"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."
- William Arthur Ward
Just because my life needed a little extra pep to its step, I went out and broke my leg.
Like, really bad.
It's been a difficult couple of months, but I was out at my boyfriend's place where a few friends had gathered for a casual, evening BBQ.
The sun was shining, the tunes were playing and glorious steak, prawns, sweet potatoes and veggies were grilling.
I was sitting taking it all in and remember thinking to myself, "This is so nice. I actually feel contentment and joy."
I was having a really nice time - which was a really great feeling.
So much so, that I decided to join in an ongoing pick-up game of badminton taking place in the backyard.
We rallied a bit and then the birdie came towards me - albeit a little too far ahead of where I was standing. Now I may not be an athlete, but I can get pretty competitive - so I lunged forward to try and make the return swing and then…boom!
Down I went, onto the side of my face and shoulder which somehow caused my knee to make a loud cracking/popping sound.
I grabbed me knee and shouted in pain. I knew this was more than just a minor deal.
It hurt like fucking hell on fire.
My boyfriend and another friend helped me over to a chair and quickly got my knee elevated and iced.
It was feeling worse just as dinner was being served and my boyfriend said he should get me to the hospital.
My disappointment went beyond the pain of my leg. The feeling of joy I was experiencing that evening was so refreshing and now my evening was to be cut short (or long…as it turns out).
I had a few bites of food before my boyfriend decided it was time to go. I was reeling with pain. It took three guys to try and move me - trying not to move my hurt leg - out of the backyard to the car. The pain was so excruciating that I insisted they put me down as I felt faint and sick to my stomach. Anything I had managed to eat came right back up.
Now here is where the story gets long and drawn out - as hospital ER visits tend to be.
It was packed. We waited a few hours and the pain continued to worsen. My knee was swollen to almost twice it's size. All I wanted was pain relief.
After what seemed like forever, my name was finally called and we went in and I was transferred to a gurney which hurt so much I yelled as though I was in labour. I was finally able to use the Lamaze breathing I had learned in classes before my first born son arrived - by c-section…like the other two after him.
The doctor came and took a look and said he thought it was probably a torn ACL - not good - but I would be having an x-ray to check my bones. He also told the nurse to give me some Percocet.
Thank you baby Jesus.
By the time the x-ray was done, the meds were kicking in. It became obvious when I went from crying in pain to saying hello to a police officer I was passing in the hallway and thanked him for his service with a smile.
As it turned out I had broken a major bone just under my knee pretty badly. ACL damage was not assessed at that point - I was told I would be getting a temporary, full-leg, plaster cast and would be given an appointment to see an orthopaedic surgeon the following morning to take a closer look and get a permanent cast.
|My massive, blue cast.|
By the time my boyfriend and I got home and got me very slowly up to my bed it was past 5:30am.
My parents came out and now my Mom is practically living with me.
My Dad comes out on the days when I have my boys. My boyfriend comes and helps when he can.
I have a portable toilet - or commode - right beside my bed. I give myself blood thinner injections daily. I have a nurse that comes three times a week to give me a sponge bath and wash my hair.
And I was just starting to feel as though I could see that light at the end of the tunnel. After a couple of tough months battling depression and anxiety, I was finally starting to feel more at peace…more in the mood to socialize a little. More in the mood not to spend all day in bed.
And so I was at this BBQ. And I broke my leg.
And now I'm stuck all day in bed.
For weeks. Possibly months.
But here's the thing.
I can still see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Is this a setback?
Yeah…it totally sucks. But I think it has also helped me in an interesting way.
I can't do very much for myself and therefore I have no choice but to rely almost entirely on my parents, my boyfriend and even my ex for help.
Rather than feeling sorry for myself - which I do from time to time…don't get me wrong…what I feel more than the depression or the anxiety from which I have been suffering…is intense gratitude.
Now with this gratitude comes some guilt - because my folks' - especially my mom's - lives have been turned upside-down. I am completely reliant on them to feed me, help me go to the bathroom, let the myriad of nurses and therapists into my house and make me as comfortable as possible.
They are also making it possible for me to continue to see my sons as much as I can. My boyfriend relieves my mom from having to help me when he can and my ex takes the boys more than his share to relieve my mom and dad from the craziness that dealing with three boys (and their bedridden mom) can often be.
I am grateful. I feel lucky more than shafted. I feel hopeful more than hopeless.
The pain I feel is more physical than emotional - and that is a step in the right direction. Not that I'm taking any actual steps these days - but you catch my drift.
My leg situation is bad, but could have been much worse according to my orthopaedic surgeon. I am uncomfortable and bored and in pain and all those things but I know I will get better.
My loved ones have rallied to help me and I can't help but feel warmth in my heart.
Perhaps this happened for a reason. Maybe I needed this lesson…this reminder.
I would have preferred something a little less arduous than this - and I can be sure that my mom would agree - but when other people are picking up most of my slack because I just can't do it…well…it provides perspective.
Gratitude is really central to happiness.
I have wonderful people in my life. My family and friends are awesome. I always knew that - but when you become almost helpless, it becomes magnified. And that overshadows the sadness.
I still have a ways to go to heal.
But gratitude keeps that light in sight.
Gratitude is light.
And it feels comforting.