On December 9, 2007 I fell on a slick driveway.
I got in the car and drove to my daughter's apartment about fifteen minutes away. I had to keep my concentration focused and keen. I had to stay calm because something was wrong with my ankle. My daughters took me to the nearby ER.
After x-rays, the attending PA confirmed what we all already knew: my right fibula was broken. I was put in a temporary cast. They gave me crutches, and as the CNA was trying to adjust them for my height I teetered and lost my balance. I should have been forewarned. Two days later, my ankle had to be maneuvered into a 90 degree angle and put in a cast. I chose a bright red one because it is my favorite color.
On December 13, 2007 I was trying to walk a short distance using those same crutches. I lost my balance and fell backwards. I landed on my right wrist. I knew it was broken. Once you have one broken bone, you recognize another one right away.
On December 17, 2007 I had surgery to put a plate on my damaged radius.
And for the next three weeks I was in a wheel chair. Or on the couch. Or in the bed.
Early in January I got the splint off and the stitches out of my wrist. I began the arduous and methodical task of regaining strength and mobility to my hand. I was scheduled to get my cast off of my leg last week. It didn't happen. My fibula wasn't quite healed. For about 45 seconds I thought I was going to cry in front of every one in the office. Holding back those tears took serious effort.
I had broken three bones. Three.
This strange year ended with literal and metaphorical broken bones. Many things that I took for granted, simply ignored, or didn't understand started to crack. And some damaged things in my life just finally finished breaking.
Broken bones--sometimes the breaking is swift and immediate. We insulate ourselves against the injury. Our bodies are designed to send out natural pain killers to numb us for just a little while.
I have been asked many times what lesson was I being taught? What truth did I need to see? I felt irked and unsettled about these questions, but it was an interrogation I was making myself. Inwardly and silently. Do we ever learn what we are supposed to right at the time? Do we even recognize what is being taught?
I have learned to walk with a new gait. Hobbled and slow. There is no grace or elegance in this walk--just a steady plodding from point A to point B. I rarely ever think about point C.
I have learned to compensate for my lack of strength and mobility in my hand and wrist. My elbow and forearm have been employed to counterbalance these tasks. Even my chin and teeth have helped in a pinch.
I have learned that when getting dressed the injured limb is always first. And when attempting to navigate stairs your good leg goes up first and your injured leg goes down first (this one has been hard for me to grasp, and I must repeat this little phrase every time).
I have learned that the breaking isn't nearly as hard as the mending and the healing. The daily discipline to restore mobility and strength can be quite uncomfortable and grueling. The struggle with patience, stillness, and rest can be terribly frustrating.
I am learning that the only true restoratives for any injury are time, rest, following instructions, gradual exercise, and a lot of prayer.
I am learning to be more willing to accept help. During this time of convalescence my daughters have had to take care of me. They have done things I would have never asked them to do. And they have done it willingly and without being asked. I have balked more times than I can count with this, yet I would not made it through this time without them (more of their story will be told in a future post).
I am learning to be willing to admit that I am in pain and to lean on a shoulder for support when offered.
I am learning that my family is far larger than I realized. My immediate family, neighborhood friends, members from our church, homeschooling families, and my library community came to my aid (this story will be told in a future post).
I am learning that some people keep their promises even when there is no obligation or duty to do so.
I am learning that mending is a strange and enigmatic journey. Bones need to knit and fuse back together, but your mental and emotional strands must also be rewoven.
I am learning that this is a time of adjustments. I am in the season of healing and mending.
Have I learned what I needed to learn? I don't know.
The lessons continue.