Two o’clock in the morning, I’m awake with a back that is convulsing with pain like a man on death row being electrocuted. This largely stems from the fact that I have spent a big chunk of the last thirty-six hours laid up on my roommate’s couch, on my ass, and sleeping in a most unnatural position. I broke my ankle on Saturday and the cause of which—falling down the stairs—seems to be synomynous with aging. Now, I hobble around on crutches, a dull and bruised baseball where my ankle once was, and realize that two ankles make for a full life.
How truly remarkable it is to watch my roommates, or the next door neighbors, walk upright on two legs. To listen to my roommate gallup up and down our flight of stairs like a gazelle, retrieving a package or a delivered smoothie for yours truly, has become something magical. I have not attempted the flight of stairs yet but this morning I must in order to make my orthopedic surgeon appointment. I am not looking forward to that arduous journey down twenty-some odd steps.
How odd that one slip on a step can cause such a chain reaction that life’s plans can be altered. New apartments cannot be looked at. Travel plans gone in a blink. Hoping that the Berlin trip in November won’t be altered or canceled has become my dream, my bedtime prayer. Thankfully I have a job that can be done—and done well—from home. I am not entirely sure how I would make it into the office every day with a bum foot.
It’s not so much the pain of the broken ankle; I’m managing there. It’s the time and effort it takes to do that which was such a simple act this past Friday. Do you know it took me almost an hour yesterday to take a shower? To even get a cup of coffee takes me almost ten minutes sashaying my way around the kitchen like a ballet dancer perfecting her pirouettes. Peeing is such a debacle that I have become more camel-like, waiting until the last possible moment to make the short—and yet extremely long—trip down the hallway into our cramped bathroom, where I manouver my ass onto the toilet, trying desperately to keep my weight off the ankle. It’s quite the scene.
There is good that comes out of this. First, there’s change. I like change, I like the opportunity for new experiences. Me? I’ve never broken anything in my life (and this is after a bit of a wild life as a young adult) so now I get to experience what it feels like to have broken a bone. Would I have chosen this if presented on a menu? No, most assuredly not. I don’t know what the next few months are going to have in store for me but the accident has grounded me. It’s given me the certainty that I’m here. It’s given me the gift of being present in my body.
Second, the accident reminded me how good the people are in my life. My folks came and took Pugsy back to their house to watch him since I can no longer bring him outside. My best friend Jes has tirelessly taken care of me, first with the ER visit, then the endless trips to retrieve yet another thing that would have taken me a generation to procure, all with a smile and kind words. Coworkers offering trips to the grocery store, a boss checking in the morning after. I am lucky and blessed to have such people in my life.
And, thirdly, The Broken Ankle Debacle of 2019 has me reevaluating what is important to me. I have insurance so the trip to the ER, the orthopedic surgeon’s appointment in six hours, the pain pills, aren’t something that is going to break me. There was a time, in my mid-twenties, when a trip to the ER was a choice between eating plain tuna for weeks straight or getting medical attention. There was a time when being laid up for a few days—or, more than likely in my case, weeks—would have meant I lost my job. I am immensely lucky to be living the life I am and to have the resources I do. Thank God for an emergency fund; I haven’t had to dip into it just yet but knowing it’s there takes away the burden of worrying about money.
I don’t know what the next few months are going to look like. I hope to hell I’ll be able to move around more than I currently am sooner than I think. I do know that I’m limited in my movement and that my world just became very small. Maybe this is an opportunity to pull my gaze inward, work on the bits of myself that feels the need to run away, and question why I would want to give this life up for a life of travel and uncertainty. I am now forced to slow down, stop being so Type A, and smell the proverbial roses. Let’s see how long this attitude lasts.