Distal Radius

At my appointment at the fracture clinic this morning, I expected to leave the hospital with a new cast on my right arm, but instead I managed to receive a removable splint, with the proviso that I take extra care with my wrist. I can take the splint off when I take a shower, do the dishes or give the kids a bath, which will be extremely helpful while R is away in Uganda for two weeks.

Two weeks ago, I would have been disappointed to learn that I had a hairline fracture on my radius bone. While having a broken wrist still sucks, I’ve spent the last 10 days thinking that I’d fractured my scaphoid bone, which would have required many weeks in a cast and taken months to heal properly (if at all), so receiving this information about my distal radius fracture almost seemed like good news.

It’s interesting how negative information can come across positively when I’m expecting a worse outcome. Generally the opposite happens, as I’m conditioned culturally to expect things to work out fine for me in the end. Perhaps this is why some people who are wealthy (ie most of the western world) can feel unhappy and discouraged when we have such easy access to many resources and opportunities. When we expect everything to work out to our benefit (and often to extremes that are unrealistic), we are likely to be disappointed.

Standard

Dumb Smartphones

I need to spend less time on my phone. Some of my usage is an occupational hazard given my work in public relations, but there is absolutely no need for me to constantly check my phone during breakfast, lunch or supper, while I’m at the playground with my children, or when my parents come by for a visit. Last Wednesday I unintentionally left my phone on my desk when I went for lunch and I felt incredibly lost and uncomfortable without it.

Tomorrow I will not check my phone until after I’ve dropped my children off at school. Nor will I check it while they’re at their swimming and martial arts classes or when I’m about to go to bed. It’s time to set some boundaries before I’m completely controlled by my technological gadgets. I’d get rid of my GPS watch as well but that might send me completely over the edge.

Now I’m off to bed to read The New Yorker … in print not digital.

Standard

Sleep

Now that I’m in my mid-40s, the biggest physical change I’ve noticed (besides my greying hair) is that it’s much harder to catch up on sleep. When I was younger I would generally stay up late reading or watching movies and I also relied heavily on all-nighters to finish school and work assignments. With two children and a dog, I’m no longer able to sleep in. Even if I’m travelling for work and have my own hotel room, I still wake up early without an alarm clock. This means that when I stay up late, I need to acknowledge the cost of this decision, which is likely a few days of feeling tired and sluggish.

My new goal is to get into bed before 11 each night, which can be tricky when I’m also trying to allocate time in the evening for running, reading and writing after my children go to bed. It’s almost 11 now, so this post will end in 3, 2, 1.

Standard

Slow Breaths

When I was travelling two weeks ago I installed a meditation app on my phone to help me relax on airplanes and in hotels. Today as I was using the app, the narrator told me to focus on how my body felt as I slowly breathed in through my nose and exhaled out through my mouth. As I took a few slow breaths, I realized at that moment how tired and sore my body felt. If I hadn’t taken a break for these few minutes of stillness and inward reflection, it’s likely that I would have spent the whole day without noticing my fatigue or the soreness in my back and shoulders.

It’s important to take time to listen to my body and care for it properly, especially now that I’m in my 40s and seem to be quite skilled at tripping and falling. It’s also critical that I find daily opportunities for quiet reflection so that I can listen to my mind and heart without the distractions that come from everyday life. It’s so easy to neglect my physical, emotional and spiritual needs by focusing on other things, whether it’s essential activities such as work or diversions such as TV or the radio.

Slow breaths.

Standard

Let Go

“He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.”—William Blake

Yesterday I rolled down a hill and broke the scaphoid bone in my wrist. I’m now in a cast with limited use of my dominant hand, so today I had to accept the following:

  • Everything I sign at work looks like it was endorsed by someone in kindergarten
  • I need to learn how to use my mouse with my left hand
  • I can only type slowly with two fingers, which is not ideal for a communications director
  • It takes a very long time to get dressed in the morning
  • There’s a good chance I will cut an artery in my neck while shaving with my left hand
  • I will likely miss my next 3-4 races this year
  • I have no idea how I will cook our family meals (or how we will eat for the next number of weeks)
  • I’m in big trouble when R goes to Uganda in two weeks
  • We have to cancel our annual family trip to the cabin in Haliburton this weekend
  • I can’t write or draw with pens or pencils

The kids are quite disappointed about this weekend’s cancelled trip, and I’m feeling sad about missing my upcoming races, but there is nothing I can do at this point to change the fact that I have a broken wrist. Although I find great joy in family vacations, cooking and trail running, I can’t hold on to these things too tightly or I will end up depressed and/or bitter when they fly out of my hands. Joy comes in many forms, but I can’t keep it leashed or contained. I need to let go and surrender what I can’t control.

On a positive note, now I have a great excuse for not wearing a tie to work, and B was super excited to show my cast to his friends at school.

Standard

Fragility 

I’m typing this with my left thumb while sitting in the emergency department of my local hospital. I tripped on a tree root this afternoon while running down a hill and managed to fracture my wrist. I made it 44 years without breaking any bones, so it was a good run while it lasted (ooh, that cliche is so perfect).

It’s amazing how fast one can go from feeling strong and healthy to fragile and broken. I’m grateful to live in a country where I can access medical attention so quickly and efficiently.

Standard

Tawanda

Ten years ago, my wife, R, and I lived in Harare, Zimbabwe. During our two years there, the country faced considerable economic and political challenges. While we never suffered, we were not immune to the ongoing shortages of food, medical supplies, water and electricity. More significantly, we lived alongside Zimbabweans who faced these challenges without our privileged access to extra income or resources.

Tawanda was one of my favourite people in Zimbabwe. Although only four, he would often show up at our home to visit. He mostly spoke Shona, so spending time with him helped me to learn the language as we worked in the garden together or watched movies on my laptop. Tawanda means “we are many” in Shona, signifying that he was the fifth and youngest child in his family.

Soon after we arrived in Zimbabwe, Tawanda’s family invited us to their home for supper. While the offal (cow intestines) was a bit of a departure from our usual dinner fare, we appreciated the opportunity to spend time with the family. R kept scraping her offal onto my plate, which made her look like a doting wife instead of just a picky eater. Over the next two years, we developed a close relationship with this wonderful family.

When R was five months pregnant with K, our first child, we returned to Canada. It was not easy to leave our Zimbabwean friends, particularly as it was a difficult time in the country due to increasing political violence. During K’s birth, both he and his mother required emergency medical attention, so I’m grateful we were in Canada and had access to exceptional health care. K’s middle name is Tinashe, which means “God is with us” in Shona.

About a year after we’d moved back to Toronto, we received terrible news from Zimbabwe. Tawanda had woken up with stomach pains. Without easy and quick access to qualified medical professionals, Tawanda’s family could do little to help him. A few hours later, he passed away. Despite the shortness of his life, Tawanda had brought so much joy to his family and friends. For those of us who knew and loved him, we felt an immense emptiness in our hearts. A void not easily filled or understood.

While I cherish the many health benefits my family can access in Canada, I’m saddened that there are so many children in the world like Tawanda who die young, often for lack of access to basic medical attention or the resources to pay for it.

When B, our second child, was born six years ago, we gave him the middle name of Tawanda in honour of this gentle and joyful young Zimbabwean whom he will never meet but his parents will never forget.

Tawanda. We are many.

Standard