Ashes to Beauty

August 21, 2015 DevotionRecovery  2 comments

I realize three weeks have gone-by since my last report providing details of my emotional and physical condition as I recover from a broken hip. The reason; there wasn’t really anything worth writing about. No one likes to read whining. I know I don’t. No one can immediately fix my situation. I know I can’t.

A week ago I met with my surgeon who told me post op I would be on crutches for two months. Exactly nine weeks later I drove myself to Kaiser, fully expecting to crutch in and walk out. After 30 minutes of waiting and the 10 minutes it took to get x-rays done, I was sitting in an examination room with my legs dangling and swinging, imagining what it would feel like to carry the crutches rather than have them carrying me. I was told Dr. Le was running late, “He’s in the emergency room.” Hmm, I thought. I wondered if I, likewise, had interrupted someone else’s day when he visited me in the ER? Then in walked the smiling Doc… (good sign, yes?)

“Well, your x-rays look good!” He pulls them up on the computer, “Things are healing perfectly.” I’m already thinking of ways to donate my crutches to one of two people I saw in the waiting area… “But, I want to take a little more time before you can be active.”


“I don’t want you doing any sport for another six weeks.” Hold on… did I just hear that correctly? I try to clarify. “Do you mean running?” He shakes his head no and the smile fades. “No sport. No strength training or range of motion.” I’m starting to read between the lines. Outwardly I say, “You mean I need to remain on crutches?” Inwardly I think, what kind of an evil man are you?

“Yes, that’s what I’m saying. I’m okay with you placing 50% body weight on that leg but flat-footed and guided by physical therapy. I’ll call in an appointment for you.” I just look at him speechless. He looks back waiting for me to say something. “I fully expected to walk out of here today. You told me I would be on crutches for two months… I’ve done everything you asked me to do. I’ve been a good boy (no kidding, I actually said that!) and it feels like it wasn’t good enough.” Dr. Le pulls the computer screen closer to me. “You can see there is still a small crack and yet it’s healing perfectly. So, let’s not mess this up.” At first I think, whadya mean by saying, “let’s,” as if you’re involved… I don’t see crutches under your arms! But the next thought sobers me up. He did say, “perfectly” and it is his work holding my femoral neck together and the x-ray shows both femurs with the same bone density where the previous x-ray, seven weeks ago, was significantly different. “Just a few more weeks and you’ll be able to start on a stationary bike.”

Do I tell him?

“Uh, Dr. Le… I’ve been on my trainer for the past two weeks. I’ve been in the pool a few times too.” He gives me a look; the kinda look you see when you promise a third-grader a bowl of ice cream and hand over a bowl of mashed potatoes instead.

“Okay, six more weeks. I get it. But I have to tell you I’m discouraged because I feel fine and I want to just get going! I fully expected to leave here walking and then let that turn into trail hiking and then get to jogging, which will turn to running. That’s my focus. That’s my goal.” His smile returned. “You will and if you do this right, walking will only be couple days for you and you’ll breeze through to running again.”

As we parted he again mentioned prescribing Physical Therapy and to expect a call to set up an appointment. That call came an hour later for first available… August 31st. Two and a half weeks out! I’m going to have to wait that long to “learn” how to walk with crutches at 50% weight-bearing? That’s almost half the time left on crutches… I don’t think so!

That evening, after a long offsite meeting with staff and before going to bed, in the quiet of a warm summer evening, Joy already having retired for the night, I ponder… I’m okay. I want to walk and my body is saying… WALK! So… holding my crutches out, I place them against the wall. I look at our open french doors to the back yard. I need to close them and I’m going to walk over to them and do so. But I think about it. Realizing for the first time in my life, I’m actually having to think about walking. Before you become a toddler, walking is an evolutionary process. At this moment, it’s a revelation-ary one. I take a deep breath… “Here I go.” And step… and step.. and st, Hey!!! What’s the big deal? No pain, no wobble, no guilt. I leave my crutches in the living room and walk to bed, quietly; no clanking, creaking, hardwood floor smacking!

In the morning, Joy gets up before me to make coffee. I can hear her in the kitchen. She hasn’t come back to the bedroom with her signature, “Daniel?” This is what I hear when I’ve done something bad… I realize she hasn’t seen the crutches! I get up and walk into the kitchen. She sees me enter and does a double take!

What happens next. I can’t reveal here. My wife is a wonderful, woman of God, who prays faithfully, sacrifices willingly and is completely devoted to Christ. But she had a moment… I have been on my crutches ever since.

I was able to get an appointment with the physical therapist on Wednesday due to a cancellation. His evaluation: Crazy good! No really, that’s what he kept saying as he pulled and stretched and pushed my leg in all directions. I’m thinking (again) this is my ticket to losing the crutches… but nooooooo. With all types of explanations and reasons I found myself agreeing to staying on the crutches where, in two weeks from now, will be able to only use one crutch and apply 75% body weight to my right leg. His cavalier, yet wise way of keeping me from pulling another stunt like last Thursday night? “My hip’s fine… Dr. Le’s hip is fine. Do what you want.” In other words, if I screw up my recovery, it won’t bother him or anyone else for that matter but it will suck to be me.

So… I’m embracing my crutches not only physically but emotionally too. I’ve named them… Darryl and his brother Darryl. Some of you will get that. I’ve also, learned how to balance suspended in air on both Darryl’s for quite a long time. Someone recently made a comment on how nice my triceps were looking! I completed my coaching recertification with USAT. I’ve built up a new triathlon bike with spare parts. I got a Netflix account.

Life is not predictable. Each day provides the same opportunities but no one day is ever alike. Life is, as I’ve often heard, what you make of it. Despite the ups and downs, the good the bad, the successes and failures, whether we want it to or not, life goes on. When things, whatever they are for you, don’t quite go as you wish them to remember this…

… the Lord has anointed me… to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:1a,3 (NIV)

This Old Testament passage is easy to understand if you realize during a time of bitter morning and despair the common practice was to pour ashes on your head and wear an uncomfortable garment of goat hair signifying on the outside what was really going on on the inside.

Many times I’ve heard, when your hip has healed it will be stronger than ever. As I’m learning over and over, the only thing required is time. No whining… No quick fix… No great oak spouted in a day.

My hip’s fine. Do what you want.

2 comments to Ashes to Beauty

  • Melissa I. Harris says:

    God bless you, Dan! Thank you for sharing this…. Missy

    • Dan says:

      Thanks Missy!! Thanks for taking the time to read my ranting and being kind about it. Cheers!

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