Unbroken (sort of)


Let’s get this out of the way: I didn’t break my foot.

I had climbed up on some shelves to the ceiling of a small closet in the corner of our church hall, the one stuffed to the gills with Christmas lights and assorted shepherd’s gear and angel halos and fake beards and such. I did this because I was looking for Easter eggs (empty and plastic) and I had the sneaking suspicion that there might be some on top of the drop ceiling where a growing abundance of oddly-shaped boxes had accumulated. Attempting to pull a box off the pile, I slipped and came down hard on my foot. At least I think I did, owing to the pain in evidence. One moment I was reaching for a box, the next I found myself on the floor covered in boxes and wondering (1) How on earth I ended up there and (2) When did I stop being able to grab hold of a shelf like a monkey and hang on for dear life with a silly grin on my face until I could ease myself down.

I limped back to the task at hand, looking for Easter eggs so that they could be filled and hidden so other people could find them; people, I am sure, who would either be smart enough to use a ladder when climbing up to the top of the drop ceiling or strong and agile enough to hang on or at least who would fall gracefully; people who liked jelly beans, even the licorice-flavored ones.

Question: If you fall and look ridiculous and there was no one there to see you, did it really happen?

Answer: It does if you have to report it to Workman’s Comp, which you do unless you wish to break at least one commandment while sitting in Urgent Care describing how you were climbing, without a ladder, looking for those Easter eggs on top of the drop ceiling. And then they patiently ask:

“Let’s review your list of medications, OK?”

What followed, I’m guessing, was some sort of experiment in which I was walled off from the rest of the triage space by white fabric curtains, and then observed from secret hidden one way mirrors as every single person in the room proceeded to throw up. Loudly. An orchestra of deep bass and staccato  retching followed in short order by intermittent moaning. Someone showed up to take x-rays. Then the second act of the post-modern vomit concerto began in earnest. Someone showed up to ask me if I had had x-rays. I nodded vigorously. Then they were gone. I kept waiting for some of those blankets that come straight out of the blanket warmer, which are in fact the reason why people go to places like this. Instead the doctor showed up, mentioned the possibility of a broken bone spur, wrote me a couple of prescriptions and passed me off to someone else who wrapped me up, gave me crutches and offered me the option of a wheelchair ride to my car. (To make amends for the lack of heated blankets, I am certain). It took the whole third act of people searching for more bedpans and mops and their children wandering aimlessly and uttering phrases such as “Wow, mom, you sure puke a lot” until the aforementioned wheelchair arrived.

I asked the wheelchair person what I was supposed to do next and in their best authoritative I-Am-Not-A-Doctor-I–Push-A-Wheelchair voice they replied “Follow up with your doctor.” As it turns out, I couldn’t, since this was a Workman’s Comp case. I had to follow up with the WC doctor. After the case manager received the paperwork and spoke to the appointment manager (who worked for a sub contractor) who had to speak with the doctor’s appointment secretary. For two weeks I limped on. After the first day I gave up on the crutches, since I did not want to put my remaining foot at risk. Using crutches is an acquired skill, like brain surgery or solving partial differential equations, the latter of which I received a “D” in college. I limped on through Palm Sunday and Holy Week and three services on Easter plus the Easter Egg hunt (the extra eggs were found in another closet at eye level, near a stack of old hymnals.) Two weeks after I personally proved that gravity is a fact and not merely a theory [insert your favorite sarcastic evolution-is-only-a-theory joke here], a very nice physician’s assistant (doctors in Florida take months to actually see) informed me that it appeared to be a sprain with an aggravated heal spur. “Those hurt,” she said, while recommending physical therapy, which sounds like it will, too. I will let you know once it is scheduled, which I assume it will be by a sub-contractor. Some day.

Despite all of the limping, lost time, and stress and strain of the Palm Sunday-Holy Week-Easter Sunday with Egg Hunt cha-cha-cha that makes up part of the annual rhythm of a pastor’s life, I found myself enjoying the past few weeks more so than I have, well, ever. Lots of folks stepped up, took charge, and made everything that we tried to do deeper and more meaningful. We did less, not more, but in doing less complicated stuff we did “more” from my perspective. And it is good not to wrap my own sense of self-worth up in such things, a struggle many pastors, including myself, have experienced time and time again.

Every Sunday might be “a little Easter” as the saying goes and every day we may rise “wet in our baptism” as goes another, but for those who struggle with depression, much of this can be hidden, muted, missing. Limping along day by day is still a way forward, one step at a time. And I am so very thankful to be unbroken in this way, knowing that God has brought so many diverse and caring people willing to risk for the sake of the gospel, willing to love imperfection, willing to be agents of healing of a God who will not let us go, not lose us to the fog and darkness.