Accidental Empathy

My injured ankle.

My injured ankle.

I sprained my ankle eight days and seven hours ago. And it’s been a looong two hundred hours. The byproduct of this has been immediate empathy for the handicapped who are stuck in a wheelchair. It also shined a light on the many things I have to be thankful for. Friends came over to bring me dinner and share boxed wine. My husband even helped dress me for a wedding. My newly adopted shelter cat, Elmo, won’t leave my side.

Elmo napping

Elmo napping

I admit not being able to put any pressure at all on my right ankle has been a hard, swift blow to my stubborn independence. I was laid off a month ago and the only contribution I could make was to take care of all the cooking and cleaning. Now I can’t even do that. I suppose the upside is that being unemployed means I have the option to spend all day with my ankle bound and elevated. But it’s isolating. For someone who likes to hit the gym and go out with friends at night, having to wait another 2 to 5 weeks for the torn ligaments to heal is torture. But I am a writer, so I guess I should use this time to write, though truthfully it can be hard to find inspiration and motivation.

I hate walking in crutches, so I mostly crawl around on the floor supplemented by volleyball knee pads. But what if I couldn’t even do that? Being on crutches and going out to just a few places has opened my eyes. If I gain nothing from this injury, I have gotten just a small glimpse of the monumental struggle people with physical handicaps deal with every day and they are braver and stronger than people know.

It’s amazing how I’ve stood in lines for the bathroom and no one ONCE bothered to ask if I’d like to go first. My armpits were numb, my left foot was cramping under pressure, and no one offered to let me go to the top of the line. And even when I had to ask several times for people to move out of my way in a crowd for me to go through on my crutches, they would give me dirty looks like I was the inconsiderate one. No one offers to open doors. Is this how handicapped people are treated? Like they don’t exist? We should be ashamed of ourselves. Please offer to carry groceries, help someone cross the street or get on the bus. Get off your damn smartphones and look around. There are people all around you that need just a little help and we’re too self-absorbed to see it.

3 responses to “Accidental Empathy

  1. I can appreciate this! I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with a sprained ankle. I’ve been dealing with using a cane and wearing a brace due to a knee injury since mid July, but my experience with others has been the opposite. People have gone out of their way to be helpful and accommodating when I’m using the cane. The only difference I can figure here is our age. Perhaps people are nicer because I’m the much-older lady with the cane? But then, that shouldn’t be right; an injury is an injury and anyone struggling with such should be given extra consideration. Your post is a good reminder of that! Best wishes for your quick recovery!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember you posting that and I thought, wow, this sounds like a big bother. And now I know it is!
      I think you’re on to something with the age – even at 35 I’m thinking, “These darn 21-year-olds, they have no respect for their elders!” I don’t get it. But I’m glad I’ll up and walking again in probably a week!


  2. Pingback: Suggestion Saturday: September 12, 2015 | On The Other Hand·

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