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Small incident, big consequences

POSTED: July 27, 2011 4:00 a.m.

"For the want of a nail, a shoe was lost ... all the way to a big battle loss, and all for the loss of a two-penny nail."

I don't remember the exact context of this old story, but I certainly understand the point: A seemingly small incident can have long-lasting results.

That has indeed been the story of my summer. When I decided on June 10 to run over to the outlet mall and buy a pair of summer shoes, of course I did not plan to fall on the sidewalk and bang my left knee.

Even when I was taken to the doctor, had X-rays, learned that I had sprained ligaments, was relegated to wheelchair and walker, scheduled for home health therapy, managed to find a part-time caretaker, and revised my calendar ­- even then, I felt that it was a very temporary situation.

Family and friends rallied round; I was showered with food, cards, calls, visits, flowers, prayers - all sorts of expressions of concern. I deeply appreciate every one. And I worked hard at restoring mobility; therapists and I prided ourselves on step-by-step progress. Although far from being independent, I steadily became able to do many things for myself.

My analysis, however, continued to be: "But I can't seem to walk with my walker as well as I should be doing by now."

So, after four weeks, a return trip to the doctor and to the imaging center for in-depth X-rays revealed that what had been an indiscernible hairline fracture had widened into a real fracture of the tibia, resulting in a prescription for an "immobilizer" on left leg and orders for zero weight-bearing pressure. All that exercise had had the opposite result of our intentions, and I became really confined for at least another month.

So far, I remain at home with the same caretaking situation, but I have been investigating the possibility of spending time in a nursing home. After all, there will necessarily be a period of rehabilitation following all this loss of mobility. I am still extremely grateful for all the kindnesses I have received and that has been offered.

I apologize for such a personal column, but it is my best way of explaining absence of columns and for expressing my sincere gratitude.

There are some general observations and lessons to be learned, however, not only for me but for all of us. We should be aware of the possible effects of small actions, incidents, reactions - both positive and negative.

For example, my granddaughter (who was with me when I fell) was greatly impressed by the number of people who rushed to our aid and continued to stay and be helpful until my son arrived and I was on my way to the doctor. And I am certain that I will be more cognizant and thoughtful of those who need specific assistance, particularly in long-term situations.

Another lesson involves learning to cope, to adjust, to make the best of undesirable situations.

At my ripe old age, I've repeated this lesson many times, but it is important for people of all ages. Plans often go awry, unexpected events cause changes, disappointments occur - and often these situations are not caused by one's own actions or are completely beyond one's control. It can be something big like a tornado, fire, illness, death - or something fairly insignificant but important to the one involved.

Regardless, one must face reality and learn to live with it in the best possible manner. Christians rely on God, many people have a good support system, and most of us eventually fall back on the "Serenity prayer" to be granted the ability to accept what cannot be changed or to change what can be, and the wisdom to know the difference.

As usual, thanks for letting me share these thoughts.


Helen Taylor's column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.

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