Have you ever put your foot down? Really put your foot down? Were you angry? Did you stomp out of the room? Did someone cross a boundary? Did you say, “no more!” Perhaps declaring a new way of being? Announcing your engagement like a toast? Or did your foot go down all by itself without a thought like a paternal instinct?
As the sun was setting on June seventeen, I put my foot down in a way I wish not to repeat. This motion prevented a potentially fatal accident. And, as soon as my foot hit the solid concrete, I knew I incurred a serious injury. I did not know that it would render me disabled for many months to come.
It happened four weeks ago on our regular tandem bike ride on the new trail near our house in Santa Cruz. My twin Abby suited up with a helmet on the back seat of our three-wheeler, me in the front. We were at the end of our journey. I turned off the bike trail. The brakes did not work. The steering locked. We were heading down a small hill into a parked car. Instinctively, I slammed down my left foot to stop the bike. Full stop, a fraction of an inch before the parked car. We did not tumble over.
Abby who has complicated mobility and vision issues springs off the back seat to help my shocked body to the curb. My leg shook wildly like a rattle.
Abby: Mom, You, okay? You, okay? …. You, okay?
Me: I don’t know. We have to call for help.
I remember my cell phone was in the basket of our bike. Abby finds it for me. I called my other twin’s (Libby’s) nurse. She came to us within ten minutes and managed to get me into the front seat of her van. We left the tandem with a neighbor.
I did not go to the Emergency Room as it was late at night. I did not want to be there overnight with Abby’s opening dance recital the following day. I went the next morning with a hemoglobin the size of a melon. ER visits are as unpredictable as random thoughts moving through anxious minds. During the transfer from the gurney to a gurney, a team member dropped my engorged leg. A cry streamed out of me like projectile vomit followed by streams of tears. A level of pain I had not experienced or knew was possible.
The doctor on duty was attentive and kind. I met him the month before after Libby rolled off her changing table and required eight stitches to seal her left eyebrow. He gave me a strong dose of oxycodone. Once the medication kicked in, he drained numerous syringes of blood out of my knee. I passed out after two.
Now it is five weeks since the accident, four weeks since massive knee surgery. I fractured my tibia in three places and tore some ligaments. The surgeon went in microscopically to push the bone down and reposition it with two long screws. He cleaned up the wound and added some calcium.
I feel lucky. I’m well versed in holistic medicine with good friends in various specialties. After the necessary anesthetic, I was given potent narcotics. My system did not like this. In two days, I switched to taking homeopathic and Chinese medicine. Swelling and pain were reduced immediately. My mood lifted. I continue to receive acupuncture and massage weekly. I’m pain-free as long as I follow this protocol.
I’m slowly rebuilding my body. Crutches look easy. Not true. My deltoids are screaming, bloody hell.
Last week I had an X-ray that surprised my doctor.
“This looks good for such a short period.”
She asked, “What are you doing?”
I told her the pain pills made me feel awful, so I’m doing what I do best—alternatives.
I know this is not the course for everyone. We will do what we need to do to get through pain.
I had stitches in five places. It’s time to take them out. Abby is with me. I ask her if she is sure she wants to watch this. Abby, like myself is recovering from medical trauma.
Abby: Yes, I want to watch and stay by your side. (Typical, sweet Abby doing her best to return the favor).
Ten minutes of “ouch” pass.
The Physician’s Assistant: We’re all done.
Abby: I didn’t pass out once!
Two weeks ago, I began physical therapy. My P.T. gave me five new exercises to rebuild my leg for weight baring, walking and range of motion. My knee can flex to fifty-five degrees. This isn’t very far. I am cautioned it may take ten more weeks or so to walk again. I am amazed at the amount of energy required for my noodle leg muscles to fire.
I’m not going to spiritually bypass the hard work of healing and tell you how grateful I am. Honestly, wheeling or crutching my body weight around and depending on others to help me is triggering my old self-reliant character. A well-developed strategy that taught me, it is not safe to say or ask. The cellular memory is buried in my bones.
We often believe spirituality does not permit muggy sour ugly ouchy sucky feelings.
Not true if you’re a human being.
I had an epic burning outburst the other day like fire. Unglued. Unhinged. Unleashed.
After, I felt cleansed, relieved, and truly thankful.
That was the day my bulking muscles pinched a nerve. Holy Mary. Let me out of this body. I know fleeing. Fighting. Numbing. Armoring. Resisting.
I am not counting how many days before my muscles are retrained to carry this body forward through life. Instead, I’m preparing for my next act. Heck, I’m only 63.
Today I’m enjoying the horizontal position, building a bionic leg from my bed; relishing rest and finally reading the books stacked on my night table.
Is there a silver lining?
Yes, of course with unseen gold unraveling, unearthing, revealing… with more to come.
1) Most likely from copious hours of meditating in half lotus position my left knee is wonky. Was I conditioned to favor endless hours in samadhi over listening to my body? I sat into infinity. At one time I thought my kneecaps would pop. I’m looking forward to a knee that I listen to.
2) Decades ago my training as a long-distance open-water swimmer produced massive upper-body strength. At the time water shielded me from making eye contact with a world I did not understand and cured my early life hangovers. Before recovery, I was not grounded in my body. Now I am meeting fascinating intricate muscles I did not know existed.
3) The left side of our bodies often reflects something about receptivity or receiving or woman or mother. I learned from an early age not to ask, not to need, to be a good helpful girl. Now I can dig deeper to explore what I have not allowed myself to receive. I can see myself honoring and polishing the jewels of deep knowing.
4) Stories continue to come to me. Stories that insist on being told. Before this accident, I was in a writing flow. I see with new eyes, including the perspective of disability. For the past twenty-six years, I have raised an abled-bodied daughter alongside premature twins with disabilities. I have a glimpse into what they navigate in a world designed for abled bodies or normative families. My disability is temporary. My family is not considered ‘normative,’ yet uniquely amazing like yours.
What do I take for granted? How can I support friendly accessible spaces for people with disabilities to thrive in? Our bodies are the vehicle in which we perceive and are perceived. I feel the wounding of micro-aggressions that stifle the gifts of my children, my sisters, and my brothers. I often don’t know what to do about this. Do you?
I am listening.
Softening like a fawn.
Rooted like a tree.
I feel kindness rising like fire.
Fierce love calling forth gifts.
My body is resting. My body is healing. My body is supported.
My soul is not horizontal.
Souls are not wounded.