Friday, March 7, 2014

It Happened, at Last

I wrote a blog post in January on "under-appreciated pleasures." In it I focused on the pleasure of rolling over in bed, something my sister was temporarily unable to do because of shoulder surgery. I also offered up an ode of gratitude for the pleasure of walking briskly, a pleasure denied my mother at the end of her life. I pledged to enjoy these simple pleasures with heightened awareness, pleasures we tend to notice most when we're no longer able to experience them.

I wrote a blog post in February called "the last happy day," in which I vowed to notice every happy day as I was living it, because we never know when terrible tragedy might strike us. What if we had lived our last happy day and hadn't failed to savor it?

Obviously I was writing with a sense of impending doom, wouldn't you say?

Tuesday I was heading out for my usual walk with my friend Rowan, this time accompanied by little dog Tank. I stopped to get the mail and then dashed back the few steps to my house to drop it off before continuing on my way. I tripped. I fell, wrenching my foot. Deciding the injury was nothing, I proceeded to walk for an hour with Rowan and Tank, and then walked around campus all day on Wednesday. But by Thursday, when the foot was still so bruised and swollen, I decided to have it checked out at urgent care. As I have a high-deductible insurance plan, I knew I'd have to pay around $300 for the visit. But it was worth $300 to me for the reassurance that nothing was wrong, after all.

Diagnosis: a broken fifth metatarsal bone in my right foot.


No need for surgery, no bulky uncomfortable cast. But no weight-bearing on that foot for 4-6 weeks. No weight bearing AT ALL.

Okay. At least I can truly say that I appreciated weight-bearingness while I had it. Every single walk I took with Rowan we spent half the time marveling at how fortunate we were to be able to live in such a beautiful place, with such beautiful walking-conducive weather, with both of us in excellent walking-facilitating health. I did notice these things every single day.

Now I'm going to have to notice other things for a while. How lucky I am to have a desk chair with wheels on it. How lucky I am not to live alone. How lucky I am to have enough money to be able to order a little rental scooter-thing for $35 a week, as it's already exceedingly obvious that I will never be able to master crutches (given that I can't even walk to my mailbox without breaking my foot). How sweet it is today simply to have canceled or rescheduled everything I had to do at the university, so I can spend this whole rainy/snowy day at home hopping from desk to couch to bed, maybe even getting some writing and editing work done. Or maybe just taking it easy, for once. Why not?

It's going to be hard to sustain cheerful gratitude for 4-6 weeks, especially with no guarantee that I'll be fully healed at the end of that time period. I have two big trips between now and then: my annual trip to the children's literature festival in Warrensburg, Missouri (no walking with the other authors to look at the cows this year!) and a week of school visits in Michigan over spring break (I guess I'll have to roar into the gym on my scooter and then give my presentation while perched on a stool). How will I manage at the airports? How will I manage everything in my busy life that needs to be managed?

Well, I'm not the first person in the history of the world with a broken foot. I'm not even the first or second or third person in my circle of friends. As I head into Act III of my life, falls may become more common (though the first thing I plan to do upon recovery from this one is some balance training, as this is my third major fall in six months).

So I might as well work as hard as I can at practicing cheerful gratitude. Occasions for making use of it are unlikely to be few.

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