My foot is trapped between this and that and I fall like a stone. I lie totally still, the cool grass upon my cheek as the pain spreads across my hip. I cannot move.
There is no way to break the fall. My foot is trapped between this and that and I fall like a stone. I lie totally still, the cool grass upon my cheek as the pain spreads across my hip. I cannot move. “I’ve hurt myself” I say softly to Charles standing over me with a horrified look on his face. The ambulance is called and I am picked up in a “clam shell” that reaches under me, biting up the grass. The ferry waits for the ambulance.
I arrive at the Campbell River Emergency Room (ER) around 7pm and an x-ray confirms I have an intertrochanteric fracture, or in common language, a broken hip. In a back corner of the ER I get morphine and await surgery. Charles paces and asks, when, “for God’s sake,” I will get surgery. There is only one operating room and more serious cases ahead of me.
The night passes. So does the entire next day, laying in the ER. Finally at midnight, 36 hours after the fall, my hip is put back together with three screws. The surgery takes only 30 minutes, and I wake up during it. My body is shaking as the surgeon drills into my bones. I startle the team when I say, “I’m awake.”
Charles and I sleep together in the hospital bed; me moaning and him comforting. The next morning it seems I can hardly move my legs are so sore and weak. A purple hematoma has begun to form on the underside of my leg. It will eventually run from my butt to my ankle. Charles says in his 45 years of medical practice he has never seen such a big bruise.
I slump over my walker, tears form in my eyes and roll down my cheeks. I let the crying come, first quiet little spasms, but soon in body-shaking sobs.
The next days are a blur of getting home, trying to manage dragging my body around, feeling fuzzy-headed, sad, and nauseated. Upon waking five days out of surgery, I painfully struggle to get my leg out of bed. By hooking my good leg under my surgical leg I can move it a few painful centimeters at a time. It comes to rest on the floor with an excruciating thud.
I slump over my walker, tears form in my eyes and roll down my cheeks. I let the crying come, first quiet little spasms, but soon in body-shaking sobs. Snot and saliva drip from my nose and mouth.
Then, from deep within me arises a sound I have never heard myself make, although I have heard it emanate from the hearts of mothers with whom I work in Africa. A keening begins from somewhere deep within me, arising like a kundalini snake through my bleak heart and contracted throat to rent the air. Repeatedly, I keen from a profound well of grief. As if strangely listening from a distance, I observe this primal sound of total despair for myself and for the shared pain of humanity.
An image arises in my mind of a pile of dark, broken bones held by the most radiant nest of bright and golden light.
I lay broken upon my walker. My head is slumped forward, tears soaking my flannel pajamas. Motionless I scan my body: my hip is broken, my head is spinning and incoherent, my eyes are painfully sensitive to light, my heart is racing.Then, out of this well of despair comes a sudden moment of emptiness. I float in its spaciousness and I hear a voice from within “So, what now?”
An image arises in my mind of a pile of dark, broken bones held by the most radiant nest of bright and golden light. Staring at this image intently I realize that my “soul body” is holding my broken humanness. Slumped over the walker I gaze at this sacred image, letting its full import wash into me.
“I’m being held by my soul,” I say silently with wonder and fascination. Tears stream down my face as my heart breaks open to my soul.
I begin to think of all the other people around the world who broke their hips last week. Most of them are lying in huts or tenements without competent medical care, painkillers, nutritious food. They are in agony and will live their lives as cripples. I send out loving kindness to each of these people and to all those who are in bleak situations around the world.
I have a clear head and a heart full of gratitude. I know it is time to stop the painkillers, as helpful as they have been.
When I raise my head I am bathed in the miracle of feeling connected to my soul body. I have a clear head and a heart full of gratitude. I know it is time to stop the painkillers, as helpful as they have been. I think about how I can enjoy the rest of the summer recovering; playing my flute, reading, meditating, and letting Charles take care of me. I can see possibility everywhere instead of disappointment.
Gratitude accompanies me now in a living way. Oh, the color of the sky, the taste of food, the purring of my cat on my lap! I feel enormous gratitude for the beauty of the natural world where I can perch above the ever-changing lagoon and spend endless hours being enthralled while my bones knit together. My friends and family have been an endless source of nourishment and love, calling me, bringing delicious meals, sitting with me, playing music, massaging me, laughing together, and giving good advice. How loved I am! Why do I keep forgetting?
I still have aches, pains, and the blues but my relationship to these experiences has changed. I have months of recovering and strengthening my body ahead. But I have gifts too. I remember the radiant nest of light that lives within me and sense the deep place from which my healing is flowing. I continue the practice of sending loving kindness to others who are broken. I rejoice in the call of the loon and feel content to sit quietly.
I am not grateful I fell down but I have been abundantly grateful for the many insights, the love, the glimpse of my “soul body”. I have deepened my confidence and experience of living in a human body infused with Spirit which is always present. And for that I am enormously grateful.
We invite you to share a story about yourself or another person, reflecting on the question: “How has gratefulness shifted a moment, an experience, or a lifetime?”