Hate is a Strong Word. And it’s Perfect for Physical Therapy.

I hate Physical Therapy.

Today is an anniversary of sorts. It’s been 3 months–12 weeks–90 days since my accident. And I’m so grateful and so relieved and so…relieved.

But it also means I’ve moved into the Physical Therapy phase of recovery. And those of you who have been there– you know. You KNOW. Physical therapy is a bitch.

And I hate it.

I hate it because it hurts.

I hate it because it’s humbling.

I hate it because my arms shake when I use one pound weights. ONE POUND.

I hate it because it’s time consuming.

I hate it because it is the clearest reminder I have of being weak and incapable and different than I was a few months ago. 

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In my daily life, I’m learning to adapt. I do things differently to circumvent my weakness and inabilities. But physical therapy moves are specific. And they specifically highlight what I cannot do.

I know. I get it. It’s a means to an end. And that end is to recover strength and mobility. I know. It’s not like I don’t understand. I just don’t like it.

I don’t like wincing from squeezing a handful of Play-Doh or needing a break from palming golf balls.

I hate it because the exercises make it feel like I’m going to break everything all over again, no matter how many times the therapist assures me the titanium plates aren’t going anywhere.


But mostly I hate it because I cry.

To be clear, I don’t SOB, for God’s sake. But it effing hurts and it’s effing hard. And when the therapist pulls my wrist and bends it back and forth and treats my scars, I can’t keep the tears from silently leaking out and running down my face.

I close my eyes because I am in pain.

I close my eyes because I am embarrassed- for me AND for him.

I can’t lie. Before my first PT session, I actually tweeted that I hoped he would be hot and that would make it more fun. But he kind of is. And now I just wish he were a nice little 90 year-old grandpa.

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#SILLYGIRL


When he asks if he should stop, I always say no.

Because the pain is part of the process. Pushing past the limits of what feels comfortable is the only way to make headway. It’s an integral part of the healing.

It’s the only way things will ever be different and better. 

And I have my pride. I want to be tough. And in a weird way, I want the PT to think I’m tough, too. I want the people in my life who are cheering for me to think I’m tough enough to keep going. I have stupid visions of making a Major League comeback, filled with one-handed push-ups and awe-inspiring yoga headstands. (Mind you, I couldn’t do these things pre-accident, just so you understand how truly unrealistic these delusions are.)

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But that’s not the point. The point is I want to get better and be strong and feel normal again. And so I have to do things that hurt and test me and make me cry, even though I hate them.

And every single time, there is a moment when I wonder: Would it be okay to stop? Once in a while, would it be okay to stop and just cry openly and meekly whisper to him, ‘You know, I really can’t take this today. Let’s just stop for now and I’ll try again next time.’

Would that be okay? Would that make me weak? A quitter?

And then I snap out of it.

I remember it’s not life. It’s just Physical Therapy.

And I want this wrist and collarbone to be f*cking indestructible. And I keep going.

Tell me about your Physical Therapy. And tell me when it gets better.

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Proof of Survival

wooden scar

I don’t want a scar. I don’t want a scar. I don’t want a scar. I don’t want a scar. I don’t want a scar. I don’t want a scar. I don’t want a scar. I don’t want a scar. I don’t want a scar.

But now I have two.

Two scars I absolutely hate.

Like crooked seams sewn into my once smooth and perfect skin; they look like mistakes.

And not little scars, either. Long ones, on my collarbone and along my wrist.

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{Over two months ago I was in an accident that broke my right collarbone and left wrist. Both injuries required separate surgeries; both surgeries required plates and screws.}

And up until very recently, I’ve kept both scars completely covered- partly because I just didn’t want to see them (though my wrist was covered by a cast) and partly because I was worried they would gross out other people, too.

But all along I’ve been thinking, ‘You’re gonna have to face these scars. Uncover them. Accept them. Make peace with them. And <gag> embrace them. Because they’re not going anywhere.’

