I have been counting the days to a getaway trip to Italy with my family. However, the countdown has suddenly taken a different emotional tone. Instead of anticipation I’m feeling panic. Eleven days to go. Is it enough time?
The time I need is for recovery. What happened is a little mysterious. My left knee went out. An ache came on for a few days, which I tried to ignore like a mildly misbehaving child, and then kapow, the knee threw a full tantrum. Frozen, painful, couldn’t bend or take weight at the wrong angle without excruciating pain. It stopped me literally in my tracks. I sent my husband out for a cane, which I have never used in my life, just so I could move a few steps about the house. The pain got worse for a few days and now it seems to be getting better, slowly. As I do everything I can to speed healing of whatever is going on, stuff comes up.
It brings on disappointment, impatience, and worry. I try not to remind my bum knee too often that time is running out. When we made our plans we assumed everyone would be fully mobile. Having to walk up a hill to get to our lodging? No problem. Walking tours of old cities and villages and countryside hikes are what we like best on our vacations. The hotel my husband and I reserved for the Istanbul stopover is walking distance from all the tourist sites. I worry about putting a crimp in everybody else’s fun and plans, to say nothing of my own.
I’m not saying I won’t be able to walk when the time comes. It’s just that I don’t know yet and what if I can’t? A very young part of myself wants to cry and scream and kick (well not that) in frustration.
But I am not young. What does the (crippled) Crone have to say about all this? She tries to understand, looks for patterns and meaning.
While I don’t have a history of sudden, mysterious disability, my left knee does have a history. I’ve injured it twice. I banged the front of it in a fall on a cobbled sidewalk in Montpellier, France, in 2002. And I strained the back tendon 10 years later stepping up into a van to catch a flight to Congo.
Neither injury disabled me at the time as severely as this episode, in which my knee suddenly began hurting front and back. But is there a pattern here? Travel injuries. I’m about to take a trip. Knee wants to throw in a word of caution? Say my traveling days are numbered? It seems like the old injuries are resurfacing. Hopefully, they are working themselves out.
Things are working themselves out in my psyche, too. The impatience and worry are shifting to gratitude and surrender. I am grateful for every little improvement–today the front of the knee no longer hurts, only the back, and I am stepping a little more freely with the cane. I am letting go of all expectations and surrendering to the pace of a healing that I can assist but not control.
I am remembering helping a disabled friend on our trip to South Africa a year ago and my disability seems trivial, but on this trip I will become the helped instead of the helper if necessary. My husband is getting used to waiting on me hand and foot. That’s kind of nice for a little while. In the past I’ve been a little insulted if the driver of one of those airport carts, identifying me as an elder, has offered me a ride to the gate, but this time I’ll gladly accept the lift.
And I’m taking that cane along, even if I’m not needing it by the time we leave.