Guest post by Michele A.
I use the kitchen counter to balance myself for 15 reps of mini-squats as I stare forlornly out the window at a cyclist pedaling by on my street on a gorgeous sunny day and wonder “when will I get to do that again”? I fell while riding recently, breaking and dislocating my femur. I’ve been told 6-12 months until full recovery. I’m fully weight bearing because of the long Cephalomedullary nail that is now a permanent part of my anatomy, so at least I can balance myself here long enough to do my PT exercises, but six or more months feels like an awfully long time.
As I was approaching my 50th birthday a couple of years ago, I became very conscious of time and how much of it I had left to do the things I enjoy. I made a focused effort to not wish away any of it. No longer would I say things like, “I can’t wait until this is over” to a crazed period of work, or “I can’t wait until -fill in the blank- event/ day/ activity is finally here.” As if anything between now and that time didn’t matter. Be in the moment, even when those moments are difficult and try to figure out how to make the best of it. Appreciate the mundane as well as the more exciting days. So when the pandemic hit, this approach was challenged. How do I make the best of things in this isolated new world?
I pondered how I could reflect back on this time and not think of it as a horrible year. Perhaps I could even consider it with some fondness. If I do say so myself, I think I did a pretty good job of adjusting. I grew to not hate working from home by finding pleasure in the little activities I could do during the day that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. I befriended a herd of goats, which I blogged about. I cooked up a storm and returned to my recipe blog with renewed vigor. I took virtual group guitar lessons that turned out to be much less intimidating than in-person ones. And, of course I rode my bike and ran on trails because moving outside is typically a cure for all that ails me.
I settled into a new groove and was fairly content even though I missed a lot of activities from the Beforetimes. There was light at the end of the tunnel: more people I knew getting vaccinated, warmer weather was descending upon us, and I was making actual plans to partake in weekends away with friends this summer.
Bam! There I was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.
In the last many weeks I’ve been trying to come up with yet another new groove and a way to get through this period of time without wishing it to be over as fast as possible. I depend on movement and specifically movement amongst the trees to socialize, keep fit and stay in good spirits. With that gone, this mindset of not wishing away time has become much more difficult, but I am trying hard to stay the course.
As anyone who has been injured knows, the recovery process is just as much about tending to the emotional challenges as it is to the physical ones. I’ve been given a lot of advice during my recovery, all of it well intended, yet not all of it helpful. However, I’ve found on several occasions, someone has come along and said just the thing I needed to hear in that moment. At a particularly low point, a friend said to me in a texting conversation, “think of all the firsts you have to look forward to!” I stared at that text for a few moments and realized this was the thinking I needed to adopt. (Thank you, Rachel!)
Rather than expending my mental energy focusing on all the things I can’t do right now, I will recognize and celebrate each of the firsts I encounter. The first time walking with a crutch instead of a walker. The first time changing my bed sheets. The first time going into my basement to do my own laundry. The first time making something in my kitchen that was more complex than boiling water or heating prepared food in the microwave. The first time visiting my goat friends. The first pedal strokes on my indoor bike. (I’m hoping this last one will be soon.) This provides me with many milestones to reach and allows me to feel a sense of accomplishment regularly.
I’m curious to hear from the readers out there about how they made a recovery period not only tolerable, but perhaps even, dare I say, enjoyable.