This November a friend was ringing the doorbell downstairs and it was one of those rare, very rare, rainy days in Los Angeles. Since I didn't want her to get soaking wet, I ran downstairs and I missed the bottom two steps and went---flying!
I completely tore my Achilles tendon and it had to be surgically reattached. Instead of crutches, I used a knee scooter to get around. (I attached a bicycle bell to the handlebars--ding-a-ling!--to make it more fun.) I followed doctor's orders and elevated and iced the ankle--30 minutes on, 30 minutes off.
My husband selected a Christmas tree, and somehow it got decorated. I wrapped gifts sitting down. Not easy. You try it sometime. Since I couldn't stand, and couldn't cook, friends and neighbors visited and brought beautiful meals--Persian food, gorgeous ice cream, gift-boxes of snacks, home-made quiche, salads.
At the post-op visit with my orthopedist I was optimistic--expecting to get permission to start weight-bearing and walking. I was expecting a prescription for PT. Instead after removing the sutures, the concerned doctor, frowning at the black, bloody area that had been my left ankle, said the wound was not healing. He said, maybe it had gotten freezer burn from the ice packs. He thought it might take four weeks to heal.
We cancelled Christmas in Montana. Ice and snow would be an accident-waiting-to- happen on my scooter. Instead I spent my days in a medical maze--the hyperbaric chamber at UCLA Medical Center (think tiny 8-person submarine, a nightmare for a claustrophobic like me), wound doctor at Cedars, internist in Santa Monica.
Four weeks later, my so-called recovery was still a non-recovery--the wound was still not healing. Maybe I'd have to have further surgery, a skin flap. But then I'd have an even bigger wound that would have to heal.
I was still riding the knee scooter, my husband was still driving me places--me in the back seat with my left leg elevated on a pillow--but now I was exhausted and depressed. I'm not a depressed kind of person. I like embracing every day, feeling upbeat and positive, joyful. But I also like walking on the beach and hiking in the mountains, and driving my own car.
On New Years Eve Day at our house, Linda, who'd brought her delicious turkey chili and lacy Christmas cookies, asked, What would Babe do? Linda knew my mom, Babe, and knew I'd just written a book Never Sit If You Can Dance: Lessons from My Mother.
I told Linda, "Babe would make the best of it." (Lesson 5)
Because Babe made the best of it when Hurricane Carla threatened to strike Houston. She made the best of it when the family moved to Helena, Montana, and we lived in a shack near the Canyon Ferry Dam where my father was working. She made the best of it when she had miscarriages.
Make the best of it. But how do I make the best of my serious medical situation? The next week I spoke to another wound doctor at the Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber, and he said a wound like mine could take months and months and months to heal.
We cancelled our travel plans to Norway to experience the Northern Lights. I felt something shifting mentally. Okay, if it's gonna take months and months and months to heal, then I refuse to be miserable! It was almost as simple as that--a change in attitude, a refusal to be unhappy and depressed, because as Babe also said, People don't like to be around depressed people.