Almost eleven weeks ago I fell and broke my ankle and slowly but yes, surely, I am healing. I have only two more sessions with my physical therapist, and the goal is to be limp free when I wave goodbye to her. Now when I catch a glimpse of myself in a glass door or store window, I am shocked by how old I look, in spite of my chic animal print cane. I limp. I limp and yet, I have not returned from a war. I just fell--no glamour, no service to my country, no interesting story. I just fell and now I limp, but at some point I won't. In time I won't.
For the most part I think I have handled this time in my life with grace, but there have been moments of discouragement, despair, and boredom. That seems to happen when the healing process is more subtle, as it has been recently. Each visible, tangible change, such as the first time I dressed myself without help, was thrilling. Going up and down steps, inside and outside the house, felt like a miracle, totally expanding my world. Then being allowed to drive the car, first with the boot and then without. In fact, I no longer wear the boot, and rarely, do I use the cane.
And yet, there is still stiffness and swelling, which means I wear an extremely tight, hot, and totally unattractive compression stocking. I am unable to stack errands on top of each other, for I can't sustain the amount of walking that takes, and by the end of the day my leg throbs. Still, I now wake feeling energized and not just rested, and I am able to do much more in a day than I have been during the previous weeks.
I wonder, however, when I am fully healed what my pace will be. After the initial shock and adjustment, I thought I would use this time to do major work on a delayed writing project. I have done some, enough to know it still interests me, but still, I have not made much progress in that area. I thought I would plan how to start my spiritual direction practice here, along with starting a writing group and a spiritual retirement group--all ideas I had before we moved here, but now I wonder if I will, if those are ways I will want to use my time and energy. Do I really want to add that much activity back into my life or perhaps being involved with family and friends here, especially the grands, and doing some volunteering will be enough? My contentment level seems to have shifted--at least for now. Is this a foretaste of being much older--of my world getting smaller without regret?
When I had uterine cancer surgery almost 12 years ago, I set such a clear goal and timeline for recovery because my mother's colon cancer had returned at the same time. I needed to heal quickly in order to be with her as an active part of her care taking team. My gynecologist cheered me on, but also said not to be surprised if at some point--probably after my mother died--I would relapse. That didn't necessarily mean more cancer, but my body would just let me know it had not fully recovered. When my mother died several months later, I wondered if my doc's words were prediction or permission. Either way, I took the time-out, and perhaps that is what this broken ankle time has been as well. Time-out after over a year of intense activity.
I stopped --or was stopped--and now I am back to adding in more activity. I have started walking around the block, slowly, but happily. I am doing most of the house cleaning, except for vacuuming, and I no longer bundle reasons for going up and down the stairs, but just do it. I get up earlier and have much more variety in the day. I still listen carefully to my body, paying attention to signs I need to sit down, put my feet up, and even nap, and I hope I have become a better listener and responder to my body's needs. In many regards my life is back to normal, but I also realize how "normal" is always in flux. Perhaps that is one of the main lessons and gifts of this time.
How often we hear the words, "It just takes time." Time to grieve. Time to see what the next step will be. Time to move on. Time to let things work out. Time to heal. I believe in the healing power of time, but time alone is not the answer. How do we let time work within and around us to create transformation? Do we step back and breathe as time marches on, whether we are ready or not?
Time passes no matter what. There is nothing I could have done to have stopped this passage of time. I couldn't push a pause button and say, "When I am strong and healed again, then we can continue where we left off on March 25th." It is now June, almost the middle of June, and I had nothing to say about that, broken ankle or not. Here we are. Wow--here we are, and that is a very good thing.
I have done the best I could during this time, and I am grateful for all the healing that has taken place, but I know there is still more physical healing that needs to happen, and I am willing to give it time. More time.
What's your relationship to time? How has "time healed all wounds" in your life? I would love to know.