{Continue reading over at Creative and Free…Where this was originally published as a guest post}

Somehow, You Just Do

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Death. Illness. Accidents. Break ups. Broken Hearts. Bankruptcy. Betrayal.

Think of the last REALLY hard thing that went on in your life.

{Or maybe, like me, you’re still in the middle of something really hard.}

But now think back to all the really hard things you’ve already made it through.

And first of all, Bravo, you Bad Ass, you.

Second of all, whichever space you’re in, I’m gonna guess there was a moment–even if it was just a millisecond– when you wondered how you would ever survive. A moment when you thought you never would. A moment when you swore this would be the one hard thing that was TOO hard. Insurmountable. Impossible. Impassable.

Sounds silly now. And maybe a touch dramatic. But it didn’t feel that way at the time.

You didn’t know how you were gonna do it. But somehow. Somehow, you did. Somehow, when it comes down to getting through, a day at a time, you just do.


This morning, I went for a walk. A legitimate walk. I awkwardly strained to wrangle my hair into a messy bun. (An impossible task just a week ago) I couldn’t manage a sports bra, but I pulled up a bandeau bra thingy and leggings. Last night, I asked my daughter to loosely tie my sneakers so I could just pull them on this morning and actually go by myself. (I sound like a toddler. There’s been a lot of that. Not good.)

Side note: Speaking of something else I can’t manage yet: Spanx. Over the weekend, I tried. I really tried. There was a dress I wanted to wear that needed a little…help. And there was a literal moment when I had to choose between potentially damaging my healing wrist with all the pulling and tugging versus the illusion of a flat tummy. I actually had to think about it. Because priorities. But since I  physically could not get them on, the decision was made for me. Dodged a bullet.

As crazy as it may sound, I was kinda scared to venture on this walk alone. (Although not as scared as I felt when I contemplated the idea of having to tell my mom I re-broke my wrist trying to pull on a pair of Spanx. AmIRight??) But there were two things: What if I get too far from my house and I run out of energy and can’t make it home? And the other one was the biggie: What if I fall? What if I trip on a curb or a banana peel or THE SIDEWALK?? Because apparently, these types of things happen to me. But the point is, I wouldn’t be able to catch myself. Then what? It might not sound like a big deal, but for me, it was.

I don’t want to be afraid. I don’t want to feel so fragile. I want to feel fearless. (‘She wants to be fearless. That’s cute’, my mom is thinking. ‘Hire a nurse next time.’) Good news: I went ahead on my walk and made it home just fine.

Today I was thinking about how far I’ve come. A few weeks ago, a three mile walk was unthinkable. I just wouldn’t have had the stamina yet. I was still spending a lot of time crying  resting, which takes up a lot of energy.

And then I got to thinking of all the other things I’ve lived through that I never could’ve imagined. 23 years of parenting. 16 years having lost my first husband. 4 years of being a blonde. 2 years divorced. Lots and lots of heartache and heartbreak. Just life. And most recently, almost 2 months of broken bones and surgeries and depression and recovery.

You can’t really understand at the outset, how you’re going to live through some of these things. But somehow, you just do. And then you kind of look back in awe of yourself. And feel sort of proud. You think,’I did it. I thought for sure, this is how it all goes down, but I’m doing it.’

So what is it for you? What are the things you thought you’d  never live through?

‘Cause guess what? You did it. You’re doing it. And so am I.

My New Favorite Thing: The Giving Keys

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If you’re looking for a meaningful and memorable gift– especially right now during graduation season– I’ve found it for you. Or in my case, if you’re looking for comfort and joy in beautiful, beautiful retail world in the wake of a disastrous injury. Whatever. Either way.

Have you heard of The Giving Keys?

“The Giving Keys exists to employ those transitioning out of homelessness to make jewelry out of repurposed keys that get sold and shared around the world. Each key is unique and carries a message like HOPE, STRENGTH, DREAM or COURAGE. When the wearer of the key encounters someone else who needs the message on the key, they give it away and then send us the story of their key being paid forward.”

