Crutches are designed to be aides in movement. A tool of mobility for those unable to walk otherwise. The broken leg, the sprained ankle. Or in my case, the stress fracture. But these silver, ugly crutches of mine are also a beautiful aide for opening my mind to new insights.
I have taken a month’s vacation from blogging and I return refocused, although fresh off an ironic experience. I have learned how to accept and live with a chronic medical condition, with the daily inconveniences of chronic pain. But the last couple weeks have been an unexpected lesson in just how blessed I really am.
In short, I have discovered the world of acute pain and disability, however brief an encounter. Two weeks ago I woke up to a swollen, painful foot and immediately assumed it was related to my fibromyalgia. Big mistake. A couple of days and an x-ray later, I was facing a stress fracture, with five weeks until my hiking trip in Greenland and Iceland.
I surged with an overwhelming desire to panic.
Strange – years of facing and struggling with fibromyalgia’s daily challenges now only inspires an attitude of melancholy or resigned acceptance. But a simple, completely curable stress fracture looms as an insurmountable obstacle.
Someone serve me a helping of perspective!
As of today, I am crutches free, thank goodness! My foot is no longer swollen and mending well. My doctor assures me I can board the plane for Iceland in three weeks with no fears. The relief is like a violent Midwest summer storm front crashing through the humidity and heat to leave blissful cool in its wake.
I’ve also gained insight into my own fibromyalgia. I’m blessed, even with this frustrating, never-ending, relentless chronic life. It could always be worse. I could be severely disabled, wrestling with crutches and tripping out-of-doors for the rest of my life. Or stuck in a wheelchair, unable to traverse the mountains or stroll in the Pacific surf that I love so much. My life could be even more limited.
Instead, in a few short weeks I will be hiking the wilds of Greenland, gazing over glaciers in remote corners of the world, one of a privileged few. I will be kayaking the remote fjords of Iceland and gazing upon active volcanoes with power enough to halt Europe’s air traffic with a fine coating of ash. Fibromyalgia may be a daily struggle for me, but it hasn’t stopped me yet from seeing the world. A serious foot injury, on the other hand, would have left me stranded in my hostel room, only able to see the wild yonder from a distance.
I am grateful at how blessed I really am.