Resiliency, patience and a broken wing…

I bought a necklace a few summers ago while visiting in Frisco – a silver disc with tree branches on it.  I liked the simple lines.  The paperwork inside the box said the charm represented resiliency.  It could have stood for a whole lot of other things – love, courage or hope, but I was glad it was resiliency as that seemed to resonate with me.  It reminded me of the swaying tree branches in the strong Kansas winds and how it’s the winds that develop the tree’s strong lateral root system. The following summer, I found a charm of similar size with a small piece of turquoise in the center and the words “protect this woman”  encircling it.  I figured that given  the amount of time I was spending alone on the trails,  the silver talisman couldn’t hurt. For the last year these two charms have dangled around my neck, offering me both protection and resilience, or so I like to think.


My resiliency has been challenged after a bad fall I took while hiking a few days ago.   I fell in the mud.  Just typing that makes me want to laugh for some reason.  I mean really…  falling in the mud?  I broke the fall with my shoulder and am now wishing my wrist would have done the breaking,  as I’d be in less pain, but I really had no say in the matter.  A week earlier, a friend had told me that being able to get up without using your arms was a good indicator of overall strength and progression of aging.  I thought about that while laying in the mud and contemplating my transition to vertical.  Either my core strength with the possible help of one arm was going to get the job done or I was going to be the woman “who had fallen and couldn’t get up.”  I didn’t linger long on that decision and drug myself out of the mud and onto upright via my core, a small victory that was desperately needed.

the calm before the storm…
the “storm”

I also pulled my phone and sunglasses out of the mud and cleaned them off best as I could with my hands as my clothes were covered in mud.  To my children who make fun of my phone because it has not one but TWO protective coverings on it, this is why.  I did make myself sit down on a nearby log to collect my wits, survey the damage and take a few minutes to put my head in my muddy lap and cry before making the two mile journey home.  I’m not sure what concerned me more….what I had done to my shoulder?  or how quickly my plans for the rest of the day, the rest of the week and possibly the rest of the summer had changed in one quick slip of the foot. I was a walking mud mess that couldn’t make eye contact out of my mud smeared sunglasses with the couple of people who passed me on bikes.  I just hoped they had make the assumption that I had just participated in a Tough Mudder Run.  Probably not, but it made me feel better.

By the time I got home, I was in quite a bit of pain, and the only way I could hold my arm was across my chest,  with my hand on my heart, as if I was pledging allegiance.  And I did.  To never hike in mud again.

My fear was as great as my pain…what had I done to my shoulder?  Was my summer ruined?  How was I going to manage? I thought about a woman who I was standing behind in line at the Gap a few weeks earlier who was wearing a heavy duty sling on her arm and was sharing her horror stories of pain with the man who was ringing her up who had experienced the same injury and had worn the same sling.   I remember more of their shared words of pain than what I purchased that day.  Certainly ice and a couple of Tylenol would put me back together again, wouldn’t it?

Webster online dictionary defines resilient as:

“Being able to become strong, healthy or successful again after something bad happens; being able to return to original form after being pulled, stretched or compressed”

I know, because for some odd reason, looking up that definition was the second thing I did when I got home. The first thing I did was take a bath,  leaving my shirt on, as I had no idea how it was going to come off without scissors, which I was not going to attempt one handed.  Besides, just thinking about maneuvering my arm out of the sleeve was painful.  It got washed right along side my muddy legs and arms.  The sports bra, I figured I’d just wear for the rest of my life or until this, whatever this was, was healed.

To Webster’s definition of pulled, stretched or compressed, I’m going to take liberties and add broken, because that’s what the doctor in the ER later told me.  I fell in the mud and broke my humerus, or my funny bone. As soon as this stops hurting, I’m really going to laugh about that.

