10 Lessons from being wrecked

 

“Just a broken foot and two cracked ribs? That’s it?”

 

I can remember quizzing the ER doctor following his diagnosis and instructions and feeling pretty darn lucky. Well, foolish, too, because if I hadn’t applied that imaginary brake in the front passenger seat when that driver crashed into us head on, I would probably be walking out of the hospital wearing both of my favorite shoes.

I left the hospital with an upbeat attitude—I’m sure it had nothing to do with the sweetly numbing painkiller I had been given—and was thinking that I’d be as good as new in about four to six weeks.

That is not how it went.

As the months passed, I felt less fortunate, more angry and more depressed. The man who hit us had blacked out from a medical condition and gone through his windshield. I saw him at the crash site, and was sure he didn’t make it, and yet he walked away with barely a scratch. He was also uninsured, which meant I got to fight with the insurance company over everything.

My just a broken foot—from the snapped-in-half metatarsals to the broken-into-three-pieces cuboid and all the little chipped and damaged bones in between—was not healing as expected. I was in constant pain. The insurance company didn’t want to pay for the only non-narcotic pain killer that held relief for me, as they had deemed it experimental. I had to sleep on my back with my bulky walking cast on my foot, sticking outside the covers. If I moved much at all, the my cracked ribs would produce a raspy, screaky sound that belonged more in a scary movie than inside my body.

 

It. Was. Not. Fair.

 

I saw doctor after doctor who was so very sorry, but he just didn’t know how to help me.

My physical therapist apologized because he hadn’t been able to coax my foot into a shoe, let alone getting me to where I could use it again with even a minimum of pain. He offered his regrets with his goodbye.

I visited Dr. Number Five—Mr. I Am A Very Important Orthopedist—with my required x-rays in hand and a flicker of hope still in my heart. He flipped open my chart, and an annoyed expression darkened his face. He turned to me, and asked impatiently why I was there. I explained that I just wanted to get better.

He scowled at me and snapped,

You need to stop doctor shopping.

You are as good as you are going to get, so you may as well get used to it!

 

Shaking with anger and a deep down fear that he could be right, I became speechless. I managed to keep myself together until I got to the car, where I sat and wept.

Temporarily cowed but ultimately undeterred, I eventually found an amazingly talented physical therapist who recommended a friendly, down-to-earth podiatrist who knew just what I needed. We started back at square one as I marked the one year anniversary of being wrecked. Many doctor’s appointments, multiple orthotic fittings, and over one hundred physical therapy visits later, I was healed.

I. Could. Walk.

Sure, I have to wear orthotics in my stylin’ senior citizen shoes, which, in spite of their dowdy looks, cost many times more than I ever used to pay for footwear.

But I can now walk. And run. Without pain.

 

Here are 10 lessons I learned to help each of us navigate our own stretch of road.

 

1. Take precautions so you stay as safe as possible.

Whether it’s seat belts in a car, life vests in a kayak, or teaching your children best practices, be prepared, be smart, be safe.

2. Be honest and open with any professionals with whom you work.

If it’s a doctor, for example, give honest appraisals of your pain levels, behaviors, and whether or not you are following their instructions. The higher quality of your information, whether for a lawyer, kitchen designer, or teacher, the better job they will be able to do for you.

3. Take your medicine and follow directions.

If a financial counselor dictates some serious belt-tightening, do it. If a doctor advises a change in your eating and exercise routine, embrace it. If you are not sure the information is sound, get a second opinion or third.

4. Knowledge is your friend.

Learn all you can from reputable sources and be willing to share and ask lots of questions.

5. Everyone, regardless of the number of initials after their name, is human.

As the old saying goes, we all put our pants on one leg at a time. It is unreasonable and unrealistic to expect folks to know absolutely everything in our increasingly specialized world. Be decent, respectful and reasonable, with in all your conversations, and remember that you are due the same in return.

6. You are your own best advocate.

This one can be tough because it sometimes feels like it’s you against the world, but it is your body, your life, your future. If a doctor has a terrible bedside manner and is dismissive of your concerns, consider leaving. If you aren’t making progress with an advisor, you may just not have found your fit.

