“Everything happens for a reason,” or so we tell ourselves when we want to make sense of a WTF/WOE (Why on Earth?) occurrence. I choose to believe this, particularly when something that I did not see coming happens. The immediate result: I feel I’m in a struggle (and not a humble).
So when I fractured the wrist on my dominant hand on December 23, 2016 (fell hard on ice, landing on the arm I had extended Wonder Woman-style to catch myself), I initially thought, “This will be a minor setback and once the pain is under control, all will be fine.” It turns out that was not to be, and the struggle was real (pause for laughter). I decided to write this while wearing a brace that looks like a costume prop from “The Empire Strikes Back” (the best of all the Star Wars franchise films); I realized what I was supposed to learn from the shatter.
First, let me break down what I cannot effectively do – for the most part – with one hand: blow dry and style my hair, use cooking knives, carrying two bags on a plane, put on a traditional bra, and I think that’s it. While I cannot type with the somewhat lightning speed for which I am known, I can type.
You may be asking, “What does breaking your wrist have to do with your book and brain injury?” That is an excellent question. What connects these is how I once felt and subsequently acted, and how those drove me to how I am doing and dealing now.
In 2009, while I was in “official” recovery I was not permitted to drive or work, I was bald, and I couldn’t remember much. I ruminated about these things all the time. I focused on what I could not do and felt embarrassed, ashamed, and lost. What did Gabby Bernstein once say – “Being in lack holds you back.” Besides being a good rhyme, that is the truth.
What I could have done then was read every single book, article, blog, and journal that piqued my interest. I had the opportunity to think big about what was possible for me. And while I didn’t mire in gloom and “poor me” sad emojis, I was deep in the struggle. It may as well have been my fragrance. I didn’t let on to people that I was freaking out, because they had enough to worry about, and how dare I express anything other than appreciation for being alive. So I silently struggled, and that impacted things for me for at least a couple of years after my injury.
So, here we are in 2017. I am not able to do what and do how are native to me for a few more weeks (and possibly more). While I could make a list of all the things that are being denied and delayed, what good does that do me?
Now I need to use what I have and how I am able, and that means tweaking everything affected so I can do.
Hair? Get to know the stylists at Drybar, find an hair Ninja in Ohio (where I fell and where my treating orthopedist is), wear hats, and remember that as much as my hair is my thing, it’s hair. Full stop.
Cooking? Find recipes that don’t require carving, order on Seamless, and when the left hand feels worn out, it’s time to stop eating.
Clothes? Buy the bras that can be put on over the head (while the manufacturer didn’t intend that, it can be done), wear t-shirts (sleeves don’t work over the exos brace), and trust that the full wardrobe will be wearable soon.
Overall? Never again take for granted the use of two hands, appreciate even more people who never have the use of two hands, and see the delays, the reworks, and the opportunities to learn new ways to do things not as struggles, see them as humbles.
If you have experienced something like this, please share below how you worked through it. Sometimes we need to tap into our inner solider, because there are lots of ways to get stuff done, and get it done well.