A little scare

I’ll say right here & now that the scare had nothing to do with cancer. There, now y’all can breathe.

The scare had nothing to do with cancer but everything to do with our little piggie. She fell in the pool yesterday, and scared the bejeezus out of me.

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Luckily, I was across the pool from her and was able to get to her in a matter of seconds, although it seemed like it took forever. I was holding a book in my hand that doesn’t belong to me, and apparently I was thinking about not getting it wet because I held it above my head as I swam over to the submerged piggie. I don’t remember thinking about the book, but after the calamity I noticed it was safe and dry on the edge of the hot tub, between where I started my rescue attempt and where the distressed piggie was. Funny the way we react in the midst of chaos.

Our little piggie is a curious girl, and she was sniffing a pool float that had recently been vacated by me. It has floated up against the edge of the pool in the deep end, and she must have leaned toward it to investigate it. I had my back turned across the pool and didn’t see her reach out toward the float, but I heard a small splash and saw her sinking fast. She was at least a foot underwater before she started paddling madly to get herself to the surface. She reached the surface just before I reached her, and I’m happy to report that she can indeed swim, but because she’s built rather low to the ground, I think she’d have a hard time getting herself out of the pool without some help. I shudder to think of her swimming aimlessly in the deep end, unable to make purchase and unknowing about the safety of swimming to the shallow end and resting upon the tanning deck.

So this time, we were lucky. She didn’t have to swim aimlessly and I reached her quickly. We were both quite breathless with fear, and she recovered much more quickly than I. As soon as I grabbed her, she relaxed but I still had to swim to the shallow end while holding her so I could get her out of the pool. Upon having her four feet once again firmly planted on solid ground, she gave a big shake, scratched one of her ears with a hind foot, and sashayed over to a sunny spot to dry off. It took me a bit longer to settle down.

Lately I’ve been thinking about resilience, and how ironic it is that going through something life-altering and scary, like a cancer diagnosis, would seem to make one more resilient. Before I’d looked tragedy and hardship in the eye, I would have thought that the harder the times, the stronger the person. Maybe that is true for some, but for me it seems to be just the opposite: going through hard times has made me less tough. I’m fearful now when before I was brave. I’m full of anxiety when in the past, I was not worried. I’m would up now, imagining the worst-case scenario before it even has a chance to manifest; before, I wouldn’t even have thought to go there.

Martin Luther Kind once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” That’s food for thought, and if anyone should know about adversity and resilience, it would be Dr King. In the abstract, I would wholeheartedly agree with him. In reality, however, my research seems to prove the opposite: the more crap I endure, the worse for wear I become. And that old axiom about “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” — I’m starting to have serious doubts about that one, too. Long after our little piggie was safe and dry, my brain kept replaying the scene in the pool. A continuous loop of Piper underwater was stuck on “rewind” in my mind.

According to the experts, I’m wrong. A study on adversity and resilience done by Mark D Seery, PhD, at the University of Buffalo SUNY, indicates that people who’ve endured moderate trauma are better off than people who lead a charmed life.

Dr Seery says that “while going through many experiences like assault, hurricanes, and bereavement can be psychologically damaging, small amounts of trauma may help people develop resilience.” He likens moderate trauma’s effect on our resilience to exercise’s effects on our muscles: small tears grow back stronger than before. Perhaps it’s because going through hard times forces us to become better at coping with difficulty. Nobody said life was easy, and now Dr Seery says that’s a good thing. I’m going to take his word for it, since he is an expert. I’m going to choose to believe that I’m becoming more resilient with each hit, despite the fact that it seems like the more adversity I face, the more broken down I become.

One of my favorite descriptions of resilience is in W.P. Kinsella’s short story The Thrill of the Grass. Kinsella writes beautifully about his love of baseball (in his case, the Chicago Cubs). While he’s best known for Shoeless Joe, the basis for the stellar movie “Field of Dreams,” one line in The Thrill of the Grass stands out. He refers to a character who had “fouled off the curves that life had thrown her.” I’m a sucker for a good baseball metaphor, and Kinsella knocked that one out of the park.