7. Let go of fear.

Irrational fears keep us from moving into a fulfilling life, as does its nasty little sibling, worrying. I highly recommend prayer as a soothing and empowering antidote. As Philippians 4:6-7 counsels:  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8. Be prepared to pitch in and roll with the punches.

It is not unusual for the needs of individual family members to rise and fall like cresting waves. When everyone is on board and rowing in the same direction, it takes less effort than everyone trying to steer the boat their way. Patience and empathy can go a long way towards making the journey more bearable.

9. Learn to be a happy receiver.

We all love to give, but are very rarely keen to be on the receiving end. It is so good for our hearts to be humble and to let go of our pride. If the shoe were on the other foot—no pun intended—I have no doubt you’d jump in to help. So let someone else bless you with their giving.

10. Be grateful for where you are.

I know. I saved the really, really hard one for last. For me, that means I had to truly forgive and let go of so much, including anger at the other driver, irritation at those who weren’t able to heal me, but especially my very petty resentment of and embarrassment at my clunky footwear. I can’t wear dressy shoes, casual sandals, or even regular sneakers. These lace-ups are pretty much my entire footwear wardrobe. But I can walk without pain, so I lovingly embrace my bright white shoes that take me to see my daughters, that lead the way as my husband and I step towards our 30th anniversary next year; that allow me to dance in the knowledge we are joyfully and gratefully alive.

 

This post was inspired by Jeff Goins upcoming book, Wrecked, When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life.

Have you been wrecked, only to come out the other side with more wisdom and gratitude? Are you in the thick of it, and need to see some light? Please share in the comments so others can help,  and also be lifted and encouraged by your words. Thanks so much for coming by—I am always so happy to see you!

Sharing at NOBH, Better Mom, Seedlings in Stone, Finding Heaven

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Comments

  1. I love what you said about knowledge. Learning as much as you can and then asking intelligent questions really makes doctors sit up and take notice. So many times when I was younger and had an infant with a chronic illness, I just checked my brains at the door and let the doctor fill me up on whatever “authoritative” information he believed. But as I’ve gotten older (and now have two children with cystic fibrosis), I have found greater peace in at least having an idea of what I think before I walk through the door. Not to say I’m stubborn or unteachable. I’m just not a pushover anymore. :)

    Also, I appreciate what you said about doctors being human. Yes. No matter how many initials. We all wake up with bad breath and get popcorn kernels stuck in our teeth from time to time. This is a good thing to remember if you are tempted to be intimidated OR if you are tempted to be intimidating.
    Thanks for this post!

    • Kelli, I think you have described many of us as young moms. We assume the doctor knows best, especially with our first child. I have experienced that peace you mention-I love how you put that it’s not stubbornness or an unwillingness to be taught. You just aren’t a pushover anymore. That is right on the money!

      Thanks for coming by and adding to the conversation. You never know the mom who might be struggling with a similar situation, and then draws comfort, knowledge and strength from your words!

  2. I have been on that treadmill of doctor after doctor with chronic back pain. I go for a little while, then vow to just accept pain as it is. I’m currently in a string of chiropractors–all very nice–but no relief. About time to stop again and relearn the lessons you list here. I know God is faithful and will give me grace to either find a doctor who actually CAN help, or else live with the pain. Either way, he is good. So glad you can walk and run again!

    • Lisa, I have a bit of a better understanding of chronic pain now, but I can’t imagine it in my back. My heart and prayers go out to you. My husband had some issues and saw an osteopath-a therapist who manipulates the skeleton and muscles-sort of a cross between a chiropractor and a regular doctor, I would say.

      God is good, and sometimes gives us the opportunity to lean on him more so than other times. I hope you are able to find a doctor who can help, and thanks for your well wishes.

  3. I get this so much, Kim, it’s frightening! I feel so sorry for you and your crunched foot, and the bad bedside manner of many a doctor out there is atrocious! I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and a knee that has extra stuff going on as well, so I have to be careful what I wear on my feet too. I do wear “pretty” shoes every now and then, but pay the price later that day. :( Of course, I love your attitude in all of this. And your suggestions are right on! We really can make the best of a difficult circumstance and end up dancing on the inside and out. So thankful for a God who gives us that ability. Great post!

