The Day I Broke

Exactly four months ago to the day today, I broke.

If you’re trying to work out the timeline and count back from now to when the world shut down in my part of the world (which would be that fateful Friday the 13th in March), you’ll realize my break has very little to do with the global pandemic and everything to do with me mentally, emotionally and very physically breaking.

It’s taken me these four months to put together properly how it all felt. Taken this time to actually accept the fact that I really did lose myself, that I really did disconnect, crumble, fracture.

Break.

How is it that I am able to pinpoint the day so precisely when the break happened? Well, that’s simple enough really.

I was hit by a car.

Writing it out makes me tremble a little. Brings it all back. And truthfully, anyone who knows me personally and has spoken to me over the months, has heard me candidly brush the statement aside with a smirk, “Oh yeah, I was hit by a car! But I’m still here!” I cheerfully admit.

But fuck.

I was hit by a car.

At the height of a pandemic, I bounced off the hood of an Audi and landed in the middle of the street, sitting on my ass wondering what the fuck just happened.

I didn’t realize then that I had broken more than just a bone, I’d effectively broken myself.

I’ve grown up a fiercely independent person. From the get-go, I’ve been a loner but in a good way. I love spending time on my own and if I can go about my business without ever having to ask someone to help, I am a very happy camper. I like doing my own chores, handling my own responsibilities and taking care of things on my own. I pride myself on being this way.

This hasn’t always served me well though, especially when it comes to relationships where it’s beneficial for both parties to ask for help and to allow the other to help when possible – it’s all part of being in a relationship, all part of being a couple, being a team.

I blame my only-child-syndrome on my lack of team-playing skills at times. But I think I’m getting better (the boyfriend might have another opinion on that though…)

Over the years my independence has been a good shield, too. I’ve hidden behind my strong singledom shell, all the while crumbling inside. My independence has helped me push away the worry, the guilt, the anxieties. It’s given me something to focus on other than what’s happening in my life.

In truth, my strong self-awareness and independence was what was getting me through the pandemic.

Furloughed and trying to homeschool my 8-year-old, I embraced my ability to be solo and”handle it on my own.” While my boyfriend plugged away working 16-18 hour days at home, I took it upon myself to ensure our house didn’t go to shit and that Owen was properly educated and entertained, while also ensuring I took care of myself (the 2-week hair-dye out of boredom, daily runs or at-home workouts, and taking time to read). I was happy keeping my boys happy, and doing it on my own terms and on my schedule.

And then it all came to a screeching halt, quite literally.

In an instant, my independence was stripped from me. Violently stripped away, and I didn’t even realize it at first.

I didn’t cry when it happened. I didn’t even cry out in pain. In fact, I laughed. Sitting on my ass, in the middle of the street, I laughed. It might have been the shock, but really I just couldn’t believe what had just happened, and then I tried to get up.

My right knee completely buckled in towards my left as soon as I put weight on it.

Well that’s not fucking good, I thought. But I didn’t sit back down or search for someone’s support, I just stood up straight on my good leg, and started to contemplate how I was going to manage to get to the curb, by myself. Obviously.

I think the gravity of it all hit me the moment I was sitting alone in the surgery waiting area, in the cold fucking hospital gown, staring at a clock on the wall, waiting for my turn to be rolled into a surgery room, quietly crying and trying not to freak out.

My tibia fractured on my right leg, just below my patella (knee cap). It compressed and essentially flowered out. That’s the side I was hit on, the side that made contact with the bumper/hood. I needed a plate and some screws to hold it in place. I wouldn’t be allowed to put any weight on it for 6-8 weeks. If I was lucky, and all went well.

I was terrified.

In those moments laying there in the hospital bed, unable to be comforted by anyone due to COVID restrictions, I was reeling.

I got hit by a car.

While I was out doing the one thing that brought me the most independence. The thing that got me through so much emotional turmoil over the years. So many life crises, so many ups and downs. The one thing that was fiercely and independently mine. The one thing that made me feel so accomplished and proved to me over the years just how strong and capable I actually was. The one thing that kept me going when I didn’t think there was anything left to keep me going.

I was running.

Something I realized – as I sat in that hospital bed – I might never be able to do again.

Fuck.

I was hit by a car.

