If you told me I’d feel this way with surgery and hardware, it would’ve been hard for me to truly comprehend the notion. I can feel the screws in my ankle. I can feel the pressure of my muscles trying to figure out what this foreign body is inside me. The tightness, the discomfort, the throbbing. I know it will fade over time. I know my body will eventually surrender. I know this whole experience will become less and less clear as the years go by.
But the hardware, the screws, the plates, those are mine forever. My ankle feels like a stranger. I don’t know this ankle. I don’t trust this ankle. I don’t even like this ankle at all. I move my left ankle in every direction possible and it’s smooth and reliable. It makes me smile. That’s my body. My functional, strong body. Then, I turn my gaze to the stump of a right ankle and I feel anger and disgust.
I know I’m not paralyzed. I know my injury is so small compared to others. I know I will go through all the phases of grief and one day, transition into acceptance or maybe even appreciation but for now, I’m no where close. Future thinking is always dangerous. Getting caught up in the endless possibilities becomes torturous. Maybe I will be the exception and my healing will restore me back to my old self. Maybe I will be better and stronger and find a deep sense of gratitude for this break. Maybe I will never be the same, never skate again, never run a race again. I try to stop all those thoughts from consuming me. Nothing good comes from focusing on things I can’t control.
For now, I will mediate between myself and my ankle, try to keep the peace and not feel so betrayed.
Leaving the hospital was bittersweet. In my room, in the silence, I had nothing to distract me. I couldn’t focus on dirty dishes or taking care of the dogs. All I had to do was think about myself and I had nurses and aides to do everything for me. I had IV drugs when my pain was too much. I had fresh ice packs and a bed that accommodated my every comfort and need. I could just press a button and I was cared for.
The doctor who performed my surgery came in to say good bye to me. I hadn’t seen him since the pre op discussion. It made me cry a bit which was surprising. I felt a sense of gratitude that was unexpected. I mean, he was doing his job so I didn’t expect to feel so indebted to him, but I did. I realized that this experience felt healing to some past pains. I realized, in that moment, that I have experienced pain or trauma and have felt uncared for or undeserving of care. Today was different. Today I felt all the care and compassion pouring into me and it was good. I didn’t question my value. I was simply grateful for the people who put me back together.
When I arrived home, I found myself scared. Frozen at the front door. Terrified to jump the one step up on crutches. I felt silly. For all the brave things I’ve done, I wasn’t sure if I could make that one step. I thought about all the Crossfit workouts I’d done with box jumps and how much smaller this step was. I thought about tripping and falling and feeling pain and being embarrassed. I thought about how I didn’t want to be scared.
It’s so interesting to feel so confident, to show up to work, perform massages, go to a workout, lift a lot of weights, to walk around feeling untouchable in a sense and overnight, to be completely flipped upside down. To be scared to jump four inches. To be terrified of anyone touching my leg. To cringe at the thought of putting a skate on my foot.
I don’t want this journey to be about fear. I don’t want this experience to leave me full of reservation for life. I only began to dream big dreams in the past few years. I only began to truly feel strong and capable recently.
How much of this is real anyway? How much of this is the pain medication in my brain?? Will I forget this pain soon enough and be skating again? Will I forever be changed in a way that makes me proud?
Whatever it is, however this pans out, I know it will be good. It has to be.
Today is Wednesday March 7, 2018. On Monday evening I broke my ankle in three places. I had surgery Tuesday morning and have been hanging out at the hospital since then. I have intentionally spent most of my time here mulling over my life and life in general. I imagine most people find themselves in the same internal conversation during traumatic times. Debating what’s valuable in their lives, maybe what they could’ve done to prevent their current struggle or fearing the future.
I’ve cried a lot these past two days. Some tears during X-rays when my ankle had to be moved into positions that hurt beyond what I could’ve imagined. Some when I looked at my husband and realized I felt like a burden (not his doing, just lies in my own head). Some when friends showed up or texted because kindness can be overwhelming and feel undeserved. A lot of tears that felt unexplainable with no specific cause but a very genuine and strong emotion.
I’m not a big crier. I usually default to sarcasm during tough and painful times. I find cussing to be helpful and sometimes yelling loudly out of frustration. I have spent a decent amount of time doing that although I’ve tried to keep my voice down since I’m in a hospital. I’m also not a physically or mentally weak human. I’ve skated since I was four years old (I’m 38 currently). I’ve worked out doing Crossfit for almost five years (with a small break due to some back issues). I’ve ran half marathons and 25k trail races. I have a full back covered in tattoos and I’ve given birth.
To be in this position is shocking to me. I would have never imagined to get injured skating. To top it off, when I broke my ankle, we weren’t moving fast or hitting hard and in fact, the level of aggressiveness of my break doesn’t even closely match the aggressiveness of what I was doing. But here I am. Two plates and nine screws later.
I have felt compelled to write a blog for some time now. I wrote most of my young life and then stopped as I got older and ran out of time (stopped making the time). I figure now is a better time than any because I will be just laying around reflecting on life for a while. To be clear, this blog will not be specifically about roller derby or this injury. What I feel and have felt like sharing is more about my life and life in general. The hardships we endure and the strength that is birthed in those experiences. The kindness I’ve seen well up out of people during struggles. The human I have become and seen others become during some of the scariest and seemingly hardest days.
I believe that I have something valuable to share with this world. I pray I can encourage and inspire others. I hope I can open conversations that may be tough and that my blog is a safe space for me to process things and others to heal as well. I welcome all comments and questions. I am an open book!