The Art of Injury

I have great looking bones. Well, leg bones anyway. And I know that because the orthopedist wanted x-rays of the back of my knees last Friday when I went to see him. And I went to see him because I was sure I’d blown my knee out on Monday.

All this drama began when we were excused for lunch at a continuing ed seminar down in Van Nuys. I simply twisted in my seat to get up, heard a loud pop and felt the kind of stabbing pain that makes your ears ring and your vision dim.  With great difficulty I attempted to stand up, but was completely unable to bear weight or walk on my left leg. I flopped back into my seat stunned. Fortunately, my therapist friend Andrea was with me. We addressed the most pressing issues of the moment…she fetched lunch, and discerned that the hotel had a wheelchair I could use if necessary.

For those of you who are required to take continuing ed classes to keep a license current, you will understand these next few sentences. Sitting through hours of these classes can be a major act of endurance, but I was really enjoying this seminar on writing as a therapeutic tool. And there was no way I was going to waste $159 and forfeit six continuing ed hours by going home midday. Or have Andrea suffer the same loss because we’d commuted together. I wasn’t that uncomfortable.

But by midafternoon the wheelchair was abundantly necessary for a trek to the restroom. Ordinarily, I’m pretty modest about public bathroom excursions, but modesty wasn’t really an option under the circumstances. I’d recently shared a room with a good friend during a retreat who said if I needed to use the bathroom while she was showering to come on in. She was the oldest of ten and as she said, “I grew up sharing one bathroom knowing my body was not my own.” That sage comment came to me as Andrea helped me navigate this most excruciating, physically painful part of the day. I felt contentedly humbled without feeling humiliated.

By the time Andrea delivered me home I was able to walk with assistance. Earliest appointment to see the orthopedist was Friday afternoon. As the week progressed, my leg felt better and better eventhough I continued carefully up and down stairs, steps and curbs. I walked half-speed which pleased my husband. And for the first time I was not able to climb on chairs or ladders to hang art at church. With a new installation planned for Saturday, I was grateful for those who could help me when I couldn’t manage myself.

Those great pictures of my bones suggest that I probably have a small tear in the meniscus of my left knee. With time my knee should recover. I’m beginning to walk more normally, no more limping, but my left leg in general feels irritable and grumpy. My out-of-sorts leg needs more time to fully recover; to integrate the impact of an injury into its general state of being. My leg has invited mindfulness. In my eagerness to return to a fast paced schedule, I needed to be reminded and mindful that healing often takes longer than any of us, particularly me, might want. I am being mindful of slowing down, altering my pace, and giving my body to opportunity to integrate this shock to its system. 

The sweet scar that remains from my torn meniscus is learning the art of injury – the ability to be contentedly humbled without being humiliated, the pleasure of accepting help when self-sufficiency no longer prevails, and the obedience of honoring the mindful nature of my body’s deisre to heal… leisurely.

Have you ever experienced an injury or illness that invited mindfulness? What were the “sweet scars” or lessons you learned? The picture above looks somewhat like the hot stabbing pain I felt shoot up and down my leg. If you were to draw a picture of your pain, what would it look like?

I’m looking forward to your comments about the art of injury.


7 comments to The Art of Injury

  • Barbara

    Beautiful thoughts.

    I had an arthroscopic surgery on the miniscus of my left knee. It has been very successful. I understood that it doesn’t repair itself – but you may be able to live with it. The
    doctor said a tear can happen very easily.

    Hope you have the best possible outcome.

  • Deanna J Bowling

    During all of the years that I have lived with my housemate (18-1/2), we have never had a “bona fide” gardener living in the house. The house I live in is placed on an almost double sized lot, and it is fun to have some color in the backyard, etc. But, soil that is beneficial for pretty flowers, etc., is also beneficial for weeds, and more weeds, and – well – you probably get what I am saying.

