Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The End (?) Of a Painful Journey

Well, saying it’s "the end" would not be accurate, but it is the end of the major part of it. This is also (I promise :) ), the last entry for what I hope is a long time regarding "the broken leg".

Yesterday I received very happy news… based on the X-rays, my bones were 90% healed, and due to the physical therapy that I had been doing for the past 4 weeks, I had demonstrated enough range of motion that I could do away with “the Boot”. I had never been so happy to hear those words… until I had to put on a pair of shoes and practice walking with them once again.

Yes, I am in the process of relearning how to walk on my own power. No crutches, no cast, and it is humbling. I think I am doing fine and then out of nowhere, my strength gives out in my right leg and suddenly I’m walking with a pronounced limp. The bones are fine; it’s the surrounding musculature that’s the problem. Since it’s been in a cast for 8 weeks, my right leg is significantly atrophied compared to my left leg (my right calf is two inches smaller at the moment than my left calf… and yes, I checked ;) ).

Relearning how to do something that is supposed to be automatic can be really frustrating, but it’s also very enlightening. For the tester, it gives us a chance to, with fresh eyes, examine something that is truly automatic for most people. What is the optimal step distance for a given muscles range of motion, especially when it’s functionality has been restricted? I’ll bet you never thought to ask that question before. I’m asking it regularly. I’m experimenting, getting feedback, and then from what I learn, changing my approach for further feedback. Again, my body is an exploratory testing laboratory (I know that sounds weird, but work with me here).

I had a chance to see the progress and view the original X-rays, the ones I had only seen when I was in great pain and about to go under general anesthetic for my surgery. It felt good to see them in context and see how much had changed. Yep, for your pleasure and morbid curiosity, I’m including them here:
Here's the original Tibia break

Here's the original Fibula fracture
Here's the plate armor holding it all together

Whether we like it or not, life tends to throw us curve balls. We can choose to dodge them, or we can choose to deal with them head on and learn about ourselves in the process. What have I learned? Well, I’m mortal, and I can break. I don’t have a limitless supply of energy. I can’t ignore gravity. Sometimes, it’s good to let other people do things for you. When you are lying in bed for three weeks, it’s easy to lose 25 pounds. The world will not end if you are not in the drivers seat for everything. Speaking of drivers seat, it is surprisingly easy to drive an automatic vehicle with your left foot. I decided to not try out my theory on a stick shift ;). Oh, and the most important thing I learned… the world doesn’t wait for you, it just keeps moving. It’s up to each of us to decide when we want to get back in the stream, but ultimately, we have to if we want to be at all effective in our lives. It may take awhile to get back in the game, but get back we all must, at some point. I hereby announce I’m back in the game and reporting for training, sir!

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