At the very end of January of this year, I injured my knee. Anyone who was reading my blog at that time probably remembers the injury because I think I mentioned it in every single blog post all winter long. You might recall that it was a snowboarding injury. It was, in fact, quite possibly the most embarrassing sports injury in the history of sports. I got injured getting off the chair lift on the very first run of the season.
Anyhow, the doctor I saw, after my family and friends and a whole posse of bloggers hounded me to seek medical assistance, declared that I had stretched the medial collateral ligament and pinched the cartilage. He said that I might recover fully, but maybe not.
All February, the knee injury kept me awake at night, with the kind of throbbing pain that just encouraged me to lie awake and relive the tapes of all the worst moments of my life. This is not an activity I would recommend to anyone who values their sanity. In the daytime, I couldn't hike or snowshoe or ski or snowboard: I was reduced to walking like a very old person on the paths shoveled through the snowdrifts, hobbling along the icy sidewalks as carefully as I could.
At the beginning of March, I traveled with my injured knee to City in the South Where Pine Straw is Used as Mulch. Despite the limp, I walked one day in the spring sunshine all the way from my hotel to the botanical gardens, a journey that turned out to be much longer than I had expected. As I sat in the sunshine, looking at plants and a water fountain and scenes familiar because I'd seen them on a blog, I could feel the sun warming that stiff leg, healing it.
Later in March, I walked with my husband and daughter through two European Cities, climbing spiral staircases with difficulty and limping down quaint cobblestone streets, slipping past heavy wooden doors into cathedrals to light candles for a friend back in the states who was going through a difficult time. By May, the injury had healed enough for me to shovel dirt, push a wheelbarrow, and take on a landscaping project that included my planting a river birch on my front lawn. By late summer, I had decided that the injury had healed: I was kneeling in canoes, hiking with no difficulty, and walking everywhere I wanted to go. The injury I thought was over, a chapter in my life gone forever.
But in early October, on a weekend in the mountains with my women friends, I entered a labyrinth made of bricks and mulch. The labyrinth is a walking meditation; I was striding through all kinds of emotions, stepping through them, letting them go. When I reached the very middle of the labyrinth, feeling safe and calm and peaceful, I tried to sit down, cross-legged on the mulch. And that motion caused me a terrible jolt of pain. My right leg, the one I thought was completely healed, simply couldn't relax into the position. The muscles were too tight.
The injury had healed but I guess the pain had gotten me into the bad habit of not using my leg, of dragging it about like a phantom limb. The healing, I realized, was not finished. So every morning now, I sit on the floor and put the bottoms of my feet together and start stretching out those leg muscles.
I know it is going to take time. I am still relearning how to use the leg, how to shift the patterns of my life, how to work through the pain, how to stretch myself.