Last July I broke my left ankle. Originally, there was a chance that both ankles suffered fractures but, as it turned out, the left one broke good and clean – no ligaments were torn to complicate matters – and the right ankle merely suffered a sprain, which recovered quickly.
I had surgery, performed by an adorable young doctor who struck me more as a young kid in need of snack rather than as an accomplished surgeon. After surgery, where a metal plate and two screws were left to support my broken bones, I landed in a temporary pile of fascination, frustration and major appliances – wheelchair, walker, scooter and cane.
I recuperated briefly in a sweet place where I was the youngest one by far. In my wheelchair, among the elderly, I noticed a few unexpected things:
(1) It takes a lot of energy to talk while in a “chair,” viewing people from the waist up – therefore, one often only smiles, nods and waves.
(2) In those first few days after surgery, I needed pain meds and was advised by all medical personnel to “stay ahead of the pain” in order for the body to heal. I was grateful for the pills and the wooziness that took my mind off the real pain I was experiencing. Days passed, the pain downshifted to discomfort and I knew it was time to stop the narcotics. Perhaps I am naïve, but I cannot fathom how people get addicted to that “wonkiness” when, for me, looking at plants drenched in sunlight, listening to rustling trees, appreciating flowers and friends, the open sky and Mozart eased my most pain filled voids. I’ve always been very good at staring. I used to wonder why that was, as it seemed to gently shut my brain down but, in describing the above, I see it as a blessed asset.
When I got home, I banged around my modest place with the aforementioned appliances, chipping the paint off most of its corners. The wheelchair, the walker and the knee scooter all stressed different parts of my body and I was weary all the time. For instance, it took me an hour to make an egg salad sandwich – rolling back and forth between boiling eggs, rolling to the fridge for mayo and bread. Once it was done and eaten, I napped for hours.
Months have passed and I’ve sufficiently healed, for the most part, re-learned how to walk, thanks to strenuous physical therapy and silent mindfulness (“heel, toe, heel ,toe”) and returned to work.
I am constantly reminded of how sweet, simple blessings restored me to real healing.