In two days, it will be six months since I broke my leg while rollerskating. This wasn’t sort of break that they could slap a cast on and tell me to be on my way. I displaced left my ankle so badly that it was pointed 90 degrees to the left.
When they moved me for x-ray, the pain was so severe that I could not see. I shattered my tibula, fibula, and ankle and had surgery so that a 12-inch plate and 15 screws could hold my leg together.
The next day, our seven-year-old was in a car crash.
He walked away without a scratch on him, very much due to the fact that my wife is a certified car seat tech and he was in a five point harness. The poor child will be a teenager before we let him graduate to a booster!
I came home after four days in the hospital. No more morphine, no more nurse on call. My brother in law flew out to help us while we adjusted to this new normal.
We extended his flight. Twice.
Eventually, Uncle Mike had to fly home to his wife and children and I felt inept. I would lie in my bed crying at night because I couldn’t walk upstairs to put our children to bed.
For the next five weeks, I lay in bed, under strict instruction from the doctor not to stand up unless the house was on fire.
I narrowly avoided bed sores and prayed to be partially weight bearing. I wondered if there was even a point in praying anymore. My splint came off, the 45 stitches were pulled out, one by one and I waited.
Waited for my bones heal.
Week five sucks.
The five-week slump pushes some people to antidepressants, others to alcohol or “strictly legal”, medical marijuana. It’s lonely.
I didn’t want to be around anyone. I didn’t want to talk about my leg. I just wanted it to be over. It’s so hard to keep asking your friends and family to hang out, to help you stand, to help you shower.
I felt like there was no end in sight.
As much I was struggling, everything was ten time harder for my wife. The burden of responsibility was on her shoulders. She was trying to stay strong and keep our family functioning.
“This too shall pass” became my manta but with every doctor’s visit,
I was told I would just need more time. This too shall pass, slowly.
I found myself answering questions like “Daddy, why did that lady cut your underwear off you” and remembering my son was in the room when they prepped me for surgery.
The moment our four-year-old saw me hooked up to monitors and IVs is burned in my mind. She looked so scared.
Our three-year-old still climbs into my bed to stroke my leg and ask “you all better now, Dad?”
When we thought things couldn’t get worse, the bills started arriving. My medical expenses exceed $15k. To this day, I am scared to open the mail because more there are always more bills.
Next, my wife’s hours got cut.
We counted our blessings that she still had a job and were thankful because once again, it could have been worse.
When I started physical therapy I was allowed to put just 20lb of weight on my leg and we worked on increasing my range of motion in my ankle from the teeny tiny 7 degrees I was able to move it.
I should have been excited about the next stage of healing, but it felt so demoralizing. I felt like I had to climb Mount Everest in flip flops.
At week 10, I got fired.
Fired, with some vague explanation about my inability to travel. Fired, by the friend who promised me we were in this for the long run.
Three weeks later, I started weight bearing as tolerated.
When my doctor told me this, I felt a wave of emotion. The light seemed lighter, the day felt warmer. I felt a joy so strong that I couldn’t remember the last time I felt that way.
And yet, I didn’t understand.
Walk? On my broken leg? It’s in that moment that I realized, I don’t have a broken leg anymore. I have a new leg. I have a new lease on life.
I will walk again. With crutches, and support for now, and with time, on my own. I will walk, I will run. Not only will I stand tall and proud on my NEW leg, but I am grabbing my shit-storm of a year with both hands and nothing is going to hold me back.
I am never going to get fired for breaking a leg again because I opened my own company.
As I lay in bed for weeks on end, I repeated my manta. This too shall pass. This too shall pass.
Winter turned to spring and it was hard to imagine walking again, let alone walking across THIS stage.
So maybe that’s why I broke my leg.
Maybe that’s why this year has been so challenging. Maybe I had to break my leg to become a business owner and take control of our destiny.