What I Didn't See Coming

For many of us, the total time from when a fracture happens to when we register it in our minds that we broke a bone (yet again) - happens within the same time frame it takes for someone's eyelid to go from top to bottom in a blink. Sometimes it's while we're holding our arm or our leg as we wait to go to the orthopedic's office that we replay the events in our mind. Did I see the sneaker my wheel hit before I tumbled face forward from my wheelchair? Did I see when my younger brother let go of his crib and fell on to me? Did I realize that my turn was far too sharp in my tricycle before I toppled over? 

And it's so easy to respond to each of those questions with a guilt-tripping If only I were more careful... If only I had paid more attention... If only I had cleaned my room... If only I had reacted faster. While it doesn't necessarily sound like we are doing so, each of those statements in effect makes us responsible for our own fractures. In some cases this might be the case! Should I have been horsing around with the boys in fifth grade and throwing punches at each other? Probably not. Was it my fault that I didn't put my walker close enough to my chair, so that when I reached forward I instead face-planted? Maybe so. Should I have been hopping on my parents' bed right after my tonsil surgery? Nope.

There is nothing worse than sitting with a broken bone and blaming yourself for an injury. I've done it hundreds of times before: now dad has to take time off from work to sit for hours while I get a cast. Now mom is going to start crying and get really upset. Now both of my parents will have to wake up a little earlier in the morning to help me get ready in the morning because I have a body cast. It's awful! The spiral of thoughts that run through our minds is dangerously fast, and dangerously negative. Sometimes they happen just as fast as fractures happen!
I think that what many people with O.I. (including myself!) tend to quickly forget is that fractures will happen regardless of what is done or what is not done. For someone who enjoys control and structure, and having agendas and schedules for what is to come -- having brittle bones can really trip my sense of self and ego big time! And you would think that having lived with O.I. for a quarter century I would have gotten over some of this by now.

I haven't really completely figured it out but I'll share what I have come to see:

It does make me uncomfortable that I won't know if this winter my colds will bring on broken ribs or not. I dislike the fact that when I go away on vacations, I have to pack splints, braces and slings *just in case.* And I don't know if bumping my leg will have caused the screws in my leg to have loosened themselves. What I do see is that beyond all the thousands of possible things that could go awry, and of those things only a small handful I can really prep for - I have a life to live and on most days I see the structure of my life so vividly in my mind. I see my to-do lists, my color-coordinated google calendar, the goals I have for this semester, the professional benchmarks I'd like to meet, or the parties with friends I have to plan, the books I have on my to-read list, the guys I crush on, the pranks I pull on friends, the beers on tap at the bar I have yet to try, the blog stats I pretend to understand, the dream jobs I come across online and sigh wishfully at, the killer leopard print boots I want.

And at the end of the day I realize that for all the hundreds of things that I don't see, I would never trade being able to see them for the things that I do see so clearly. Is it easy for me to say that? (Because you're probably thinking well Sandy, you don't exactly have a choice in the matter). That might be true! But if preventing fractures for the rest of my life means that I don't get to do that one thing in my life that I have my sights set on, I don't think it's worth it. Call me an egotistical freakazoid, call me whatever you want ..but ya know what? My bones heal, the gaps in my life that I miss might not. 

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2 Responses to What I Didn't See Coming

  1. The one thing that fractures have taught me is to appreciate the days when I feel whole again. I also embrace that fractures heal. Life might suck for a few weeks or a month or two but then it's over. Then OI can some what be in the back of our minds. So many other diseases out there are constant. They don't have a single day of feeling whole, healthy or not really dealing with issues related to their condition.

    1. You make a good point! And I hope that you keep this in mind as you're recovering from your operation :-)

      That's also why I've always felt that O.I. is not "such a bad" disability to have.. but I've never been able to say it without feeling like an awkward person in front of someone who doesn't have O.I.!


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