My sister is not exactly a health nut but she does like to be fit. She is also the adventurous type who loves to try new experiences. A couple of years ago, she went to Costa Rica for a week long surfing course. She loved it and decided to spend her winter break from teaching a New Orleans University to return to Costa Rica with a friend who wanted to practice Yoga while my sister was stoked to grab a stick (surfboard) and hang ten.
Obviously, the resort is gorgeous, in the rain forest yet near the ocean where the waves break for kooks (novice) like my sister. There was also more to do than surfing and yoga. Swimming or lounging by the pool, mountain biking, and walks along the beach were part all of their plan for much needed r&r. In fact, my sister was anxious to check out the beach the night she arrived but was kindly but firmly told this was not possible as corral snakes and other lethal creatures call the shore their own at night. Early in her vacation, they rented mountain bikes and my sister skidded on the gravel road, fall, scraping her hand badly enough to require stitches. But this was no deterrent as she came to ride waves not roads. With her hand well taped and protected, my sister grabbed a stick the next morning. She didn’t care about rippin’ it, she was just excited to be there and hope to ride the lip or curl of a wave for more than 2 seconds. And she did! She was up and riding high – then she was grubbing (wiped out). Having torn her (anterior cruciate ligament) acl while skiing many years ago, she knew the sound. Unfortunately, she heard a lot more than the pop of an acl as her knee twisted and turned against the current. But once out of the sea, and her knee well iced, she determined that it really wasn’t more than a bad twist. Her friend thought maybe her patella popped out and back into place. Their vacation was not a disaster. Then she woke up the next morning. Heading to a different clinic from where her hand was stitched, the doctor was certain her acl was damaged but uncertain of the extent of knee damage. Being in a remote village, there was no hospital with medical equipment such as xray or mri machines. Also, there was only one pair of crutches in town and the doctor had lost track of who had them. At least it was Central America where pain killers could be purchased as easily as a bag of M&Ms. When I first talked to my sister the other day, she had been cooped up in her room for the past day since it was difficult to walk, there was no elevator so going up and down the stairs appeared insurmountable without crutches. She had some books to read and her friend was bringing meals to their room. Obviously, this place had not met ADA standards. In my head, I’m thinking, “That’s ridiculous! Get out of that room and make the best of it!” Actually, her being my sister and not a client, I may have said just that. I wanted to urge her to stop feeling sorry for herself, blaming herself, and at a total loss of how to take control of her situation. The last was most disturbing as my sister likes to control every situation. As a coach, I know that when we are in a low mood, we can’t think clearly and process logically. When we feel better mentally, our minds can work through challenges with purpose. But this is my sister and it pained me that she was not making the best of her horrible situation. We talked about how she would get through the rest of her vacation. She feared the stairs, the pain excruciating pain if she did something wrong, and the guilt of putting her friend or anyone out at the hotel. Totally understandable. But she was in one of her favorite places and I couldn’t bear to think of her spending it in bed. Besides, laying in bed made all the upcoming scenarios terrifying – getting to the airport, climbing the portable stairs to the plane, and getting up the steps and into her house once she finally got home late Sunday night. She had no brace, no crutches, no one to help her once she got to the airport in Costa Rica. Okay, if the beach was out, perhaps she could at least make it to the pool. She said the resort staff has been wonderful and I suggested she ask their help to get her downstairs. Also, having experienced acl reconstruction myself, I knew that it was important to use the injured leg as much as possible or the recovery would be that much harder as muscles atrophy quickly. As we spoke, there was a knock on her door and she had to call me back. As it turned out, the physical therapist and yoga instructor had arrived to help her. The yoga master gave her oils to heat the injured area and performed reiki which made her knee feel warm and soothed. The physical therapist said she would help her figure out how to get to the pool and see what she might be able to do at the
pool. Last night, I talked to her and she had spent the day at the pool and sounded much better. One staff member had carried her down the stairs, another carried her to the restroom by the pool, and a third had brought her back to her room. Her plans for her last day, today, was to read and nap by the pool. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to spend a vacation if the beach is inaccessible (minus a blown out knee). Of course, there are many obstacles to overcome. Getting home will be manageable as there will be wheelchairs available and the airline staff will have to take care of her and make certain she gets her connections. Being new to New Orleans, my sister has yet to even find an internist so I suggested she go to an urgent care and they can get the process started towards healing. At the very least, they can give her a pair of crutches! I have done some researched and sent her names of top surgeons specializing in knee reconstruction. We both know physical therapy will be arduous but not insurmountable. Lecturing college students will have its own set of challenges not to mention that there is no telling when surgery will be performed. But she will heal. And she will have renewed respect for those who manage their disabilities daily. No one can anticipate when an accident will occur or wants to be injured or ill. But sh*t happens. It is important to find your way beyond the guilt, self-pity, and feelings of hopelessness. For only then will the mind be clear to solve any problems that develop and life will become manageable. From there, life becomes joyful with purpose and any dreams can be achieved.
For more on surfing lingo, check out: http://www.thesurfingsite.com/Surf-Slang.html