Monday, August 1, 2011

A Bat Wing and A Prayer

Who'd have thought that the 'life changes in an instant' joke was on me?  There was an upside to all those gymnastics I did with my walker.  I lost a lot of weight and got into a size I haven't worn in several years. Don't ask me about my fancy schmancy diet. It was simple. I couldn't walk up the stairs to get what I wanted whenever I wanted it. That cuts down on your caloric intact without much effort. I went almost a month without hot chocolate.  I did a lot of trembling and saw a few pink and purple elephants, but I survived going cold turkey. I'm sure the price of Hershey's Cocoa plummeted owing to the drop in demand that holiday season.

I almost got back into a little black dress that has been my 'goal' dress since '05. I'd love to say THAT lasted as long as the lingering crankiness in my ankle and leg. My ankle was cranky today. I did not fit in that dress today.  I never did get rid of my bat wings nor register them as lethal weapons either. You think I would have since I used them to hoist myself up 2 flights of stairs at least once a day for 10 wks or so.  I threatened to make an aerobics video to sell on QVC touting the plus side of breaking a leg while living in a tri-level.  Never did that either. Oh, the best laid plans for making lemonade out of lemons!

Once the anesthesia wears off, you figure out life has to go on and that it will even if you decide not to.  So, you just get with the program.  It wasn't long before I was getting to the 2nd floor on my own, transferring to the wheelchair, and then rolling around between counters and the table to fix a sandwich or the like.  I had to hold the counter to balance on one leg to do anything. Clumsy as it was it worked.

Thanksgiving came, and a friend provided a catered meal.  My sister was busy taking care of me, so there was no time for her to cook. My mom was too frail to cook.  We missed our favorite dishes but were thankful to have facsimiles that required little more than heat and eat. I was afraid. Big shocker, huh? I was afraid that I was watching my mom eat her last holiday meal. Thanks to me and my split second decision over which side of the hill to take that morning, I watched her savor the deli meal and kicked my good leg with my cast. What had I done?  I had complicated life for everyone. So many folks had needed or chosen to extend themselves on my behalf. Yes, I know. Accidents happen. But, when you are a fraidy cat like me, you spend a lot of your time minimizing risks.  Boy, had I dropped the ball that rainy morning in October.

Emancipation day came.  December 22nd The doctor told me I could start putting weight on my leg but that I would be chained to the cursed walker until April. The only thing I cared about right then was that I could stand on my own 2 legs with both hands free to cook for Christmas. I was so relieved.  We gathered around the table on 12/24, exuberant at the spread of old family recipes there on the table. What a difference a few weeks make! I felt like I'd been let out of prison. Jeff was home for the week.  My mom was frail but strong enough to savor the time.  We were turning a corner.  On December 29, my doctor had said I'd be able to drive if all went well.  What a Christmas present. 

The phone rang Christmas Day just as we began to heat leftovers. My folks and brother were here. My sister and BIL were due any minute. It was my BIL. "We are going to be late. Beth fell. I think her arm is broken. We are on the way to the ER." The call came a couple hours later.  Her left wrist was crushed. The same surgeon who wired my leg back together would now wire her wrist back in place.  She had single handedly gotten me to every PT appointment. Together, we had rejoiced that she was finally free again since I would drive myself beginning the next week.  Now she needed my help. 

The physical therapy group had become fond of her during my therapy sessions. She always was the teacher's pet! When I appeared without her the next week, the question came, "Where's your sidekick?" An audible gasp ricocheted around the room as the news of her fall and pending surgery registered. After an initial laugh, the staff sat in stunned silence. No, I wasn't kidding. Life changes in an instant. You'd think they'd have figured that out given where they work and all.

The 1st week of January, Son #2 helped me get into the van and stowed my walker. We made our way across town to help her. My walker and I vacuumed and cleaned bathrooms.  You've heard of the blind leading the blind?  Well, that was our version. I often wonder, what would we have done had we not fallen in syncopated rhythm?  They say God knows how much you can take. You know he and I are arm wrestling over that point these days. Looking back, I'd say the timing of our falls might be exhibit #1 in the argument that he really does think about how the physics of living life affects us. 

As the spring of '10 came, my body was improving, but my emptiness of heart and soul remained.  I had known from the outset of my arm wrestling match with God that there was one thing I could not do.  I could not jeopardize the seed of faith I had tried to nurture in my boys. Even tho' I could not pray in the quiet of my own soul or open one of my beloved books, Son #2 and I continued to do his Bible lesson every day during his school work.  I prayed with him the same way I had always prayed with my boys.  If you consider making the same mouth noise the same thing as praying as I always had, that is. I did that. My heart just wasn't in it because it was still laying out there in the backyard. A place I still had not been able to gaze upon 5 months after the fall.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Here's what puzzles me as much as I bet it puzzles you. In the scheme of life crises, my jack-and-jill-adventure-down-the-hill was NOTHING.  The impact of that fall was temporary if you don't count the pain and transient limp that still lingers from time to time. You know how sometimes you are walking along and you stub your toe even tho' there was nothing to stub your toe on? You laugh and keep on going while wondering  how you could have been so klutzy?  (Ok...maybe that is just me..but you get my point because if you haven't done it, you've seen someone do it.)

My rrational mind knows that what happened to me was no more than that silly, klutzy stubbed toe. Yes, it momentarily complicated life, but it was momentary in the scheme of life.  So, why on earth was that the thing that began my unraveling?  In fairness to myself, I guess I had been unraveling on the inside a little bit with every crisis that had occurred over the previous 10 years.  I had just managed to keep it self contained. I had managed to keep driving myself.  I had kept on taking care of everyone else and ignored the fact that if I was not cared for, eventually the train was going to jump the tracks.

I was exhausted.  I had no resources left with which to draw from when the next situations presented themselves. Ignorance is bliss.  You think you will be able to keep on coping just like you did yesterday until you can't cope anymore. I looked forward to spring like I always had thinking we'd finally have a chance to get our lives back under control. I was getting ready to ditch the walker.  I might just get up the gumption to go out in my backyard and face down my nemesis, the scene of the crime.  We'd get ready to launch another effort to move to Tennessee.  We'd reunite our family by hook or by crook. Yep, the long hard winter was over. It was time to kick some serious butt.

Psalm 139:12a (NIV)
even the darkness will not be dark to you...

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