(the avulsion kind)
I injured my ankle yesterday. It was around 6 AM. The leader of the day’s workout had us doing burpees, sprints and sit-ups in a field. Then he wanted ‘all you got’ sprints up and down the field. Then he wanted an ‘all you got sprint’ down the quarter mile back to the clubhouse. And I was damn well going to give it to him. I had pulled well ahead of the group sprinting down the darkened street past the sleeping houses. I was chanting a little motivational cadence in my head. Moving fast and feeling proud of getting back into my early morning workouts after a while off. I misjudged the height of that curb. I heard a little crunch and fell. Not the graceful kind of fall where you tuck and roll, or even have time to think. It was a crunch and then my hands stopped the pavement inches from my face. I tried to get up and the ankle insisted that was a terrible idea.
I’m sure I have a lot more to learn about this and new experiences and empathy to grow around. But I have a few things to share right off the bat.
- What’s important
Gratitude? For an ankle injury that means 4 weeks at least in a boot before we find out if there’s need for surgery?
Definitely! Everyone I’ve interacted with has been doing their utmost to help. From my workout buddy ‘Ice’ walking me to the car on his shoulder, and all of them checking up on me on slack. To the medical pros assessing me, providing treatment and fitting me into full schedules. To my family with my wife taking on more work than she should have to. My daughter being a big girl and carrying her own dishes. And heart meltingly, telling me as I put her to bed ‘Daddy, you be really careful with your ankle and don’t hurt the other one, and if you do get hurt and you need me you yell and you say “Kiddo, I need your help!” and I will come get out of my bed and I will come and I will help you.’ I can’t say or write that without getting misty eyed.
Empathy? When It took an extra 20 min driving around the VA med center looking for any parking spot not just a handicap one close to the door. Followed by booking it dangerously through the half-mile breezeway on crutches to not get my appointment cancelled for being 5 min late-so I can see a primary doc to get referred to ortho. Even after seeing urgent care and radiology because VA systems don’t work with civilian ones well and I cant just go see ortho?
Sure! I needed this reminder. Going through life uninjured and without any handicaps is difficult to appreciate without a brush with another experience. I’m a young healthy 34 year old who got a boo boo on my ankle working out. If getting to my appointment on time is hard for me, imagine a 60 year old Vietnam vet without legs! It’s outrageous we don’t have better parking and systems for them. I can’t take out the trash, carry food to and from the table easily so much as move about the house. And again, I’m 34 healthy, with good health insurance, a job that grants time off and/or work from home privileges and have a boo boo on my ankle. Imagine what others must persevere through!
What’s Important? Other than what’s hurting this very moment?
Not the daily commute in to work to see the few people that are actually in office that I usually interact with. Not the stress I feel about this meeting or that email or another conversation. Not who said what when. What’s important is protecting my health to keep things from getting worse. To be willing to rely on my colleagues who offer to take customer meetings for me, but to still do what I can remotely. And with family, to do all the things I still can. Like take my daughter to the park on my little knee scooter so my wife can relax for an hour or two alone, since she’s been sick. What’s important is using this as an opportunity to protect and learn and grow. My kiddo now gets to learn to be more of a helper, carry more things, be carried less. I now get to learn what it can be like for others with less advantages than I have every day.
And smiling. Everyone I interact with at the doctors office or the VA medical center, they deal with people who have it much worse than me every day. They need to know I don’t need anything extra, just the help to take care of what’s injured right now. They need their psychic reserves for people more challenged than me. And you know what? Those lessons, all of them, really apply all the time. Like something that’s always been there but harder to see behind a tree until you shift your perspective just a little.
So I’m fine, thanks for your concern and for reading this. I’m excited about this opportunity to reflect on Gratitude, Empathy and What’s Important. Want to join me?