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Nowadays, my friends and I talk about orthopedic ailments. Now I admit that my own not-so-recent ankle break, and subsequent surgeries makes this topic of particular interest to me. But I’ve since notice that others are fascinated with these issues. That is, everyone seems to have a story about their foot or someone else’s foot, heel, ankle, hand, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, arm, femur, wrist or shoulder having been dislocated, broken, fractured, bruised, sprained or torn.
When people see me with my strange scooter they initiate small talk, which gets me going. First, they start with the compliments: (In parentheses are responses).
“Oh my gosh, you’re a real trouper.” (So sayeth you and everyone else). “How do you manage, you poor dear?” (with difficulty).
Then come the questions:
“What happened?” (I broke my leg ankle. That’s what happened.) “How did you break your ankle?” (I slipped and fell on the ice…yes, I know it’s summer now. It’s been a very long time… Okay, okay. I had complications, a bone infection! Listen! It happens sometimes).
Finally, when they’ve finished the compliments and the questions, they move on to the really juicy part: the stories.
“I had a friend who had an infection also, and they kept giving him antibiotics, but it didn’t work. This went on for months ——“
That’s when I cut in: “Did he get better in the end?”
What is it with people? Now, honestly, I really do get people giving compliments. They’re nice, they mean well, and they want to show support.
And I understand the questions. For heaven’s sake, people are curious. Why not?
But the stories? Seriously? What does their story have to do with me? As my husband said to me (quietly) after the friend related her friend’s stubborn infection story, “I can’t figure out why she had to tell you that story…”
And let’s not even get started on the advice:
“What? An infection? How did that happen?…Oh, in surgery? I hope you sue that doctor for every penny he’s worth…”
So I go with the flow, and share, hear, and converse. I learn about other people, and how much we all have in common with each other. Same pains, struggles and desires. Mostly, I am more cognizant of their and my needs to share with each other on the most mundane subjects and levels.
Some tell me their happy endings:
“My friend was in a cast for 2 full months, and now she’s fine.”
“My aunt got hit by a car and had 7 surgeries plus bone grafts, and she’s doing great.”
Some try to prepare me for the worst:
“You know, it’s been over a year since my injury, and I still have pain in that foot at times. Don’t expect your foot to be normal for at least a year…”
Really? Am I you? Are you me? Do we have the same history, injury, recovery, doctor, process, habits?
Now, I’m not really complaining because a big part of me enjoys these interactions. I like noticing the similarities between people, how two random people can bump into each other in some random place, and begin to talk about their orthopedic problems…and even find some common ground!
To me that’s fascinating.
What have you experienced in this regard? Do people tend to over-share with you the grueling details of their own experiences? Do you find their stories relevant or irrelevant? Share your opinion in this matter…
Tags: broken ankle, comparing experienes, orthopedic injuries, sharing with friends