Getting the Boot in the Time of Corona

~ Or… Life in the Slow Lane…

I blog therefore I am…
I feel and I think and I write.
And for me this is a process of creativity, working things through and then letting them go…

My style is to write very honestly about how I feel and this is not always easy to write, or read for that matter. At times it feels as if I am literally riding the rollercoaster of life, with more devastating, screaming lows than highs, but when I get to the point to where I can write about what ever is going on for me, it’s because I’m at the point of working things through, assimilating them and moving on.

It’s a style I’ve unconsciously developed as a gateway to sanity – a junking and unloading of all my emotional crap, so I can learn, create and release.

By the medium of blogging, my inner life has become public property, being something I can both splurge and share. So it seems that many human experiences and emotions are common, and by sharing them, you can touch and teach others; or at the very least, let them know they are not alone, in their times of trial and triumph.

I put this out there not as some got together guru, but as a dreamy realist, who has worked on my own self development, and quickly discovered that I wanted to share the lessons I’d learnt. So on the road to learning and sharing, I became qualified and have worked as a Life, Career, Corporate, Performance and Development Coach. Whilst the labels have varied and the intended outcomes potentially differed, many of the processes employed with each client has fundamentally been the same: namely questioning and then working through issues, blockages and emotions to get to a new, desired state of being / doing.

Sometimes when I make painfully honest posts, the response I receive is a reaction to the pain, offers for help, or sympathy. And in truth, that annoys me. Such responses seem to undervalue the process I have clearly undergone and the positive place I have finally reached.

But then my coach-ly knowing has to assert itself and I realise that different people read things differently, and have their own filters through which they experience the world, or indeed my words. Fundamentally I have to accept that I may not have expressed myself in a way that touched those readers in the way that I intended. And that can be down to me or to them. Ultimately which, doesn’t matter. I’ve always felt that if something I have written touches or changes even one person’s psyche for the better, then it’s hit the mark, perfectly.

This particular post has been sowed and germinating in my brain for a few days, as the latest in my series of blogs on ‘Love in the Time of Corona’ – a chronicle of life in lockdown and beyond. Sometimes the posts are directly related to the effects of COVID-19 on my life and sometimes are purely circumstantial. Albeit, at this point in time, with lockdown slowly unwinding, the pandemic still is virtually all consuming on so many levels.

But the circumstance of this particular post is that I hurt my ankle 2 weeks ago, which changed my life changed subtly and dramatically, in a variety of ways.

The injury came about in what for me feels like a particularly familiar, clownish, fashion. I was leaving a friend’s house late one evening and crossed the road to my parked car. I stepped up to a narrow pavement, missed it and fell headlong, immediately knowing that I’d twisted my ankle. It hurt… a lot. I swore… a lot. And I cursed myself because I knew right there and then that I would not be able to run for a while.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts you will know that running has been my ‘thing’ during lockdown. I have hated and loved it; been challenged and stretched by it; and both retreated from and been attracted to it. But regardless of its multifarious roles in my life, it was my lockdown thing and suddenly it had been taken away from me.

In the moment it happened I was with another friend who I needed to take home, so I got in the car and drove. It was agony. I knew that that level of pain would not just evaporate quickly – inevitably the ankle would swell and bruise. The pain throbbed and ebbed. When I got home I read up treatments online. I iced, raised and rested. Still the next morning it hurt. But I decided that within days and continued care, it would be better soon. I would get on with my life and my hurt ankle would be a minor incident, soon forgotten.

So I quickly expended my efforts at care, strapped it up and limped on with my life. After a week when I decided to chance taking a long walk, it rewarded me with hurt. The bruises had finally come out and they were spectacular – a rainbow of dead blood shaded from delicate yellow, through grainy green, to dire purple. The swelling had not receded.

And then my back gave out. It decided to join with the ‘ouch party’ going on below – first trying to adjust and then giving up, and complaining loudly / painfully instead. Where I could at least stand before, now I would have to hobble and wobble until I got a grip of pain vs gravity, and was able to propel myself forward.

Clearly I was in pain, although that would ebb and flow. But it took me a while to realise that I was living with pain constantly, as a low level constant hum, just beyond my consciousness – yet ever present and poisonous.

The physical pain took a while to assert it self in that sense, because the mental pain was overshadowing it. I felt low, exhausted and stressed. I tried not to limp my way through life, but could not help myself.

Odd now, just days from this stage, I realise that I was cursing myself for doing something stupid and having to slow down. I felt I had self-sabotaged somehow, which will be an omni-present theme for someone like myself who has done any kind of ‘self-development’. So it was that I had a low grumbling blame game going on – criticising myself for doing nothing in those days, except survive. I worked, I rested and nothing else. But ‘nothing else’ in my world is actually a lot! I fed myself healthily, got myself to work, worked hard, kept the house to a basic level of cleanliness and tidiness, did the laundry, took care of my cats, engaged with my friends and kept my life going. All despite the pain I was barely acknowledging.

Been then I realised that the pain – either physical or mental was not going to just dissipate. It was still ever present and was bringing me down, on every level. I couldn’t go it alone any more and needed to get it properly checked. When I finally called my GP 8 days after the injury, he was disinclined to diagnose a fracture, since he said, I could put weight on my ankle. And remember that this was a COVID consultation, done by phone at a distance and without the benefit of seeing the level of bruising and swelling, which other experts in my life, said could mean that it was indeed fractured. But I explained this to him and the fact that it was still so painful. So, if you’ll pardon the pun, I stood my ground and asked him to make an appointment for an X-Ray.

