Saturday, December 10, 2016

Things you learn fast when your leg is broken

1. Breaking your leg doesn't necessarily hurt as much as you think it might. I still can't tell if I saw my ankle twist with my eyes or just watched it with my nerve endings. There's a clear picture in my head that is outlined bright red with sensation. A popping. A wrenching. A numbness. A yelp. An inability to feel my toes, followed by the relief that I could feel my toes. My insistence on narrating all of this aloud to whoever first came to see what was wrong. The pain when they took my skate off. The moments of hilarity in the whole process. The moments when the hilarity was almost too much and I nearly lapsed into hysterical laughter. The calm when the pain subsided and it felt like being in the ER was a waste of time when clearly I just had a bad sprain. I kept saying to my friends -- "This will probably be less annoying if I can go to urgent care when they open tomorrow. I'm sure it's nothing they'll be able to help with." Thankfully, they kept me there.

1.5. The fact that I've seen this happen to at least half a dozen friends and teammates is SUPREMELY comforting. I kind of know the routine. I have a ton of people to ask for advice. I have a sense of what will be mentally and emotionally difficult as I grapple with how much time and work it's going to take to get back to feeling strong and capable in my body and, eventually, on the track.

1.75. Going from identifying as an athlete who measures herself in strength and capability to move really fast and lift really heavy things and ride her bike all over NYC and play a fast-moving aggressive sport to someone who measures herself in how many things she can do before she has to sit down and elevate her leg again eye-opening as I suspected it might be. I've grappled with my own ableism over the years, and still am, but my biggest points of empathy have been with mental disabilities (via depression and anxiety) until now. And I recognize my privilege in being able to know I'll be walking again in XYZ weeks.

2. Putting a cast on hurts more than you think it might. That's all I want to say about that.

2.5. Putting lists in rational chronological order is for suckers.

3. You can't use crutches on stairs. I've been sternly told not to try to crutch on stairs. I've been going up and down on my butt, using my arms to propel me, dragging my crutches down with me every four or five stairs. It feels ridiculous.

3.5. It takes exactly one day to stop caring if you're ridiculous.

4. I am learning so many creative ways to carry things. Sports bras are the best pocket in the world. Draping things on my shoulders also works. So do my teeth. I am the Christmas tree of hobbling humans.

5. In theory I can get places. I took a taxi to the doctor yesterday with exactly 30 minute's notice that they could see me for a referral I really need. In retrospect, that was crazy, but now I have the assurance that I'll be seeing a specialist before it's too late to get surgery. And I got back home without incident, even after having to crutch a block in the cold to meet my ride home. But I'm still learning how to open doors on crutches, and get into cars on crutches, and the entire world has become a giant problem-solving exercise that I, medically speaking, should not be taking too fast. My world is mostly my apartment and I'm learning to be okay with that. Like Rear Window, but for the moon out my bedroom window. Like Rear Window, but for the slow crawl of morning sun up the side of the building next door. Like Rear Window, but for the last few brown leaves clinging to their trees, daring December to strip them down.

6. Asking for help is hard, even when it's offered with great enthusiasm.

6.5. Counting your achievements helps. Yesterday I made myself coffee and washed my breakfast dishes. Today I will feel good if I successfully take a bath. Maybe some day I can get a friend to give me a fresh haircut!

7. I observed this when I first moved, from the hypothetical perspective of a person who could walk, run, skip, bike, etc, wherever she wanted, but: NYC is a terrible place to have any kind of mobility impairment.

8. I have good friends.

No comments: