Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Counting the Omer - Week Two

According to Rabbi Barenblat over at The Velveteen Rabbi, this is week two of Counting the Omer. She says that this week is dedicated to gevurah, which means boundary and strength. She asks many questions this week, to encourage us to think about the blessings which gevurah brings us. She mentions strength and boundaries, but also judgement, discernment, separation and connection, and discipline. Her post gives me so much to think about that it's difficult to figure out where to start, and what to write.

Boundaries are the sticking points I have right now. I am struggling to find ways to safely draw boundaries that hurt no one (myself included) and that help rather than hinder. Think of a fence, for instance, which can be seen as an item to block someone from entering... but can also serve to keep menacing cows out of happily growing grain. There are different sides, various shades, to every issue we come up against.

My own boundary issues come up in regards to anger, frustration, and depression. Admittedly, I have a lot on my plate right now: my minister's manual (a 'thesis' of sorts for seminary), homework, listening to the class I was unable to attend, church stuff, packing to move, grouchy roommates, scary and hairy dogs, a broken ankle, worries over financing for the new house, worries over how ordination will go, ordination itself, retreat, the cold/allergies that just won't go away and that have lingered for 6 weeks already... Yes, I have a lot to deal with. That is not an excuse for anything, though.

I let my own frustrations build up to an unhealthy point, and then I blew. I didn't set good boundaries for myself, or for others in my family. I can say I'm only human, and that'd be true, but I also have to work consistently to discover ways that allow me to "let go and let God" and to not hold onto the negative feelings over the various things going on in my life. In blowing up, I hurt Gray and I hurt sis, and in doing that, I hurt myself. That's where the depression came in.

Rather than turning things around and trying to make things better, I began to fall into a deep pit of despair. I spent several days crying. Had I shown a bit of strength, set a few reasonable boundaries, I might not have delved quite so deeply. In a way, my self-flagellation  was a method of pushing people away so that I couldn't be blamed for the things I had done wrong. People weren't willing to tell me to buck up because I was sobbing in a dark corner.

I'm lucky. I have family who care an awful lot about me, and forgive me when I do negative things. They give me the time and space (and boundaries) to repair the problems I have caused. They're willing to stick by me, even at my worst. With their help, I have restructured things. I have set boundaries that are much more reasonable.

One of the most important things I am doing right now, is not getting involved in counting coup. When the roommates annoy or anger me or anyone else, I do my utmost to take a step back. It's their issue, not mine, and I can no longer allow them to pull me into their own anger and frustration. It's not healthy. I think that's one of the best boundaries I've set so far. It has allowed me to smile in the face of adversity a few times already.

Friday, April 22, 2011


The term chesed is one I have been familiar with for a while, partly due to The New Seminary, but also partly due to the interim pastor who just left our church, Rev. Alison Jacobs. Her license plate reads CHESED, and she truly lives it. You might be wondering what chesed means; it means loving kindness, but not just the type of loving kindness we have for one another as human beings. It relates strongly to the boundless, infinite loving kindness shown to us by the Divine.

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, in her blog The Velveteen Rabbi, says,
This week I find myself asking: how can I be kinder and more loving? To those I meet -- to the people I know, and the people I don't know -- to those who agree with me, and even those who angrily disagree with me? How can I be kinder to myself -- how can I do the work of discerning what my heart and soul most need, and then kindly and graciously filling that need for myself? Can I feel, deep in my bones, that the universe is a kind and loving place for me to be? Can I extend lovingkindness to myself, and then once I am feeling whole and healed, extend it to those I meet?
 As always, Rabbi Rachel encourages us to look deep inside ourselves. I'm new to the idea of counting Omer, but I'm in a mental/emotional place where taking some time to count my blessings is a good idea. I need to focus on the positive, and this seems like such a wonderful way to do it!

My life is full of love and kindness. Here I am with a broken ankle, and while I'm moving much better now than I was before, sis still fetches and carries for me, and fusses over me to make sure I don't over extend myself. Gray is there to curb my burgeoning enthusiasm for movement, and to hug and hold me when I chafe at my limitations. The children have been awesome about getting me ice packs and bringing me their favorite toys to keep me happy and comforted. I am surrounded in a circle of chesed, unending. Even my own bad temper and inexplicably horrid behavior hasn't broken that circle, something which I am eternally grateful for.

