On August 6th I broke my ankle. That morning when I got up I said to myself  "we're going for a run after work. We're doing this." Throughout the day, whenever I felt a little tired I reminded myself about the run I was going on after work. When I got home, I took Chico for his afternoon walk, planning to let him do his business and get all his news from the neighbourhood. Then we came home, and I wrote out the numbers 1-21 on post it notes and put them on the door because I read that it takes 21 days to create a habit, and I knew from experience how satisfying it is to whittle through a count down.
Then I changed and leashed up the dog. I looked him in the eye and said, "don't make me regret this."
Chico is a border collie mix. He can sprint super fast, almost as though his life depends on it. But when he runs with me he gets bored within 5 minutes and thus wants to start sniffing everything. It gets super annoying, though on the plus side, it does make my run that little bit more challenging as I drag him along.

This is my route on the weekdays:

Or it would be. My plan was to do this route on weekdays and then on weekends to run the farm route. I was toying with the idea of actually running a 5k.
We were doing pretty well until we left College Ave. for Grand Ave. There's a fenced in yard just a block down from that corner with a sheepdog that could possibly be cute if only he didn't act like he wanted to rip both Chico and me limb from limb simply for existing.
That's the thing that drives me crazy about this whole situation: I knew there was such a dog on my route, so why didn't I cross the motivating street? Idiot!
Well, I didn't. Instead I kept jogging, and tightened my grip on the leash. The situation became more complicated, however, because there was a guy sitting on his porch across the street with his chihuahua who started barking. So first Chico wanted to argue with him, and I had to wrangle him away from that idea.
Then, as expected, the sheepdog came zooming out of nowhere, barking with great indignation.
Chico certainly wasn't going to turn the other cheek, and started barking back, trying to lunge at the dog so he stood up in his harness, and I, hating, all the racket, tried to get him to focus on the run while still running.
I still try to remember and piece together exactly how I fell, as though it were a crime scene. But it's pretty hopeless. All I know for sure is that at some point I could no longer stand, my right ankle made a pop, and my knees hit the pavement; my left knee taking most of the impact. My right ankle was erupting with pain. I was on the ground, with the dogs barking, rolling around, my hands trying to clutch something; to literally get a grip on something, anything  because there were signals in my head that my brain had never experienced before and it felt like it had to drop everything, like being oriented as to place, in order to file this new sensation. Except the whole time I was still holding onto Chico's leash as though it were fused to my hand. And I was screaming. I would try to catch my breath, and my inner dialogue would try to tell me to stop screaming, stop being so loud. But then the animal-in-pain me said, "nononononon keep screaming because SHIT THIS HURTS AND IF YOU KEEP SCREAMING MAYBE SOMEONE WILL HELP GOD DAMNIT WHERE THE FUCK IS EVERYONE?!"
So what came out was this half-strangled sound as my two brains battled for supremacy. My adorable dog, in the meantime, was still lunging for the fence. That's when I lost it all over again, and screamed, "Chico stop! Sit down!" And he gave me this look clearly wondering what my damage was .
I was still wondering when someone was going to stop, or come out of their house to see what was wrong. Don't ask me how I know this, but I swear they were looking from the screen door, or stopped on their bike across the street, waiting to see if I was going to get up and walk it off.
When I didn't I heard a woman ask if everything was alright. That seemed to be the code giving other people permission to see what was going on.
By this point my left knee was covered in blood, though it was only scraped. The people of the house I fell in front of  came out and asked me what happened, then offered me a glass of water.
"Uh, if you have some ice, actually, that would be awesome," I answered.
A guy on his bike stopped and asked if he should call an ambulance. I really didn't want him to, but I didn't know what other options there were. I just knew standing up would be a tremendously bad idea filled with more pain. Yet at the same time I could not help but worry that I was over-reacting. Maybe it was just a bad fall, maybe my ankle wasn't really sprained. They doused my knee with hydrogen peroxide, expecting it to stop bleeding. It didn't. They waited for the ambulance with me as I lay on the grass and I kept apologising for ruining their evening. They kept saying it was no problem.
