One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Yesterday was a blur of appointments, waiting rooms, and long walkways – an exhausting combination in any condition. Everyone I encountered was friendly and professional, but it was a long day.

I was happy to have my fibreglass cast removed (oh, that poor bruised limb inside – was that mottled swollen mess really my foot? The one I knew so well? It looked like it belonged to someone else) and replaced with a boot contraption that can be removed to shower. It is a walking boot but I am not allowed to walk on it – I’m stuck with crutches for the next month and a boot the size of a VW hanging off my leg. But still…showering is good!

My hand is back in a splint and I’m being passed onto another specialist for possible surgery on the thumb (yes, this is yet another blog post tapped with my right thumb on my smartphone).

Air cast
It takes a big boot to make my other foot look small!

When my leg (or whomever’s leg that is down there) was being lifted from the shell of the old cast and laid into the new boot — which by the way looks disturbingly storm-trooperish– it was explained to me that I’d feel some pain as the soft tissue adjusted to changes in position, but not to worry because the bone itself was healing. It’s just that the muscles and tissues had been in the same position for two weeks inside the old cast and the slight change in the new one would cause pulling and tenderness as things settled into a more natural alignment.

Oh. My. God.

At first the pain felt good – the way a morning stretch or cracking the knuckles does. Within an hour or so my leg was achey,the aches became shooting pain, and by bedtime I knew it was going to be a long night.

I was distraught. Fuckity fuck, ability to shower or not, this boot was torture!

Today I’m 100% resting. No yoga stretches, no stairs, no going out. The pain wasn’t a setback, it was necessary in order to keep moving forward, and after a rest I’ll be back on track.

You just know there’s a recovery analogy here or I wouldn’t bother writing about it. A broken leg isn’t a fascinating topic on its own (to me) unless there’s something to be learned.

Here it comes:

Recovery can be painful at times, maybe even disappointing, but keep going. Something better is ahead. Settling into a new position can be uncomfortable and even scary.

Last night, knowing the pain was not a distress signal from the bone but rather other parts stretching and repairing helped make the discomfort more tolerable. It was temporary and beneficial – I just had to hang in there.

You will have hard days in sobriety. You’ll have emotional pain and no numbing agent, but you’ll get through. You’ll have awkward moments and no go-to solution, but you’ll manage. You’ll have moments to celebrate and feel flat.

It will happen. And then it will pass.

And you will be better off.

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19 comments

  1. I’m feeling the pain of recovery right now after a brief relapse. Cravings bad and feeling sorry for myself- alcohol has been my social crutch on and off for over 40 years. So many events centered around drinking where I live- charity wine tasting, craft beer get togethers etc. it feels like life will be no fun without being able to partake. I was recently sober for a year- so I know this will get better- but ugh- hate being unable to drink like a normal person.

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    • Regular Tylenol around the clock is all I need, fortunately. This is a exactly the type of situation that can open the door for opiate addiction so I’m grateful to have been able to manage without. I suppose I should say that stillness is part of my pain management, too. Maybe that’s the most important part.

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  2. Jean I have you in my thoughts and wishing you a speedy recovery. I wonder, if you need to be on crutches, how are you going to get around now that your hand is back in a sling?! We figure it out somehow right? Such power in knowing that we adapt! This last statement just helped me. Bring my the thoughts together that I have had swirling in my head since I haven’t journaled for today just yet. But really quickly I’ll share my latest realization…I can adapt and don’t have to give in, even when fear pops up, it very much like wave, falls away eventually. One of the things I liked about beer and wine was savoring the flavor, trying to pick out the nuances in a brew or a Red. This very thing, the behavior or savoring was what I thought I was going to miss the most, and I would “Never” be able to enjoy that kind of moment EVER again if I stopped drinking… but you know what? That thought was completely FALSE! You know why, because now I get to buy fancy teas and start to develop my palate to distinguish the different notes in tea, I can rub essential oils on my pulse points and savor the fragrance of lavendar, or lemongrass, peppermint or eucalyptus. I can savor the moment when I take one of my “focusing rocks” to fidget with while at the same time noticing the texture of it, how it feels in my hand. I can savor new tastes, sights, sounds, smells and textures and trust in my–OUR–power to adapt when the going gets tough. Just need to remind myself of this during those times when I need the reminder the most. Onward day 39!

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    • Great insight and so true. The varieties of dark chocolate and coffee are fun to explore too. And healthy cooking. And vitamins!

      My hand is in a removable brace with a thumb spica, which holds my thumb in a hitchhiker position. It makes the crutches awkward but possible, resting just the base of my palm on the crutch instead of gripping it like I do with my other hand. It’s not very comfortable. Anyone out there who broke a leg and returned to work within two weeks on crutches is a hero, I say. My office is at home so I’m keeping up with my workload but if I had to get dressed, leave the house and function all day without laying down I’d be in trouble. I have new compassion for anyone out in the world on crutches! Tough gig!

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      • Sounds like you’ll get the hang of it in no time! Hmmm dark chocolate is not my thing…BUT…right now I’m open to learning new things…so might give it a shot! Coffee is a definite yes! 😉

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  3. What moves me a lot is that you take a rough time : cast removal on a very tender limb , and are able to see the positive things coming from the pain. Bet you couldn’t do that while daily wine drinking. It is so simple . Take away the crutch of alcohol and we learn to cope with use of better tools : insight, gratitude. I went to an herbalist today to deal with some sciatic pain and other issues. He noticed that my Hdl
    ( good cholesterol) had gone down some, and he instructed me to drink one glass of wine a day to bring it back up. He really had a hard time grasping my words” I can’t drink one glass of wine”…. Thanks for showing us the gratitude in the middle of pain. Feel better soon! You do kind of resemble a Jedi warrior.
    Un Re Warrior!

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  4. Wishing you a speedy recovery and sending many thanks your way for the post. What a great lesson! There will definitely be difficult days ahead but I know with prayer, your incredible blog and my family’s support I can do it. Today is day 17 for me and while I know it is still early, I am feeling very hopeful.

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  5. Great analogy! I guess there’s no way to hurry up healing, either spiritually or physically. It will take as long as it takes. Thanks for continuing to share the journey with us.

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