Healing Lessons

On the first day of summer, I fell down the last step into “Portland’s Living Room” and broke my ankle in three places. Sprawled out on the bricks under a perfectly sunny sky, I had no idea what I was in for. One ambulance ride and a few x-rays later, it became clear that my summer plans would be drastically changing.

The subsequent weeks were a blur of hospital visits, surgery, more x-rays, and endless lonely days in pain, waiting for my bones to heal. I remember trying in the beginning to sort out the lesson hidden behind the pain and disappointment. Like most lessons, this one wouldn’t be willed into revealing itself easily.

Two months later, I’m in a walking boot, back at work almost full-time, in physical therapy, but still struggling to return to my normal day to day life. Every new activity I can do is an exciting small victory. I also finally feel like I’ve learned a few things from this experience.

Life and good health are finite blessings. I feel foolish for having taken 32 years for this to truly sink in. A few weeks into the injury I recall thinking about how my ankle would eventually heal, but might never be the same again. For the first time I felt mortal, and wracked with fear of all of the things I would lose in the future. Thankfully this has turned from panic into a realization that if there is something I want to do, I should get on with it. There are dreams I’ve been putting off, to wait for the perfect plan, or “enough” money. Waiting time is over, because the time I always thought would be there later is not guaranteed.

The really sweet moments take patience. I am not naturally a patient person. I want to be good at everything, and I want to be good at it yesterday. It has been very humbling to have to learn to walk again. Four weeks ago when I couldn’t move my toes, walking seemed impossible. Now I am putting full weight through my left leg and am on the verge of walking. It took day after day of frustratingly small steps to get here. I am slowly learning the art of patience.

My friends and family are amazing. I always knew this, but having to depend on other people for nearly everything really reinforces how important your tribe is. Among many other kind acts, I’ll never forget having my hair washed after surgery, or receiving a box full of chocolate and well wishes from overseas.

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