This blog comes out of a conversation I had yesterday about an experience and imagery I referenced.
The image of resetting a bone.
I wrote my first blog a year and a half ago about an experience of medical violence.
I’d had three ankle reconstruction surgeries in eleven months,
and over a year of physical therapy.
Three mornings a week I would go to physical therapy on my way to work.
Three mornings a week I would drive a mile down the road to the cemetery
where my uncle, grandmother, grandfather and dad are buried.
Once I could drive, I would park next to the fountain and watch the geese.
In that surrounding of pain and rebuilding, I would write.
Imagery often comes out of our surroundings as we interpret our experiences,
and during that year my imagery came out of two places — doctors offices and that cemetery.
Stored in my mind’s eye is my body’s retelling of the physical, intrusive work of resetting bones.
The hands involved.
The procedures involved.
The conversations involved.
The decisions involved.
The trauma involved.
The slow ways breathing comes back
against the panorama of muscle tissue atrophied.
Signals passed between my brain and my toes,
asking them to learn
how to curl,
pick up a marble,
and carry it to a container on the floor.
Familiarity builds faster than trust can between therapists and patients,
and substitutes consent or safety.
You meet industries of networks of people by chance.
To reset is to start again, or differently.
Clocks are reset.
Timers, recordings, exercise sequences, tests, calendars, electronics, songs, periods of instruction.
Things are returned to zero, and transition is signaled.
Resetting a bone is different.
For starters, it hurts.
It implies that something has gone wrong, is misaligned.
Something is impeding the body from healing itself.
There is a step before repair, and it’s called a consult.
Maybe equipment is needed.
There is a step between repair and healing, and it’s called immobilization.
Immobilization — the way that bones are held in place — is when the bone resets.
After it’s been manipulated, something holds it together.
The process of resetting a bone is called a fracture reduction.
Something out of the body must physically hold fractured parts together
until they can hold themselves.
Only then does new bone grow.
Between the broken bone edges new bone will have a chance to grow.
Integrity for a bone is new bone now attached to those edges.
Two and a half year ago, I injured my ankle badly enough that it needed to be reconstructed.
Four torn ligaments.
Later, nerve damage.
Whole sections of nerves I couldn’t feel or move.
Cemented scar tissue mimicking immobilization,
unable to let the resetting and the reintegrating cooccur.
Exasperated me pleading with toes I can’t feel because I miss running.
Ligaments help to restrict the motion of the ankle joint.
Immobilization restricts everything because alignment takes time.
Ligaments aren’t reset the same way bones are, and yet they are included.
It’s difficult to isolate two things that need different things to heal when they’re attached.
More so when one needs time to reattach.
Ligaments must be attached tightly to bones and tendons for an ankle to function.
Ligaments are their own network.
Strengthened and weakened.
Stabilized and destabilized.
Attached and detached.
Restricted or constant movement.
Muscular pulses that connect and point out problems,
halted by the slightest act of disconnection.
Two realities — connective tissue detached from bone.
Two problems — torn tissue prevented from healing mobility.
Integrity coming out of choices of prioritization.
Between by right knee and my right ankle, I have over six incisions.
Roughly 14 inches in length all together.
Skilled hands and equipment have sought to align and stabilize my injuries.
Disciplines of activity and inactivity revealed that resetting is not restarting.
It’s not simply changed orientation either.
Resets can bring changed relationships to connection and attachment.
Resets can impede what used to come easily.
Resets can shrink what can be corrected.
And, they are where barriers to healing are added and removed,
sometimes over and over and over again.
The questions that grip me still are the ones that gripped me then —
Do I know enough?
Can I trust you?
Do I trust myself?
Am I prioritizing the right things?
What am I choosing?
This week like most weeks now has led me to ask these questions to stabilize and destabilize myself.
As I consider three friends whose moms died yesterday.
As I consider how many choices between unsafety and unsafety exist.
As I consider how far we are from taking white supremacy seriously.
As I consider what a day of honoring mothers means and doesn’t mean to all of us or to none of us.
As I speak Ahmaud Arbery’s name and proclaim that Black lives matter.
As I imagine voting between two known rapists as presidential candidates.
As I imagine having a world that is inhabitable in ten years.
As I imagine white women being accountable to communities of color.
As I imagine what an afterrevolution world needs us to have created and taught each other.
Today I facilitated two virtual workshops for children and youth that centered the reality of white supremacy in our responses to COVID 19.
I asked them to consider if we need to reset a bone — in our hearts, in our bodies, in our relationships, in our worldviews, in our actions and understandings of justice.
I asked them, because I spent a year in a cemetery and in doctor’s offices where I said yes before I was ready.
Where I didn’t yet know how much of my experience, and my support system was violent and bad for me.
Where words like healing and too much were expressed by my doctors.
Where words like consent and have to were used interchangeably.
Where frozen and immobilized still had to be uncoupled in my cells.
Where aligning could be my image of integrated.
Not like starting over,
or starting from zero,
or starting again,
or starting differently.
I asked because questions
are how we start to interpret,
and reinterpret ourselves,
and then each other,
and then our world.
Can we reset?