Reflections From a Forced Hiatus, Part II

Just last Thursday, my podiatrist released me from care, and I am so happy to be back at the clinic, seeing all of your lovely faces, and hearing about your lives! I really missed all of the interaction while I was at home recovering from my bicycle accident.

Last month, I shared how much I learned from this experience and the lessons keep coming. Certainly acupuncture and herbs really helped me deal with pain and swelling and supported my bones in healing, but there were many other things that really made a positive difference.  If you have had a similar experience or know someone with an injury, I wanted to share what helped me through.

In general, I operate on the belief that “you don’t give to get.” You do what you do without expecting anything in return. So I was awed by the care so many of you showed me when this happened. My accident occurred blocks away from the clinic. After Ayla picked me up, two long-time patients, who had arrived for their appointments that day, thought nothing of loading me and my broken foot into their car and taking me to urgent care. They stayed with me through the entire process of x-rays and assessment, then took me home and helped me get settled. It was so kind and such a relief to have people I have known for 5 years taking care of me. I am a little embarrassed to admit that it was unexpected, though perhaps, it shouldn’t have been.

During this process, others offered help, though I was a bit shy of taking them up on it. I--like many people--find it very difficult to ask for help. If someone you know is in a similar situation, keep this in mind; they may need it more than they know and just may find it hard to ask or even accept. Sincerely offering help and being ready to follow through counts!

My spirit was buoyed by the many get well cards I received. In our days of social media and virtual everything, paper cards are so touching. I arranged them like you might holiday cards, keeping them around to inspire me to fully recover. It was healing to know I was loved and missed in my darkest moments. Physical injuries have an emotional component--important to remember and acknowledge with people you know who are suffering.

Emails, texts, along with Facebook and Instagram messages were also nice too. Being housebound and immobile was so isolating, so when my phone would register a text or email, it broke up many hours of being alone with my thoughts. Connecting with those who are injured can feel like a balm to them, and any form they can access is likely welcome, so don’t assume you will be bothering them.

Some sent flowers, which were a bright, happy addition to my healing environment. Friends stopped by with food and conversation--truly welcome for our whole household. My dear spouse lovingly bore the brunt of caregiving; still, he was glad to have a few meals taken care of that he didn’t have to prepare.

There were many jokes about Netflix binges, and while I am no purist when it comes to this, I saved it for evenings. I indulged my acupuncture nerdiness with some new books on the subject, but I could only read so much of this, as not being able to practice in the moment easily triggered my sadness at not treating people.

I read various books on mindfulness and meditation: Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance (2003), Haemin Sunim’s Love for Imperfect Things (2018) and The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down (2017)--all of which helped me accept my current situation.

For entertainment, I read Tara Westover’s Educated (2018), Barbara Ehrenreich’s Natural Causes (2018), and I am still working through Lian Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers (2018).

Switching from reading to listening, I found certain podcasts mentally nourishing: Tara Brach’s offered a true life-line for self-reflection; Shankar Vedantum’s “Hidden Brain” informed and entertained, and Krista Tippett’s “On Being” provided an amazing mix of interviews that inspired.

I did crossword puzzles and made a healing vision card of healthy right feet doing activities I planned to return to. I even signed up to participate in a five day bicycle ride in September that raises money for the California Bicycle Coalition to ensure I would get back on my bike.

While my injury is one that healed, other people you know may be living with a disability every single day. Consider what you might do to make their lives a little easier and a little less isolating. If you have had a similar experience, I’d love to hear what helped you heal. Our office manager, Ayla, loves the Ram Dass quote, “We’re all just walking each other home.” Indeed, we are. How can you do that for someone you know? Even someone you don’t know so well?