Today is January 1, 2017 and I’ve already had two very good crying spells. Not the way to start a new year, in my opinion. Almost exactly two weeks ago I slipped on our stairs and broke my ankle. Now, when I say ‘broke’ I’m not referring to a fracture. I mean broken. Shattered. I’ll never forget looking down and seeing my foot dangling off 90 degrees to the side of my leg and grotesquely deformed from displaced bones and swelling. I can’t get the image out of my head. Neither can my family, they all watched it happen. My 15 year old called 911. This was 6 days before Christmas.
I guess I’m pretty lucky that it took 42 years before I suffered a traumatic injury. Oh I’ve felt pain before. I’ve birthed two children and had two hip surgeries. Let me say none of those remotely compared to the pain of this injury. It was a struggle to remain conscious through the pain. Even the maximum dose of morphine would only buy me a groggy hour before I’d wake crying again.
Even splinted, any time I had to be moved I could feel the bones shifting inside of me and the searing pain made me scream involuntarily. I feel so bad for my poor family and one dear friend who had to witness any of it.
I try to be a stoic person. I’ve experienced some very difficult things in my life and I try to face situations with as much grace as I can. But there I was, crying out in agony with three people trying to lift/position me every time I had to use the commode. It’s a level of vulnerability I’d never imagined.
I’d suffered what is called a trimalleolar ankle fracture with dislocation. It’s basically the worst case scenario of ankle injuries. Three of the supporting ankle bones were snapped and my foot was left dangling like a tennis ball in a tube sock. To save my foot, the ER doctor reduced the dislocation (under sedation) almost immediately. Unfortunately there were snafus and setbacks that meant surgery wouldn’t happen for another three days.
I was released from the hospital on Christmas Day and came home a house full of family and merriment, very little of which I actually remember. The week after Christmas was a blur of charting medications, sleep, and visits from friends.
How do I launch into the excitement of a new year when I can hardly leave my bed? My blood pressure still drops when I try to stand, so a wheelchair is necessary. I can’t cook, clean, drive, or care for my family and dogs.
Now I learn the hardest lesson yet: helplessness and accepting help. Now I learn to let my family take care of me for a change. I learn to let my house be in disarray. I learn to say ‘yes’ when someone offers assistance, because if I say no it might mean I lay in bed hungry and holding my pee until the next offer comes along.
I’m learning that everyday brings healing and progress, no matter how slow.