It isn't so easy for me to love myself. Especially right now, I'm struggling with that horrid behavior, trying to find meaning in what I did so that I don't repeat my awful mistake. I'm finding it difficult to forgive myself, and even to accept forgiveness from those I've hurt. I want it, but I'm afraid that if I accept it, I will somehow become egotistical or will forget the bad parts in favor of the forgiveness. I need to find the ability to feel loving kindness toward myself, to allow myself to heal. I also have to express that loving kindness toward my family, who have supported me through all this, and been there even in my darkest moments.

Divine Powers, I pray to feel and accept the chesed expressed toward me, and to treat others with as much loving kindness as I can bear. Help me to find the balance between guilt and healing, so that I may move forward in service to all. Amen.

Monday, April 18, 2011

BL Pictures

Well, at least I'm out of the house, right? Our town has a brand new WalMart that just opened up, and sis was kind enough to take me out to it to get some groceries and generally get a bit of sanity back. It's not impossible, but is much more difficult to keep one's wits about them when one sees only four walls and a roof. I was starting to get cabin fever, and I was snapping and yelling and doing very inappropriate things. Getting out has helped immensely, and I feel more human now, more like I'm actually a member of the race instead of a disembodied broken ankle. So yeah, I rode around WalMart in the silly little electric cart... But you know what? I was able to do shopping. By myself. I actually went off to the pharmacy to get things for sis, while she and the kids went to get toys. How's that!

Speaking of disembodied legs, here's mine. If you click the image, it will get (much) larger, allowing you to see the fully glory of my bruises and swelling. You can see a lot of swelling around the toes there, and some interesting bruises (more on those with the picture below, which has labels and circles and such). As you can tell, I'm allowed to take the cast off now and then. I've been taking it off to ice the leg each night, which allows me to put the icepack directly on the spot where the break is, rather than just draping it over the cast and hoping it gets cool enough. It also allows me to air out the cast, which would get pretty funky if I didn't. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be stuck in a full plaster cast with no way to get it off and clean. Ick!

Okay here's the same pic with some labels. At the foot, I am questioning the amount (and location) of swelling. It gets huge right there, every night, but rarely during the day. What the heck is up with that? It's mostly just right there that I swell. As near as I can tell, the rest of the leg doesn't do a thing, including the break site. Go figure! The bruise along the bottom of the foot is the basic bruise that happens anytime you do anything to your ankle. Every time I've sprained it, it's been the same thing. The tiny circle at my ankle is where the actual break is. The larger circle at the very bottom is the confusing bruise that I don't understand because it isn't near the break nor has it hit anything because it's been encased in fiberglass.

So... that's my life lately. I have work to do on my minister's manual for school, and work to do on my book, but other than that things are fairly slow right this moment. Many people are telling me that's a good thing, as it means I can concentrate on healing.

Oh, there was ONE more thing. I got new shoe. Yes that's right, new shoe, not new shoeS, because I can only wear one. Well, I did get the other one but it's still in the box, and will stay there for at least six weeks, until the doc says I can wear shoes again instead of the aircast. It's a good, sturdy shoe, leather upper, non-skid rubber sole, and somewhat stylish. it's much better than the black tennis shoe I've been wearing for the last two weeks... It's very comfortable, and even better than comfortable, it makes my legs the same length! This means I can both crutch easier, and even hobble a few steps without crutches. Yay shoe!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Still Broken...

...but getting better. I took advantage of my permissions and had my foot out of the cast for about 20 minutes this afternoon. It was a marvelous feeling, just having air touch it. It also felt odd. It's amazing the difference in calf size and leg definition, just from one week! As you can see, I come with my own Easter dye now... My legs do have some pretty intense colors now. The pic is a bit blurry, but there's quite a bit of swelling around the toes, too, and the bottom of my foot (the pad under the toes) is all puffy as well. The bruising extends up my leg almost to my knee, with some darker spots near the actual break point. It's kind of neat; the colors move around a lot depending on what position my leg is in. It's rather psychedelic, and I'm sure in my younger, less responsible days I'd have enjoyed watching it for hours on end...