I’ll spare you the gruesome details, but COVID ensured I was awake for the entire hour-long procedure (the hospital couldn’t risk a ventilator on me, so I had to stay awake with really good drugs to help relax me and hopefully make me sleep), heard the drilling and the hammering, and felt the manipulation.

I think about it now, and the physical pain I felt that first night was more than just my body reacting to being cut open and manipulated. It finally dawned on me just how broken I truly was.

I broke a bone, but I also broke what made me, me.

Learning to move around on crutches and with a leg brace on 99% of the time (unless I was showering) was fucking torture.

Sure, I could hobble to the kitchen and make a coffee, but then how was I supposed to carry it to the couch? Fix myself something to eat? Yeah OK, but try carrying the plate. Bedtime cuddles with Owen? There was no way I could comfortably get into bed with him and get back out. Ride in the front seat of the car? Nope. Walk up and down stairs easily? Ha! Drive a car?! Um, no.

I lost it all in a moment. A moment of stupidity on both mine and the driver’s part.

Taking care of me couldn’t have been an easy thing. I say I’m stubborn, but I’m sure it would be described more as pig-headedness. No matter what, I was determined to remain independent. To not ask for help. To do those everyday tasks even if it killed me or caused me immense pain in the process.

My poor, patient other half. His world shattered as nearly as mine did the day I was hit. Just a few days prior to that, he’d lost the solo job our household had. We were both unemployed. The pandemic was at its peak, and we had no idea what the future might hold.

Then I decided to go for a run that fateful Sunday morning.

I refused to take the painkillers – and truthfully didn’t need them after that first night in the hospital. There was a huge amount of discomfort and I swear I could feel my bone trying to restructure and grow around the plate and screws, but it wasn’t enough to make me want to drug myself up to numb it away.

The task of caring for me (which included daily injections in my stomach to prevent blood clots for the 28 days following my surgery), taking care of the condo, cooking, cleaning, going out into the pandemic world to get food and supplies, all while staying moderately optimistic and cheery to prevent the 8-year-old from panicking too much fell on my boyfriend’s shoulders.

It’s a good thing he’s barrel-chested and has a strong disposition, and an even stronger heart. Without him, I never would have pulled through the way I did.

I lost my independence but I gained a newfound perspective for a person I knew I already loved dearly. I don’t think I will ever be able to thank him properly for what he did for me, and Owen, the months I was healing and immobile.

When I came out of surgery and was in the recovery room, shivering uncontrollably with about three heated blankets on me, the orthopaedic surgeon came to tell me it had been a real success, in his opinion.

He also felt that I likely would never run as far or as fast again (he knew my history and knew I was an avid runner and gym-goer), but he was confident I would heal well and at least be walking in the prescribed 6-8 weeks.

That length of time weighed heavily on me. Like a huge fucking boulder on my psyche, on my soul.

My surgery was on May 21, four days after I was hit.

I gave myself a goal that very moment; I wanted to walk and drive again by the end of July. Two months. Eight weeks.

Fuck being broken.

By July 2nd, I was able to bend my knee more than 90-degrees. I no longer needed the leg brace. I began the process of learning to walk again. By July 7th, I was walking without any crutches (albeit gingerly and slowly, with a limp). On July 18th, I drove for the first time in months, and two days later I was back at the gym walking on the treadmill and using the rower, doing squats and regaining the strength I’d lost.

Rebuilding my broken.

The entire healing process was about so much more than my tibia healing. It was about so much more than a broken bone. It was about healing a broken soul. Healing a broken way of life. Healing a broken me.

It’s four months exactly to the day that I was hit. And as I write this, I am even coming up on exactly when the accident happened (around 11am), and perhaps by the time I finish this and post it, it will go up at precisely the time of the collision. And maybe that’s as symbolic as finally being able to put all of this into words after all these months.

I didn’t just break a bone four months ago, I broke a piece of me, and it’s taken all this time to rebuild it. But it’s finally healed, in more ways than one.

~ by drivingmsmiranda on September 17, 2020.

One Response to “The Day I Broke”

  1. This was beautiful in more ways than I can express. It was honest, forward, and very heartfelt. Happy to hear that you are feeling better and healed. I found this very relatable. Being an independent person, it’s not easy accepting help. But, you grow to learn that accepting help is a strength.

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