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Learning from Life on Crutches    •   June 2017

It seems that my quest to reinvent myself this year has taken a new and interesting turn. I've had issues with my knees for years, but this time in a freakish instant while running across the street - something "popped" in my right knee and I went down. I couldn't put ANY weight on it without screaming in excruciating pain. It happened while I was in Toronto, so when the paramedics came to rescue me - we couldn't resist the opportunity for a photo at the landmark I was running across the street to see. Anything for a laugh! It was both tragic and hilarious at the same time. Yep, that's me on the stretcher below…

that's me...

There has been much learning through this experience so far and there will be more to come, I'm sure.

  1. No Drama
    What's different about me now vs. 10 years ago is that there has just been zero drama in dealing with all of this. When you can't change it, you can only accept it. So get on with what needs to be done and don't waste your precious life energy fretting about how unfortunate the situation is or how you wish things were different. It is what it is. Do your best to have fun with it.

  2. Saying Yes to Help
    The logistics of figuring out how to get me and my luggage to the airport, navigating bathrooms, and getting people to help me with everything has been complicated - but also a purely wonderful experience of accepting kindness and generosity. The Air Canada staff were kind and compassionate. My family really rallied around me to help get me through that worst first week. I've been genuinely surprised at how even strangers have come to my aid. It seems that a lot of people have experienced the ordeal of crutches (the cruel hand & armpit pain!) and start conversations naturally, offering to carry something, hold the door or whatever.

  3. Getting a different view of the world
    I also got an opportunity to view the world from an entirely different lens, with a new appreciation for the importance of wheelchair accessibility, having strong handrails in bathroom stalls, and elevators. I have come to hate heavy doors and still can't look at stairs without thinking "Oh shit." And the view from a wheelchair? It's true what they say - people don't look you in the eye, and you instantly feel like a burden / pain in the neck because the world is not designed to accommodate your special needs. Huge respect to all for whom this is your "normal." I had no idea.

  4. Being resourceful
    Once I got back to Vancouver and my little apartment, I had to get resourceful to figure out how to get around my apartment with crutches. I carried a backpack or a fanny pack to carry things around like my phone, my laptop, or books from the bedroom to the living room. Getting changed or taking a shower was a painful and time-consuming ordeal. I had to eat while sitting on the kitchen counter because I couldn't carry a plate into the living room. I couldn't carry the laundry basket down to the laundry room. Not being able to drive, I was a prisoner in my own apartment! There were SO MANY things I took for granted - and without anyone here to help me, I had to figure things out for myself.

  5. Getting excited about exercise
    Now, being slightly more mobile and actually being able to put some weight on my injured leg (with the help of crutches) - it's amazing how excited I am to get started with physio / rehab, and how keen I am to get in the pool. The knee is still really sore and I'm going to have to be super-careful, but what's interesting is how my view towards stretching and exercise in general has shifted. Instead of whining that I have to or should do it - I'm keen to do it now simply because I CAN and it will help with my energy and mobility. This might even become a great comeback story! Time will tell, but what I know for sure is that setbacks happen for a reason and I'm going to make this one count and come out of it better than I was before.

Cheers to lifelong learning and rolling with whatever the universe dishes out. It's all part of a plan, and it's up to us to look for the signs and opportunities to learn what we need to learn.

The reinvention continues…

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