2016 was the year that almost broke me. It delivered a series of body blows so powerful that it knocked me off my feet time and again. But each time I stumbled back upright and continued on, a little more bruised, sometimes wiser but mostly just a little bit wearier and sadder than before. But then on 13 December I visited my orthopaedic surgeon and the news he delivered was the biggest, ugliest blow of all. I fell to the ground and considered staying there. I remember saying to a friend ‘I’d like to give up but I don’t know what that looks like’. But with those words ringing in my head I got back up, dusted myself off and limped towards the end of the year.
Christmas came and brought with it visiting family. They’d all gone segwaying the previous year, an activity I wasn’t physically up to back then and my nephew was keen to go again and take me with him. I weighed it up, surely something as gentle as segwaying would be ok? I’d been before so I decided it would be ok and off we went.
It was great, even with my dodgy balance I was fine, chugging along at maximum speed, having a ball. We stopped for a photo, check us out – my 14-year-old nephew in the centre is way too cool to throw his hands in the air! That’s me on the left really getting into it!
Next, we decided to have a race and somehow as we lined up our segways collided and I ended up face down on the ground with my good leg trapped beneath the Segway – those things are heavy! I was cut and bleeding but by some miracle my dodgy knee and new hip avoided all injury. Phew!
Sure I was shaken and shocked but I mainly I was angry. A deep fiery rage was burning me up. Why me? How come I was the one who fell off? Why was I bleeding and bruised? Argh! That internal voice from childhood was screaming – why me? It isn’t fair! And it wasn’t. It still isn’t.
I’ve got 19 different bruises, cuts and scratches. But I’ve also somehow regained my perspective. It could’ve have been much worse. I got back up, got back on the Segway and rode it back to base and it was still fun.
That burning anger is what was missing on 13 December when I was sad and afraid. Again. That anger was about so much more than a Segway spill. It was a reaction that had been building since March when my much touted hip replacement didn’t fix my knee. It continued to climb unchecked in the back of my mind when I broke my wrist and waited four days for surgery. Weeks of being unable to do anything while my wrist healed added flames to the fire. Supporting a husband with an all-consuming job and helping my children navigate Year 12 and the first year of university added a sizzle of stress to carry me forward. The unexpected and sudden death of my good friend’s husband made sure the fire remained fed. Countless small disappointments and pressures poked the embers. The backdrop of an unhappy and deeply divided world stirred the coals.
Until…boom the fire erupted and I was angry – white hot and raging. My anger wasn’t directed at anyone, it was more of a shout to the universe, a fist shaking in the direction of all that had consumed 2016. And then it was gone. And I realised it had taken with it most of the baggage I’d been holding onto. My life isn’t the one I would’ve have chosen. My physical limitations stop me from doing at least one thing every day but I’m still here and I’m slowly improving and I’m not yet ready to give up and accept the life of an invalid.
So, here’s to 2017, a new year full of possibilities and opportunities to shake my fist and shout for joy not anger.