Fractured Open

Fractured Open

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Kicked to the curb.

Well. Today this has an entirely new meaning. I’m sitting in the middle of the street. Splayed-out would be more accurate. Bested by a curb I ‘ve managed to completely lose balance and fall into the classic crutch-hopscotch: hop-hop-skip-backwards-tumble-aaaaand FLOP. It’s a full-on yard sale – summertime style. Crutches flung two different directions, my bag strewn out and partially emptied beside me, and my dignity?— flew the coup days ago. Tripped by a curb.

Jusy one hour earlier I stumbled and smashed my foot, breaking a pinky toe. Which ordinarily wouldn’t be a big deal. Except that this was my good leg. And 5 days ago I broke my other ankle while hiking. I’m running out of working appendages. This toe break occurs, ironically while en route to the doctor.

….

Now I’m no Pollyanna but I choose to live in the silver linings. Call me what you will – optimistic realist, basic yogini, crunchy-granola, koolaid-drinker…(I prefer “Maelyn” or “Miracle Made Up of Molecules” or even “I Love you”) but my convictions and Soul Fiber are rooted in Living Intentionally with Joy, sourced from Love and watered with Gratitude. So I try to take life ebbs and flows as mere passing weather systems. My recent stint in the ER was spent joking and laughing with the X-ray tech and nurses. The past weekend my spirits (and leg) were elevated. Pain Scale 8, Sense of Humor: Infin-8. Dad Jokes Scale: Swelling as dangerously as my ankle….

However, I’m also no Mary Poppins. There isn’t always a magic umbrella to weather each passing storm. So I’m going to get real here: I’ve found myself a little discouraged recently too.

….

When I arrive ten minutes late to my doctor appointment I’m informed I’ll have to wait an hour and a half for the next opening. Upset and in pain I burst into frustrated tears.

“Well maybe if I didn’t have to drive myself here because your office couldn’t just request my x-rays electronically AND your parking lot wasn’t under construction AND I didn’t have to walk from a block away on crutches and I hadn’t FALLEN OVER I would have been here on time!”

The receptionist’s eyes widen. She makes a quick phone call. The doctor will be able to squeeze me in after all.

Do you remember the children’s book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day?”

It has a sequel…

Drivers License 101: I’m going to be on my own for the next few days. To abate my mother’s worries around my mobility we go for a test drive in a nearby elementary school parking lot. I’m having high-school drivers-permit flashbacks as my mother sits beside me shouting out, “Baby in the street, quick stop!” “Cat running across the road, react!” “Couch on the street, swerve around!”

Thankfully my driving skills and reaction times are unimpaired. I pass the test. PHEW. Maelyn-tested and Mom-approved. But where was that street-couch yesterday? I could’ve used a comfier seat…

Yesterday began with a serious case of the Mondays. Five days ago I fractured my fibula. Now, for the foreseeable future I’m not supposed to put any weight on my foot. Goodbye yoga, goodbye performance and acting, goodbye modeling, goodbye work. It’s been less than a week and the amount of empathy I have for people who live with impaired limb mobility and/or other physical considerations to accommodate has increased ten-fold (plus another can-I-fold-ya-into-10-hugs??) What a sod I am. How selfish have been some of my physical complaints in the past. Who am I to claim hardship in the face, of say, limb loss? Never again, I swear, will I take for granted the ease of two working legs. Walked unimpeded. Living in a second-floor room without restrictions, using stairs, or just crossing a room to turn on a light. The ability to actually walk AND simultaneously hold a glass of water or talk on the phone without also navigating crutches. Never again will I overlook the luxury, privilege, and sheer freedom of two functioning hands, two operational legs that can reach, step, access, carry and do whatever I want, whenever I want. Outside of this isolated incident, my Maslovian Maelyn needs are easily met AND I get to dance and exercise, perform and play pretend…

