“To every thing there is a season; and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”
–Ecclesiates 3, 4
Its been 7 weeks today since I broke my fibula. Before I get into how its doing and all the ups and downs that have been happening, I need to say that its been so much harder than I ever thought.
When it first happened, I felt guilty because I was crying in the car trying to decide what to do. Tears were streaming down my face, Taylor in the back seat and I was trying to think clearly and make a decision. Do I take her with me to the ER? Do I try to wait for an appointment? There were naps to be had and kids to be picked up from the bus stop. The tears just kept coming as I thought about how I wouldn’t be able to do that 6 mile run I wanted to on Saturday and how I didn’t even know how I was going to take care of two little kids on my own until my husband returned the next day from his work trip. “Its just an ankle!” I told myself, “Its not life or death, buck up buttercup. Ankle’s heal.”
Had I known just how hard, physically and emotionally the next 6 weeks would be, I probably wouldn’t have even tried to stop myself from crying.
My biggest mistake though was that I was trying so hard to be positive. I know people who have and are still going through things much much harder than this, so I felt like I just had to be thankful that this was all it was. Yet having a broken leg while trying to care for two small children is REALLY, really hard. But I was bound and determined to get through it with a grateful heart and a smile on my face.
I thought the lesson I was supposed to be learning from all of this was to be more appreciative of the things I took for granted. Its true, just before it all happened I was feeling completely overwhelmed of everything I had to do with my oldest starting school for the first time and my husband traveling and me trying to redo our master bedroom by myself. So life told me to sit down.
I hate being a burden to anyone, especially my family. I see myself as the server of our family, not the one getting waited on. Not only that, but I hate being an emotional burden just as much as physical one. I didn’t want to bother everyone with my sorrows. So if I felt like complaining I kept it to myself. I didn’t let them know everything I was feeling inside. Truth be told, I didn’t even allow myself to wallow in self pity. When the negative thoughts came, I could always come up with an “at least…”
But that made it so much worse. I had no outlet for all the things I was going through. My normal stress reliever (running) was taken away from me. For the first couple weeks I was not allowed to bear weight at all. This is a HUGE challenge when you are taking care of a two year old by yourself all day and your house is full of stairs. I did the best I could, but I couldn’t not put weight on it at all when I had to somehow get my toddler upstairs for her nap. The scooter I used (that I was so thankful for) put tons of pressure on my lower back and by the end of the day I was in horrible pain and would just lay on a heating pad. I wasn’t sleeping well because there just isn’t many comfortable positions to sleep in with a broken ankle. As a stay at home mom, I’m used to getting in 5-6 miles on non-running days just by playing with my kids and cleaning the house, so to go from that to needing to sit around all day, was not easy at all. My body was used to being in constant motion–and I liked it that way. I realized after all this time that my former job of sitting at a desk for the better part of 9 hours a day was not really meant for me.
Once my two weeks were up, I was told it was ok to start walking in the boot, but that I should rest as much as possible and let pain be my guide if I was doing too much. There’s so much I could say here about pain tolerance and athletes and how this may not be the best approach for everyone. I did my best to stay off it as much as I could but after two weeks of not doing hardly any housework I was pretty eager to jump back into action. The problem with the boot is that its really big and heavy and the height of it didn’t line up with any of my shoes. My running shoes were too short, and I wasn’t even going to attempt to walk in heels on my healthy foot. My Dansko’s felt the best, but my healthy foot was slightly higher than my leg with the boot so after two days of walking my hips were waking me up in pain at night.
Finally I found a product on Amazon that you wear over athletic shoes that is adjustable that can raise your shoes up to the height of the boot. It seemed to help my hips, but my right knee (the one I injured training for the Riverbank last spring) started to ache. This was all leading up to my appointment at 5 weeks post fracture that would leave me in tears again. When I was told that my fracture wasn’t healing at all.
Ok. I had had enough. I was trying to keep my composure. But inside I was raging. What the what?! How could 5 weeks of doing NOTHING all be for naught?! This was a serious low and I could no longer hold it all inside. I had a tearful conversation with my husband where I finally allowed myself to let it all out. And he listened with empathy. And I felt a little better. Then a conversation with my long time friend. These people get it. Its hard. No, its not the hardest thing to go through. Plenty of people have it worse, but that doesn’t mean that this is a walk in the park (I’d LOVE a walk in the park BTW). Its hard and sometimes it feels good to unload some of that burden onto people who love you and care about what you’re going through. It doesn’t mean that you’ve lost sight of perspective. I still can find plenty of things to be thankful for. It also doesn’t mean I’m turning into someone who is always down on their luck, always looking for the negative no matter what the situation.
That weekend I was in a grumpy, mopey state. And that’s ok too, we live in a culture that tells us we should never be sad and provides plenty of distractions from our feelings (literally) in the palm of our hands. I rested, and I got angry and I felt sorry for myself, and then when Monday rolled around it was a new day. I got up, I took my boot off and appreciated the small things and set my sights on my short term goal. To be able to walk with my girls on Halloween for trick or treating. I’m happy to say that that goal was accomplished! Someday, I’d like to run a marathon again too. In the meantime, I look forward to just being an active participant with my family. Maybe I’ll be able to do a short, easy run by Christmas. We’ll see how it goes. Having short term goals helps me to realize the small victories and celebrate them as they come.
So maybe part of the lesson I learn through this experience IS to appreciate things as they are more. I’ve also learned that its ok to rely on your support system too. That a good cry can make you feel better every once in a while. And to always hold onto hope that a better season is just around the corner. And I will praise God in the good seasons and in the bad.
I also think it benefits our kids to see how we handle the tough seasons. Alex just melts my heart every single time she prays and she asks God to heal my broken ankle. I realized that I had not prayed for my own ankle even once. I felt like it was such a minor thing to pray for. Now I’ve started praying for my own ankle too and not feeling guilty about doing so.
If any of my friends or family is ever going through a hard time, please know you can talk about it to me. Its ok to be sad sometimes and its ok to talk about it. And don’t forget to pray for yourself too.
“Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.”