Five of the sweetest grandchildren in the world and one grand-dog spent a chunk of time with me in the emergency room. Luckily, I only broke my wrist.
Yes, it hurts. The swelling had to go down before choosing the cast color—Pink, purple, yellow, green, white, all with matching sprinkles—I chose black. Yes, I am typing this article with four left-hand fingers.
Have I been angry at myself? Yes. Have I felt sorry for myself? Yes. Am I now grateful I didn’t break my hip, elbow, and head? Yes. Do I have more empathy for people with injuries and disabilities? You know it!
Not using my dominant hand, plus pain from a separated nail on my left thumb creates an awareness of what I take for granted. The simplest of tasks is a challenge:
Fixing my hair
Opening medicine bottles and food jars
Cutting up fruit and vegetables
Eating corn on the cob
Closing a car door and driving
Hanging up a shirt
Turning on a lamp
Tying my tennis shoes
I know those tasks sound insignificant, but we do many of them in just one hour, and, other than fishing, those and many more are an essential part of routine life.
The word accommodation comes to mind. Occupational and physical therapy and laws requiring employers to provide accommodations instead of dismissal for injured or disabled individuals are critical. My little injury is nothing compared to what others face—mine is temporary—and although I feel low-level helplessness, the doc doesn’t think I need surgery. I can watch movies with my wrist elevated, knowing my fracture will likely heal.
I’m not homeless or living in poverty. I have medical insurance, friends, and family who offer help, and I can walk—I’m a lucky woman.
I do not want sympathy for my klutzy dive. But, we would benefit individually and collectively if we heightened our compassion for those with disabilities—from accidents, aging, chronic illness, military consequence, or genetics.
Mental health involves more than caring and doing for ourselves—it improves if we allow our mishaps to grow empathy for the misfortune and struggles of our neighbors and our neighbor’s neighbors. We don’t and never will live this life alone, and feeling compassion for others mixes a little healing honey into the bowl of everyone’s world.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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