I never expected to use the word frail in the same sentence with I, until I broke the 5th metatarsal bone in my left foot . Its called a Jones Fracture, one of the worst you can have because its the bone that carries most of the weight when you walk, or stand.
The fall, which led to the break, was caused by sheer negligence on my part; I was talking to a friend as I walked down a few steps. Missing the step both feet pitched forward, and while I grabbed the rail to break my fall, I bent both feet forward, under me, spraining both ankles and breaking the bone. The treatment called for one month of no weight bearing on the left foot at all and a removable cast from toe to knee which I ended up wearing for about 13 weeks-far longer than expected.
Ive never broken a bone. And, Im lousy on crutches, I fell three times in the first few days; petrified that Id hurt myself more and be unable to call for help. I was alone during this period, though I did then have a steady, intense relationship which was headed towards happily ever afterbefore the accident. He was there at the ER and there to help me get in the house, then he went home. And on the next few nights he stopped in to visit, to take me to a restaurant or order dinner in, but he always went home to his own bed, leaving me to fend for myself. No offers to pick up groceries, take laundry to the downstairs washing machine, or do a few dishes. He was good about helping me get around his house, once I got mobile enough to visit, but nothing at my house.
I have never in my life felt this vulnerable or frail. I worried that any misstep might throw me off balance, again, and on the floor. I had to limp, hop, scoot and use my desk chair to get around for the first 5 or so weeks. After that time I got a knee scooter, which I highly recommend, and life was somewhat easier. But, I still feared walking out the door, down a step and into the car.
Its been 16 weeks now and the break, or fracture, is still only partially healed. I dont fully understand what is wrong, but my bone isnt healing well, on its own. Im only fifty six and this seems more like what I might have expected in another 15 years. The sense of frailty comes when I imagine another accident-or envision myself falling down the steps as I go to do my laundry. Who would know? How long would I be lying there before someone missed me? Its a pretty scary feeling, even if exaggerated. The sense of vulnerability is compounded by the ending of my relationship. I made the right decision but I am now a single woman, again. It gives me a sense of being totally alone and that feeds into the insecurity I feel in the face of this accident.
Im not a timid woman, not an invalid or grossly overweight or out of shape. I consider myself to be youthful and energetic and fully capable of doing any and (almost) everything. And, yet a simple oversight, a failure to pay attention has brought me to this state. On the grand scale of things its only a little foot bone but its been more dramatic than that for me. Something the ex-boyfriend couldnt or wouldnt acknowledge or understand. Im mortal, capable of being hurt, feeling pain, being at the mercy of others. Im aging. And, that is not a state Im ready to accept, not quite yet.
About the author: Walker Thornton is a Virginia-based writer and blogger.
Have you had moments when you have felt like this? Comment below.