By now the pain was ever present and now longer ‘humming’ quietly in the background. I had to wait 3 days to get an X-Ray. When the call finally came, I spent the best part of day at my local hospital, waiting for a definitive diagnosis, sat in socially spaced chairs, along with other injured and sick lone wolves, all of whom had to wait solo, because of Coronavirus risk and space and control.

Each stage took an age. X-ray. Wait. Referral. Wait. Triage. Wait. Examination. Wait. Consultant… Being talked about by the staff, though I was feet away from them. “Who’s dealing with Sandra Peachey? Has Ortho been called? Yes.” Right: So I’ll sit here then, moving through a well oiled system; apparently invisible, yet the object of discussion and action, though right now I’m actually inactive, yet listening.

Eventually I was acknowledged and actually talked to, by the Orthopaedic specialist. In fact he explained the X-ray to me, in very thorough detail. It turned out that I could bear weight because the X-ray showed my leg and foot bones were all whole and exactly where they should be. The pain and swelling was due to what even my untutored eyes could see, was a fractured ankle bone. Then we discussed treatment options and, being posed with questions, eventually I asserted an answer and so I got the boot. A Support Boot that is, to immobilise and protect my ankle whilst it completed the process of healing.

My Regal Ankle,
revered on its cushion,
& clad in a support boot

I had finally got an expert opinion. I had external validation of my situation. In reality, I knew from the minute I did it, that I hadn’t simply twisted my ankle. But instead, I followed old patterns, laboured on and ignored my intrinsic wisdom. I limped quietly about, until I had ‘real’ recognition of my situation. Finally, a medic had confirmed the source of my pain, and given me a range of solutions. But fundamentally, what happened next and how I handled this, was up to me.

So being armed with knowledge, my actions altered. I stopped and considered. I rested. I sat still for a change. I literally elevated my right foot to regal status – resting it royally on a plump cushion, cossetted and pompous, far above any other part of my body – day and night. There it drains and heals from within; and from without is externally receding from a rainbow bruise palette, to pale skinned normality.

After 5 straight days of rest and elevation, this morning I woke up full of energy and almost free of pain. This time of stillness has been boring and frustrating, but ultimately nurturing and restorative. My ankle is still stiff and sore, but the swelling is finally shrinking. It will still be a while before I can run again, but I can walk a little, swim and do yoga, and so work my way back to picking up the pace (in every way), again.

So apparently I needed a break and quite literally, got one! I had to be stopped in my tracks, to take stock and gauge what was truly important at that point in time. And of all the things in my life, it turned out that the road to recovery for me, was creativity.

My life had centred on many things, all of which led away from, not towards my inescapable need for creativity. So it was time to return to my writing. After months away from the pen, it always seemed easiest, with the few physical and mental resources I had left after work, to just binge watch TV, then go to bed. Then then start again and so the same, the next day. Even though, intrinsically I knew that creativity is fundamentally at the heart of me, and that my desire and destiny is to write. And not just that, but to use my writing to right… my issues, to share my soul and move me ever forward.

And the voice that told me to stop doing this was keeping me small, in order to keep me safe within defined parameters of routine and misery. But then I got that oh so clichéd wake up call, and picked up my ‘pen’: I went back to my fiction writing and spent a day lost in my own authorly world of voices, places and stories. These were not the whispered conspiracies of my stone-age brain, but conscious stories of creation and imagination, entertaining, occupying and completing me. And this creative process for me could never be complete without a blog to record those slow steps; to anchor the lessons, and ultimately share the experience.

Some may say that on some level I created this break, but that’s not how I interpret what has happened. Ultimately I know that my actions, combined with fate and circumstance, led to my ankle being fractured. But what I have created as a result, is a series of lessons: I must listen to myself deeply, knowing that at the core of me, I inevitably have the right answers. I know my body and having become a runner in recent history, I know what it is capable of.

I could and should give myself credit where it’s due, since I achieve a lot in my life; despite the fact that my self doubt often emotionally paralyse me; along with the fact that I’m chronically sensitive to how I perceive those around me, respond to me. As a result I spend far too much time and energy focussing on perceived criticisms, including those that I unintentionally inflict upon myself…

These lessons are not the end of this particular story. There are yet more, both in this, and for the future… some new, and many to be repeated and re-learnt.

But for now, I shall continue to revere my healing ankle, and elevate it to the status it deserves – high on its cushion; whilst my head and fingers work happily at making stories, blogs, tears, dramas, laughter and what ever springs from my creative core, into ‘more’.

And that more as it happens, is me.

Sandra Peachey
She of the Fractured Ankle and Creative, Optimistic, Spirit

PS: You can buy the paperback or Kindle edition of the book of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on Amazon or you can get an author signed copy on my website for just £7.99 including P&P.  You will also find the book on all good book selling websites around the world.

Featured on the BBC, as well as local and national media (including Psychologies Magazine and The Lady), the book was also honoured as a Finalist in the 2015 International Book Awards. 

Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ takes the best posts from this blog, adds new content and wraps it all together in a sweet bookish structure. 

If you want to get in touch, you can contact me by clicking here

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