“Have you Ever Been Grateful for Being Able to Walk?”
The silver lining to Sara’s bike crash? A renewed appreciation for the little things in life
Photos courtesy of Sara Black
On the fifth day of being hospitalized from my hip fracture, I was finally ready to be discharged. They started weaning me off the heavy pain meds and I was waiting for that feeling of a truck running over me, both physically and emotionally. But surprisingly the truck never came. I thought I would be fine. A physical therapist taught me how to get on a walker to prepare me for the trip home. I got up from bed, hobbled along a few steps in the room, and thought I was good to go.
Little did I know I was about to experience the most excruciating pain of my life. The intravenous pain meds had almost completely worn off. I felt everything. Every little movement from the hospital room to the car, while on the road, to the elevator of my building, and to my bed would cause jolting pain to run down my hip through my leg and up my hip to my lower core. I was screaming. I was in tears. I felt like I was in a war zone. My whole body was on fire and the few moments of respite on a stoplight, for instance, felt like heaven.
My doctors advised me to stay in bed for 14 days so that the bone could set. Five days in the hospital meant seven more days. I would manage. The days would roll on by while I focused on what I could do to at the moment to heal. I did my in-bed therapy thrice a day, meditated four to five times a day, ate clean nutrient-dense food (green veggie juice, 72-hour bone broth, salad, and all the superfood supplements I had in my cabinet), and entertained well-wishing loved ones and visitors who helped keep my spirits up.
But there were good days and bad. On the bad days I would wake up feeling so helpless that I couldn’t do anything on my own. Miss I-can-do-everything couldn’t do anything now—I even had to ask for help to pee in a bedpan! I would give myself 10 minutes of wallowing in the morning. Then I would always come to the same conclusion. I had two choices: Do I want to stay broken or do I want to get well? I wanted to be well so I told myself “Pick yourself up and do everything you can to be well!” As soon as I started moving and doing my therapy and meditation, my day would automatically turn for the better.
Day 12. I thought to myself, a few more days and the doctors said I can stand up and attempt to walk. I couldn’t take it. I cheated. I stood up for the first time and when the blood rushed to my toes it was the most wonderful sensation ever. It was such a powerful moment, so fundamental. Have you ever been grateful for being able to stand?
In three days it would be my 36th birthday. My good friend and rehab specialist Francis Diano from Pace Prehab and Recovery was scheduled to come over to check up on me. When he asked me, “Do you need anything?” I said, “It’s my birthday tomorrow, I want to walk.”
Francis is an amazing therapist. He sets you up not just physically but also mentally to do the task. And when you’ve accomplished it, you really feel like it’s your own victory.
So Francis came, painfully released some of the tension in my traumatized muscles, then gave me the cues I needed to get on the walker. Four turtle-pace and wonky steps in, he looked at my quivering face and asked me, “Is it that painful?” I said, “No, naiiyak ako!” It was really tears of joy. There is no other way to arrive at this most sincere gratitude for walking unless you have it taken away from you. Have you ever been grateful for being able to walk?
On my 36th birthday I received the most priceless gift. My gratitude for life and all its little miracles expanded exponentially. To be grateful for the little things we take for granted: to stand, to put one foot in front of the other, to walk. What a gift it is to be mobile. I will never take walking for granted.
I had my sights set on regaining everything I had lost. Swim, bike, run, yoga, sailing: uphill battle I’m coming for you.