Enjoyed this? Share it, and attribute it. Copyright 2014, Bubby Joys and Oys, M. Hendeles
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Back in the days when I was a child, breaking a leg meant one thing: You came to school with a white or pink plaster cast, and everyone signed it. You hobbled around in school with crutches and got plenty of attention. By the time you were ready to have the cast removed, your cast was no longer white or pink, but a combination of ink colored signatures.
Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Yeah, right. But wait. There’s more.
About 7 years ago, before my youngest son’s bar mitzvah, when he broke his arm while tripping over a friend’s backpack during carpool, we took him to have his arm set in a cast. He didn’t seem to have pain, and certainly didn’t complain. He smiled through his bar mitzvah like a champ.
So again, I was of the thought that breaking a limb is not much of a big deal. You get a cast, you deal with it, and you move on.
I guess I was in for a rude awakening when I broke my own ankle just over 1 month ago.
Ouch. Pain. Cast. Immobile. Bed Rest. Out of work. Pain, Cope. Sigh. Regret…Surgery. More pain. Swelling. Ice. Cooped up. Dependent. Pain killers….
And the timing couldn’t have been better (can you hear my sarcasm?), as it was a day before my older son’s wedding. But I kept going. I forged on, and I tried to remain upbeat.
For the duration of my older son’s wedding and festivities following, I plodded along, and was in a great mood. The parties were on. I was encouraged by friends who told me what a sport and trouper I was.
Was I in shock? Was I being a good actress? None of the above.
I was just seeing the Silver Lining in my new situation.
I was seeing things from a new vantage point. Sometimes these epiphanies happened in bed with my foot up on top of several pillows. Other times, these aha moments occurred to me while I edged my way between the curb of our sidewalk into the backseat of our car while trying not to trip over the scooter. And still other times, I realized the silver linings when taking a pain killer to relieve the aching in middle of the night.
And that’s what has kept me going.
In truth, I kvetch. Rant, rave and whine. Hey, there is a lot of negative that can be said about the pain and suffering of breaking an ankle. It ain’t no picnic.
But I’ve begun to find so much good in my new situation.
The goodness that jumps out at me as if to say, “Hey, stop feeling sorry for yourself. Life’s really pretty great these days.”
The goodness that sometimes needed to be prodded or dug out from under my self-pity.
The goodness that in Hebrew is known as “Gam Zu L’Tovah.” or “This too is for the good.”
1. IT COULD BE A LOT WORSE: Breaking my ankle the day before my son’s wedding, I realized, was actually the lesser of many evils. I hadn’t injured my face (imagine the wedding pictures!), or broken my arm or and (there goes my writing and music playing careers!) or even the other parts of my foot or leg (my injury was confined to the ankle bones.)
- I HAVE A SCOOTER: My biggest fear after breaking the ankle was that I would have to go around on a wheelchair or walker. I wasn’t ready emotionally to be wheeled around in a wheelchair, or to be hobbling over a walker. I certainly did not want to use crutches (they were impossible to use!). So when my niece found me a “scooter” or “knee walker,” I was ecstatic. I used this form of transportation to walk my son down the aisle and to get around at the wedding for the days and weeks following my injury. For doctor visits, traipsing around the house, and visits to the restroom, my scooter became my friendly transporter.
NO EMERGENCY SURGERY: When I was in the ER waiting for the x-ray results, I was terrified that they would tell me I needed immediate surgery. So when they told me that my necessary surgery could be delayed, I was thrilled. I was like, “Yay – Give me a cast and get me out of here!” Which they did.
APPRECIATION OF HUBBY: After my accident, my husband’s job required him to work at home. This turned out to be a silver lining in that my husband was on hand and nearby (for the most part) during my recovery. I must say also that he rose to the occasion as the most fantastic, supportive, compassionate, capable and wonderful person to take care of a wife who broke her ankle the day before their son’s wedding. All my previous complaints (me? complain? nah) about my husband about male pattern blindness, inability to read minds, follow simple directions, know where the kitchen utensils are, and forth, vanished into the air.
