“Storms make trees take deeper roots.” -Dolly Parton
I laid twisted and crumped on the floor. The instant pain and subsequent panic were shrouded in a wave of nausea. I screamed out my ex-husband’s name. He had left just ten minutes prior with our daughter. It was a name I didn’t call out anymore, someone I didn’t look to for help anymore. With intense deliberation I moved myself into a sitting position. I could hear the snaps and feel the shifting, my ankle hung like a flopping fish. I was in a locked house and alone at the bottom of the stairs.
I muttered to myself as I began the slow crawl up each step. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m going to be fine. I would not stop once I reached the top of the stairs. Next, I would begin the army crawl to my cell phone. How many times had I been on the receiving end of these 911 calls? Someone alone, desperate to keep themselves together. With help, now back enroute, I finished my crawl to unlock the door, my foot dragging behind.
I can still see my daughter’s eyes as she opened the back gate and ran towards me. Children shouldn’t know fear. She had heard my frantic plea through her father’s speakers. I hated to be seen this way, defenseless and teary eyed on the floor.
Before I knew it, my living room was filled with my ex-husband’s family. My former mother-in-law, sister-in-law and her husband had showed up to help. What a time for a reunion. The guilt and embarrassment compounded. It would be my ex-husband and brother-in-law that would carry me out to the car. If I couldn’t lighten their load, maybe I could lighten the mood.
“I should have thought this through better…I could have met firemen if I had called 911.”
I had returned home to Michigan just two days prior with my daughter. My mother was still driving, on her way from Alabama. Happy Birthday Ma! Today you get to drive 12 hours with a hyperactive poodle and come home to me. PS… I broke three bones in my ankle, no rush.
My mother wasn’t with me in the ER; but I was surrounded by love and support from the part of my daughter’s family that I had been mostly estranged from during the past decade. Their grace moved me. I am not one to typically ask for help, let alone accept it. But, here they were, advocating on my behalf and exhibiting such care. I had a tribe of fierce women at my side. I didn’t have to face this day alone.
For the next ten days, I was bound to the recliner, my foot elevated above my heart. I was only allowed to hobble on my crutches for bathroom breaks. Life as I knew it had hit a dead stop. Forget unpacking and settling in. My mother and daughter were now bound to my every beck and call. I had left my independence at the bottom of the stairwell.
Ten days after the fall, I underwent surgery to repair the damage of the trimalleolar fracture of my right ankle. A steel plate fastened with screws and pins drilled through bone, now hold me together. My recovery will be a journey of patience and grace while learning to accept help from the ones who love me.
In the meantime I’ll use my nine years of yoga practice to conquer my new one-legged, flamingo lifestyle. And man, oh man…I wish I hadn’t skipped that last pedicure.