Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

What is strong?

I admit it freely.  After an epic ankle injury in June left me washed up on the shoreline of my bed where it was all I could do to surround myself with water, eyeglasses, salty snacks and stacks of library books, my world began to simultaneously expand and contract.

The expansion came courtesy of a host of new fiction releases, mixed in with a few older novels that had previously escaped my notice.  The contractions happened, relentlessly, whenever I was not fully immersed in somebody else's fictional world.  Each time I was yanked reluctantly out of my book back into reality, my universe abruptly resized itself to the admittedly swollen limitations of one bruised and battered ankle and its attendant foot.

Weak turned into weeks.  I was barely mobile, reduced to short seemingly treacherous bursts of crutch assisted transport from bed to bathroom, bed to couch. At day's end, I would gather myself for one last nerve wracking journey, returning gratefully to the safety of my own land of counterpane.

I spent countless stretches of time staring at my ankle critically, assessing its state obsessively, wondering in panicked bursts at first "if?" miserably lapsing into "how long?" it would be before I could reliably put weight on the formerly injured areas and simply, confidently, walk.

Eventually I began to dream in crutches.  Many of these dreams featured some break in the action where I would, momentarily distracted, leave my crutches to one side, turn and begin to walk on my own.  I would wake exuberant, eagerly opening my eyes only to be stopped short by the sight of them, my crutches, sadly still quite necessary, stacked bedside for when I would arise.

How often I was reduced to tearful self pity by this situation will remain unnumbered.  How many times I sat immobilized, using every shred of energy available to stifle a snarl when a heartfelt "thank you!" was more appropriately in order is, appropriately, my solo burden to bear.

Truth be told?  That is the worst of it.  Not the pain, or even the embarrassment of acknowledging my own stubborn stupidity as the cause of the accident that resulted in the injury.  It was my utter inability to do for myself, the complete reliance upon others to do for me what I used to do for myself, that rapidly reduced my universe to the size of one very swollen ankle.

As the weeks crawled by I began, only because it was forced upon me, to slowly absorb some of the cruel lessons of living less than fully able in a busily distracted world.

Self awareness can be a bitch.

Now, finally, I am able to put some weight upon my ankle.  For very short spurts, if I am careful, I can actually wobble from here to there without using the trip sticks.  I can, for the first time in nearly two months, actually carry my own cup of coffee,  my own glass of water, from here to there.  All by myself.  Without asking, without worrying about imposing, without waiting.  I decide I want to, so I do.  Just.  Like.  That.

Increasing mobility of course also means the return to chores, the resumption of meal preparation and laundry loads and grocery store runs.  All of these functions slowed, some of them still requiring family sherpa assists to avoid re-injury, but each of them representing a victory of reasserted independence I no longer take completely for granted.

I would like to say I learned lessons that will stay with me, to confidently state my impatience and tendencies to rush, to urge "hurry" have all melted away from this newly refined, shinier version of me.

I doubt it will be so for long.  It is much more likely as the days pass, as the ankle gets stronger and the hesitance to step out, to step up, or down or over an obstacle dissolves into a growing sense of security, that I will simply revert to my previously presumptuous ways.

Maybe I have seen enough, lived through enough exposure to the harsh experience of enforced dependence to have softened a rough edge or two permanently.  Maybe now I will look, not with pity, but with new appreciation for how very tough a person must actually be to allow for a life that relies in ways fully upon others.

Maybe I won't continue to assess strength as represented or measured by the ability to do for myself all on my own.  Real strength, I am coming to see, is at least partly about the ability to allow others to do for me and not consider myself diminished by that.



Anonymous said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

Kathleen Scott said...

You may not feel graceful on your crutches but your recounting is graceful. And true.

My experience with cancer was that the urgency of the experience fades but some lessons never go away.

So glad you're starting to get around again!

PassivePastry said...

i can't believe your poor foot is still healing!
i'm glad you're up and at 'em though, even if it is just a little bit at a time.

side note: i've been filling up the photo holder you gave me-not sure if you remember it but the front has a dove and says "peace"... what a fitting thing to take with me!
I'm also taking the paper angel you sent to me. Love it!

TexasDeb said...

Thanks Kathleen. It is so good to BE getting around again.

I appreciate you sharing your own hard earned wisdom. Hopefully the lessons I learned won't get stuffed into a back closet along with the crutches!

TexasDeb said...

Ppastry: So glad to know you are enjoying the holder. It is meant for taking a bit of home with you even when you must travel light. Like, say to Vanuatu! Looking so forward to reading all about your adventures young lady!