This experience has tested my patience, exposed my vulnerability and has pushed me to do things that I’m very uncomfortable with, mainly asking for help (thank you, Karen and Lisa for stepping in before I had to ask ).  It has also given me appreciation for the very simplest of tasks that I clearly took for granted before.  Who would have thought to be grateful for being able to put deodorant on or file fingernails on both hands and not just the injured hand?  I miss being able to perform the simple task of changing my shirt  (yep, still donning my accident shirt and of course the sports bra that I will wear forever. )  I’m pushing the boundaries here with my camping hygene, less the tent or campfire, but have no immediate plans to venture out in public at this point so feel justified.   I miss typing with two hands and am finding that this solo-handed hunt and peck method feels like a foot on the brakes to my stream of consciousness, not to mention the whole two-step capitalization process.  I miss being able to tie my hair back…a few more days and I’m going to look like the dark-haired version of Emery and Miles dog, Olive, who is about as close to a dog with dreads as I’ve ever seen.  I’m tired of wearing yoga pants because I can’t get my jeans on and if I could, I wouldn’t be able to zip them.  Oh yea, and I miss yoga.

My necklace with the resilient and protection charms, is in my purse where the nurse put it before my x-rays,  no doubt with a new tangle or two,  which I wouldn’t be able to untangle anyway and if I could, I wouldn’t be able to fasten the clasp, so in my bag it will stay.   One thing that a broken shoulder doesn’t seem to have affected is my ability to whine.  Sorry, but I feel like I’ve got at least another 24 hours of stomping my feet and saying,

“Dammit I want to climb a mountain, zip up jeans, ride my bike, tie my hair back and carve out a piece of watermelon to eat.”

I cried this morning when I realized that I had to add putting on deodorant to my growing list of “no can do’s.”  Sometimes you’ve just gotta cry.

Just 24 hours… then I will be ready to back up and look at the big picture, think about the lesson and move on with the healing.

One of my friends compared me to a bird with a broken wing, which is exactly how I feel while perched in my bed with a blue-skyed mountain vista that seems to be beckoning.   Now is my “lay me in a shoebox with a Kleenex blanket to heal my broken wing” time.

just like the woman at the Gap was wearing…

Resilient?  I’m not sure.  I think I’ll have to wait and see what my return to original form after being fractured looks like for my answer.

5 thoughts on “Resiliency, patience and a broken wing…”

  1. Oh, you are one of the most resilient women I know.
    Wow, to think you hiked back down, etc….and still have your sense of humor, despite the pain and inconvenience you are going through now.
    You are my hero!

  2. Laurie, I doubt if you remember this but when I came to Olathe, a new student my senior year, I started two weeks late. The day before school started I had a bad horse back riding accident and shattered my right elbow and broke one of the bones in my lower right arm. As if entering a new school, the dreaded "new girl", wasn't bad enough, I did it with a cast and the inability to wear hardly any of my clothes, fix my hair, put on makeup or get around by myself, and two weeks behind in school. It made a really difficult time even worse but I did meet a few new kids just because of all the things I couldn't do. People who offered to help me carry things and manage one armed. People were nicer to me and helped me out because of my injury. I met a guy on the football team at therapy after my cast was removed and that led to being elected for homecoming and meeting a lot of other new people. So many weird things happen in life and some of the worse ones end up opening up doors you would never have walked through otherwise. I'm guessing even though this accident has altered your Summer plans you will end up doing other things that will be just as rewarding and possibly very interesting and exciting. You have the kind of positive attitude that can always find an outlet for your intellect and changing interests. I'm confident that even thought this accident may slow you down temporarily, it won't stop you, not even a little bit, from finding a way to enjoy your life. Take care and heal quickly!

  3. Sherry, so funny that you'd mention that…YES, I do remember the pretty new girl with the beautiful long hair and a broken arm! I didn't have the beautiful long hair and thought that maybe, just maybe a broken arm would give me attention from the boys. Thank goodness I didn't get my wish on that! And you are so right… there is a silver lining here somewhere. I'll figure out a way to work around it… thanks for your kind words…

  4. Laurie, what is really funny is that I remember YOUR hair! Mine has always and still is string straight, I have coveted curly hair my entire life and yours is so pretty. In seems in the hair world it is fairly universal that we want what we don't have. I married a guy with curly hair and thought, YES, my kids will have curls, no dice, straight hair genes seem to rule even though they are not supposed to be dominant, if you can believe the science guys. Now I have a grandson, my daughter married a very curly haired guy, and you guessed it, his hair is straight as can be right now. Ha ha. Maybe that will change down the road, I can only hope. Take care!

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