I gotta admit, this is one of those weeks when I have to actively remind myself how good I have it. Otherwise, I'd be tempted to have a bit of a pity party.
To properly understand my temptations, let me give a bit of history. When I was a freshman in high school, I injured myself doing step aerobics. Before you descend into giggles over my lack of grace (as my sisters did), let me explain. It was gym class, and the teacher had stacked mats for us to use in our step aerobics unit. The mats were dusty and I was wearing Keds, and that turned out to be a bad combination. I slipped, twisting my leg something fierce in the process. The entire class heard the pop of my ligaments tearing. We would later find out I'd torn every ligament in my ankle and knee on the left leg. I nearly passed out from the pain, and was helped to the school nurse by the absolute cutest boy in school, which was pretty mortifying. (And yes, I felt that despite the predicament. A teenage girl has the ability to be mortified regardless of circumstance.)
So, for the past 23-ish years, I've undergone multiple bouts of physical therapy and surgery on the offending ankle. It was after my first surgery the doctor informed me the ankle was riddled with arthritis and I should come to grips with the fact that the injury could leave me unable to walk by the time I was in my 40s.
I worked really hard to stay strong after that - to keep the muscles in my legs strong to compensate for the lack of ligaments. Occasionally my ankle would give when I was walking because the ligaments, even after reconstruction, were always loose. When the ankle did give, it would swell, I'd stay off it for a bit, then I'd get back to my PT exercises and move on.
Then last year, I was helping my parents move when some wrought iron bench pieces fell on my shin. This time it was the right leg. Doctors weren't much help figuring out the extent of the injuries, but the leg hasn't been the same since. It's still bruised and misshapen 18 months later. Anywho, the point is that my bad leg became my good leg and I found myself putting the majority of my weight on it.
I'm guessing my left leg wasn't happy about that. Maybe it was feeling ignored. For the past few months, I've been having trouble walking without pain. The long days on my feet required by my life have been growing increasingly difficult. I told myself I could suck it up long enough to get through our winter preparations, that there would be plenty of time to rest my feet once the hay was in, fences were done, firewood was stacked and animal shelters were fortified.
But Sunday night, as I was walking across my parents' lawn, my ankle gave again. This time, it was accompanied by the dreaded pop I'd heard so many years ago. For some reason, I had it in my head I could muscle through the night. I see my sister three times a year. I didn't want my injury to become the focus of the night. So I didn't say anything, and I made it back to the house, where I sat on the couch all night. Of course, a friend who's a nurse took one look at me and said, "What did you do to your ankle?" So much for playing it cool.
The night ended with my on crutches and restricted to the couch for the foreseeable future. A torn ligament takes 4 - 6 weeks to heal, and no amount of resenting that fact is going to change it. I hate having to ask Adam and the boys for so much help. I hate not being able to contribute to the mountain of chores and projects still waiting to be done. I miss my animals, and I'm coming to grips with the reality that it makes more sense to downsize the animals and workload until spring.
I feel like my family has walked through many trials in the past three years, and - for the most part - we've done so with faith that God would see us through. We've held on to joy (though we might have lost sight of it once or twice). The hard times have taught us what mattered and what didn't. They've molded us into better people.
But I'm struggling to have a good attitude about this latest setback. I'd just found my stride again with the books (no pun intended). There was an end in site to the constant farm projects. I was starting to hope that we could maybe make some forward progress in our lives instead of always treading water to stay afloat.
And now I'm couch-bound. Maybe it's the pain making it hard for me to keep a good attitude. More likely it's the feeling that I've lost what little control I thought I had. I hate feeling helpless.
But this is the point where I have a choice. I can either wallow in the poor-mes, or I can choose to find joy, to hope, to have faith. God knit my ankle together in my mother's womb. Surely He can fix it now. And if I'm on a couch, maybe that's where He wants me to be. Maybe He's telling me I have something more important than farm chores to be doing.
Whatever the message, whatever the reason, I'm choosing to laugh about my current predicament. It's more fun that way.
Rolling hills that had been vibrant green just weeks ago were now muted in tone, as if they were taking a deep breath before bursting into the song of fall.