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The full-leg fiberglass cast is off! For four weeks now, ever since the surgery, I have been wearing a long-leg cast. It was difficult walking since one leg was longer than the other and the knee and ankle were fixed in position.

Now I have a leg brace similar to the one at the right. It attaches with velcro and is locked so that I still have no movement in the leg, but… I can scratch! Yes! Finally, I can scratch when the leg itches. They said to treat it as a cast. I still cannot take showers and have to walk with a stiff leg, but at least I can scratch the leg when it itches. (The brace has locks on the side which allow for some movement during physical therapy, which I start the week after next.)

The knee seems to be steadily improving. There is still no pain, which I hope is a good sign. I am learning how to walk with the brace. There is a whole new dynamic. My ankle, for example, was kept rigid by the cast. I now have to learn how to control the ankle with a stiff leg.

This accident and this recovery time has forced me reflect on a few things.

One is my vulnerability. Having a clear disability and walking with a walker or crutch means anyone could easily knock me down and steal whatever they wanted. It is not something that I thought much about when I was young and healthy. Now, though, I realize that I could easily become a victim, and this makes me more aware of how vulnerable many in our society are. I will hopefully have the brace off in August. The elderly and permanently disabled have this vulnerability as a constant state in their lives.

Another is how hard it is to accept help. We in the United States are a hardly and independent lot. We celebrate the settlers moving west to take the lands of the native Americans. It is difficult for us to be dependent on others. Now, I am in a condition where I have had to depend on help from a lot of people. This is something that occurs naturally with age (and may be one reason we fear aging so much), but it is something that has been thrust suddenly upon me. It makes me realize how demeaning it much be for the elderly and disabled to be in this condition.

The accident was a terrible thing. The pain when it happened and following surgery was incredible. But, the accident was also a gift. It opened my eyes to the experiences of those around me — experiences that I had never really considered before — and I hope that makes me a better person.

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