Life Cuts Both Ways

Well this has been fucking intense, excuse my french. I never thought in a thousand and eight years that I would ever be disabled. Yet, here I am. Unable to walk for the past four months. This journey is long and uncertain. I have had to dig in deep, deeper than I ever imagined. 

After my accident I wrote about the harrowing experience of jumping into the Mediterranean Sea and breaking my ankle in this blog. Regretfully, I believed the doctor in Spain when he prescribed that I stay off of it completely, articulate 1000 times/day, then start rehab in two months. Since my first surgery I have had three reconstructive surgeries on my ankle, four in total.

Luckily, my surgeon here in Portland, Oregon is a genius and I believe he is able to salvage my limb. When I first crutched into his office I was six weeks post trauma, confused, emotional and presented with an infected non-union distal tibial pilon fracture, fibular fracture and exposed internal hardware. It was not good.

It is a long story of how I got there but suffice it to say that as I made my way back to my family in the USA I saw a number of doctors whom obviously didn't know how to treat, prescribe or advise me. The incredible man who is saving my foot now reminds me regularly to let the past go and focus on my future. He is right. What's done is done and there is nothing that will change what happened. Nothing. 

I have heard of people breaking bones. From what I could tell they end up in a cast or I'd see  them crutch by and eventually they heal and walk again. I naively thought it was going to be that simple for me. Have the surgery, lay low for a few months then BAM! get back to life. Little did I realize at the time that this is my life. And these are my lessons. And this is my fate. As heart breaking as it is some days this is my current reality and so I must face it. 

To face my fear, weakness and insecurity is not something I like to do. It kinda makes my face wince. I mean, really? really. Ok, fine. So I did and I am. What I am finding is both absolutely terrifying and uniquely liberating. After I woke up still drowsy from my second surgery I slowly became aware that my right foot had pins through my bones fixed to a steal cage called an Iliazarov apparatus. It was so big, heavy, awkward and wide like a cement brick that it took me a couple days to learn how to get myself to the toilet. I already managed to carefully navigate to the Komodo by my bed. For fuck sake! I was so graceful, strong and agile before. Humbling experience to say the least.

I was reduced to my greatest fear and had to sit with my whirling mind. My mind was like a mine field. Every thought was an explosion that threatened my sanity and polished veneer. I wondered how I would navigate such a scary, volatile and intangible terrain. I was quickly loosing my grip on reality, on who I thought I was and what I thought I was meant to do. I often felt like a trapped fox unable to move freely about the earth as I had come to love. Non of my maps worked, I was in uncharted territory. I had to forge a new path into a deeper unknown, a more essential domain. 

It was a real struggle so I decided it was better to let everything go, drop any baggage from the past that I was carrying.  It was too heavy and I knew I wouldn't need it where I was going. I had to loosen my grip on who I thought I was, untether my soul from the image I had constructed of myself, and release fundamental aspects of myself that I identified with but were no longer available to me.

All I really wanted to do was go back to that moment on the beach just before my life changed as I knew it and simply not jump. My mind replayed the perfect scenario where I packed up my towel, tied up my shoes, got back on the trail and ran back to where I had come from. I wanted to run away and not look back. I saw it in my mind a thousand times. If only I had...

But life isn't like that. Life isn't as forgiving as we would like it to be, so we have to forgive ourself. We have to be willing to look ourself in the eye and brave a new way forward. Life cuts both ways.

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Details on prognosis and procedures in this video

Nianna Bray8 Comments