This stripe is quite festive. It's a nice royal blue mixed with some purplish red, and extends down the back of my leg and around onto the side of my heel, as you can see here. It's actually pretty impressive. I can totally understand some of the pluses of having a plaster cast. You can't take it off and freak yourself out by looking at it, as it goes through all the multiple colors and hues of healing. But... it IS healing, and that's what counts. I'm just glad to be able to wash the leg and foot now. It's a very wonderful thing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Four to Six Weeks... and counting.

This is the picture of my break that they took last Monday, the day after it was done. You can clearly see the spiral fracture in the fibula.

And here it is today. The fragments are all held together nicely, and the OS says that at this point they're probably healing up well. The first thing that forms is a kind of jelly or cartelidge which doesn't show up on the xrays so we don't see it here, but he seems to feel it's doing exceptionally well.

The news right now is I can bear weight as tolerated. This means that I can take steps so long as I have no pain. If it hurts, don't do it. I can stand, at this point, once I get my balance. This makes brushing my teeth much easier. I did take a few steps today but it started to hurt pretty quick so I stopped. Still, it's something! I can also take the cast off for bathing purposes, and to let it air out in the evenings and let my foot move a bit. This means no more stinky foot!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dem's Da Breaks...

How long do you think it'll take for me to run out of "broken leg" jokes? LOL... So I'm laying in bed right now, icing my ankle, as you can see. The aircast lets me remove the top and strap the ice in there, to cool things down. I just had a wonderful, amazing, cleansing shower wherein I scrubbed my hair within an inch of its life, and scoured my skin until it glowed. I feel thoroughly better, except my ankle hurts. Still, my ankle hurts, a bit, and all I'm taking is tylenol and a single percocet at night. I think I'm doing pretty well, actually.

On Monday, I go back to see the OS, who will take more x-rays and tell me if anything has become displaced. He'll also tell me if I have to get a plaster cast, or if he's going to let me live out my broken leg scenario in the aircast (which is what I hope for... you can't "pop the lid" off a plaster cast). I've been an extremely good girl, keeping it above my heart for at least 22 out of every 24 hours. I'm drinking calcium fortified orange juice, per the doc and my friends at MyBrokenLeg. I'm being the model patient, because I want to walk down the aisle for my ordination, sans cast.

The leg itself isn't looking all that bad, considering. There's a nasty bruise that runs from the base of my heel to my mid-shin, but as you can see it isn't really nasty. Just kind of muddy brownish. I'm experiencing a neat thing called proprioception. That's when you can't tell where  your foot is or what angle it's at. Apparently it's common among those who break bones in their leg. I'll be lying here, and suddenly wonder if my leg is on the pillows or not. I can't actually tell! When I look, sure indeed, there it is propped up just as I left it. It doesn't FEEL that way though.

I have to tell you, showers feel magnificent now, in a way they never have before. After all the work and b.s. to get into it, I savor every second, despite the garbage back duct taped to my leg. The leg itself is starting to get a bit stinky, unfortunately. Gray wouldn't let me wash it even with a damp washcloth while the cast was off for sock changing. I'm going to ask the OS if I can do that, though. It sure would be nice to do, I'll tell you.

Tomorrow I'm going to church. It'll be strenuous, but I feel like the emotional and spiritual rewards will far surpass any physical exhaustion. I also have my confirmation class in the afternoon, and I'll see if I'm ready to do that.

Now I need to go work on a sermon for Palm Sunday's vespers service. I'm still going to preach it, yes I am!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring Colors

Some people like their spring colors in the flowers, but I had to go one better. I have mine with me all the time now! *snort*

Believe it or not, the swelling has gone down a lot. The colors aren't nearly as frightening as I thought they might be. Still, it looks pretty awful. I'm still taking the percocet, though I'm trying to eke it out a bit longer between pills.

I got washed today, brushed my teeth, even shampooed my hair. I made breakfast, too, with the help of a wheeled office chair. Now I'm back in bed, though, as I have been most of the day. I have to keep the foot up so the swelling will go down. It's not very exciting...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Welcome to my new view of the world. Pretty much this is what I will be seeing for the next six to twelve weeks.

