I didn’t know there was that much hardware in there. I didn’t know they had had to fuse bones together with a plate and a pin. They used seven little screws to realign the broken bones and three 2″ screws to keep everything from moving. It was humbling and gruesome to watch them remove the cast and reveal the bandages caked with dried blood. The stitches looked like they came right from Frankensteins forehead, skin puckering where they had pulled it together tight. The staples were the worst. Almost three weeks since surgery was enough time to let them settle in and my skin had started to grow around them. I asked where the morphine was this time and he laughed at me. I wasn’t joking, this man was yanking on metal that had become buried in the surface of my dermis. I looked at my little anorexic calf, covered in bruises and four different incisions, the muscle all but gone, and I sank back on the table. How could this be the leg of a person who had completed a full Ironman 5 months ago…
It was weak, it could not hold me up, I was so disappointed in my appendage. I instantly rejected it and turned away from it. But I had to take it home with me, whether I liked it or not. It was a relief to get a full bath that night, but I still didn’t want to touch my leg. I felt sorry for it, ok I was feeling sorry for myself. I have read all the inspirational stories, seen all the gut wrenching videos, but I still felt the grief of temporarily losing my abilities. I washed my leg and tried to be gentle with it and not angry at it, at myself for rushing. Angry for trying to do too much. I gently massaged my leg and laughed at myself. When did I decide that weak meant worthless? How sad that is. Who the hell do I think I am? I officially came full circle with the negative thoughts of not doing enough, or being enough, and this is the path they have led me down.
I gave myself the rest of that night to wrestle with my wretched thoughts. I grabbed my mala beads and held each little bead, quietly thinking of something or someone I was grateful for, and moved onto the next bead. I fell asleep with the necklace in my hand. Waking up, instead of noticing pain or disdain, I was thinking of the gorgeous people that have been so kind and patient with me. I made peace with my skinny little 8yr old leg. It was weak and damaged, but it has taught me to slow down and be more gentle. I will be more gentle.
Someone asked if I would be back at work soon. I told him it was a tough call. After only 3 hours, the pain edges in and I want to cut my leg off and beat someone with it.
He said, “Take your time.”
Thank you, I will.
Here I am at 3am thinking I am writing into the Void (the web). How kind you are David, Thank you for this!
Weakness in the limb isn’t weakness of the will. You’ve already shown how tough your mind is by doing the Ironman. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others.
Love your writing!
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