Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Blessing of a Break

Two weeks ago, on a cold and chilly night when the snow was falling, covering the icy ground with a powdered-sugar coat, I left work to head home. My mind was off in the clouds, and I was in a world of my own, not really paying attention to where I was going or the path I was walking on. So, it should come as no surprise to anyone but me that I took a nasty tumble to the ground, my feet finding a nice slick patch of ice hiding under that deceptively beautiful snow.

Whoosh! Down I went and my fall not only knocked me out of the clouds, but also managed to break my right wrist. Ouch.

Now, in all my years, I have never broken a single bone- not even when I lived in Iceland where treacherous conditions abounded! No, it took just a simple absentminded step to crack my wrist and land me in a pretty blue cast for five weeks, with the use of my right hand- my dominant hand- completely gone.

At first, I was very frustrated with myself- how could I fall on the ice? This was simply unacceptable! Surely, I am not that clumsy! Then, as I began to realize all the things I couldn't’t do because I am naturally right handed, I began to be despondent. I was helpless. I couldn't’t get dressed by myself, I couldn't’t manage buttons. I couldn't’t write. Every time I turned around there was one more thing I couldn't’t do. It was depressing.

Yet, I had five weeks to endure like this, and I did not want to spend them depressed. So I went to bed that first night crying and woke up determined. There would be a bright side to this break and I would find it!

The very first bright thing I realized was that I have a really wonderful husband. I have always known how sweet and kind Andrew is, yet this broken wrist of mine once more reminded me of just how caring he is. He anticipates what I need before I am even aware of it. He's made dinner every night, brings me fresh ice packs when my wrist starts to throb, sees that before I go to sleep at night I have a protective "fence" of pillows to ensure my arm stays propped and I can't roll over on it. He helps me with every single task that I can't manage with just one hand. Everything he does, he does with a smile. Truly, I am blessed to have such a wonderful husband.

The second thing I became aware of was myself. It seems that I am more resilient than I thought was. Sure, I'm right handed, but I discovered that I can do a fair amount of things with my left hand. I can type pretty well and using a computer mouse left handed is a breeze. After two days in the cast, I could eat with utensils in a manner that did not require a bib! I've discovered new and strange ways to do simple tasks like opening jars, buckling seat-belts, and closing doors. Best of all, a right handed cast is the perfect excuse to try left handed writing. I've always admired ambidextrous people, and perhaps now I can be one, too! The opportunity to learn new things is always a wonderful treat.

Yet another bright thing was the fact that I was given a new perspective of the wonderful people I am surrounded by. Family, friends and co-workers have all gone out of their way to help me, and all with a smile. From helping me in and out of cars, offering sympathy, advice and understanding, carrying items for me, holding me steady on the ice so I don't fall again, and even going so far as to help me zip up my coat (impossible to do one-handed!), people have helped me out so generously. I am so lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful people! There is simply no way I can feel sorry for my broken self when I am surrounded by so many kind and caring people.

And, having this broken wrist has shown me one more thing: the world is a much kinder place than people think. Too often we hear on the news how the world is erupting in pain, violence and despair, and yet my experiences have shown me how kind the world really is. I have had many sympathetic looks from strangers, kind helping hands, interesting and commiserating conversations, and simple acts of kindness since I have had a broken wrist. It makes me think that perhaps the world is simply shy and is only looking for an excuse- like a stranger with a broken arm- to show a friendly smile.

As I've realized all this, as I've counted the many ways in which I am blessed, the pain in my wrist fades away and is replaced with a warm glowing feeling of happiness. There is a bright side to a break, it is not all pain and aggravation. Yes, even a break can be a blessing.

Thank you everyone.