Five years ago on a bright and sunny Saturday morning, I broke an ankle and severely sprained the other. It happened so suddenly yet seemed to all go in slow motion. And I can remember it all as though it happened this morning.
I remember lying there thinking, “Shit. And it’s such a nice day out, too.” And then I proceeded to try and push the ankle back into alignment, which to this day I can’t believe me, of all people, even attempted.
So here’s my takeaway on this experience: I never want to mess up a beautiful day with nonsense. And I always think I can fix things that go wrong.
But there’s more about this experience that is important. The whole way to the hospital I denied what lie before me. No way was this going to slow me down. In fact, my sister finally did the equivalent of slapping me hard across the face like they do to hysterical women in old movies by saying,”My god, Jane! Why are you denying this? Your ankle is dangling. The thing is broken!”
So here’s my takeaway on this after that: I never want to mess up a beautiful day with nonsense. And I always think I can fix things that go wrong. AND, I deny that it’s really as bad as it is.
How dare she tell me my life was going to change, even short term! I can get through this, I thought. Then came the X-ray and the look of shock on the faces of those who read it. And it started to sink in… And then the ambulance ride to a larger hospital for surgery…. And the long process to healing…. And I knew this wasn’t an ordinary Saturday.
It was during this time that I learned I heal fast and apparently have a high tolerance for pain. But mostly, I learned that things can change in an instant. A split fricking second. One second you’re enjoying the sunny summer morning and the next moment you’re lying flat on your back looking at your ankle protrude in a direction that just isn’t natural. One second you’re wondering what to have for breakfast and the next you’re helpless and relying on your screaming-voice to get the attention of those nearby.
And shortly after that the reality of your life before doesn’t even matter because now you’re just trying to figure out how to get dressed by yourself, or go to the bathroom or to eat. It doesn’t even matter what work appointments you have the next week or what big events are taking place in your territory or who you have to call back from the week before. You’re now just trying to get through this mess you’re in without causing too much trouble for those around you. But that’s impossible because you must rely on others to help you. You have no choice. So now you are a burden to others and you’re not able to function like you once did and it all starts crashing down around you as you realize things have changed.
So here’s the lesson I continue to realize every single day. Life can change in an instant. It sounds cliche, for sure. but it is true! And when i say that not one single day goes by that I don’t realize it, I mean it. In fact, I think about it many times each day.
I was lucky my situation would be something from which I would recover fully. I often wonder what my mettle would actually be if faced with something life-threatening or serious. And not one day goes by without being thankful for both of my ankles and the fact that they are now in good working order.
Amy Newnan said:
Glad to hear you have fully recovered. I am dealing with an ankle injury myself, although nothing as bad as you were. It is reassuring to know that all this will be behind me someday.
It will be!!! Thanks for your feedback!
Amy Newnan said:
Thanks for the encouragement!
Lisa Mutschler said:
Jane, in January 2013, I stepped on one of those sloped curbs across the street from my house and broke one ankle and sprained the other. I was walking with a friend and as I lay there on the side of the street with my eyes closed, in denial of the pain…in denial of my own stupidity, all I could think of was I am not opening my eyes to this yet, but I do need to let my friend know I’m not dead. I said “I’m okay…I’m okay.”
Luckily my break wasn’t displaced so I didn’t need surgery. It didn’t take me long to figure out that using crutches for my broken ankle wasn’t helping the sprained one at all, so I switched to a wheelchair. I tried not to let it slow me down. I even finished building a table for one of Bailey’s dances at the studio…gluing, nailing, sanding, staining. When it was time to give up the wheelchair, I had gotten so good at it I didn’t want to let it go.
But things can change in an instant. While I tried to go on, I know my real estate business suffered because the following months were terrible. I realized after the fact that I wasn’t able to continue to do everything and that subconsciously doing the day to day things didn’t leave enough time for the work I should have been doing. Luckily, like you, things are back on track, but you made me realize I should be more thankful for that!