There was no initial sound that happened as my foot missed the side of that porch step; no audible snap, pop, or crack. It was anyone’s guess what i’d done but i knew it wasn’t good. I had a plate of beans and rice in my hand and before i knew it, it was on the porch. The phone went flying too. The little stand clipped to the back of the phone rolled across the wooden boards. There was no noise from me either. There never was at the time of injury. I had my father to thank for that. He drilled it into me at a young age that little girls who cried about their pain were the weakest and most worthless of all individuals and would only beget more violence and belittling with each noise made. So i learned to cry later. At the time of injury i was silent, always assessing and playing out options and possibilities in my head. So, as my foot turned upside down and the top of it made contact with the edges of several hard surfaces i was of course assessing and considering possibilities. I let the plate fly from my hand, making no attempt to catch it. I knew the best thing to do in order to minimize the severity of injury in the next few seconds was to go limp and let my body do what it may. To catch myself would be to break something. It was better to go fluid and roll. So i rolled. My left foot hit the edge of the porch step, a tiny sapling tree stump, and finally the corner of one of the two concrete squares beside the house; the extra of the blocks my home was propped on top of. I remember being surprised how many surfaces i was hitting before reaching the ground on my knee. My hands were still in the air, a trick i had learned from working in healthcare. Catch yourself with a hand and break your wrist. Land on your butt and have a bruised butt. Well, i didn’t exactly land on my butt. I landed on the top of my left foot with the bottom of my right foot somehow up on the porch. Despite the adrenaline coursing through my veins i was immediately overcome with that flooding pulled-muscle type of pain…the all encompassing near-numb, indescribably enveloping type of pain that comes from stretching something farther than its meant to be stretched. My foot was upside down and i was standing on the top of it so i could imagine that some part of me was stretched beyond the fashion God intended. I immediately shifted to be seated on my bottom in the dirt and grabbed my foot in my hands. I had hoped it would just be a bruise but the fact that i could feel pain even with my fight or flight hormones coursing through my body was a good indication that it was wishful thinking. It didn’t matter what i’d done. The first solution was going to be ice. Ice was the thing to get, preferably while i still had the benefit of adrenaline in my system. I stood and hobbled across the porch to the door. I made my way to the freezer and grabbed one of the ice packs. Then i hobbled back outside to make sense of the mess on the porch. I wasnt one to waste food. If i could get the plate up off the floor boards on the porch before the ants carried the kernels away, i could still eat the beans and rice that had landed atop the styrofoam plate. The dogs could be made to vaccum the rest, just this once. I sat there icing my foot. All the while a realization had been in the back of my mind. If i was injured it would affect my speed. I had a quota to meet and if my new employer thought something might hinder that, my new job would be over before it started. Injury was not an option.
I was most worried about the part of my foot that had hit something hard on the way down. I wasn’t sure whether it was the step, the tree stump, or the concrete block. I hadn’t been looking at my feet. I just knew because i felt the solid object and the sharp pain right behind my pinky and adjacent toe. when i placed my foot flat on the ground a bump arose and when i lifted it the skin became smooth. I was worried i had broken something behind those toes. I didn’t like the way that bump was raised when i pressed my foot to the floor. I kept the ice on it, slathered the foot in arnica, and downed anti-inflammatories both natural and western like candy in an attempt to see through the fog of swelling and properly assess what i’d done. In the beginning i was so concerned with that spot of swelling behind my toes that i hadn’t even noticed my ankle. When it swelled up and turned green i thought, “oh…i must have hurt my ankle too.” Soon the swelling behind my toes disappeared and the whole top of my foot turned blue, with a mighty swollen mound atop my ankle bone. I realized that i had probably sprained my ankle and i prayed that was all i had done. An ankle sprain i could fix. A broken bone i couldn’t. For four days i tried to stay in the house. I hid from anyone that would be able to tell my new employer of my limp. I applied arnica and ice hourly and popped anti-inflammatories like they were a bulk item in the discount bin; with reckless abandon. It occurred to me that i had better not cut myself any time soon… my mother, my grandmother, my sister, and the internet all chimed in chorus, “stay off of it for 2 to 4 days.” Everybody thought that was the thing to do. Stay off of it for two to four days… i did some version of that; i had a homestead to run. I stayed off of it minus the daily trek around the homestead with a watering can to wet the plants, the multiple treks to the dog run, the three times daily trek to the chicken pen, the friday trek to the edge of the property and back to get the groceries from fedex, the monday trek to place and retrieve the trash can from the nearby intersection, and the trek to the compost pile to dump the week’s kitchen scraps that couldn’t be utilized by the chickens before the ants came in. Also, at