Where I’ve Been and What’s Happened

So I hurt my other foot. Wait. Let me start again.

Last I wrote, I was headed north in search of the best, budget-friendly yoga classes in three states. From Frederick to Philly, Brooklyn to Queens, my best friend and I drove, driven by the challenge to take eight classes in five days.

That trip feels like a lifetime ago.

A lot has happened since then. I was hired to teach Spin at a local university and fell hard for the thrill of that class, teaching college kids and community members two nights a week. Spinning felt like dancing, something I’ve never done well. I knew my regulars and shouted on the nights when the mic wouldn’t work, yelling counts for stair climbs and hovers. I created fantastic playlists and finally learned how to lock in and out of my shoes gracefully.

That fall, my ninety-four year old grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. And from August to April, I watched this woman I adored praise her Jesus, fight hard, and then die. Four months later, that July, my other grandmother died unexpectedly and alone. Grandmas die. I know this. But the two griefs, one anticipated, the other unexpected, took hold in my core and settled there, grip tight, hope smothered. Both women were integral in my life, their presence strong and important in shaping who I had become; one providing unconditional love, the other a tenacious faith.

I’m laying the groundwork here. I’m trying to explain the scenery. Because even then, after all of that, I could not see that What Was Needed was rest, reflection, and quiet.

Two weeks after that July funeral, I drove to the university in the heat and walked with my grief. The silver bleachers surrounding the softball field caught the sun and called to me. I’d worked out there before, executing perfect step-ups on those bleachers. This time I lost my footing.

My mind, I’m sure, was on them, on death, on the stark difference between dying alone and dying surrounded by family. Unable to put weight on my foot, I crawled to the grass, felt my sneaker tighten as my foot swelled, called my husband and cried.

Following X-rays and an evening in the ER, I sat through an appointment with an orthopedist, listening to unpleasant words like “ligament casing” and “partial tear”. I was issued a space boot–a mandatory accessory for what we thought would be a few weeks. I dubbed him Norman, got my Spin classes covered, and expected that with rest and patience I’d pick up where I left off in a month, max. However, after a misstep, with Norman, the boot that would not hold air, I said goodbye to my job as a spin instructor. For 49 days I wore Norman I and Norman II and spent my summer trying to stay busy despite the limitations. Despite a lot of time off my feet, even still, I did not rest. Not truly. That fall I started a new teaching job on crutches, elicited the help of my friend’s children to help me unpack my classroom, and tottered around in sneakers and an ankle brace.

I spent that fall and winter in those bright orange sneakers, limping along but thankful. It wasn’t until January of 2016, when I graduated from physical therapy, that I really began to feel like myself again. The pocket of swelling remained, but at least I could wear other shoes. I had big plans–to return to Spin, to start lifting again, to Reach All of My Fitness Goals.

Then, that March, I hurt my other foot.

My good foot.

In the parking lot at work.

And that is really where the story begins, there in that parking lot. Because what I had experienced before, what I thought I’d learned as a result of the previous injury, about patience and rest, was nothing compared to what I’ve learned because of that curb, that sprain, and all that came after.

What should have been a simple injury caused the development of CRPS in my foot and leg, spreading within months to my other leg, and now it has made its way to my arms and hands, and recently to my face. Since my diagnosis in May, I’ve undergone an array of tests (NCS, EMG, blood work, etc.) and fought hard for my treatment, not only because this is a Workers’ Comp. injury, but because Western medicine does not respond well to individuals who pursue a holistic approach to healing.

When I was first diagnosed, my husband went into research mode, reading every medical journal he could get his hands on. Meanwhile, I searched the internet for the personal experiences of real people whose bodies had also been hijacked by CRPS. I have found great hope through the experiences of others and would like to add to the conversation, speaking confidently of the beauty I’ve found as a result of all this pain.

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