Four months ago I found myself sitting down on a street corner in Santa Cruz holding my excruciatingly painful left wrist wondering what happened.
One minute I was rushing to the 7:20 movie and the next I was on the ground, my friend trying to grab my bad wrist to help me up. He drove me to the ER and after 7 traumatic hours there watching people brought in with drug OD’s, massive heart attacks, etc., a woman waiting with her sick son yelled across the room to me: “Don’t let them do surgery on your wrist no matter what they say–don’t let them talk you into it. I had three surgeries over a year on my wrist. They don’t tell you the truth.”
I didn’t let them drug me when they set the break, but three weeks later when the doc said it wasn’t healing straight and he said the best chance at full recovery would be surgery, I caved. I had the surgery.
And it is much worse than projected–they didn’t tell the truth.
It is now 4 months since the break, 3 months since surgery, and I have very little mobility in my left wrist and hand. I’m doing extensive exercises and physical therapy. They now say a year to a year and a half before getting back to normal. I don’t really believe anything now.
Yet–what is, is. This is my reality. I am so grateful for all of the friends who helped me when I couldn’t drive. So grateful for my body, senses, ability to type, walk, play Bridge. Piano is do-able now with a few fingers not reaching their keys. I am actually seeing tiny improvements in my wrist and finger mobility.
It feels like I have PTSD from the trauma of the accident and surgery. I’m only now learning to accept what happened, accept my limitations. Now I can walk without fear of falling. At first I wondered if I would be able to walk freely again! I wondered if I’d ever sleep soundly again.
And this was only a broken wrist! Recovery is hard from any trauma.
I went through stages of grief: Denial (is this really happening? It can’t be happening, I don’t break bones!); Anger (blaming myself for rushing, blaming my friend for trying to help an unbalancing me, blaming the doctor for poor communication); Bargaining (I won’t rush every again); Depression (I’ll never be normal again, my life is ruined): Acceptance (This is it. Live with it!).
I have grieved my life changing and now I accept the reality. At last the feeling that I’d never want to work again has gone and I’m excited to teach and see new clients.
Since I’d been meditating for 40 years, I had quite a bit of “acceptance “all along. But this experience really threw me for a loop.
When I needed help, it came from unexpected places. One client said, “We want to help you.” That surprised me. And yet I want to help people. Why did I assume nobody would want to help me?
Healing is different for different people. For me the biggest healing is learning that I need to reach out to people and let them help me. Realize that I am not perfect–I need people!
A bridge player I know has “no filter” when she talks, and I complain about it to friends. She can be mean. But I have too many filters! Life experiences are teachers. May you all learn your lessons without injuries, and if you have any, may they be your teachers!
About that photo of me in Vietnam: I was 24 and at that time never had a thought about my body except do my hair and clothes look okay. Now that I am 73, 50 years later, my body is not as flexible, resilient, strong. And after the trauma of the broken wrist, I am consciously bringing back that sense I had in my 20’s of daring to go into the unknown. I am writing a memoir. Because what do I have to lose?