My hero, Andy
I've known Andy for years. He is always on crutches and I never thought much about it until I saw him on my first day off crutches.
We reconnected at a gathering of friends and I immediately began to tell him that I have a new appreciation for what he must face having to always be on crutches. He smiled and said he'd be glad to give me tips on using them, and his tips made a lot of sense.
I asked him more about his story, something I had never really taken the time to do in depth. He had polio in his mother's womb. She was Vietnamese and they apparently never had access to vaccinations in those days. He's never known anything but crutches.
I have been thinking a lot about how similar being on crutches is to healing from soul wounds or adjusting to changes in life. So here's my take on the stages of life-altering events...whether for a short or long time.
First you deny that you are hurt.
You realize you are hurt and feel angry about it.
You start using crutches, seen or unseen and find it very humiliating and even hurtful to your pride. (I honestly didn't think I had much pride, but wow - was I ever in for a surprise).
You have to ask for help. You become dependent on other people and that feels really yucky.
You start to feel down.
You still don't improve and you start staying home instead of going out because it's just too complicated and hope begins to dwindle.
You stop fighting. You become resigned to the fact that you are hurt and life is different. "Deal with it" you tell yourself. Learn to adjust.
You start getting used to being on crutches (in my case) and they start to become part of your day. This can be good and bad. You become a little more bold about asking for help and being very thankful when people offer to help. In fact, you know now that you need help. That’s even better!
You begin to realize that many people have had much worse to deal with and if they can 'do life' with a handicap and thrive, so can you, at least until you can get help.
You start to smile more again. You start to even think an unthinkable thought: "ya know, if I had to live this way the rest of my life, I probably could. I'd have a lot of attitude adjustment to do, but I could make it".
And so there is my take on the stages of crutches. It struck me as I was starting to get adjusted to them and moving a little more easily on them, that this probably isn't much different than any other kind of injury: body, soul or spirit or even similar to the stages of grief. Healing takes time.
I hope that Andy can be free of crutches some day but without a miracle he most likely won't be. I do believe in miracles and I know he does too. But, I hope that no matter what stage I am in and no matter what type of injury I might face whether for months or a lifetime, I will have the smiling attitude that my friend, Andy, has.