Sunday, October 25, 2015

Keeping a positive attitude even in hard times

My two broken wrists have slowed me down temporarily, but I have so many reasons to be grateful.

Over Labor Day weekend, I was having a blast riding four-wheelers with the Mountain Man until I flew over the handlebars, somersaulted through the air, and crashed to the ground. I crushed both of my wrists. Eventually, I required surgery in both wrists to install permanent titanium plates and screws to repair my shattered bones. Now I am the bionic woman.

Sometimes bad things happen. That's life. What I've learned in the past seven weeks since my accident is the importance in keeping a positive attitude. It's vital in my healing process and in keeping my spirits up.

Since the beginning of the year, I've written in my gratitude journal. Every morning, I write at least three reasons to be grateful. For five weeks after the accident, I couldn't hold a pen. I couldn't write at all. That was devastating. I am a writer, a newspaper reporter, a storyteller, and a long-time journaler. Writing my thoughts is how I make sense of the world. Not only could I not hold a pen, but I couldn't type either.

Although I still have a cast on my left hand, now I can type with my right hand. My one-handed typing combined with voice recognition software has allowed me to start typing again--albeit very slowly, Even sweeter, I can grip a pen in my right hand for short periods of time. I'm writing in my gratitude journal again. Yes!

Here are some of my reasons I am grateful:

1. I am alive, and with physical therapy, I am improving daily. I could have been paralyzed or killed.

2. It's true that I've hung up my dragon boat paddle until spring and likely will not be recovered enough to ski this winter, but I'll be back. I am not going to let my accident stop me from having future adventures.

3. Seven weeks ago, I could not turn a door knob. Now I can twist a doorknob without pain. I am no longer trapped and can stay at home without a caretaker.

4. After the accident, I couldn't lift a coffee cup or glass. I had to lean over the cup on the table and drink with a straw. This morning I made my own coffee and lifted a ceramic mug to my lips. No more straws!

5. For a few weeks after the accident, I could not hold silverware. I had the table manners of a Neanderthal. This week I cut steak with my knife. Last night with the Mountain Man I ate sushi with chopsticks! I was messy, but I wasn't thrown out of the restaurant for spilling a little rice.

6. During the first week after the accident, both arms had casts that reached clear up my hands and allowed only an inch of fingertips free. In the bathroom, I had to tear off toilet paper with my teeth. Now although I still have a cast on my left hand, my right hand is in a removable splint. Now I am fully operational in the bathroom. Enough said!

7. For six weeks, I couldn't wash my hair myself, but had to rely on friends, my daughter and my mom to wash it in the sink. Last week, I washed my hair all by myself!

8. For the first several weeks, I didn't have the stamina to stand in the shower. Instead, my caregiver wrapped both my arms in plastic bags and I took baths, but I needed help turning the water on and off and pulling the plug. Since last week, I've been taking a shower. And I can turn the water on and off all by myself.

9. For about a month, I couldn't open or close a car door or buckle my seat belt. Now I can do those things. However, it will still be some weeks before I am cleared to drive. I miss driving.

10. For about a month, I needed help getting dressed. Now I can dress myself, but I am living in elastic-waist exercise pants and free-flowing hippie skirts with leggings. I still can't manipulate zippers or buttons. I am looking forward to wearing jeans again.

11. Until recently, I needed lots of help preparing meals, opening food containers, and washing the dishes. Now I am doing my own simple cooking and can even wash dishes--while wearing my plastic bag over my cast.

12. I am grateful for the long list of family, friends and co-workers who have pitched in to help me through these weeks of healing.

Tomorrow I begin my eighth week of being on short-term disability from work. I am hopeful that my doctor will clear me to return to work soon.

Each day is a gift to be cherished and lived to the fullest. I know that now more than ever. What would you write in your gratitude journal?

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