I’m having a bit of a struggle right now. Not a mind-blowing, life-altering struggle, but it is a life-interrupting struggle.
You see, I am temporarily handicapped.
Two ligaments in my ankle were surgically repaired after I was told my ankle would never be the same, that I’d be susceptible to ankle sprains and my ankle popping out of socket the rest of my life if I didn’t fix them.
Excuse me? I can’t have ankle sprains all the time. Ow, painful life, and besides, I’m way too active for that. I thrive on running races, exercising, and just being active.
So now I’m on crutches for four weeks, in a boot for two weeks after that, and who knows what comes next? Maybe back in my brace for a few months? Anyhow, I’m not allowed to put any weight on my injured leg. GAH! This is not a good thing for a mom who’s used to being on the go, getting things done, and being self-reliant. You don’t realize how much that skill (and by skill, I simply mean walking) impacts the rest of your life.
It’s the little things that I never think about in my normal life, hardly even give a second thought over, that I’m noticing the most.
Some things that are so easy to do when you can walk as usual but super tough to do on crutches:
- Carry things – You just can’t do that, or at least not easily. I’m getting better at trying to carry something by squeezing the crutch with my armpit while swinging it forward. Yeah, it’s awesome. I think I need to invest in a fanny pack. (That’s a joke, folks.)
- Open doors – Again, this can be done but not easily. Imagine pushing the door open with one hand, quickly putting your hand back on the crutch and sliding the foot of the crutch in front of the door to keep it from closing, hopping forward, and repeating 2 more times until your body can actually fit through the opening. In public places people either ignore the fact that I’m on crutches and look the other way (I want to say, “Can I get a little help over here?”), or they are falling over themselves to help me. I love you guys. Thanks. Maybe I should take lessons from this guy?
- Exercise – My right thigh is constantly on fire from supporting my body on its own, does that count? I’ve started hopping from place to place in my house because it’s more efficient, but I’ll tell you – I’m exhausted! Seriously, try hopping around on one leg all day and see if you’re not a sweaty mess. This has become my current exercise. As a Beachbody Coach, I’m used to working out almost daily, so this has been a huge blow to my daily routine.
- Walk up steps – Holy smokes! The first time I stood at the bottom of my steps, I just stood there for a moment and thought, “How am I supposed to get up there?” I’ve tried scooting on my bottom, jumping up one step at a time holding the handrail, crawling, and using crutches one step at a time. It’s pretty pitiful. When my friends ask how they can help, I ask them if they can install one of those automated chairs that take you to the top. Wouldn’t that be awesome? I always wanted to ride one of those as a kid.
But I digress. None of the methods above are at all efficient; I miss the days of dashing up the steps, skipping every other one (mostly because I was late and needed something quickly).
Needless to say, being forced to use crutches to get around and sitting on the sidelines of my active lifestyle has been pretty tough, and being someone who thrives on efficiency, I’ve been tested with my patience, my ability (or should I say lack of ability) to ask for help, and knowing how to rest. I have known for a long time that those are the exact areas I need to work on, and now I’m just choosing to see this as a forced way to get me to do them.
So what have I learned so far? I’ve definitely worked on resting more. My calendar is almost completely open. No longer is it filled to the brim with obligations. That’s a really nice feeling. It makes me realize that I need to learn to say no to things more often. I don’t have to be on the go or book every day of every month. It’s nice having the time to REST. I’ve been spending more time reading, praying, listening to podcasts, connecting with people, and generally just slowing down. I think that’s an important thing to do from time to time, but unfortunately our culture is one that encourages “doing more”. We’re really just burning ourselves out. I know that now.
I’m still working on asking for help. I’m definitely better at accepting help instead of shooing it away, but it still feels a bit foreign to me. The point is, people want to feel needed and helpful. I know if the tables were turned, I would want to help out however I could. So, I’m going to make an effort to ask for what I need instead of feeling self-righteous when I’m getting bogged down with too much stuff, trying to do it alone.
As for my patience, well, let’s just say that’s something I have to keep in my prayers. I think that’s going to take a bit more chiseling on God’s part. The days I spend time with Him, I am much more patient. The days I’m rushing around trying to get lunches packed, breakfasts made, homework done, all while on my crutches, and I haven’t spent time in prayer, I know my tolerance level is much lower. The strength and love I gain from that time with Him is precious and impacts me each time. So, I guess what I’m saying is, I have to be more scheduled with my prayer life if I want to increase my patience. These are the books I’m currently using in my daily quiet times – they totally inspire me!
I guess the biggest thing I can say about what I’m going through is, it is temporary. I won’t be on crutches or in a boot or with a brace forever. There are many people out there that are permanently handicapped, and I will forever have empathy for them and the daily struggles they go through that I cannot even imagine. For them, it’s life. For me, it’s just a life interruption.
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