In the summer of 2006, I took a fall down 2 or 3 short steps, landed wrong and broke my right ankle. This was a shock to me in several ways. I was in my early 30s at the time, and had never broken a bone before or been sick for any period of time. I was used to taking care of myself and being independent. With the broken bone, I could not go upstairs to do my laundry. I thought I could go to work, but for the first week or so, I could not do that because my ankle was too fragile to work the gas pedal on my car. I was homebound and bed bound. Frustrating, right? I was a busy person—I had a lot to do—a commute, a fulltime job, hobbies, a boyfriend I wanted to see and fix dinner for, and I was suddenly just limited. During this time, I received a card from an aunt, and in it, she said that sometimes things happen that we don’t understand, and we can take those circumstances as a chance to slow down and rest, and listen.
That card helped me to relax and let my ankle heal. I stopped stressing about what I couldn’t do, and tried to accept the time as a gift—time to rest my body and my mind. Suddenly, I had plenty of time to read, watch my favorite shows, crochet and embroider.
After being pretty limited in what I could do, each new activity was a novelty. I remember getting excited about snapping beans—just because it was something different.
When I did return to work, I learned how difficult it was doing the simple little everyday things on crutches—putting a folder in a basket, getting a drink from the cafeteria and getting it back to my desk. I had friends at work that would have done these things for me if I had asked, but I didn’t and they did not think to offer. There were a couple of coworkers that I wasn’t close friends with that just randomly did things to help me out once in a while, which was amazing and felt like the biggest blessing. Before breaking my ankle, I would have been more hesitant to offer to help someone who might have a disability or have trouble getting a door, or doing a task. I try to be more aware of the needs of others now. Also, when I was on crutches waiting for my ankle to heal, I noticed everyone else that had any kind of leg injury and I was very grateful that I had only broken my ankle.
Sometimes now when I have trouble resting or taking a real break, I remember that summer my ankle was broken and I was forced to rest. I would much rather do it by choice, as I recognize the benefits of taking a break and I know it is an important part of being healthy. Every so often, it can be amazing to take a “hooky day” or rest day (I do this on Sundays, sometimes) and lounge. Stay in your jammies until noon. Read a book. Write in your journal. Do what you want and put your “to do’s” off for a day. Nothing bad will happen if you take a day or even half a day and just take care of you.