It could have been worse!


I’m not one to worry about falling. I try to walk at a quick pace – hampered only by fairly short legs – eyes ahead, head held high. No shuffling here. So when I found myself seeming to fly through the air two weeks ago, I had to wonder what happened (right after putting my hands out to catch myself). 

There was no ice to be found. It was a beautiful chilly, clear day. What tripped me up? A pesky Providence city sidewalk. You know the kind: a couple of inches difference between one piece and the next. Obviously this one had caused problems before because it was marked with a red-orange stripe of spray paint on both sides of the break. But unless you are looking down while you walk (a no-no in my book) you aren’t going to see that marking! 

And that is how I came to be sitting on the sofa at home, my leg dutifully resting on the cushion in front of me and cloaked in a rather imposing looking brace. Yep. I fractured my patella. For those of you who might be running to the dictionary, let me stop you. I broke my kneecap. Plain and simple. The doctor told me I did a good job of it too with two large cracks easily visible on my x-ray. Fortunately, no surgery needed; I’ll be fine in 6 to 8 weeks.

It took a few days for the meaning of that much time to sink in for me. No bending my left knee. Wearing this heavy, uncomfortable brace 24/7. Having to sleep on my back. Not being able to wear most of my clothes. And no driving!

I will admit, I’m not very good at “sitting around,” and I hate asking for help. I have a difficult time accepting help for things I know I should be able to do myself. Some would say I’m on the stubborn side. My husband calls me a lousy patient. OK. Maybe I’m even cranky about it sometimes. But in the short time I’ve been housebound, I’ve learned that I have no choice. Graciously accepting help is an art. And it’s a skill to learn to slow down. 

Anybody who has experienced an injury like this, or been involved with someone who has been told to sit tight for a number of weeks, can tell you that reorganizing daily life is a challenge. I don’t think I appreciated the wide-ranging implications of that until two weeks ago.

I’m totally connected to the outside world (and The Voice). There’s no reason why I can’t keep working on the paper. But the computer is upstairs. And stairs are on my do only infrequently list. Fortunately I own a laptop computer. For this issue, everyone has come together to get the paper out. Phone calls, text messages, emails and even a few home visits have made it happen.

I am so grateful to the supportive people in my life.  

So here’s my advice to you: despite what your mother may have told you about standing up straight and looking forward, maybe a glance downward every so often isn’t such a bad idea. Perhaps even walking a little more slowly might be a good idea: listen to the birds, look around.

And to the City of Providence: A few well-placed cones would surely help some of these sidewalks till you get around to fixing them!

Editor, Ostendorf,