26 July 2014

A Broken Ankle is Teaching Me a Few Lessons

Skipping down the steps to retrieve socks for my son from the laundry room and thinking not about where I was going and what I was doing, instead thinking about discussions with my husband about how to map out the Common Core Standards to be taught in his eleventh grade English class this fall, I missed a step, turned my right ankle, heard a popping sound, and fell to the ground.  The short, uninteresting tale of my mishap last weekend lead to a series of lessons I've been learning all week.

1) Slow down and cut back on multitasking
I multitask all.the.time. Now, I'm beginning to question the unhealthy practice of multitasking. Too bad it took a broken ankle to wake me up to this reality.  Seriously though, as someone who moves quickly and takes pride in being able to do multiple tasks at once, I need to remember what I've been reading about our brains and multitasking, and I need to slow down. The day of the injury required an immediate slowing down of my pace. After a trip to the E.R., X-rays, a fractured fibula, a visit to the orthopedist and a fiberglass cast, I recognized and began to accept my temporary limited mobility. Depending upon crutches to move from point A to point B demands that I think ahead to what I will need when I get to the next point, and requires me to slow down so I don't topple over while maneuvering on crutches.

2) Understand that it's okay to ask for help
 As a very independent woman, I don't like to ask for help if it's something I am capable of doing myself. Normally, I don't mind asking for help if there's something I don't know how to do, but not being able to do the most basic things for myself has been a humbling learning experience. From bringing me a clean towel and wash cloth for a shower to making my food and bringing me a glass of water, I am now unable to do many regular things for myself, and I'm learning that it's okay to ask for help. Being unable to drive wreaks havoc on a family's schedule, so when friends and family near and far are offering to help, I understand that I need to accept the assistance and feel grateful I'm surrounded by people who care enough to help.

3) Gain perspective by reading others' injury stories
Okay, so this isn't a new realization from this particular injury, but this week I did what I always do when I don't know something, I looked for reading resources on the topic. Fortunately, with access to the Internet and a husband who set me up on the sofa with my computer and ipad, I immediately began reading stories and blogs of others who have suffered this same injury. One blogger even broke her post into a five part series chronicling the entire experience from E.R. visit to recovery and healing. Other blogs provided practical suggestions for showering, scratching inside the cast, and keeping all your essentials near you when you are seated with your leg elevated.

4) Stay positive
 Typically, I'm a very optimistic (glass half-full) sort of person. For the most part I'm managing to keep my spirits up while coping with the hassle of a broken ankle. I realize my situation could be so much worse. I didn't need surgery and I have a family to care for me during my long recovery process. Speaking of a family to care for me--my husband has taken over all cooking and cleaning duties (usually we share these duties). My youngest son brought me breakfast in bed Sunday morning after my first restless night of sleep following the accident. Neither son grumbles when I ask him to bring me things like my phone charger, a glass of water, or my book. My older son suggested I distract myself when there's an itch underneath the cast, and he taught me a new way to climb the stairs in our house. My husband transported me to and from a middle school each day this week since we were hosting a rather large convening of educators from Kentucky, Colorado, California, and Pennsylvania for a week of collaborative lesson design and work on the Common Assignment Study. Colleagues and friends pushed me in a wheel chair at the school, or opened doors and carried my lunch when I was using the crutches. I couldn't have asked for a better support system this past week. As we head into August and eleven more weeks of me being unable to drive, and knowing my husband starts his new job as an English teacher soon, we are considering all our options for transporting our children to and from their back to school camps, practices, and placement tests. While it could be easy to feel down about this situation, I'm choosing to stay positive.

My reminders to self for helping maintain a positive attitude include:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Stretch while laying down
  • Exercise my upper body
  • Move around frequently
  • Be grateful
  • Avoid dwelling on negative aspects of the situation.
Since this blog is about learning and reflecting, I decided it was appropriate to share what I've been learning this week even though it's a very personal and humbling experience.