Last Updated: January 27th, 2019

I had been forced into a recurring conversation with myself—an uncomfortable confrontation I wanted to ignore.

“Why are you surprised? You knew it was only a matter of time until you were removed from the ‘temporarily-able-bodied’ list.”

“I liked to pretend it wasn’t going to happen to me. I don’t want to grow old in a feeble, debilitated way. I’m afraid.”

“So, who gets to choose?  It’s your turn. Get used to it. You fell on a patch of black ice, your left wrist is broken, and you’re whining like a three year old.”

“But I can’t do anything!  I can’t drive, can’t knit, can’t exercise. I feel helpless.”

“Get used to it woman, or it’s going to be a very long six weeks in that plaster cast.”

“What am I going to do?”

“Ha! Now we’re getting somewhere. What are you going to do?”

My young orthopaedic doctor says attitude is everything. Sitting in a small cubicle, wrapped in plaster from knuckles to elbow, I try to internalize that wisdom. She has reminded me that in my long life I must have learned to get along with all kinds of people. What makes a difference she tells me, is attitude. Good attitude. I know that, but now it’s time to apply that bit of wisdom to myself.

Attitude. My dictionary defines it as a “mental position with regard to a fact.”

I should recognize this as a temporary setback, a six-week dropout from life as I have known it. I must remember to stay in the day, take care only of today, be mindful and work on that “attitude” thing.

Five weeks later now, and a pretty good five weeks overall. Some days were better than others. Time to enjoy a few good books. A re-reading of Anne Lamott’s  Traveling Mercie, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, and a leisurely perusal of  Savage Beauty by Nancy Milford. I have become reacquainted with chickadees and finches at our window feeder, been appalled at the behaviour of greedy grackles that drive away smaller species.

It still takes such a long time to dress and undress. A warm bath was a challenge until I remembered the antics of Nemo the sea lion lumbering out of a pool at New England Aquarium in Boston. Not much dignity, but a great attitude. I can do that.

One day soon I will be freed from my weight of plaster cast. As I resume life in a more normal way I hope I will remember the importance of living within the context of each day, doing what is required for just that given day. My young doctor was right. It’s all about attitude.

Patricia Sullivan