It’s a pattern, I’ve come to realize.
I return from each medical assessment with worsened pain, more intense PTSD nightmares, deep anxiety and a feeling of dread.
But the moment I start to see daylight again, I become determined to DO something.
I might wash the drapes. Or rearrange something.
Almost always, I write in my journal, and from there, return to blogging. Occasionally, I give you a glimpse of my struggles. Mostly, I write cheerful, hopeful posts, meant to uplift myself as well as you.
But those first days are dangerous.
Once, I tried to climb a tree, using a stepladder my husband had left nearby. I’d loved climbing trees, even as an adult.
Slowly, carefully, I negotiated each step. Got to where the trunk forked then manoeuvred myself up, pain worsening with every move.
I rested against one large branch, clung to another with my good arm and closed my eyes in relief. I’d done it. I’d climbed Everest.
It was now time to climb back down.
I’d focused hard on climbing up, not sparing a single thought for how I’d climb down. And now my injured body couldn’t do it. I was stuck.
Stuck, watching a ladder that was tantalizingly close, but not close enough. Stuck, wondering why humans didn’t have wings, and how hard the ground would be if I just jumped.
How long was I there? Measure it in life-times, not minutes.
Once again, my husband came home and into the garden. He looked even more frightened than I was.
I fervently promised to behave better in future. No more stupid risks. No more frightening this good man.
The great opposite of risk-taking is to live in fear. I’ve done a lot of that too.
Take swimming. We are blessed with a backyard pool which came with the house.
Yet, for three years (forget last summer – my left leg was in a heavy cast after I fell), I’ve never gone into it alone. Fear of my right leg and thigh becoming numb and heavy, which they often do. Fear of drowning.
Recently, I decided to try.
I asked my husband, the first few times, to stand on the pool deck, watching me. I used one of those sponge noodles (a flotation device), splashed around, but didn’t stay long. My right side, of course, was the biggest problem. Even in the water, and despite great efforts, my right leg felt useless.
The next time, I told my husband he could do something else, as long as he checked on me every few minutes.
Each time, I stayed longer, tried harder. And here’s what I discovered (big drum roll, please): I can swim on one leg!
My left leg, the one broken last year, is a champion; while my right leg simply floats, the left is doing the work of two. I’m still using that noodle, but I’m swimming, for whole minutes, without fear.
Two evenings ago, I did not announce it. I just went.
Back and forth I swam, from one end of the pool to another. When I stopped and looked up, my husband was standing there, watching me and smiling.
“You’ve been out here for quite a while,” he noted.
“Thanks to my left leg!” I laughed. “I’m swimping!”
He laughed back, recognizing immediately that I had combined the words swimming and limping. After all, it was he who first called my style of strolling “strimping”. Now, I, too, have made up a new word.
“If we keep this up, we could create a whole dictionary,” I said.