FORCED TO SLOW DOWN: I’m the type of person who is always running, going, driving, working, and accomplishing. From the moment I wake up till I go to sleep, I am rushing through my to-do lists and myriad work, community and family obligations. Suddenly, I was forced to stop. To slow down. To take care of me. Not the whole world, but me. To reflect. To stay in bed with my foot up. This has been hard for me. But I have done it. I now find myself, eating better, taking vitamins, concentrating on my growth and inner self. It all comes from slowing down. My to-do list can wait, for now. So “Heal and Mend” slid to the top of my to-do list, and I wait patiently to cross that off my list. All in the right time.
BETTER MOTHER-IN-LAW: Ask any newlywed couple if they want their mother-in-law to show interest in them, and the answer will be a resounding NO. The best news for a new couple is that his mom is busy with her own pursuits, and is basically self-involved. Well this mother-in-law (that would be me!) has had plenty on her own plate. I was so busy figuring out how I’m going to get comfortable in my bed, or what to eat for breakfast, or when was the last time I took the pain meds, that I forgot about our newly married couple. And that’s a good thing! (for them and by extension, for me too!).
ACCEPTING AND FEELING THE LOVE: One of the perks of breaking an ankle, is that you get a lot of attention. Honestly, who doesn’t like that? Okay, there are people (not me) who prefer to remain low-profile about their accident. Well, not this grandmother. I made a decision from the beginning that I was going to accept all offers to help me. I was not going to be the martyr that I may have been had this happened in my 20’s. Back then I would have resisted all the offers. I may have felt out of control, needy and dependent. But no longer do I view getting help from others as a sign of weakness. I view it as a chance to feel the love. From friends sending over meals for Shabbat and during the week, to neighbors asking if I needed anything picked up at the local supermarket, to various visitors, I felt extreme love and caring every day. I am blown away by the caring of our community, friends and family. I continue to be awed by my friends’ sensitivities.
INCREASED SENSITIVITY: Sometimes it takes being on the other side of the fence, to realize certain things about people who are disabled. When I was in the ER the day I broke my ankle, I had my family around me. Some of them took the opportunity to speak for me, answer my questions and basically act as if I had no voice. I quickly told my darling relatives to be quiet (okay, I used some stronger language), and they did. But this incident made me realize: How often do we speak in front of ill patients or those with disabilities, as if they can’t think or speak for themselves? How often do we talk in front of them using words like “she, he…” etc. as if they can’t hear us talking about them? Now that I’ve had that eye opening experience with my darling relatives (thanks!! Love you!), I will be a more respectful visitor or caregiver of people who are infirm or sick. Just because someone has a physical disability doesn’t mean they can’t think (or speak) for themselves.
TAKING ONE DAY AT A TIME: In life, there are no promises or expectations. Before my break, I used to think that I knew what to expect in certain situations. If I didn’t, I would ask. So when I first met with the surgeon, we asked him the typical questions. How long will I have to wear the cast? How long will I be on bed rest? When can I start to walk? And so forth. Well, the doctor did not give me straight answers. Looking back, I realize that he didn’t want me to have any expectations. We went from week to week. Each time he evaluated the situation and told me what to do with my foot for the next week. Elevate. Weight bearing. Physical therapy. One step at a time. No more long term expectations. One day at a time has become my modus operandi.
AWARENESS OF SPIRITUAL PRESENCE: Before the break, I thought I could keep things under control. The last thing I thought before the accident was how I was completely ready and organized to drive with my husband to the place where the wedding would be. I was on top of the world, having accomplished all but a few small items on my to-do list. Little did I know that in the blink of the eye, the course of my life for the next few months would be changed. When I slipped on the ice, and twisted my ankle to the point of extreme pain, a part of me wanted to turn the clock back. To pretend it didn’t happen. To start all over again. A Do-Over. But now I realize that I am not in charge. God is in charge and He can change things, flip switches in the blink of an eye.
So there you have the Silver Lining List of benefits I’ve received after breaking my leg. I guess you can say that breaking my ankle was definitely for the best! Gam Zu L’Tovah!
Plaster casts may be black or white (or pink or light blue). Walking boots are black. But life is not that way. There is bad. There is good. There is good within the bad.
And this is the good – the SILVER LINING – that I’ve noted within my ankle break.
Anyone else have a supposedly bad experience, and have seen some good come from the bad? Please share below.
Tags: acknowledgment of feelings, benefits of a bad situation, broken ankle, broken arm, gam zu l'tovah, increased sensitivity, pain and suffering, positive attitude, self-pity, signing a cast, silver lining, slowing down, taking care of self