Behind the fabulous raft trip in my previous post was my knee injury I had sustained last spring on a hike by twisting my ankle on a rock. The “no big deal” turned into months of pain.
My orthopedic surgeon told me not to go.”I’m going “ I told him. He looked at me sternly and said “be sure you have someone help you in and out of the raft.” No worries. In my mind, my knee was already shot. Why stay home and be depressed while missing a trip of a lifetime. Plus, it’s hard to injure yourself by watching the scenery go by in a raft. Yes, there was that white water kayaking but I am experienced and the guides took care of all the camp chores. No regrets. ( I did purchase that Life Flight insurance beforehand, though.)
The MRI results came in after the trip- worse than I thought. I had a stress fracture in the head of my femur and a fully torn medial meniscus in my left knee. My doctor said he didn’t think he could do anything for me. WHAT? “Stay off of it for four months and see me after the first of the year.” Now I had already been severely impacted for months and this news was devastating. I thought I’d have laparoscopic surgery and then presto!-be good as new.
Having a serious injury or illness is a humbling experience. One day you’re fine and the next your life is turned upside down and full of pain. Walks are a thing of the past. Daily chores seem monumental. Currently, I’m hobbling around on crutches hoping that the new doctor I will see soon is more creative and compassionate than my former one.
I’ve had numerous traumas in my life – “black holes” I call them, fraught with frightening unknowns. This qualifies as one. Will I get my life back anytime soon? To get out of black holes it helps me to use a whitewater kayaking analogy. It’s the same skillset I use in a big rapid but it also works to keep me from psychologically tipping over.
- Gather my confidence.
- Have on all my safety gear but rather than a helmet, floatation vest, first-aid kit, and a rope bring along friends and family, a journal, meditation, and spirituality.
- Research the river ahead of time – research the condition. Don’t rely on the medical profession to explain everything..
- Keep up my momentum – my boat is more stable than I think.
- Go with the flow.
- If I tip over, hang onto my boat and paddle, find an eddy, and rest before getting back in. It’s hard to be up all the time.
- Get back in and keep on paddling – hard.
Aging, injury, trauma – it’s all a wild ride.
The sound of big water
I sit upright
paying full attention with my body
the rapid comes into view
I spot my line
scouting for boulders, whirlpools
that could flip my boat
The current grasps me firmly
taking me up, down, up, down
waves splashing over the bow
drenching me with exhilaration
as I paddle with intention
through a chaos of whitewater
knowing if I keep my balance & focus
my kayak will find its way to calm waters
where I turn
raise my paddle with both hands
Artwork by the author
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