I first heard of this company last October when I attended the Storyline conference in Chicago. Intrigued, I started following them on Instagram and was instantly a fan. I always feel so much admiration and respect and quite frankly–AWE– for people who come up with such beautiful ways and means for giving back to humanity.

Fast forward to this past week: I was in BLUSH. Buffalo locals, there’s a BLUSH on Elmwood Ave and a brand new location in Orchard Park. Like, I can walk to it. Like, I told the super cool-beautiful owner that I wanted to move in with her. I like it there. A lot. And you will, too. For out-of-towners who only wish they lived in Buffalo, check out BLUSH here. You will swoon. But don’t worry, they ship.

BLUSH is the first local business in Western New York to carry The Giving Keys. And so naturally, I needed to have one. There are many different words to choose from: Strength, Inspire, Believe and the like. But I chose a necklace stamped with ‘Courage’. It just felt right. And timely. And many times a day, I find myself running my fingers over those letters. I imagine the person who engraved the letters– their story. Their plight. Their fears. I imagine the courage they need[ed] to face their demons. And it gives me perspective. And it helps me face mine.

Someday, I’ll meet someone who needs this key. Someone who right that minute needs courage more than I do. I can already picture hearing their story–my heart starting to pound out of my chest– and just knowing: This is the time to give away my key

And then I’ll probably get another one. And do it all over again.


For more about The Giving Keys, watch Caitlin Crosby’s Ted Talk here and be inspired.

“I Can Do Anything Good”

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American Poet and Novelist Charles Bukowski once said, “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.”

You guys.

I have sucked. Hard.

Since an accident one month ago in which I broke my right collarbone and left wrist, I have been the world’s worst fire-walker-througher.

I actually think I would’ve done a much better job literally walking through fire, as opposed to this long drawn out suck fest. Charles Bukowski sort of sounds like a jerk.

I have been totally insufferable. Frustrated. Aggravated. Irritated. Sad. Angry.

I’ve done more apologizing in the past 30 days than maybe the past 30 years.

Sorry.

Sorry for being such a bitch.

Sorry I’m so grouchy.

Sorry I said that.

Sorry my life has taken over yours.

Sorry. I know I’m impossible.

Sorry.

These don’t include the other obvious list of Sorrys. As in, the ‘Sorry you have to bathe/dress/wipe/feed/situate/drive/shop for/do every last thing for me’ variety.

I’m sorry to say pain brought out the worst in me.

And the crying. Sweet Jesus on a bicycle. The crying. Crying about pain. About the loss of autonomy. About my hair and everyone’s complete inability to do it even remotely close to the way I do it. (See? See how ugly I’m acting??) Crying about MY inability to do ANYTHING.

I wish I could say something inspirational. I wish I could tell you about all the valuable ways I’ve redeemed these helpless hours.

I got nothin’.

Actually, that’s not entirely true.

I got through it.

I’m getting through it.

Scandal, Season 4. Facebook. Instagram. Pinterest. Twitter. Online shopping. Staring into space trying to remember how awesome my life was pre-accident. Practicing my fake smile and drug-induced nod when people remind me of all the possible silver linings. Staring at my mom and shaking my head in disbelief as I ask for the millionth time, ‘Can you freaking believe this? No, really. Can you believe this actually happened?’ (She can’t, by the way. She really can’t.)

The good news is, I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m holding my own coffee cup and managing a little mascara and getting pretty darn adaptive– with my right side, anyway. Sounds super impressive, right?


But a few days ago, after giving up on Charles Bukowski, I stumbled upon a blog called Real Life.Truthfully. This girl. Bless her heart. She’s just trying to make her way– she’s had a lot of high highs and low lows. She knows how to do hard things and weather hard times. And as I read her work, I felt inspired. She recently wrote about how sometimes the difficulties of life require time and space to see that maybe everything’s going to be okay after all.  And I could feel that. She wrote about totally effing up her life so many different times, in so many different ways– but that she keeps just trying to be brave and show up,even when she’s not sure how the whole thing is going to turn out. She talks about God. And grace. And kindness. About being surrounded by so much love and goodness in her life and how its carried her through.

