Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Silver Lining

My visit with the orthopaedic doc yesterday confirmed his original diagnosis. My little express ride down the stairs has caused what he called a "catastrophic injury." The place where my ACL should have been was empty, the meniscus is shattered, and the MCL is "hanging by a thread." I will be seeing the surgeon on Tuesday. The doctor said I will probably be having surgery within the next two weeks to replace the missing ACL with one from a cadaver, attempt to suture together what they can of the meniscus, and take a better look at the MCL. He is saying two weeks of non-load-bearing, followed by a lot of rehab. He is putting the kibosh on my trip to Knoxville in Aug. to see my stepson graduate. He is also telling me that I cannot start my 30th year of teaching on time. He says I will need at least the month of September off. He said that full rehab will take 5 months. Okay, so much for the dark cloud.

Now, here's the silver lining. This accident happened during the one week each year when my family is all together. I have twin brothers who are 10 months younger than I. Yes, that's right, for two months out of every year, we are all the same age. We were in the same grade together in school. Raised as triplets. I live in northern Minnesota (from whence we come) and they live near each other in Phoenix. We have an additional brother who is 8 years younger than we are. (Family planning was NOT one of our parents' strong suits.) We elder three kids were old enough to bring our little bro with us everywhere. When I got married and started having my family, he would come and spend summers with me on the East Coast. This little bro lives in the Twin Cities, as do my two now-grown kids. The Twin Cities are about 120 miles from where I live. When my daughter got wind of my little accident, she put her two jobs on hold and came home for the week. She went back yesterday, and my son is coming for the weekend today. We are a very, very close knit family.

A few years ago, 17 years ago on July 19, when I was just 35 years old (with children ages 7 and 11) I had a heart attack. My brothers had just left from their annual visit when it happened. They weren't with me then, but they called frequently. So, I've had little bumps in the health department before. I know what it takes to rehab. I know that I can get better. And my family won't let me forget that.

The silver lining in all this is my wonderful family. I am usually the care-giver in family matters, the nurturer. As uncomfortable as it has been for me to need to ask for help, they have kept me active and laughing all week long. Yesterday, the doc noticed that I've put a little bend in my straight leg brace. He asked how it happened. I told him that my bros are in town so we HAD to take in a baseball game, and go on a tour of a local mansion, AND go out to a pub for music and a diet soda. My bros would hear nothing of leaving me back when there is fun to be had. They put my butt in a wheelchair and sweating, grunting and groaning have shoved me all over the city so I wouldn't miss a thing.

Last night we were racing through an empty shopping center while leaving the local brewhouse. I had my arms over my head and was squealing while my brother whipped me in a donut before going into the elevator. Mind you, we are over 50, but still having fun. Never once did they complain about having to drag out a wheelchair and haul me along. I said, "I don't want to be a pain in the butt." Young bro said, "You've been a pain in our butts all your life, why stop now? Get in the chair."

My wise-beyond-her-years daughter told me that sometimes I can be stubborn (Really? Me, stubborn??) and maybe this is just God's way of slowing me down for awhile again. I'm one of those people who sometimes needs a big hammer to get the message. When we were in the doc's office, she said, "My mom's been really working at getting fit, can you give her some suggestions how she can keep exercising while her leg is healing?" And he did.

Yeah, this is a bummer, but it is also a blessing. I've always appreciated my family, but times like this are a good reminder. This getting fit thing is a life-long journey; and it will slow me down, but it won't stop me. Don't stop, don't quit, never give up, and once in awhile take a gander at the silver lining and whip yourself a donut.

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