Welcome to the Island of Misfit Toys: I’m visiting a dear friend in the hospital, he in hospital gown and IV machine, me in wheelchair, cast and crutches – we make for quite a sorry and completely comical picture. Our hospital bed cuddle puddle picture is pretty adorable too  But the best part of the afternoon? Getting stopped by two separate hawk-eyed nurses while leaving—wheels, bandages, and walking sticks, to the outward eye I appear to be a vigilante patient attempting my quick escape. No, no we assure them. In fact, I’m actually a visitor. But, it’d sure be nice to hang onto this hospital wheelchair…

I’m reminded of the time I broke my ribs and the discomfort and challenge it was just to breathe. How each laugh or sneeze was agony—the thought of normal unconscious breathing—ha! What a farce, no one knew how lucky they had it! This gift I vowed to cherish. When I healed fully I knew I would be grateful every day that I could take a deep breath and a slow breath, an ujjayi breath or a lip-locked shared breath.

I forgot. Of course. I kept on breathing. But that immense gratitude subsided as quickly as it surfaced. The clarity it seems, most crystallized in contrast. The gems of juxtaposition. Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.

But not entirely lost. And here’s where I’ll give myself a little grace. We forget to remember. At least that’s my working theory. Because deep breaths and a keen, meditative presence are what got me through the long trek while being carried from trail to car right after breaking my ankle (thank you Anthony!)… in that moment I wasn’t thinking about and experiencing conscious gratitude for my functioning ribs and lungs. But I was doing an excellent job at embodiment. Presence. Letting emotions, sensations, and thoughts flow, untethered through me. Salty sweat and stinging tears. Laughter and regret. Worry and detachment. Letting myself feel fear, positivity, pain, zen, calm, angry, even hungry – when food is downstairs and I’m upstairs and a long trek away from sustenance. All this without shame, judgement, guilt, or resistance.

Deer-in-the-Headlights: Defeated and resigned to gravity, I’ve succumbed to crawling. After all, I reason, I’m alone anyways…as I begin to scooch from one room to the next I’m suddenly caught on hands-and-knees by a drop-in friend. The look of surprise on both our faces, and this image of me looking as pitiable as possible, keeps us laughing for the next hour. Dignity, as I said, long flew the coup. This birdie’s gonna be grounded for the next few weeks 

These last five days I have learned A LOT about myself. Number one: I’m stubborn. Reluctant to ask for help and discovering I need a lot of it right now. Number one, for real: I’m loved. So blessed to receive surprise drop-in visits and dinner after a no-good very-bad Monday or sunflowers and Saturday porch talks, a trip to the hospital, assistance moving belongings from upstairs to down. There have been encouraging words of comfort and text messages. These mean the world. The pleasure I find from work-outs I’ve invited to transform into one of work-in’s. Physical pain I’ve invited to transmute into the gift of presence.

These last five days have been humbling, quieting, and revealing. I am often hesitant to publicly share about experiences like this because I get trapped by the Not-Enoughness Police. That inner monitor and mind-bully that shouts “Don’t make this into something! Other people have it harder, worse, and more interesting. A silly little ankle break. Psh. Yours isn’t ENOUGH. So you had a little takeaway? Cute. Your insights, thoughts, perspective isn’t significant, relevant, or worthy. All of this just isn’t big enough.”

It’s a very savvy inner-shamer. Which again, is further revelation. Inner-shamer, meet Inner-aha! So when is it enough? And there’s the rub. Play by those rules and there never will be. Endgame of the ego, grasping, attachment, validation…will never satisfy. The comparison quota always falls short. There will never be enough Love. Status. Money. Fulfillment. Live YOUR life, I’m learning. It’s enough for me. It’s significant to me. Silly to me. Challenging for me. Chosen by me. Yeah. I chose this. An opportunity to love bigger, better, and brighter for, with, and through me.

Who knows what will unfold in the next 6 weeks. Definitely some mad arm muscles. Probably some hand callouses. Occasionally some tears. Always love. AND I hope lots of snuggling and blanket fort parties!
Who’s in???

Joy beams and good juju!

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