On Sunday afternoon, I got out of church and went to visit friends of ours. We all decided to go look at our various plots of land. First we went to our new home and showed off what we could of it without a key, and then we went to their land. As we walked into the forest just a bit, to better see the gorgeous stream they have, I managed to turn my ankle. This was accompanied by a loud SNAP sound, and then I was hit with stomach churning pain. Things get a bit fuzzy after that. I recall saying, "I'm not going to throw up," several times, and screaming, and lots and lots of pain. Gray says the two guys acted as "living crutches for me" and helped me get to the car. I don't remember that part. I do remember the handfuls of snow on my bare leg, which made me yelp even louder. I remember being in the car, telling them I was fine while knowing damn well I was not fine.

They took me to the ER, where I had x-rays taken and confirmed the worst: I had broken my ankle. Not only had I broken my ankle, it was a spiral fracture.  This means that the bone was twisted, like you'd wring out a towel. Seeing the x-ray wasn't pretty, but it kind of made it real. I was in a lot of pain, and I wasn't entirely coherent during most of it. They put a fiberglass splint on it and told me to go home. I was to call the ortho surgeon in the morning.

Going home, I felt pretty good. I thought, gee, I can handle this! Of course, I was flying high on percocet and endorphins. I went to bed at 10pm, a full hour before I was due for my next pain pill, figuring I was just fine. I woke at 1am in pain, took my pill like a good girl, and would have tossed and turned except that I couldn't because my leg was all plastered up and propped on a pillow.

I took my percocet properly that morning, knowing full well they would be manipulating my foot later in the day. I was not going to be without pain medication for that! I got an appointment at 1:30pm, and after dropping the kids off, we went in. The first words out of the surgeon's mouth was, "Operation." I didn't want anything to do with it. I hate operations in general, and in the middle of a house move from a toxic situation, while suffering from a nasty virus, is NOT the right time for one. We talked about it, and he agreed that he would try a stress test x-ray on my foot to be certain the surgery was or was not needed. He warned me that it was going to hurt, though. I was prepared. After all, a positive result from the x-ray and test would mean no IVs, no cutting, no staples, no possibility of infection... hell yes, I was prepared.

The test did not actually hurt, although the other x-rays did. I am lucky - my fracture, while bad, is well aligned. I do not need an operation. This is the one thing I am trying my best to keep in mind as I slowly go crazy laying in bed. No one is cutting me open, so it is not That Bad. They decided to put me into an "aircast" which is a removable cast that does up with wide velcro straps and has air bladders inside that get pumped up to make you secure and comfortable. It's not entirely comfortable, but I would imagine it's more comfy than a plaster cast, and I know for sure it weighs a lot less (even though this thing feels as if it weighs a ton). I have a very long surgical sock on under it, and then the cast goes over top. The little "lid" or front part comes off so I can ice the ankle underneath. The back part stays on to maintain stability of my leg and ankle.

Sis got me some beautiful flowers, gerber daisies I believe. They're so pretty, and they really brightened me up. It's tough just laying here doing nothing. This morning I thought I could manage with just tylenol, and I let my percocet wear off, and that was the Wrong Thing To Do. I won't do that again for a couple of days. The pain was overwhelming. On top of the ankle pain, which actually goes from around my toes to almost my knee, I have calf pain from the fall and thigh pain from hauling the weight of a damaged leg and cast around. My under-arms are raw from the crutches, and I have blisters forming on my palms.

Still... I am trying to count my blessings. I DON'T need surgery, and that's a big one. I didn't damage anything other than my ankle when I fell, which is just darn lucky considering I fell onto a forest floor full of rocks and sharp twigs and pricker bushes. I somehow managed to go flat into a pile of "just leaves" with nothing really sharp. My dress got a bit messed up but my skin is fine. I didn't break a wrist trying to stop my fall. I have family who love me and are doing everything in their power to make me feel good, and to take up the slack I've so suddenly left. The house was mostly packed for the move BEFORE I broke my ankle, and I don't think the remaining bits will be too much for the others to finish up. I have my internet, and old episodes of Bewitched to watch, and homework to do. I have classmates and church friends and pagan friends and Jewish friends praying for my swift recovery.

So... tough stuff, yes. I have a hard few weeks ahead of me, and many hurdles to make. But I'm a lucky woman, and I need to remember that, especially in the down moments.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My stole arrived!!


My stole arrived! I'm so incredibly excited by this! I'll post more about the meaning behind it soon, but I just had to show off. LOL...