ByÂ Michele Herenstein
It’s been two months now and I’m slowly (or speedily) going insane.
Oh, you’re asking “two months since what?” Excuse my manners; I feel as if everyone is living through and experiencing my injury because it has absolutely overtaken and changed my life. So yes, it’s been two months since I went to Urgent-MD because of bad pain in my left hip. I was hoping they wouldn’t see anything wrong, while deep inside I knew that this wasn’t some shin splint or twisted ankle; this injury was a life-changer. Sadly, I was right.
Those of you who know me, whether personally or through my articles, know that I’m an active person. I love working out and going for walks; I’m a fast talker and thinker, and I don’t understand the meaning of doing things at a slow pace.
So when I finally went to an orthopedist and then a hip specialist, I had already been walking on my leg and making it worse, given that Urgent-MD saw “nothing wrong” on their X-ray. Walking around Costco is like running a half-marathon, except more fun. But not fun for a bad leg/hip! Yet that’s one of the many injudicious, foolish things I did while injured before being diagnosed.
I was finally told after several X-rays and MRIs and several different diagnoses that I had a stress fracture in my hip and I could not put any pressure–emphasis on the word any–on my left leg.
Within a week, I had crutches, a motorized wheelchair, a walker with a tray, and an old-fashioned wheelchair that my building management lent me. Four different contraptions to help me get around! And the only “contraption” I wanted to use was my leg!
I’m not here to vent and elicit pity. Or to say how hard this is–and by the way, it is so hard!
I want to focus on how each of us must, in different ways, adapt to circumstances beyond our control. I was devastated when told I couldn’t walk for many months, with zero exercise–not even pool workouts. I didn’t think I could do it, and I still have days when I walk around my apartment with no contraptions to assist me because I am still in denial. (My denial phase is lasting longer than it should!)
But I’ve had to adjust in many ways. I now spend an inordinate amount of time on my chaise in my bedroom. I have a night table on one side and a pretty blue table on the other. They’re covered with, well, just about everything I own. I have barely any need to leave my chaise.
I have gotten super-involved with playing Words with Friends; currently I am in the midst of ten games. When I’m not focused on my (please give me good letters) 7—8-letter words, I am flying through Sudoku. No, I’m not too discomfited to admit I have four Sudoku books on my night table and three logic-puzzle magazines, along with Elle Decor, Real Simple, House Beautiful, People, and, embarrassingly, several more.
I write articles on my laptop and send texts and eâ€‘mails by iPad. My sefer holds a place of honor on the night table, and I always have water, Vitamin Water Zero, tea, or coffeeÂ by my side. On a coaster, of course!
The book of the moment is right by my hip, as is my iPhone for texting. (I know, I’m not supposed to isolate, but what can a girl do stuck in a beautiful, peaceful yellow-and-blue room, not allowed to walk?)
About three steps from me (hopping works!) is the door to my balcony, where there is a lounge chair and a table for my drinks and “stuff.”
Sound heavenly? This could only be heavenly if lounging around indoors for a day was a once-a-week entertainment, not a 24/7 lifestyle–and if I had always been a couch potato. To be perfectly blunt, there’s nothing heavenly about it for me!
Sitting in a wheelchair has been an eye-opening experience for me. My mom wheeled me down Central Avenue yesterday to go shopping for clothes. Several stores I wanted to go into had steps at the entrance and I couldn’t get in. I had never realized how hard it is to be wheelchair-bound and have places be inaccessible. Life must shrink to what is available for a handicapped person. It’s not fair, but there it is.
My manicure place is now in my past, because they have steps at both the entrance and back exit. So do many other places of business.
And the crosswalks? I almost fell over trying to wheel down the crosswalk on Central near the coffee shops. Bumpy is not even the word for it. Dangerous is a more apt description.
Then there are the people who talk to me so sweetly as if to make up for my being in a wheelchair, not knowing my circumstances. And there are the others, who can’t or won’t look me in the eye, as if what I have is contagious!
None of this really bothers me (OK, well, I’m working on it). As I’ve mentioned, I’m adjusting to what I can and cannot do.
And one thing I didn’t know I could do (and know I shouldn’t) is a one-legged plank. I was feeling restless one day, and ached with the need for activity. So I figured as long as I could generally do an eight-minute plank using both legs in my good old days, surely I could try a one-legged plank with pressure only on my uninjured leg. This wasn’t a great idea because my hip was in motion, but I needed to show myself that I still “had it!” That if my leg were better, I could get up and do 100 jumping jacks, 60 squats, 40 lunges, and maybe 10 burpees. For a start.
For now, and probably for quite a while, I need to try accepting my circumstances instead of being in denial. I need to adjust my thoughts and actions from being insanely active to attempting to be still, and do the activities that I enjoy while sitting comfily in my chaise.
Many people are put in situations that they must adjust to. If someone is pregnant and is told she needs bed rest or it could harm the baby, this person might complain, but I’m sure she would follow the doctor’s advice to a T. If someone is fired from her job, instead of feeling bitter and sleeping late and drinking or acting out, if she focused on finding a new job, or found a project which engrossed her, she’d possibly be less resentful and perhaps find something she never knew she had been looking for–a new career path, along with newfound happiness and contentment.
We don’t know why things happen to us, and we often can’t change things back to the way we want them, but we can adapt to new circumstances with grace and poise. Maybe a new situation is a blessing that you won’t be able to see until you erase the bitterness blinding you.
I hope that if you need to acclimate to a new situation, you are able to see it as a blessing, and work your way through it. I’ll be cheering you on, as I know you’re cheering me on right now.
So “quadruple-A” your way through your day: adjust, adapt, accept, and acclimate. And a final a: assume that your change in situation is a blessing in disguise, and, hey, you never know. Blessings arrive in the strangest ways, and you can only see them with unqualified acceptance, with eyes wide open.Â v
Note: I’m writing these articles because I hope my story will provide encouragement, hope, and information that will be helpful to others. Please understand, however, that I cannot offer medical advice or referrals to treatment.
Michele Herenstein is a freelance journalist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.