Wheeling Not Walking

Wheeling Not Walking


In the wee hours of the last day of 2022, I was rudely awakened by an unusually painful calf-cramp. When the normal few steps failed to walk it out, I crawled back in bed hoping the pain would subside by morning. No such luck and a ball of swelling had appeared on my ankle. A call to the doctor advised: “It could be a blood clot. Get right to the ER for an ultrasound---the only place you can get one on Saturday.” G-daughter, Katy, arrived in 20 minutes, delivered me to the ER door and then parked. I refused a wheelchair offer saying “Nope, don’t need one”. Amazingly, the waiting room was vacant.

“How can I help you?” the registering clerk asked. “I’m here to get an ultrasound, that’s all.” I said confidently. I was seen immediately and assigned to a room. In a flash I was headed for x-rays. “Why X-rays?” I asked. “I’m just here for an ultrasound”.  “You will have an ultrasound”, the technician assured.

“Good news”, the attending surgeon said. “No blood clot.” “Wonderful”, I sighed, as I mentally grabbed my coat and purse to go home. “But”, he continued, “You have a broken ankle”. “How could that be?” I asked bewilderedly. “Did you kick the wall or bedstead?”  “No, only my sheets and blankets.”  “We know what happened,” he reasoned, “but not how. You have a fractured fibula, a very small bone.” Katy was on her cell phone giving an update to my out-of-state sons and my local daughter vacationing in Florida. “We’ll need to take more x-rays” the doctor said. “Pressure x-rays.”

If you’ve ever had pressure x-rays, you won’t need to hear my version.  As the doctor turned my ankle in a direction it didn’t want to go, I wailed and cried. He urged me to relax.  Hearing the click of a camera had never been such a relief. “Nothing has ever hurt me as much”, I complained. “And I’ve had four babies”. “I’m sorry”, he said tenderly, “but I need to take one more”.  “Oh, no, not again”. Same painful experience. “In 20 seconds, when I get you back to your room,” he said with a smile, “I’ll give you the good news.” Pulling the pictures up on his computer he explained to Katy and me: “The pressure x-rays show that your ankle is stable and that you will need no surgery.”  That placed a whole new gratefulness-dimension for the painful endurance.

When Katy and I left the ER that evening I had a fiberglass cast from the tips of my toes to my knee, in a wheelchair with guidelines of non-weight bearing on my right foot for six weeks. Katy changed her New Year’s Eve plans, got me settled and stayed overnight. Generous care and comfort!

When professor son, Roger received Katy’s email, fortunately on college winter break, he made plans to leave early the next morning—New Year’s Day, 2023, for the nine-hour drive, relieving Katy. He rearranged furniture to accommodate the wheelchair and coached me on understanding the wheelchair wheel-locks and transferring safely to other chairs, techniques that he had gathered from years of assisting their young daughter who was in wheelchairs for several years. He put rubber covers over doorways so I could easily wheel over them.  While I was learning how to maneuver through narrow doorways, my knuckles paid the price. Katy bought me leather biker gloves to protect my arthritic hands. Since then, my driving has improved dramatically. I’ve learned how to make advantageous 3-point turns.

It was such a treat to have time to talk with Roger.  We primarily discuss philosophy and theology--I always have lots of questions.  We discuss books and have writing in common. Roger’s wheelchair-coaching and preparation of my home for ease in wheeling has been extraordinary. Additionally, Elaine, his wife, who is a Home Health PT in Ky coached me by phone-facetime with exercises and other PT related matters. Indeed, a positive. I had to laugh when she coyly said, “Ruth, I know you are a McRoberts, but when I say 10 reps, I don’t mean 20. My sibs and I are avid over-achievers.

Son, David flew in the day before Roger left giving them time to make more improvements and build a ramp into the garage.  G-daughter Laura and husband Kurt brought and prepared a family dinner for a joyful mini-family reunion. Seeing and reading to the great grands was also a special treat.

David helped me in many ways.  We, too, had constant conversation, but on the subject of maintenance of my cell phone.  As a cell phone rep, he has a reservoir of knowledge. He also can fix many things. He built a longer ramp to accommodate driveway wheelchair-transfer for appointments.  I was fortunate that he could get off work for a week. Before David left, Kay was back in town to take over. I’m a blessed and grateful mom.

I’m sharing my story to encourage others who have had and may currently be experiencing setbacks, mishaps and disruptions. Other synonyms are detours, distractions, bumps in the road, diversions, calamities, catastrophes or dead ends. Ironically, my broken ankle occurred before I was to lead a ladies’ study series beginning the first week in January on the Joys of Interruptions. Often, but not always, insignificant or even significant interruptions result in personal strengthening, improved relationships, new directions or become opportunities to help others that bring joy.

Being willing to adjust to situations that are new or distasteful requires humility which is actually total trust in the Lord.  I have thought many times in the last few days about how Jim generally contended with car trouble, mowers that wouldn’t start, or church problems. Some of you may remember the blog “How ‘Bout That” describing how he’d chuckle quietly and commence without complaints and begin to solve the problem. His nonchalant attitude toward physical and people problems influenced me to relax first, then work on solutions.

Many years ago, when I was stopped in my emotional tracks, I admitted to the Lord that I didn’t like what had been said to me, but asked Him to give me wisdom, understanding and patience as I adjust to what was said to me and to treat her kindly and respectfully without accusations or gossip. Then I added to my prayer request to help me realize at least ten positive results. I apply that to any surprise situation today. Following are just a few of the positives resulting from the interruption of a broken ankle:

Access to stellar emergency medical care and getting acquainted with the friendly ER medical team-- heartwarmingly astounding, including the pressure-x-ray surgeon.  Having special time with Katy—precious, and her organizing all the stuff I would need in easy reach in my brand-new dependence. Treats, meals, including casseroles for the freezer from church and aquatics friends were marvelous provisions, and their visit--encouraging. Emails, texts, cards, phone calls with assured prayer support-- continues to be uplifting. Grandson, Kurt, my voluntary blog manager who you already know, remotely copied files from my desk computer to my laptop since my small office is not wheelchair-accessible--a huge provision. Canceled counseling sessions for a week but resumed the second week--a deep joy. The length of visiting-time with Roger and David and watching sports on TV with them--a treat; observing them working on a project together--a mother’s special joy and blessing.

For me, the most helpful attitudes and needs in adjusting to interruptions are wisdom, understanding and patience. God looks at our physical, emotional and spiritual reserves and makes sure that they are adequate; He fills in our needs and lacks as the following verses indicate.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like Eagles.

They will run and not grow weary; They will walk and not be faint. Isa. 40:31 (NIV)

I will instruct and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you. Ps. 32:8

Phil 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”  II Cor. 12:9 (NKJV) –The Lord to Paul: And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the Power of Christ may rest upon me.”