Five weeks ago, I dislocated my knee and broke my ankle while swing dancing with some female rugby players. Let me be clear: getting down with a couple of props and a hooker is, in my life, fairly mundane. It’s as if my leg suddenly snapped in half while I was checking my Gmail or listening to NPR. I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. How could this happen?
As it turns out, my injuries are fairly serious, and I’ve been forced to take a month off from my job as a stand-up comic.
You: But can’t you just do sit-down comedy, ha ha?
Me: It’s not the performing so much as the getting up onto stages of varying heights, the navigating in and out of dank nightclubs with steep cement stairs, and the driving around in my car from city to city, which is literally impossible with my knee in this torture device called an “immobilizer.”
I’ve learned a lot being locked up for a month in my basement apartment, and I thought I’d share some of those lessons with You, the Unbroken:
1. Strength and exercise are really, really important.
I’m far from a fitness freak, but if I hadn’t been practicing yoga fairly regularly before my accident, I would not be able to do the one-legged-downward-dog-into-one-legged-stand maneuver that is currently required just to get up off the ground.
2. Fracking will destroy us all.
At the beginning of my convalescence, I exhausted my patience for narrative television and started craving documentaries. As I emerged from my Vicodin haze, I combed through Netflix and HBO-Go for some precious info-tainment. I found Gasland. If your only point of reference for the word “frack” is Battlestar Galactica, I highly recommend you get informed about hydraulic fracturing before your tap water bursts into flames.
3. That whole “good days, bad days” cliché? Totally true.
I’ve never had a recovery period this long before, and it turns out that productive periods are often followed by one or two days of total exhaustion. I get frustrated taking two hops forward only to take one hop back, but I’m learning to accept that this is simply the natural rhythm of healing.
4. The internet is not enough.
It’s been great to receive “get well” messages on social media, and my boredom has often been assuaged by the endless bits and bytes of content so readily available on my glowing laptop. But I long to pop out to a bar, to play some board games with friends, to throw a dinner party, to take a freakin’ walk. Which brings me to my next lesson…
5. I’m extremely lucky to be able-bodied.
I often resist exercise, preferring to get my heart-rate up by clicking on link after blog after tweet about the war on birth control. But right now, moving my body feels less like a chore and more like a privilege than ever before. I can’t wait for my next jog. Alas, I still have a lot of recovering ahead of me. I’m getting my cast cut off and returning to stand-up next week, but I won’t be able to walk without crutches for a while. I’m going on tour in June, and I’ll have to rely on my fellow comedians to carry my bags and help me get around. Fortunately, I’ve uncovered the following heartwarming truth about our species during this whole broken bone ordeal:
6. People are very helpful and kind.
From my extremely patient and caring spouse, to my mother and mother-in-law who both traveled to help me, to the many strangers who’ve offered to shop with me at the grocery store or simply expressed their hope that I recover quickly, my recent vulnerability has shown me just how willing others are to offer good will and assistance. It’s been humbling to experience it, and I can honestly say I’m far less cynical about humanity than ever before.
So please, the next time you’re twirling around a second-story bar with a scrum-half, be careful! Accidents happen when you least expect. But, when the inevitable bumps and scrapes of life do knock you down, I’m confident that you’ll find conscientious, caring people among the well who are willing to help you out. Maybe I’ll even be one of them.