    • You are always so sweet, Beth.
      Since God gave me the opportunity to travel down this road, I have been blessed to have held many conversations with folks to help them with resources for health, finding the right fit in a doctor, etc.

      I can feel your pain from here from your shoes, but I can feel right to my toes why you do it. {Kicking up heels in memory of cute shoes.}

      Just a thought here: my oldest daughter and I have been eating much more intentionally and carefully than before, and have noticed a difference in how we feel. We are taking another step forward and doing a strict 30 day program to, as the site describes: to do a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food.

      You might find their site interesting reading, especially in regards to the role of food and inflammation. You can find them at whole9life.com. Their book is great too: It Starts with Food. I offer this as just a suggestion from one friend to another. <3

      Thanks for your kind words, Beth. I am always encouraged by you.

  4. You have been through so much because of your car accident!! I’m thankful that you finally found a doctor who could help you. You laid out so excellent points to dealing with doctors.

  5. Kim,
    I can’t believe everything you have had to go through! Your words of caution to be prepared ring so true… I just made my boys put on their helmets before skateboarding, since a young man in our neighborhood is still recovering after a severe brain injury from no helmet. Thank you so much for all the wisdom you have shared in this post, my NOBH friend! ;)
    Love and God Bless,
    Christy

    • Bicycles and helmets for your boys-absolutely a message of love for your family! I often see parents riding with their kids, and while the kids will be wearing helmets, the parents are not. Talk about a mixed message!

      Glad to have you stop by on my porch and chat just a bit. I hope moms who see your post are encouraged to have their children wear helmets as well. Blessings to you, friend!

  6. Thanks for sharing such practical tips, but also sharing your journey. Nobody enjoys having their life wrecked in any form or fashion, but it helps to know that we’re not left alone in the rubble.
    Thanks, Kim.

  7. Oh, wow, Kim. I kind of chuckled at the “imaginary passenger brake” comment – I have one of those, too – but that’s where my chuckling ended. This is a tough story, and I appreciate that you chose to share it with us and offer your wisdom from experience. Being grateful for where we are? Definitely not easy under such circumstances, or even under the best circumstances when we’re prone to be grumpy or wish for more. Thanks for this perspective. Blessings to you and your foxy shoes!

  8. I owe almost all of my wisdom, insight, and gratitude to the times when I have been “wrecked,” the health scares, job losses, the relationships that have fallen apart, a son born prematurely… It is never fun to be the target for that wrecking ball, but oh, what we learn from being in its eye! Your advice is sage, as always. And I send prayers to your foot – which I know, with break like that, take tome to heal.

    • We tend to look at each other’s lives through rose colored glasses and assume the best: they have it made, they are successful, their family is wonderful. Not only do we tend to hide our own blemishes and our times of being wrecked, but we have blind spots when we compare ourselves unfavorably to others.

      I am grateful for the gifts you have received through being “wrecked”. That road is never easy, but it is ultimately so full of rewards.

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing, Ilene. You never know who you might have helped today by being transparent. Blessings to you!

  9. Oh, Kim, I was wincing with you as I read this…You are amazing! Like you, I have had to learn that you can’t always trust a doctor’s assessment – they are only human. So glad you were able to find a PT, and a podiatrist, who could help you and that you are able to walk and run without pain.
    The “wrecked” times in my life have served to draw me closer to God because I couldn’t make it on my own limited strength. They are also what makes me more compassionate towards others’ suffering. Romans 8:28 And 29…Hugs to you, Kim :)

  10. Hi Kim,
    Thanks for sharing this encouraging post, we can all relate to these kind of moments, but thank God we are not completely helpless. Hope you are having a great weekend/summer! I just nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award! I believe you deserve it. You can go pick it up here:http://www.ugochi-jolomi.com/2012/08/another-award.htmlCongratulations and God bless!

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