From injury to recovery and beyond:
What does injury do to the body and mind? For me, it means that in a heart beat I am on the floor having broken my kneecap. There is no getting up to dust one’s self off, and continue on with the day. Instead it meant calling 911 and being rescued and taken to the local emergency room. The fact that I have been working toward a healthy middle age for decades seems to make little difference. It seems to not matter that I am fit with strong bones; the body breaks down when presented with a concrete floor. There are many perspectives from which to view an injury, including physical, professional, relationship, and emotional.
From the physical standpoint of injury, It is intuitive to understand the physical pain, tremendous inconvenience, and the burden for others’, whether they are happy to help or not. Suddenly, it is no longer a simple matter to visit the bathroom, but an ordeal that begins painfully, and progresses to inconvenient and irritating. Bathroom breaks have to be planned for. Bathing becomes a tremendous ordeal because at all cost the injured member must be kept dry. Vulnerability is another product of injury. In trying to get around the house and take some of the burden off my amazing caregiver, I fell again, further injuring myself, but not my broken bones, thankfully. What this means to me is that I can no longer feel confident when walking on the floor, moving quickly down a set of stairs, and walking outside in the rain. Having fallen, and broken a limb before, it took me years to regain my confidence and lose my fear of falling. Now I get to start that all over again.
Professionally, my injury means that my students will have to have a different pathway to the end of the quarter. It means that one of my colleagues steps in to help fill the gap in class time and access, and subsequent quarters will need to be rearranged. The good news is that my injury is fully covered, and includes time to recover
There is the sentiment that when you are down you find out who your friends are. This is both true, and not true. True, friends and co-workers have rallied around with delicious prepared food, cards and flowers, phone calls and visits. What injury and home-stay does in the absence of these things is isolate me from my usual social contact. While I am very fond of silence, when you can hear the silence, it feels like too much.
Thankfully, I am one of the most fortunate people on the planet in that I have an amazing and loving spouse who has been my constant caretaker. I also have fully paid sick leave, access to quick and outstanding medical care, wonderful family and friends, and lots of time with my pets.
Feeling so fortunate to live in an era when quality healthcare solutions (surgery, braces, and support for recovery) are available to me, I have been pondering how my injury to recovery would look so different without these benefits. What if I were single without home-support? It would be much more difficult to take care of daily living activities. And, without home support, the opportunity for re-injury or setbacks, additional injuries, would be much more likely. I have someone to provide a steady hand to help me get around, and take me to appointments. What if I had no health insurance? This is true for so many people, both locally and especially on the global level. What if I had not received the surgical procedure in a timely manner to stitch me back together? My injury would have healed after a fashion, but walking normally and without pain would not be assured.
The take-home message for me is that even on a bad day, my life is much easier than it is for many others who have not suffered an incapacitating injury. All because of my resources, for which I am very grateful.