Two weeks ago, on my daughters’ birthday, I was working from home and was on a half hour conference call. I didn’t realize that my leg had gone numb and when I stood up, in trying to stable myself, I twisted my foot and heard a loud crack. I had broken my 5th metatarsal bone on my right foot. “It’s called a dancers fracture”, said my urgent care doctor as he showed me the X Ray. I laughed. I loved to dance and had done for 4 hours straight on my own birthday just as week ago. Oh well, as a dear friend reminded me, perhaps it was time to slow down.
I obviously wasn’t listening. The second day I tried to move fast to catch my bus in the giant pneumatic boot that I had my right foot in. I was a ridiculous sight and even the bus driver reminded me: Take your time.
I take my time now. It’s been 2 weeks and I have 2 more weeks to go. I’ve had my share of painful sleepless nights, temper tantrums, petulance, entitlement and feeling sorry for myself. I am at peace now and very grateful. This injury has been a gift for the reasons below and many reasons that I will learn over the next two weeks.
1) Pain empties you. When in pain, you can’t think about anything else. In that, it’s a powerful tool to teach you mindfulness.
2) People are kind but are kinder when you are injured. They make room, hold elevators and soften their stance. While I am touched and grateful, most of the time our injuries are invisible. If we could all just be kind knowing we are all suffering, what would this world be like.
3) It’s incredibly freeing and absolutely ok if we allow ourselves to sit down and do nothing, even without an injury. Doing less is liberating and rejuvenating but insanely hard! I am working on it.
4) Every physical injury has an emotional manifestation and every emotional trauma has a physical manifestation. We are all fragile and carry many seen and unseen wounds. It’s important to work on both aspects of our being to live fully and well.
5) Strength is conquering your fear and trusting your intuition and doing what you need to do even if it comes at a risk but if we make that leap past our fear, every little task completed or a destination reached feels so gratifying, another gift.
6) Your kids grow up fast when you are injured. My son holds my hand and walks with me when I am dizzy. My daughter watched out for me. Their tenderness is the biggest gift. And my husbands’ quiet strength. That too. Then there are those who check on me, letting me be a child. When we hurt, we find out how deeply we are loved. And we are loved deeply.
7) Did I also mention that because I was unable to travel, I was there to watch my son win the SF Little League championship. And yes, I jumped in my broken foot!
8) Our bodies are resourceful and we adapt beautifully to our injuries. I am driving, working at home and at work and even taking road trips, all with a fractured foot.
9) When a real problem hits, our first world problems leave our heads and hearts temporarily leaving us only with what is essential. This stripping away is a soul cleansing that is cathartic.
My trials are probably not over. A visit to a neurologist next week may reveal more about the numbness and dizziness I continue to feel. But I am not afraid. Age and life will bring with it many ailments and injuries. I pray that they teach me to more patient, mindful and compassionate, skills I am obviously not learning when I am healthy:) In the larger scheme of things, my problem is a small one and lessons big.
This is the gift of my injury.