the new normal

Two months ago, I stepped out of the car and onto an icy path of change, humility and, to be honest, pain. In one sense, the days between walking and not passed quickly. But when I consider it’s been two months since I saw the upstairs of my house or took a shower or stood in the kitchen to prepare a meal, time feels like a slowly torturing enemy with no real firm date in sight of when life will return to normal.

Normal? What is normal these days? Persistent shoulder pain when I sleep? Jagged ankle scars that for the most part look uglier than they feel until they burn like a force of evil is pressing a branding iron to them? Having to ask, constantly ask, for favors from my lovely, patient, giving friends? (Drive me to PT? Empty my potty? Pick up groceries? Throw a load of dirty laundry in the washing machine? Wheel me outside for some fresh air?)

But normal is also friends offering to visit, make meals, take the kids. Normal is friends bringing/sending me books (reading is my new cardio) and flowers. Normal is friends sharing tips from their own injuries. This part of normal feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket, even when I want to shed the blanket, stand up and manage my life independently.

I have a long path ahead before I reach independence. The shoulder surgeon says in six weeks he’d like me to be able to lift my arm over my head and make jazz hands. (Okay, he didn’t specify the latter half of that milestone; jazz hands is my own flourish.) I see the ankle surgeon next week and hope he approves weight-bearing exercises. My PT constantly reminds me that being weight-bearing doesn’t mean I hop, skip and jump my way from examination room to car to normal life. Recovery takes patience. I have to regain physical strength and flexibility, even if I honed those qualities mentally during this time.

As two months spill into three to four to a lifetime of lessons, I continue to redefine normal. And in many ways, that practice is more painful than any physical injury.

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2 thoughts on “the new normal”

  1. I’m sure I told you this happened to me last summer when I fell and broke my back and pelvis. I had such similar experiences and thoughts to what you write here. I must say I got uncharacteristically depressed. I couldn’t move from my sofa for over 2 weeks, even to get to the doctor to find out that I had broken bones. I thought I would never walk again (not that I walk well to begin with b/c of the MS). But it was so terrifying and so hard to explain to anyone. Yet the kindness of friends and neighbors with help and meals and shopping and flowers…all the lovely things you mention! It was a silver lining for sure. My thoughts are with you. I’m not a tremendous help because of my limitations, but spiritually, I’m right there confirming your expressions and empathizing. It eventually will get better. Your recovery has been much longer than mine. I admire you for hanging in and with such a good attitude about it all…xoxo

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