Fellow BC warrior Elizabeth Edwards knew a thing or two about resilience. In fact, she wrote a book called Resilience: The New Afterword. In it she writes that “when the wind blows rough, the tough adjust their sails.” Or, they fish their little piggies out of the pool.




14 Comments on “A little scare”

  1. Christy says:

    As soon as I saw the title, I knew exactly what (who) you were talking about. Silly, little piggy!

  2. Lauren says:

    I am so with you girlfriend, I feel like my teflon skin has become saran wrap at best.

    Glad little piggie is okay, sounds like the old pool alarm needs to come out of the box…

  3. I love that quote at the end…..it feels like I am once again adjusting MY sails.

  4. Eddie says:

    Piper needs some kind of ramp to get down onto the tanning deck. Now that we know she can swim we just have to teach her not to relieve herself in the water!

  5. I understand just how you feel. As Lauren said, some of our Teflon is gone, however, over the long pull, I believe we’re stronger than those who’ve led a charmed life. We have the resources to drawn on to get us through the tough times. On the flip side, we also know what’s lurking out there to drag us to the bottom of the pool and drown us. We’re definitely on high alert the rest of our lives, but in some ways, that’s not all bad. Perhaps this sense of worrying will help us head off future problems at the pass.

    Speaking of future problems, are you worried Piper will do this, again? Do you have to pig proof the pool?

  6. Jan Baird says:

    I’m so glad piggie got out. Elizabeth Edwards is my heroine, so I just love her quote. And I do believe that moderate adversity does toughen us up and make us more resilient. Well, I’m clinging to that hope, anyway. It helps me cope when I’m facing the wind. xx

  7. Phew! Thank goodness Piggie is ok…and i love how this story brought you to reflect on resilience – have to say I agree with you. By the way “scared the bejeezus out of me” is an Irish turn of phrase too – I had never heard it used outside of here before now😉

  8. Barb Fernald says:

    Age and experience have made me much more resilient than I used to be…but also much less brave. I don’t understand why, and I know exactly what you are describing. Glad Piper is safe and that your scare was pig related!

  9. billgncs says:

    I would have thoughts pigs would be natural swimmers… glad everything is OK.
    Agreed about “what makes us stronger”, sometimes the batteries wind down, and really need to be recharged.

  10. Bruce Kramer says:

    Pink,
    I was really struck by this quote: “Dr Seery says that “while going through many experiences like assault, hurricanes, and bereavement can be psychologically damaging, small amounts of trauma may help people develop resilience.” He likens moderate trauma’s effect on our resilience to exercise’s effects on our muscles: small tears grow back stronger than before. Perhaps it’s because going through hard times forces us to become better at coping with difficulty. Nobody said life was easy, and now Dr Seery says that’s a good thing. I’m going to take his word for it, since he is an expert. I’m going to choose to believe that I’m becoming more resilient with each hit, despite the fact that it seems like the more adversity I face, the more broken down I become.”

    There is a real benefit to small amounts of trauma, but when trauma hits in a big time way, it can be debilitating. And it doesn’t stop–it builds. So your reaction strikes me as both perceptive and resilient. Thanks for sharing this. It was helpful on a tough day.

  11. hjelmstd says:

    I don’t know that I feel braver. I feel more experienced with more tools and resources upon which to draw. And I am more shock-proof.

  12. So glad to hear your little piggy was alright! How fortunate you were there to save her – maybe some swimming lessons are in order for her? Or is that even possible?

  13. 2dogsandapig says:

    I just stumbled upon your blog! I was researching about pigs because I have had one for over a year and I just had my own scare with seizures! Anyways, she’s ok now! but your pig is adorable I can’t wait till mine gets a little bigger, she’s only 12 lbs. I would love to know what you feed your pig. Mine is indoor.

    • Hi, I’m glad you found my blog. We feed Piper MannaPro potbellied pig feed. It has the recommended ratio for domesticated pigs, which is something like 13% protein, 2% fat and 12% protein. You can find some good info–and cute pig pics–at Ross Mill Farm & pig sanctuary. Google it. It’s a pig rescue & farm in Pennsylvania. Great info on their web and Facebook pages, and their staff will answer specific questions. Hope that helps!


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