My Pilon Fracture or how I broke my leg/ankle and learned to color
Loving-kindness has never been my way. My childhood nickname was “the bison” and my horoscope sign is a bull. I am tenacious, persistent, stubborn, intolerant of whiners, nappers, procrastinators and anyone who slept past 9am or didn’t immediately jump to their feet to clear the table after dinner. When I was clinically depressed I wasn’t given the sort of depression you see in movies with tons of sleeping and sitting and staring out windows but the kind that shocks you awake at 5am, sends you running at 6am, cleaning at 7, to work at 8, constantly in motion, unable to rest. My therapist told me it was called an “agitated depression” and nodded sympathetically when I expressed my sadness that even with overwhelming grief and anger I could not give myself a break.
So, here I am staring at 60, recovering from a fall I took on December 27th 2016 when I was hustling my husband out of my mother’s home in New Jersey so we could make the 12-hour drive back to Chicago. I decided it would be more efficient to carry ALL of the bags down the stairs and when I lost my footing and fell, all of the bags, all of the weight landed on my left foot and ankle and leg resulting in a very serious injury called a pilon fracture. And yet, the first thing out of my mouth was, “Don’t wake up my mother” and the next was the suggestion we attempt to make it to Pittsburgh before we went to an emergency room. Despite the incredible, awful pain I spent most of the trip back to Chicago trying to figure out ways to rearrange my life so this brief inconvenience would be just that. Well, guess what? It’s April 2nd 2017 and I’m learning how to walk again.
What have I learned in the past months of sitting in our condo 24/7 with my leg propped on pillows? I will never make fun of people who enjoy adult coloring books again. I am not a candidate for opiate addiction having run though many Percocet, Norcos, Tramadol and finding them uniformly icky. I’m a drunk with a bit of cocaine thrown in to prolong the agony. Sober over thirty years taking pain meds was a coherent, constructive and necessary decision. Did it feel good? No, sadly, no. I understand why people stopped calling and visiting. I had absolutely nothing to add to the conversation. I was sick of myself so how could I expect my friends to stay the course? There were a few exceptions especially my incredibly supportive, kind and hand working husband who tolerated a weepy, angry, lamed wife.
Walking hurts very much especially first thing in the morning. My body is an alien, out-of-shape entity that hasn’t actually lacked muscle since I was a fifteen-year old soccer player. Exercise has been a constant comfort and of all the things I missed during this winter it was moving my aging body through space and sweating hard, becoming breathless because of the sprints I had just finished, finding my inner athlete and briefly leaving the middle-aged woman behind.
Now, it’s about patience, small victories, gratitude and acceptance. My formerly muscular calves are a sad testament to how quickly one’s body can forget all those years of walking, running, elliptical, classes, stairs chosen instead of escalators. And yet, I love this body, this woman, this survivor, this leg that now displays a small pile of screws and a piece of metal documenting the folly of impatience and hubris.