How an Unfortunate Accident Helped me Refocus

It was a Friday like any other. In one word, hectic. My Fridays resemble Mondays because I try to squeeze in as many errands and work as possible so that I can be free during the weekend to spend it fully with my children without any distractions. I began my day with the usual, woke up the kids, prepared their water bottles, snacks, and milk, dressed them and got ready myself, drove them to school and walked them to class. I was on a high that week, the road closures in Lebanon became scarce and I had finally decided to continue my work, and I was planning so many interesting collaborations and shoots for the upcoming week. I came back home for a cup of tea while I caught up on my correspondence and went back out to a series of banks, meetings, sanitary showroom visit, warehouse visit, and even a couple of supermarket stops before arriving home with barely enough time to arrange what I had purchased on the shelves, and ran out to pick up the kids from school.

We tend to be distracted all the time and it didn’t hit me just then that we mostly live in the past or in the future, never in the present. I have no idea what I was thinking at that particular moment, but I avoided the elevator because I couldn’t wait a couple of seconds for it to arrive and thought the stairs would be faster and healthier. On my way down the stairs I skipped a step; I didn’t realize it was there. Me, who runs up and down stairs and is physically very active, skipped a step and placed my foot to what I thought was a tread but was indeed air because the final step was one lower. I’ll leave the fall to your imagination; I towered from vertical to horizontal, flying to the stairwell wall with all my body weight on to my left ankle and on the floor.

Darkness.

That was all I remember. That and the pain, mind numbing pain. The kind of pain and fear of what might be broken in your body that doesn’t allow you to think or talk, just breathe loudly. I have never fallen down like this and I have never had any fractures or major injuries in my life. To me and for this to happen would be the end of the world. I dialed my husband at work but couldn’t talk, just breathed heavily. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t. My chest heaved as he tried to calm me down, and suggested that someone else pick up the kids. I don’t know why but I refused, I shouldn’t have, because that window of approximately half an hour should have been spent resting and not continuing about my day.

I stayed there, lying on the stairs unable to move until the initial pain subsided. The building concierge was passing by and out of embarrassment I pretended to be ok and hopped to the car. I don’t know what gave me the strength to be able to drive, but a mother on a mission keeps soldiering on. My left leg and foot was a combination of pain and numbness, and I was barely able to keep my right foot on the pedal because I felt drained of energy. I arrived to school, went up the stairs, got the kids and went back down. Once we got home I went straight for the bed and told my parents what had happened. Within minutes my dad arrived to take me to the ER, and my father in law took the kids to spend the afternoon with him. I didn’t want to go to the hospital, I told my father no, that it was just a sprain and I’ll be fine. But I was lying to myself. My ankle grew to the size of a tennis ball, to the extent that even the doctors were appalled. I waited at the ER while the doctors checked me then took on a wheelchair me to get an X-Ray, and the logistics of me getting up and onto the testing surface was a struggle in itself.

The doctor read the results but had to wait to confirm his suspicions, that I had a fracture and torn ligaments. I was already tense and the buildup from that day was so intense I burst in tears. Me, an adult woman, bawling in front of the hospital staff. Then, as if I were in a bad dream, they took me to a room and propped me on the bed, while the head of the unit arrived and started preparing my cast. I kept begging them not to, telling them I’m fine and I’ll be fine. “I can’t not walk! I have kids! I’m a mom! Who will take them to school! Who will bathe them! I have work! I have meetings! I need to drive!” All my pleas were dismissed as my entire foot and leg from the knee down was set in a cast. Then came the long list of medicine, one of which I had to confirm with my gynecologist, which he changed for very essential reasons, and I was off again.

My father waited for about an hour in the busy pharmacy to pick up my prescription, while I shared with a close few my condition. I received a plethora of support, calls, and messages, and my close circle can attest to how I was that day, panicking, anxious and in a state of disbelief.  I needed to spend 2 months sitting down and if needed, walk with a pair of crutches or a walker. I arrived home in tears and anger, I didn’t know how to walk with crutches and I tripped multiple times within the first few steps I tried to take. My mother and sisters came, I was well surrounded but couldn’t help being vulnerable.

I showered with the help of my mom and daughter; I couldn’t stand so we figured out a way where I would sit and level up my leg and bag it. I won’t go into details but it was a trying experience and I thanked God for my upper body and thigh strength and muscle mass to be able to manage this difficult daily matter. My husband arrived home from work later that evening and gave me a hug that allowed me to cry freely.

And that was how I wrapped up my January 2020.

The next day was when reality hit. This was going to be my life for 6 to 8 weeks. No walking, only hopping when necessary. Pills and injections, some made me drowsy during the day while others left me wide awake with insomnia at night. I couldn’t do the basic things like make coffee, I needed someone to make it for me and bring it to where I was sitting. I hate being dependent and felt so shy, even around family, when I needed something. But I couldn’t hop with hot coffee right? I couldn’t even carry it while I was with my crutches. And that’s just coffee, it isn’t anything that major. Waking was hard, sleeping was hard, making the day go by was hard.

I didn’t want to dwell in my sorrow, because as bad as my situation was, it could have been worse, I could have needed surgery. So I decided that what had happened happened, and I wanted to make the most of it. My parents and in laws supported me with taking the kids to school and back home, my parents were at my home every day, including my sisters and aunt who dropped by to keep me company and help with the kids. I spent my days guiltlessly watching series and writing. I reflected internally also, why did this happen, is this God’s way of telling me to slow down, shall I prioritize differently? I made use of every moment of my temporary invalidity to savor the relaxation, the doing nothing, that which no mom knows. On the flip side, I do admit that I missed my routine, I missed being one on one with my kids, but I needed to recover.

One day, my husband took my X-Ray to his doctor for a second opinion and came back telling me that although I needed 6 to 8 weeks for recovery, and several months after that for the pain to subside and for the muscles to regain their strength, I could remove the cast so that my swollen ankle would be able to reduce in size. That’s what I did and while I couldn’t walk yet, I went from crutches, to hopping to limping. I was still homebound and needed all the help I could get, I couldn’t drive because I couldn’t elevate myself to my car level or move my left foot in any direction. I couldn’t bend, kneel, sit on the floor or do anything with the kids because of my reduced movement, and sleeping the night was a chore. Still, I managed to help Tracy with her daily homework and read her bedtime stories, and all the little things that made us connect as mother and daughter. My son on the other hand felt so sorry for me and kept drawing little sketches for me and giving me random hugs and kisses.

Day after day added up to a month and things got a little better, I started accepting meeting appointments again; I started driving cautiously but only if necessary. I still couldn’t stand up for a long while, so I avoided malls and supermarkets, and if I absolutely had to stand up, my ankle would swell again, I could see and feel the thick bones and would be obliged to elevate it for a long while. I am currently better, recovering, but not totally fine. I cannot apply too much pressure on my foot, I don’t have the same range of motion I did before, I wake up very sore, and I am extra careful in every movement I make. I am adjusting to my new lifestyle, it will take me a few more months to fully recover but I did take away a lot from this experience, which is the point I am trying to make in this very long post.

Listen to the universe. Listen to what God is trying to tell you. Sometimes when we don’t listen or aren’t aware, a major sign is inevitable.

Deal with it. When something bad happens accept its reality and adapt to this change.

Prioritize where your attention is directed. We get too consumed with relatively silly things when we consider the grand scheme of things. Everyday details and things that make us anxious like constantly being connected digitally.

Be present. Focus on the now, your attention and energy, instead of being mentally preoccupied. It can benefit you greatly and help avoid sudden falls and injuries like mine.

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