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How to Deal with Health Setbacks

One minute, all you have on your mind is making sure the sisterhood doesn’t have vaginal atrophy. The next, you’re worried about leg atrophy… WTF?!?

While I never considered walking into a restaurant to be a challenge, Friday evening—November 1st, it proved to be my downfall. I slipped and fell flat on my right knee.

Like most women do all of the time, I try to be “fine” and shrug it off. As way too many people for my comfort came rushing to help me hobble back to my seat, my mind immediately jetted to my closet. For sure I was going to have to rework my shoe selection for the black tie event that I was attending the following night. No big deal, I am a total shoe fanatic so I have plenty of heel heights to choose from. I was, “fine.” It wasn’t until we were ready to leave and I needed to stand up on my leg that I realized another F-word was spilling off my tongue!

As the pain increased, the height of my Saturday night heels decreased. Still, I was sure that I was “fine.” After all, I’m a health nut and happen to know that on the infamous bell curve, my bone density is above normal—and at various sites is 110 to 120 percent greater that of the average woman my age. My vitamin D count is above 30 (also above normal). I do resistance exercises and take bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to help ward off osteoporosis. So I must be “fine!”

By the time the ER doc entered my room, the enormous choir singing, “I am fine,” in my head became deafening, so it was hard to hear her words: “You fractured your knee cap and so your leg needs to be completely straight for the next three weeks to prevent your knee cap from moving and to avoid surgery. Total healing takes six weeks.”

Now, as I lay awake each morning, staring at my leg immobilizer and the crutches, awaiting my handsome male nurse (my husband, David) to awaken so I can get out of bed, here are my thoughts:

  1. I am thirsty. I need coffee. I need to pee. I want to wash my hair (it’s so filthy!). I can’t reach my laptop or my iPhone.
  2. Sponge baths suck. Only the wash cloth is clean.
  3. I should be riding my bike now.
  4. I miss my stilettos… I hate flat shoes.
  5. The immobilizer they gave me in the ER is one-size-fits-nobody.
  6. Men are used to undressing women; they suck at dressing them.
  7. I am a bitchface.
  8. David deserves a medal!
  9. Ice is my knee’s new best friend.
  10. Will sliding up and down my staircase on my ass get rid of my cellulite or just make my ass even flatter?
  11. I am not a patient person.
  12. How is it possible that David and I dress together in this house for 13 years (and have been married for 36 years) and he doesn’t know where my clothes, lotions, and beauty products are?
  13. I haven’t had a martini or a glass of wine in days… maybe that’s why I am so grumpy?
  14. My shoes are crying; they are so lonely.
  15. I didn’t get directions with this immobilizer—I guess my sex life is immobilized as well.
  16. It’s good my bedroom is upstairs and not near the kitchen or I would be gaining the broken-knee-cap 10!
  17. I have been spoiled with good health, unfortunately, I took it for granted.
  18. How does David put up with me?
  19. I have heard of vaginal discomfort trackers. Where is my knee discomfort tracker?

I have five more weeks (but who’s counting?) left of recovery. I have been struggling with a way in which I can make this journey more constructive. Here’s what I have come up with:

Today is Veterans Day, and I realize that all losses in life are relative. As I reflect on the temporary and partial loss of use of my right leg, my inconvenience pales in comparison to the horrible permanent loss of limbs suffered by so many American combat veterans. Sometimes we learn life lessons through disappointments, tragedy, and, yes, even inconvenience. So every day and until I am back on my stilettos, I am making a personal donation to the Veterans Village of San Diego, an amazing non-profit that helps veterans build the lives they deserve after deployment.

Over these next five weeks, I am going to allow myself to be inspired by the bravery of these wounded warriors as opposed to focusing on my temporary and relatively insignificant situation. I feel better already!

Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!

Read more from Ellen Dolgen on her blog

Ellen Dolgen

Ellen Dolgen, menopause education is a mission. Spurred by her own experience struggling with the symptoms of menopause, Dolgen has devoted the last ten years of her life to helping other women during this often difficult time. While she’s not a doctor or scientist, she’s “talked the talk” with countless menopause experts, so that she can “walk the menopause walk” and share the keys to this menopause kingdom. Together with her son, Jack, she created a FREE eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause, a comprehensive guide to all things menopause—the symptoms, the treatments, and the long-range effects on a woman’s health. Dolgen shares the expertise of numerous specialists to replace confusion and embarrassment with medically sound solutions, presented in an entertaining and informative way.

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