Pinch of Faith: Waiting on all the king’s men to put me back together again

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Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Reciting this well-known English nursery rhyme which goes back to the year 1797, one can’t help but wonder: what does this mean?  

We are led to believe that Humpty Dumpty was an egg, who makes an appearance in Lewis Carroll’s novel “Through the Looking-Glass” (1871). Alice remarks that Humpty is “exactly like an egg,” which Humpty finds to be “very provoking” in the looking-glass world. Alice clarifies that she said he looks like an egg, not that he is one, to which Humpty responds, “My name means the shape I am.”

Humpty and I have similar body shapes, it would seem. We all know that once an egg is shattered there is no putting it back together by anyone. I can attest to this after several incidents involving my kitchen floor.

Perhaps the rhyme references a shattered vase, a fallen monarch, or even a cannon used in warfare to fire down upon the enemy. Humpty Dumpty can be almost anything, even broken people.

As I struggle to write this with one contact lens and one cataract free eye and my left arm and hand swathed in a soft cast, I feel like Humpty Dumpty being reassembled.   

This has been a year of doctors, hospitals, and surgeries, and I am beginning to think that all of my original equipment has reached the limits of the lifetime warranties. My parts are almost extinct, and the replacements are hard to find.

After I fell in our kitchen over a year ago trying to kill an uninvited snake with my iron skillet, my injured arm stayed numb from the elbow down into all of my fingers on my left hand. The details of the incident brought a great deal of disbelief and wonderment in the telling of the tale. Thinking it would eventually heal on its own, I put off seeing a doctor until it became painfully apparent that things were not improving but steadily growing worse.

I was initially given a steroid injection, some exercises to do, and a brace to wear on my hand and wrist at night. Nothing helped, so I underwent a nerve conduction test which I failed. It was determined that I had a combination of carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel syndromes and surgery would be required. Because I had no clue about either of these conditions, I accepted the diagnosis.

It just so happened that the cataract surgery, which I had to postpone from May when I underwent a mastectomy, was rescheduled to take place 10 days prior to my elbow and wrist surgery.  And so began the doctor visits, scheduling, and preparations. 

Mercifully, sedation allowed me to endure the procedures when they actually occurred, but the anticipation leading up to them caused me a lot of anguish and worry.

As I recuperate at home, I find that getting ready for bed now entails an entire process each night. A daily regimen of various eyedrops is charted on a dry erase board on our refrigerator, and after the final nighttime dosages, I tape a metal shield over the affected eye, don my c-pap mask, adjust my arm sling around my soft cast and arrange the assortment of pillows to cushion other appendages before I can fall blissfully to sleep as I recite my bedtime rosary. I take comfort in the fact that I would scare away any and all would be intruders who might see all of my regalia and run in fear.

Rather than depending on “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men” to put me back together, I have placed my reassembly process in the skilled hands of my creator and surgical teams and await final healing.

Copyright © 2023 Mary Margaret Lambert

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