some point i had to go get the rain water collection tub and fill the chicken water dispenser before finishing it off with well water and then go place the tub back where it was to keep the jack rabbits from having access to the aloe vera pup behind a thin layer of wire fencing. But other than that, i stayed in my rocking chair with my foot propped up on the little tv dinner table in front of it. I worked on my patchwork quilt, added to one of my many unfinished novels, monitored the weather on the emergency radio, and looked up recipes online. I watched clips like “navajo cops” and “keeping up appearances” on youtube on my phone. I was bored out of my mind. Not doing anything physical was really getting to me. I started to wonder how much stamina and muscle mass i was losing. I began to go stir crazy stuck in the house. Getting from point a to point b seemed to take an eternity and finishing the chores was a time-consuming task. I kept thinking, “hurry up. Oh hurry up. More to do!” My feet had always carried me quickly from one task to another. My work ethic was how i ran this place as one person. Now it was becoming quite the task. There was much bitching and moaning….grunting and peppered expletives as i moved throughout the yard. Another thing my father taught me was that while you had to be quiet in the moment, you could say whatever you wanted once out of earshot. The dogs seemed to know something was wrong. They were on their best behavior. Cashew gladly hoovered the mess on the porch, both dogs gave me a wide berth and avoided my left side at all times, and Cashew ran dutifully from the dog run to the house and waited to be let in while staring straight at a healthy young buck and a yearling doe not thirty feet from her in the yard. She didn’t even try to chase them. Cooking required standing at the stove and the chairs were in the shed across the yard so i mostly ate avocados, the left over soup in the fridge, tomatoes, fruit, and one day a loaf of bread from the bread maker. I ate half of it for breakfast and the other half for dinner. I think i had an apple for lunch that day. I was not on top of things but we were hobbling along and the homestead was still running. I was just barely getting done what needed to be done and still keeping off my foot as much as possible. I had been praying feverishly to God, asking him to let it be just a sprain and to heal my foot in time for training. I reached out to a few friends and close family members and asked them for prayer. I asked God to heal my foot knowing that everything rode on me being able to meet the physical requirements of that new job.
On the fifth day i woke up and could bear full weight on my left foot with only a dull and distant hint of pain to speak of. That was when i knew, it was just a sprain. I could move all parts of my foot easily and walk with a shoe on. The swelling had decreased considerably and i knew that i could now successfully fulfill the requirements of training and employment at my recently acquired job. No one needed to know about the stupid thing i had done. I donned socks and shoes and enjoyed the privilege of walking across the floor. I made myself a rule that i could no longer use the side of the porch stairs and definitely not in tandem with the adjacent cement “stepping stone”. I thought, “Jesus Christ, the Power of Prayer.” I would apply arnica two more times on the fifth day and by nightfall i was walking normally with zero pain. On my zoom call that night one of the questions asked during our bible study was “How can we remember to thank God for what we have?” I initially had trouble answering the question. I was thinking, “How could we not?” Everything i have and everything i am is given me by God. My strengths and my flaws, my abilities and inabilities, my injuries and afflictions as well as my healing… There is nothing that i could have done to render my foot fixed in five short days, especially not while traversing all over the homestead to get the chores done. For that, i thank God. For most wonders i have the privilege of witnessing in the wilderness, i thank God. For the rare times when i witness humans extending kindness to one another for no other reason than they felt moved to do so, i see God’s fingerprints all over it. I see his brushwork in the colors of the sunset, his legacy in my dear friend’s young granddaughter…barely old enough to read but confident in her ability to lead the thanksgiving prayer; asking our Lord to look after the health and well-being of all her friends and family, thanking him for teaching and guiding us each day, and thanking him for allowing us the opportunity to get together and share a meal. And i see him in tragedy and misfortune. It is not so much a test of faith as it is a catalyst of growth and change. Cozy in our snug routines and comfy lives, we would never evolve if we hadn’t the necessity to do so. That last bit, i hadn’t made peace with. I had dealt with loss in my life and always feared the next one, lurking around the corner, waiting for me. I knew loss was a part of life. I knew it had its purpose. I could accept that, but it didn’t mean i was joyous about it. I might spend a lifetime wrestling with the notion that i was to have peace about every part of God’s plan…but there was no molecule in my body that believed God was not securely in the driver’s seat during every moment of my life since the day i found my 24-year-old self standing in Brenda’s driveway and a deeply broken woman showed me God through the way she lived her life for others. It was the first time that i realized; there’s not some class of elite and flawless people out there changing the world in the name of Christ. God uses broken people to reach the lost.