This past week, I have come to appreciate the sheer beauty of walking. Watching people naturally swing one leg in front of the other, somehow maintaining their balance and shifting their weight–without thinking– from side to side to keep the natural momentum of forward movement.
That’s all well and good until one’s ambulatory options are suddenly limited. A slip on wet stone steps resulted in a broken ankle, which closed down my world. As the days slipped by, I began to think about options beyond the wheelie office chair I brought home from work — or the knee rover that a good friend had loaned to me.
Stories of other broken limbs, someone with two legs broken at the same time, broken wrists, hips, broken feet and dislocations began to come to me. I had not realized how often accidents, slips, sprains and breaks happen. This town has many hoarders of medical aids, it seems. Offers of bedpans and all manner of mobility apparatuses poured in. At first, I was reluctant to bring all that medical-looking stuff into my home. But you get over that. And you start thinking of others facing bigger challenges.
I spent sleepless nights thinking of alternate transportation. A small pony and cart seemed appealing, but then there is the challenge of getting from the house to the cart. I imagined myself with a Roman-style helmet and gentle whip to encourage my small steed as I roved around town in my two-wheeled cart.
I moved on from that idea to a scooter with a sheltered ledge on the left side for my cast-enrobed leg. It has been a great source of amusement (really) as those trying to help me narrowly miss whacking my ‘bad’ leg. Indeed, one loses a certain amount of grace when rolling around with one’s leg sticking straight out in front of oneself.
The other challenge is that when you need both hands to propel yourself, you can’t carry a single thing with you. Oranges roll wildly away once they escape your armpit, plates of food capsize with ease and you lose your balance trying to stop the spill. Pockets are a lifesaver.
Treasure Island came to mind. Someone mentioned a thing called an I-Walk, a strap-on leg whereby one’s useless lower member sticks straight out behind you — and you can walk. But how does one avoid banging into doorways or whacking one’s vulnerable limb? It must be so easy to forget about it if it is out of sight. Which brought me to thoughts of pirates. How did they manage so well on a peg leg? How is it that the parrot never slipped off the pirate’s shoulder, given the sway of the pirate’s gait on a ship rolling at sea?
I had to let go of mobility, at the end of the day. How far I could throw things and have them land in the right place has become a great pastime. Letting go of the stories shared of surgeries gone wrong became a priority. Realizing that a few words from someone can send me off on a worry tangent reminded me that words are just words. Example: The ER nurse who assured me that my foot would not be amputated gave rise to thoughts I had not even entertained at that point.
I have had to let go of a few things over the past week or so, but am finding the patience to know that I will be able to pick them up again.
Looking back, I know I will remember this summer break.