Lessons from Injury

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.


Once again, I missed a college trip with my daughter to look at Wesleyan University- I just can’t walk that far on a college campus without pain. I missed workshops held by my son’s middle school because I could not walk from the parking lot to the school cafeteria. I also missed sitting through endlessly long dress rehearsals as a costume mom at a middle school play -where no one can understand a word being said because middle schoolers don’t enunciate and speak way too fast. I have stopped cleaning the house …unless I can crawl around on the floor-the moldings look great. In short, I have missed many pleasures and avoided much pain.

I have been working my Law of Attraction angle to make sense of my foot injury (which I wrote about in my last post) In my post, I mentioned that I just may have manifested this thing from my lack of empathy. However, since I can’t imagine anything worse for a person (myself included) who is experiencing illness, loss or disability to be told that there is a lesson to be learned from the hardship, moreover, that they may have actually attracted the hardship, I have revamped to embrace the Stoic philosophy of Epictetus. Epictetus takes the pressure off. In his discourses, he acknowledges that there are powers of nature that are not within our control (such as death, illness and poverty), however, it is up to us to manage our reactions to these events. This will be familiar philosophy to those who have heard the recovery movement’s serenity prayer or for those who have studied cognitive psychology.

My foot injury has mushroomed into an ankle and foot problem which has progressed to the point where I can barely walk a city block without extreme pain. I now have such limited mobility, that I may very well qualify for a handicapped placard on my car and the label of idiot for not consulting a highly specialized foot and ankle orthopedist earlier in this.  I am still convinced that my foot injury will heal in time and I will be better than I was before this thing as soon as I learn my lessons:

I think they are something like this:

I should have been nicer to my mom

Post chemo, my mom has struggled to walk. As a serious walker, it cramped my style and as a result, I just couldn’t be bothered to take her on my walking jaunts in NYC. Last Spring, I took her to the Metropolitan Museum, Saturdays are a very busy time to get their loaner wheel chairs, I scrambled all over the museum to get one with little luck. Finally the head of museum security got us one from his secret hiding spot. My mother burst into tears when she was able to see “her art”.

“Retail Therapy” is a thinly disguised way to condone compulsive shopping.

I have to be very selective about the stores that I can hobble around. Before any shopping trip, I must really question if it is worth the effort. I now ask myself: Do you need it now? Can  I make do with something else in the house?

I have also learned to use scooters for the big box stores but navigating these scooters means that the shopper must stay on the store’s “racetrack” because diverting will cause much wreckage. I have been saving lots of money.

(It is interesting to see many fellow shoppers avert their eyes when they see me. The kids love it though. )

I get to binge watch Netflix without guilt.

Compulsively watching TV is rarely a good use of time -as much as I enjoyed watching all seven seasons of 30 Rock in a span of a few weeks- it truly is a way of tuning out.

I have become a Master Concept 2 rower

Just the other day a woman next to me asked me how long it takes to work up to 50 minutes on the machine—she said I had made it look so easy. Rowing machines are not the kind of cardio equipment that women tend to use. The upper body strength that is needed to get through the first twenty minutes can be so painful that the euphoric benefits of a cardio workout are never achieved. Because I had few choices in cardio equipment that did not injure my foot or ankle, I was forced to work through the pain. I have always marveled when I saw thin women in wheel chairs. I was terrified that I would become a fat ball of putty if I could not use my legs to get my heartbeat up for extended periods. A friend of mine works with a woman, who has spinal bifida and is paralyzed below the waist, my friend tells me that this woman does not let anything get in her way, she drives with a custom car and she is taking skydiving lessons. This woman is strong and the use of her arms has replaced her legs. Upper body workouts are a very good way to raise heart rate; however, I am finding that my arms are getting too big for my tight clothes.

I have been seeing a blind Acupuncturist.

His name is Dr Kinley. Friends have told me that he was good. He is and the experience of working with this man has taught me that there is always a way to compensate. On my first visit, his wife, also an acupuncturist read my intake and reviewed it with me. They have been together for decades. I wonder about this perfect marriage. They work together as a tag team. If I were that dependant on my husband, I would be frightened.  Dr. Kinley also has an assistant, Doreen, who acts as his eyes. When Doreen was out one week, the office did not function on time or as well. This man oozes caring and I can feel the love pour from him. He can feel the heat in my foot and he always seems to know where it hurts the most. I tease him and tell him that even if the needles don’t really cure my inflammation, the needles in the other foot make enough endorphins to make the pain recede. This experience has taught me that we are interdependent. We need to work together and ask for help when we need it.


also published on Open Salon as Snarkychaser



About Laura Stinchcomb

Do you find the horrible funny? Do you find the funny horrible? I believe that funny is just a shade away from the truth. My writing may make you uncomfortable-even I squirm when I read it.

View all posts by Laura Stinchcomb


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