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.