And there’s this theme. This beautiful, multi-colored thread running through all of her work. About trying to press on. Not giving up. Even when it’s messy and hard and it seems like everything is just…wrong. About going one step farther even when you are positive you just can’t.

And somehow, after reading through it all, I felt encouraged. And inspired. And strengthened. I may not be very good at walking through this fire, but I think I’m going to make it after all.

[ Hey Jessica! Thanks for the pep talk! See it here. ]

Want Some Cheese With That Whine?

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“You’re like our little pet,” my daughter said, smiling.

As if this were a good, sweet way to be and I should, perhaps, feel happy and loved.

Happy and loved to be fed and bathed and groomed and cared for so gently and meticulously.

And sometimes I do. Sort of. For a minute or two.

Almost 2 weeks after a very scary accident which left me with a broken right collarbone and a broken left wrist, and one week since surgery, I mostly always feel loved. And here and there, I sometimes feel happy. Except for when I don’t. It has been the ongoing paradox of life. The way the worst of times pave and weave together a broken and unsteady well-worn path with the best of times.

It feels very similar to grief– the way one minute feels as though nothing will ever be okay again, and the next minute feels as though everything’s going to be okay after all.

I cry everyday out of both pain and frustration. It’s been the toughest physical challenge I’ve ever faced. To be so helpless. To feel weak and fragile and hurt. And at the constant mercy of others.

And yet that mercy has been holy. And constant. And beautiful. The love and support and strength and generosity from my family and friends.  Mom: No words. Thanks to you, we’ve laughed as much or more than we’ve cried. (Okay that’s a lie. But damn if you’re not trying to make it so) It has felt like a feather bed. Like a soft place to land. Most days. A reassuring and steady rhythm whispering, “you are not alone…you will not bear this by yourself…” And sometimes, I believe it.

Except for when I don’t.

Because there are moments. Days. Nights. Where it is suddenly much more clear. I am alone in this. No one truly bears it but me. When I am cold and unable to pull up the blankets or pull on a pair of socks. When I’m hungry but will have to wait until someone can feed me. When I can’t reach something I need and I can’t adjust my position to get it, either. Just to name a few. Hundred. After days of crying hot tears of humility and embarrassment in the bathroom, I stubbornly figured that out. Because really. A person has their limits.

And I totally get it. People have jobs and events and commitments. Busy lives. They have the luxury of stepping outside of this and stepping back in at their convenience.

But I don’t. And it’s hard.

Please don’t misunderstand me. This is not cancer. It is not terminal. I get it. But it is still a huge, painful, lonely, suck.

Occasionally, well-meaning people will joke that I should enjoy all this lying around, all this being waited on business.

No.

No. I don’t enjoy it at all. I don’t want to work on my tan. I don’t want people at my beck and call. To a fault, perhaps, I do not enjoy being helped and served and on the receiving end. And I know. It’s already been said– how good it is to learn these things- being a gracious recipient. Allowing people the pleasure of helping you.

But it doesn’t feel like a pleasure or a gift. It feels like a burden.

One big gigantic burden. Again.

(God. Seriously. Because the whole widowed/divorced suitcase is also being dragged along as well. Though not by me BECAUSE IT WOULD BE TOO EFFING HEAVY.)

For a person who is a do-er, a self-proclaimed DIY Girl, this is a nightmare. For a person who stubbornly wants to be independent, who loves to be alone, who would much rather figure it all out than have it done for her, this does not feel good.

As I was lying on the gurney, waiting to be wheeled into surgery, my dear, weary mother, looking over at my tear-stained face, said these words:

“You don’t have to keep tap dancing for us. It’s okay. We all love you. You are enough even when you can’t keep performing.”

Woah.

But when tap dancing is your way of life, all you really want is to get back out on the floor.