This week's topic is "The Story of My Most Serious Injury." I actually even found an old photo to go with this one, that I scanned into the computer.
The date was February 9th, 1998 (how appropriate to blog a past February event this month.) I was in my third year of BYU, and in the first (and hardest) year of my Accounting major. I was living in the Monticello Apartments with some really awesome roommates and a lot of close friends nearby. The BYU singles ward I was attending had an activity to go ice skating at a local rink.
Now, I can ice skate just enough to say, "Look, I'm skating" and that's about it. I can follow the crowd around the circle at a fairly decent pace, but I can't skate backwards or spin, or do really anything other than that. However, that didn't stop me from trying that day. I thought it would be fun to learn how to spin in a circle. Starting to spin was no problem, it was controlling it and stopping that was a challenge. I probably would have escaped the episode with nothing more than some bruises on my back side, except for one fact: the rink was an outdoor, public rink with very little maintenance done to the ice. So there were lots of cracks, bumps, and chinks throughout the rink.
Well, in my novice efforts to spin, I got some good momentum built up just as the blade of my skate hit one of these chinks in the ice. My foot came to a dead standstill, but the rest of my body kept spinning. If you've ever taken a piece of celery and tried wringing it out, you can imagine what happened to my bone. I remember hearing a popping sound just before I hit the ice. And then the pain started searing through my lower leg, anytime I tried to move. I knew I had really messed something up in there. The worst pain I remember is while they were carrying me off the ice; for not only was my leg broken, but I had a heavy skate attached to my foot, torquing the bone, and the people carrying me off, were also wearing skates, which does not make for a very smooth ride. Once we took my skate off, the pain didn't seem to be all that bad; as long as I didn't bump anything.
We went to the hospital, got xrays, and then they cut my favorite jeans off (what a tragedy) so they could put on a full leg cast, from my toes to half way up my thigh. I had a nice (and rare) spiral fracture all up my larger calf bone and a straight fracture across the smaller one. I ended up in that cast and on crutches for 2 months and then in a walking boot for another 2 months. Because of the angle of the cast and how it needed to be elevated almost all of the time, I pretty much lived, ate, studied, and slept on the couch in the picture above for those first 2 months. Once again, the worst part about a broken leg for me, was not the pain, although it did really hurt if I happened to bump into anything, but it was more those times in the middle of the night when I wouldn't be able to sleep because of my leg itching under the cast where I couldn't do anything about it. Those were awful.
What did I learn from this experience? Lots of things:
A little recklessness can cause a lot of pain and trouble later.
Life doesn't stop just because misfortune falls. I was still in the hardest classes of my college career and they weren't going to wait for me to get better. I still needed to study my heart out, go to work, and fulfill my callings in the church. And I'm glad, because staying busy made the time go by much faster and took my mind off of my leg. It was those times when I wasn't doing anything in the night, when my leg bothered me the most.
The church is really effective at how people come out of the woodwork to help you when trouble falls. So often, someone would come and volunteer to help me in ways that I didn't even realize would be needed. And it's OK to accept help from others. Not only does it help you, but it blesses them to have an opportunity to serve.
The human body is AMAZING in its ability to heal itself. Truly, what a complex, genius, amazing gift our bodies are from our Heavenly Father.
After a huge setback like this, there is a lot of joy to be found in the small little successes that will follow. Like only using one crutch, taking a step, or a little hop, or bathing my leg for the first time after the cast came off. Often tragedy helps us realize how blessed we are in the first place.
Those are the lessons I remember anyway, 13 years after the fact.