Disclaimer: While Bigfoot is the stuff of legends and hoaxes, my personal experience with a cast Kim and I called “Bigfoot” after ankle reconstruction surgery was 100% real.
I tore my Achilles playing tennis at the start of this year and had to have full reconstructive ankle surgery. While I can’t say I’d do it all over again, this injury has forced reflection on what I’ve learned during surgery and these last few months of recovery and rehab.
I can’t tell you how important it is to choose a good mate. I’ve been madly in love with Kim since I first laid eyes on her, and in this season, I have been so thankful for her steadfast care and cooking. Having already nursed me through eight eye surgeries, she has been indispensable for the last half a year as she has helped me deal with my foot. She’s truly lived out the “in sickness and in health” part of our vows with supernatural measures of patience, grace, and kindness.
Ask for help
I’ve had to learn to ask for help. Which is not easy for a Type-A personality like mine. For months I was unable to drive, and because of a wheelchair, scooter, or cane I had to have someone with me to carry my things. I’ve never been so humbled. It’s given me a whole new perspective on thankfulness and consideration of those who serve on a regular basis, building up an empathy muscle that’s been latent for a while.
I couldn’t let my situation interrupt my work. I had to learn how to navigate my injury, surgery, and recovery, while at the same time still make meetings, travel, school, and keep ministry moving forward. One of the hardest parts has been learning to be patient with myself. It only took a few embarrassing wipeouts on the scooter to realize I couldn’t keep the pace I wanted, and my impatience was costing me more time than the slow, safe, and steady route.
There are some advantages to being injured. People are a bit nicer to you. You get to be the first one on the plane—and someone else puts your items in the overhead bin FOR you! At major speaking engagements, you can spin a tall tale about your injury and it gets the crowd’s attention…maybe a laugh, and certainly their sympathy. Probably one of the most roller coaster moments was the day I finally got my hard cast off and drove straight to the airport for a flight, only to find the plane was delayed 6 hours. I definitely had to take advantage of people’s kindness and ask for help as I figured out how to keep my foot elevated and navigate the airport in a wheelchair!
I’m thankful I’m back behind the wheel, scooter and cast free, able to carry my own things, and stand on my own two feet. During my foot dilemma, I asked God to make this a time of growth.
My verse during this time- Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Th. 5:18 (ESV).
It’s not easy to give thanks for pain, for immobility, for hospital and therapy visits, or for depending on others to get you from point A to point B. However, this is what God has called us to do in every season and every circumstance. Sometimes it was with clenched teeth, but I had breath in my lungs and a beating heart that has spent the last six months learning to give thanks, even in my reduced circumstances.
So, my future looks different. My surgeon told me to find a new sport. Tennis has been my lifelong connector to so many people—and kept me physically healthy. I’m learning to enjoy it more from the sidelines, and continue to connect with people through the sport.
Having limitations forces you to try new things. In the meantime, I’ve taken up cycling to keep a healthy lifestyle. It’s added a whole new dimension to how I look at transportation and experience most things within a five mile radius from home. Most places I would have simply driven to in the past I now bike to.
I’m praying for full healing that will allow me to return to tennis, hopefully in October. My injury forced me to stop and ponder my new “normal.” I’ve discovered that what I had hoped was simply a “detour” has actually been the journey.