The ambulance came and 2 paramedics took a look at me. They agreed that my knee needed a large bandage and that something happened with my ankle. Then they looked at me and said,
"So, what can we do for you?"
If  they had punched me in the stomach, I don't think I would be more shocked.
Years ago, crossing Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd in Savannah, GA, a car hit me. Not badly, I got to the curb and then sat down to have a moment of self pity. But someone decided I should go to the hospital and called an ambulance. Those guys swept onto the scene full of self-assurance. They had all the answers to the point that I kind of wanted to punch them in the face. I knew I was okay, I knew I definitely did not need my shirt cut off, and I was certain an x-ray wasn't going to reveal anything exciting.
But lying on Grand Ave. I was kind of looking forward to someone having the answers, and knowing exactly what to do. So I wasn't prepared for their question. Since then I've decided that they were only acting with the parameters of their guidelines. Their guidelines probably say something like, "if the patient isn't leaking liters of blood and is conscious enough to make jokes ask if they'd like to go to the hospital."
"Uh, if you have any crutches? Or a compression bandage? Just so I can get home."
They didn't have either of those. What the hell kind of 'mobile life support' is this?
They did have material to bandage my knee. But they couldn't bring me home, and they couldn't take my dog on board. They did have a cell phone I could use.
So I called Dan, told him the story, wondering to myself, what would I have done if I were single and living alone? Does anyone else remember in Sex and the City when Miranda thought that her singledom meant she would be eaten by her cat when she choked to death on Chinese food? That nearly could have been my fate. In a way.
While we waited for him, Chico sniffed at my bandage, fancying he smelled something meaty there, and then sat on my lap. The paramedics helped me to the car, Dan got the running shoe they took off me, we dropped off the dog, got my insurance card, and went to the emergency room.
Where time and space have no meaning. It is the neutral zone inhabited by Daleks. I know this because I met people who had been there since 5:30PM.
God, I felt so pathetic and ricidulous sitting there in my running shorts, still smelling of sweat, one shoe on and one shoe off, being wheeled in on a wheel chair.
Does anyone else have difficulty being a passenger in a car? Do you ever have the urge to brake when you think the person driving should be braking? Being in a wheel chair is exactly like that but worse. It feels like you handed over your adult card, because the last time you were bodily moved about like this you were 3.
All I could think was there is certainly someone worse off than me. Certainly, and I got to see a few of them as they were wheeled into triage from the ambulance ride they accepted. I just felt that I wasn't seriously ill, no bones where sticking out from me, the blood was only starting to seep through the cotton on my knee (which I thought was pretty cool, really). What the hell was I doing there?
Oh right. I can't walk.
And that's when my brain divided into two and has been arguing with itself ever since.
The dialogue is something like this:
Left Brain: This sucks so bad.
Right Brain: Shut up. This could be so much worse.
Left Brain: This is still pretty bad.
Right Brain: Stop whining.
Left Brain: And it hurts.
Right Brain: Don't you dare cry!
Left Brain: Why does my life have to suck so hard.
Right Brain Ugh, you disgust me!
There's this little central brain that, like a child with unhappily married parents, is just trying to do its homework and live a normal life.
Left Brain: Maybe I should use this time to relax and hit the reset button, stop rushing everywhere.
Right Brain: You can still wash the dishes.
Left Brain: This is a sign to go after what I want.
Right Brain: You should have mopped the kitchen floor while you still could have. What are you crying?!
Left Brain: This is just so hard!
Right Brain: You broke an ankle! An ANKLE!
Left Brain: I hate my life!
Right Brain: You know what I hate? Sliding up and down the stairs like I'm legless, and people staring at the crutches.
Left Brain:  Oooh. I hate that too!

