On a lake trip with friends, I hurt my foot in a bad way. I jumped into a river from a height and landed gracefully on a rock with the ball of my foot. It swelled to be almost twice its size and was grossly purple. My friend the army medic looked at it and let out a low whistle. “It’s broken, all right.”
“I’m too old for this nonsense,” I muttered to him.
“Too old!” he laughed. “We are never too old!” We managed to finish the lake trip and get back despite the broken foot.
I didn’t think about his jovial proclamation on the plane ride back to Denver. Thoughts of panic flew around my mind instead. Look before you leap, they say, well I did and there was still a rock there nobody saw. This means I won’t be able to help my kids with getting around because I can’t drive. My work is up two flights of stairs and has no elevator, how on Earth am I going to work? Foot injuries take forever to heal, and I have no one to blame but myself.
These angry and anxious thoughts did not help with the radiating pain in my foot. At the urgent care, the nurse whistled the same way my friend did when he saw my foot. “You really broke it!” he said and prepared me for the x-rays.
The results of the x-ray astonished the doctor. I was x-rayed again. And evaluated again. After all this, they finally concluded that my foot wasn’t broken. Not even a hairline fracture. It looked very bad but in the end, I was diagnosed with a deep contusion and sent home. No surgery. No cast. No broken foot!
It turns out having a bum foot wasn’t bad for me. It was my left foot, so I could drive with my boot. Instead of crutches, I got a scooter that made it fun to play with my kids. I did crawl up the stairs at work for a few weeks, however, it was more entertaining than degrading. I re-told the story of how I hurt my foot over and over to delighted listeners. “You got that scooter by being awesome!” one person remarked.
Don’t get me wrong, it hurt a lot. It took nearly a year to heal. There were days when I despaired because every step with that foot hurt months after I returned the boot and the scooter. Slowly, slowly, the pain finally went away. The whole time I thought about how everyone thought I had broken it, surely, totally broken my foot, but it wasn’t broken. Maybe things aren’t always what we think they are. Maybe the pain we go through doesn’t end our lives as much as it changes it. Maybe, as my friend said, we are never too old: never too old to get hurt, never too old to adapt to it, and never too old to heal from it.