see you again. Been a while, hasn't it? How've you been? Me? Oh, all right, I guess. Not as good as I'd like, but it could be worse. Yeah, can't say I expected to see you again either.