    We have a very special guest staying with us for about a month, and were planning a BBQ for him and some of his local friends, for this last Sunday. The back yard has suffered from recent house painting, cement work, tree felling, etc., and just plain old lack of care. Saturday was the day we planned on to spif up the yard. It turned out to be a very warm day. I sometimes forget that I am not only 67 years old, but I also have fibromyalgia. So I pushed myself beyond reason, seeing myself unrealistically as some kind of wonder woman. Then Monday, I went in to the office to help put out our church newspaper.

    I am sore, both in my back and my knees. My mild sun burn is beginning to peel, and I am feeling so foolish. My discomfort is reminding me again that I have to remember to take care of myself – no, really.

    Love, hugs and prayers,


  • I broke my hips skiing and it shifted my hip and pelvis. You know how the hip bone is connected to the knee bone, the pain was felt throughout my skeletal system. It also felt like someone was pouring burning oil on me. If I we’re to paint it, it would show me in flames. It did put me through the fire of G-d and drew me closer than ever, praise God.
    bless you Lynne, I pray a healing over you. De

  • Barbara

    I am very self sufficient. I repeat: VERY Self-Sufficient. Stubbornly so. this is probably my worst character flaw as well as my best. I am stubborn about being self sufficient and will put on a happy face and do what needs to be done, regardless. I have a very hard time asking for or accepting help.

    Until I was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer six years ago. You can be stubborn, you can put on a happy face, but at some point along the way, you have to ask for and accept help. You have no choice.

    The chemo and surgeries were a piece of cake compared to this lesson. Maya Angelou says that God speaks to you in a whisper. If you don’t listen, He throws a rock. if you aren’t paying attention, next a brick, and before long the whole brick wall will fall on your head! He wanted me to learn to ask for and accept help.

    Guidance comes in strange ways. Lessons are there for us to learn if we listen. You received a gift in the form of learning humility and self-care.

    Let’s listen for the whispers–they are much easier to endure.

  • Deanna J Bowling

    Barbara – I fully understand. Oye!

  • I’ve had a couple of weeks of being reminded of the need to ask for help. As I was taking down the last piece of stage decorations for VBS (vacation bible school) I turned my ankle and tripped down the two small stage steps. It turned out to be not broken bones, but the bruising and swelling required me to lay off my usual running routine every morning. Only this week, have I been gingerly starting to jog a block here and there to see how it feels. Oddly enough, as I was jogging a short piece this morning a bug flew into my face and stung me by my right eye. By the end of the trek, I was favoring my right foot and could see the swelling on my right eye when I looked down.

    Asking for help is not my strong point. I like to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. If I were to paint these ‘injuries’ I’d place a large road sign saying SLOW and write around it, “…is not so bad after all.” with a turtle happily plodding around with a frantic rabbit running around the edge of the sign.

    Knowing that we are not alone in our plodding and experiences of humility, makes the process of healing easier to cope with.

  • Karen Fuller Mauro

    “The Art of Injury” provides me with a renewed appreciation for all my seemingly simple abilities I take for granted. Who would have thought that twisting in a chair so as to get out of it could incapacitate you as it did? May we all learn vicariously from your experience and be just as mindful of potential injury while getting up from a chair as we when lifting heavy objects, climbing up on things, or challenging our bodies in strenuous activities we call pleasure (i.e gardening, running, hiking, skiing..etc)

    Over the years, I’ve learned at a heartfelt level that the Lord always gives us the grace to assimilate every one of our injuries into our existing schemes so that our lives are living testimonies to his words and so that our experiences may bring glory to him.

    To me, “The Art of Inury” depicts the apostle Paul’s consolation in Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for those who are called according to his purpose”. In this piece of art I see the bright and warm colors shining through and dominating the dark and cool colors. If each one of our injuries was rated with a hue (on a “brightest to darkest” scale) I’m sure every person has beautiful piece of artwork such as the piece you display here. And all we need to do is ask the Lord for perspective and the eyes we need to see it.

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