Sunday, May 31, 2009

LESSONS FROM A BROKEN LEG

A beautious sunny morning, writing from my laptop on the veranda (okay, I have removed the "h" from the end of this word) and as I breathe in the beauty, I am also aware that tomorrow marks 7 weeks of a broken leg and wheelchair existence - 7 days of 7 weeks - enough for a kabbalistic celebration for sure. And as I mark this momentous occasion, I thought I would share with you the lessons I have learned during this time of healing - the intricate dance between my body and spirit as they seek a refuah sh'leimah, complete healing.

Week One -- I learned and loved the joy of narcotics given in a hospital setting. I had Pavlovian joy and relaxation responses at the sight of the nurse bearing the needle of nirvana to inject in my IV. I learned that it is also quite a challenge to maintain an appropriate level of conversation with the person who would be my boss as a trauma chaplain (if I had not broken my leg) when he would stop in to visit me as the nurse was wishing me a pharmaceutical bon voyage. It felt like my eyes were orbiting and images of Bossman appeared in a kaleidoscope swirl. (wonder if I will still have that job??)

Weeks Two and Three were spent in what they sweetly call a "skilled nursing facility" -- or a snf, pronounced "sniff" which is what I did when I became a "resident" in this "nursing home." Pity my poor son slaving away as an assistant pastry chef in Georgetown, getting calls like, "Hello Son, this is your mother calling... from the nursing home. Don't worry about me, I'll be fine....." Even rabbis can be Jewish Mothers.

The biggest lesson here was how quickly my individuality began slipping away as I slowly adopted the institutional mentality: if it is 2 p.m., it is time for bean bag toss, and we all rolled our chairs to the "Rec room."

Week Four -- I breathed in fresh air. I savored any connection with Nature. I would sit for hours it seemed, at the side door, just watching the birds, and dogs, and people, in that order, go by. I needed to recharge my battery with the essence of life.

Week Five - I learned that 58 is older than I thought it was. Hopping on one leg (the left one with the injured knee) was difficult and was not getting easier. Jumping upstairs on one leg sometimes didn't work well. The world is not handicapped accessible. I can no longer count the number of times I have been wedged in the entry door to a handicapped bathroom -- and I am still quite limber enough to stretch to hold the door open, what if I weren't? I learned to ask for help and to be alert to others who may need help and may be too proud to ask. (I also will respect their right to say "no.")

Week Six -- the biggest lesson of all: Dear God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Why can't I/we remember this valuable prayer?

Week Seven: I am becoming Buddhist. (Note to my congregation - breathe; don't call an emergency committee meeting -- go with the flow of the intent here. Smile.) I am able to live with the moment - with mindfulness (and Jewishly: with kavannah.) It is what it is; it will be what it will be, and I am at peace with the uncertainty that lies ahead for me.

And that about wraps it up.
Stay tuned tomorrow -- I just read a horrifying account of slaughterhouses, both kosher and not, and I am struggling with the idea of animals being killed so I can eat, when I have other choices.

1 comment:

Simcha Daniel Burstyn said...

Anne, Thanks for sharing your process. May you be blessed with refuah shleymah meheyrah!