You can see how maybe the broken ankle is not my biggest problem. My biggest problem is that one the one hand I feel duty bound to be a tough cookie and shrug about the whole thing, face it all with an impassive face. On the other hand, I really don't want to be a tough cookie, I want to sob and wallow in everyone's sympathy. Yet I don't give anyone the chance to help me. I practically had to send my friend a telepathic message that I needed help with laundry because I couldn't make myself outright ask her.
I told Dan I would be able to bring my own plate to the dishwasher despite that being patently impossible (well, there is always my mouth, but that hurts after a while). Leaving work today my boss tried to open the door for me and instead of waiting, I just did it myself.
"You've got to do everything, huh?" he said, shaking his head. "You won't let anyone help you."
I do not know how to ask for help, or accept it when it's offered.
That is my actual disability.
I am held hostage by this notion that I can do it all, and I'm the only one who can do it right. Which smacks of arrogance and obvious control issues. But seriously, if Dan can't get the top sheet oriented correctly when making the bed, it's easier if I just do it. It's also easier for me to just empty the dishwasher than explaining my crazy sense of satisfaction when the cereal bowls are stacked just so.
I get offended when people offer to help me wheel in a donation of canned goods to the food pantry. I just know they look at me and think this white child is too girly and weak to handle that.  And I'm like, Screw you! I'll show you just how strong I am! I don't need your help!

If only I could identify where such thoughts originated from. When pressed I have these vague memories from the nightmare that was my elementary school experience. Friends were thin on the ground for me during grades 5 and 4, and those that did associate with me risked a lot by doing so. My mother was not one for sharing tea parties with me and my community of Barbie dolls, though she was, and still is, ever willing to explain some of the differences between George Bush and Bill Clinton, or why Nuclear Power could be a viable source of energy (F#$% you, Joel Tyner).
I was already pretty independently minded (head strong and spoiled, some people would say) and it mostly fell to me to entertain myself (this is also because my mother refused to pay for television and that limited my options to PBS, RNN and the God Channel). It hurts a lot less to convince yourself you don't need anyone, instead of facing up to the fact that they don't want you.
But there's only so much I can blame on the little assholes of Arlington Elementary school. Besides, that happened nearly 20 years ago. As Right Brain would say, get over it.

Since Tuesday I have swung violently between wanting to sob over my situation or pursing my lips tightly whenever someone says they hope I get better quickly. Perhaps both are over-reacting. I have been trying to remember how it was when I sprained my ankle in grade 7. What stands out in my mind is the school bus leaving without me as I was too slow to hop on. I remember trying to negotiate the stairs and no one telling me it would be easier to use the banister with one hand and my crutch with the other. People just passed by and muttered to their friends, "she's doing it wrong." I remember accidentally putting weight on my ankle and how it would burn like I had rested it on a hot stove. But I don't remember wanting to hide. I don't think I looked at the pair of crutches with the amount of loathing and revulsion that I currently do. I don't remember being as busy when I was 12 as I am at 27. Back then my day was 1) Go to school 2) Come home 3) Get snack 4)Watch tv 5) Have dinner with mum. Social life did not exist for me, and organised sports scared the snot out of me (in fact it was stepping on a soccer ball the wrong way in gym that sprained my ankle).
Nowadays my routine has been looking very similar:
1) Go to work 2) Come home. 3)Watch tv or read book. 4) Have dinner with Dan.
Numerous people have told me to enjoy it. When they say that it occurs to me they don't know me very well.
On Monday I was fretting over how much I felt I had to do. There's not enough hours in the day, I thought. If only I didn't have to go to work. There's so much I want to do: I want to be in my garden, admiring the tomatoes that are growing in heavy clusters; re potting the fig tree I bought. I want to take the dog  for a walk. I want to go blueberry picking and make jam, and bake some bread. I wanted to mop that kitchen floor! I want to cook breakfast and dinner! At work I want to work! I want to be helpful and not sitting here for decoration.

My wish is to conclude this post by sharing some lesson I've learned in the past 6 days. However, all the lessons I've learned have not been very uplifting. No epiphany on how to live my life has occurred to me, no change of heart has come over me. Maybe in 3 weeks I'll have accumulated some wisdom, maybe I'll be able to graciously ask and accept help then.

Stay tuned.


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