Friday, April 8, 2011


by Sheila Connolly

We’ve been together for a long time. Oh, things were a little unsteady at the beginning, when we were just getting to know each other, but we worked through that together. We went along smoothly for years. We did things together, traveled to wonderful places, went hiking, skiing, ice-skating. We enjoyed each other’s company. More important, we trusted each other, and you supported me in whatever I wanted to do. You were always there for me.

Then you betrayed me. I never saw it coming. I thought we understood each other, respected each other. I never asked you to do anything that wasn’t right for you. I accepted your limitations. I believed that you were strong and dependable. I was wrong.

And now I don’t trust you. How can I? My faith is shattered, and I don’t know how to rebuild the trust that I’ve lost. I know, you’re still there, waiting for me. Even I can see you don’t look good—you’ve lost weight, and your skin has lost its color. But you brought it on yourself, letting me down when I needed you. You’re going to have to earn my trust again, one day at a time.

I’m talking about my leg.

Funny how one little accident can make you reconsider a whole lot of things. One minute you’re going about your business; the next, you’re on the floor, wondering what the heck happened.

You get to consider all sorts of unexpected things. Like the sound of a breaking bone. We read thrillers where people pummel each other, accompanied by the snap, crackle, pop, and crunch of breaking bones. Now I have firsthand experience.

You learn interesting details about health care systems, and that’s before you get the bills.

You find out how your body reacts to anesthesia (I’ve had no side effects, even with morphine) and heavy-duty drugs (extremely boring—I fall asleep).

You realize that you’re a lot clumsier and less flexible than you used to be, and you have to readjust your mental image of yourself as lithe and supple (well, that was kind of overdue anyway).

You discover just how many things are difficult to do while balancing on one leg and holding on to something to support yourself with one hand. I’ll leave that to your imagination, but suffice it to say, you reconsider your clothing options. Stretchy is good; elastic is your friend.

You realize how many horror stories there are on the Internet about your particular problem, and you devoutly hope that it’s only the whiners who post.

You realize the garden isn’t going to get planted this year because it’s hard to dig with only one usable leg (I refuse to till the whole patch sitting down!).

You realize how many steps there are in the world, and how hard it is to get up and down them. That includes your own home.

You realize you need to ask for help, and you need to thank people for helping you, even while you resent your lack of independence. Most people are happy to help.

You realized how much worse things could have been. Bones heal, life goes on. Things will go back to normal—won’t they?

Can you win back my trust, dear leg? Only time will tell.


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

What very handsome feet, Sheila. :) Seems to me I've read somewhere that if your second toe is longer than your big toe, it means you're an aristocrat. You're handling your broken leg with a lot of grace--and doing a great job of mining it for material! :)

Sandra Parshall said...

I have also suffered the pain of such a betrayal, Sheila. I don't think I'll ever trust any of my limbs again. Get better soon.

Marilynne said...

Paint your toenails and put some color on that cast. Trim your crutches with stick-on flowers.

I'm sorry you broke your leg. Hope it heals quickly.

Diane said...

Like you, light pain killers are fine, anything stronger and I'm out for the count. Guess neither of us were flower children, no matter what our ages.

And, hey, it's not your leg's fault that awkward moment happened. It, too, was walking in a strange area. Give it a chance. (almost said 'break', then realized the pun and decided not to go there...)

Have some friends decorate that cast. Funkier the better.....

lil Gluckstern said...

Just a reader here, but I surely can sympathize. I agree with the other posters-decorate your cast. Then again, it might not be as elegant. I can imagine how frustrating it is, not to be able to garden. Just remember, this too, shall pass. I'm of a certain age, and I don't like these reminders of our, um, humanity very much. It will get better. I enjoy your books, by the way.

The Cat Bastet said...

I had a cast for the first time last summer after elbow reconstruction surgery. I ended up not needing painkillers, which the docs had lectured/warned me about, but no one told me how annoying it would be to have a cast!

Hang in there, Sheila, and give yourself lots of treats to comfort yourself (like good books to read, ice cream and chocolate are good, too): you deserve it!

A fan in Michigan,

Cathy Akers-Jordan

Sheila Connolly said...

Thank you all for the good wishes. Something like this makes it clear how we take our bodies for granted.

I have to say, a line from a Vonda Shepard song (remember her? Ally McBeal?) keeps running through my mind: "Ain't it funny how you're walking through life and it turns on a dime?"

I'm not sure I can reach the toenails on that foot--I'll have to draft my daughter to do it.

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