I’ve mentioned this before, but perhaps the biggest adjustment in switching from a nights-and-weekends work schedule to a Monday-thru-Friday, 9-to-5 schedule has been learning how to properly pace myself. Now that I’m actually available at the same hours that my friends are available, I tend to overcommit myself. I’m getting a little better at saying ‘no’ to things and people, but probably not good enough.
About two weeks ago I was reaching my emotional limit. On top of being angry about my cousin’s fate, I was stress out and overwhelmed with my to-do list and meeting load at work. I would come home and seemingly never have time to just sit and rest. There was always chores to be done, friends to see, plans to make and emotions to be felt. I found my head in a dark place more than once. If ever I really needed a break, now was the time, but I certainly couldn’t seem to find the time to take that break.
It almost seems like a cliche, but my body has found a way to force me to slow down. Twice.
First up was a 48-hour stomach bug that managed to stretch across a three-day period. Having not worked in a large office for the better part of a decade, my body was not ready for the mobs of germs that come from working around a lot of people. As dirty as the Modern Dogs are, working around them hasn’t done much to steel up my immune system. Unfortunately, the bug hit when I was buried under deadlines and projects at work and right before I was scheduled for a three-day work trip to New Jersey. That’s how it works, right? I spent two days at home and was fairly worthless at the office for a third day. I still made it to NJ, but spent much of my free time there trying to catch up with work and was dead by the time I got home.
Did I take time to rest after all that? Of course not.
I did start working through my to-do lists, both professional and personal, and one of the items on that list included a trip to the orthopedic doctor to get the pain in my lower left leg checked out. In my attempt two months ago to get back into a solid running routine, I may have overdone it a bit. I developed some pesky shin splints back in October and have spent the time since alternatively resting, icing, compressing and attempting again to run. The pain disappeared from my right leg but only grew worse and more persistent in my left leg. It was only searingly painful in the mornings or when I’d do something to jar it. The rest of the time it was just mildly annoying.
Without ordering an MRI, the doctor could only say it was either a stress fracture or something close to it. The only way to cure a lower-leg stress fracture or something close to it is rest. The only way to properly rest your lower leg is to keep your foot at a 90-degree angle to your leg, and the best way to keep your foot in a 90-degree angle is to put it in a walking boot. So for failure to correctly rest my injury from the get-go, I’ve been sentenced to a month in the walking boot.
Wearing the boot is a funny thing. It makes my injury look so much worse than it actually is. It’s eliciting so much sympathy and conversation from many of my co-workers, some of whom have never spoken to me before. It’s keeping me from getting out and doing the last of my Christmas shopping. It’s causing other parts of my body to hurt more than my actual lower leg. It’s forcing me to think out every move I make, every chore, every route, since all movement takes twice as long with it on. In short, it’s making me slow down.
Maybe the funniest thing of all is that my humor has significantly improved in the couple of days I’ve been wearing this darned thing. When I dropped off a pile of clothes at the dry cleaners this morning, I asked the guy at the counter how he was doing today. ‘Not as bad as you are,’ he said eyeing the boot. I smiled and told him it wasn’t as bad as it looked, but all I could think about though was how cloudy I was feeling two weeks ago and how much better I feel now. I’m not quite ready to say I’m grateful for the boot, but maybe the lining is a little tinted with silver.