By Henry Amador
So in February of this year I took a nasty spill on the tiny remaining bits of ice that lingered on our front steps.
That day is still so vivid in my mind, the fall, the pain that shot through my arm and the look on my little boy’s face as he watched me leaving and heading for the car.
A ritual he and I often did only this day the circumstances were so different.
I pretty much knew I had broken my wrist immediately and although I complained of shoulder pain in the ER as well they basically just focused on the mangled and swollen mess that was quickly becoming my wrist.
The following days and weeks were a blur due to the pain medications and the flurry of our family trying to make so many adjustments.
Did I need wrist surgery? Yes.
Did it end my long and beautiful 30 year career as a hairdresser? At that moment I swore no way, I’d be back up and at it in no time.
I immediately tried to reassure my clients that I’d be fine, that we would be fine.
I had no way of knowing then how not fine I was, no way of knowing at all.
As my wrist continued healing my shoulder continued to worsen, It wasn’t until the wrist healed enough for me to really push myself that I realized that I had very little shoulder movement available.
I continued that conversation with my wrist surgeon and as much as he agreed that my shoulder needed attention, he wanted to wait until the three month mark to be sure no further poking and prodding would affect the pins and plates he had so wonderfully used to reconnect the bones on my dominate hand.
Shoulder day finally came and sure enough the MRI showed a massive tear in my rotator cuff that would also be requiring a surgical procedure.
The shoulder specialist was never too upbeat or optimistic about the outcome but like the sports doctor that he is he said we needed to give it the good ole college try.
The time leading up to shoulder surgery is where I began to really explore my feelings, It was there where I had to face the fact that I may never be the man I was, I may never do the things I did and more importantly I feared what kind of father and husband I would be, could be.
After the fall I became a full time stay at home dad and quite honestly being home with my son and trying to be so present and loving for him as I faced daily, never ending pain has been one of the hardest things I have ever faced and boy oh boy have I faced some things in my life.
My husband also had to take on so much more work to make up for my sudden loss of income, that in itself can destroy a family over time so needless to say, things were and are difficult.
We are managing however to all move forward with love and patience in mind.
Today I am two days post shoulder surgery and the results were not stellar, in another sports analogy my doctor said that we not only did not hit a home run but that we barely made it to first base. Apparently my own tissues and tendons were too weak to re-attach and his thoughts for my future will probably include a shoulder replacement and all the fun stuff that goes along with that.
Facing that inevitability while I still can’t even make a proper fist is daunting and unfathomable to me.
Looking back at the past five months has been causing me to wonder what depression looks like, what different forms it might take.
I am in no means trying to making light of depression or the serious dis-ease that it is.
I simply and really don’t know.
I watch the never ending commercials offering hope and well-being in the form of tiny pills and I ask myself if that is what I need or if it’s just time that I need.
Am I functioning? Yes.
Is my son being cared for? Yes.
Does he know his Daddy is very sad? I hope not.
Do I perhaps go to bed in the same shorts and Tee I wore all day? Yes.
Do I still put on a good face like in that picture above taken just two weeks ago? Yes.
Did that face perhaps forget to brush its teeth? Yes, Is that what depression is? Is it?
Folks described that face as confident, strong, content and handsome, was I feeling any of that? No.
I don’t know what any of this means right now.
The spiritual man in me wonders if I’ve gone back in a cocoon for some reason yet revealed and I’m just preparing to re-emerge a new being.
That same spiritual being wonders if I will be able to rediscover, re-imagine and rebuild myself on the other side of this crazy journey I’m on.
I don’t know but I wanted to put these thoughts to paper in hopes that they might steady my gaze and calm my heart. Perhaps it can start a dialogue or that someone out there may have experience to share with me, with us.
Men in general have a hard time discussing depression and gay men, well we often feel held to an even higher standard that can make it even more difficult.
Again, I don’t know what all the faces of depression might look like but I’m hoping mine is not one of them.