Five Things I Learned from My Fifth Metatarsal Fracture
My relocation to the West Coast did not begin as planned. Instead, literally starting off on the wrong foot, less than ten minutes after getting off the plane and while still in the airport, I fractured the fifth metatarsal of my right foot. It’s been a long, two months plus of recovery, but I’m happy to say I’m walking on both feet once again, free of a cast, boot and crutches!
1.Accept and Ask For Help
As an independent person, doing nearly everything for myself is the norm. But in an instant, I was forced to use crutches, unable to bear any weight on one leg. Even knowing the situation is temporary and that it would end was devastating, as I realized it was no longer possible for me to do it all alone. Once I asked for help, my Ready Set Recover business partner’s mother drove me to doctor and acupuncture, acquaintances picked me up and took me to the beach and to lunch, and wonderful dog walkers took Dempsey, lifting my spirits with stories and photos from their adventures. Uber and Lyft drivers opened car doors and handed my crutches to me. At the exclusively buffet style meals while at Blue Spirit, bowls and plates were filled to my specifications, carried to the table, and cleared when I was finished. People are eager and happy to help, and it makes them feel good to do so, so accept and ask for help.
2. Slow Down
A lifelong New Yorker up until recently, I was the pedestrian annoyed when seemingly “trapped” behind a slow walker, or unable to pass two or three people walking side by side. You’d find me running to catch the elevator or subway to save a minute before the next one arrived. During recovery from my foot fracture, I became the slow one. Three times a day for two weeks in Costa Rica, I descended and ascended 60 steps, one at a time, down to the yoga studio, a ten minute practice in mindfulness. Slowing down enhances our awareness when getting from one place to the next. This appreciation of being in the moment ensured I never missed a show of the families of howler monkeys traveling to and fro, and snacking up in the trees.
After the injury, my first thoughts upon awakening were about what I could no longer do. Rationally, I knew the situation was temporary, and could have been far worse. But my negativity persisted as I focused on being unable to do basic things like walking while carrying a glass of water or taking out my dog, and frustration, anger and depression arose. Then I consciously chose gratitude practices and recognizing the simple things with which my life was filled, like supportive family and friends, being able to breathe, and wonderful teachings I'd received over the years. These gratitude practices helped me to get through the recovery, and I've continued, thankful that I can once again simply walk with both feet on the ground, carry my own belongings, and stand in the shower. I'm grateful to return to simple standing poses on my yoga mat, which feels monumental. A life filled with gratitude overwhelmingly reminds us of what we possess, rather than what we lack.
4.Be in the moment
When I got off the plane that day, I was only thinking about the future and all the things which needed to get done. Once I broke my foot, it was clear those to-dos would have to wait. There’s no other place to be than right now. We cannot force things to happen. While living in our head, identifying only with our thoughts, we are not in the moment, and anxiety, depression and fear often arise. Practices utilizing the breath, which is always present and in this very moment, were helpful during recovery.
After fracturing my foot, it was easy to think and to feel the injury was all consuming in my life. But each day, my body was healing, as I got closer to the end of the recovery and further away from the trauma. Nothing stays the same. Experiences change us, and although I’ve had my share of injuries, including a coccyx fracture, never one that immobilized me so completely. I have a new understanding and compassion for the limitations of others, and appreciation for what’s present in the moment.
I recently got the news that my fracture has fully healed! I have no restrictions and am slowly building up the length and pace of my walks. The flexibility and strength of the foot is still has a ways to go but I’m able to do more yoga poses each day. Thank you to my supportive family and friends who were so patient. Thank you to everyone at Blue Spirit who ensured my two week stay was as comfortable as possible. And to the students on retreat, I'm grateful. Being able to lead the retreats was healing and transformative as I returned to the joys of teaching.