Mid-2019, I crossed a street and got hit by an overtaking jeepney. The whole vehicle–from front to back–passed over me, albeit none of its wheels ran over any part of my body. Its right front wheel, however, struck my ankle. The impact tore the tissues between my tibia and fibula and left a tiny crack at the upper portion of the tibia.
I ended up with screws bored into my ankle. To help its healing, my right foot must not bear weight for three months–or until the screws were removed. For the first time in my life, I lived with crutches. I became the “D” in PWD. And it taught me a plenitude of things. Here are the top five:
- The stronger your will, the farther you go. It took time before I mastered the crutches. My fear of taking one wrong step, slipping, and landing on my screwed right foot was constantly in my mind. But I knew that I only had to learn it well and get used to it–that’s it. A week after my operation, I tried to crutch my way through a hallway and towards the condo’s front gate. That short distance already made me sweaty, dizzy, and exhausted. I needed to be carried through stairs. But slowly, I went farther and farther. True enough, I got used to it. Soon, I would go to mall, hunt for jobs, show up for work, cook meals, wash dishes, sweep the floor, and do all sorts of chores all on my own—with crutches.
- Strength is not developed sitting down. When you’re disabled, you feel like you have the right to rest. You are, after all, healing. But I wanted to live a quality life then. I wanted to be with my family, to meet my friends, and to keep earning. I knew I had to overcome the heaviness and pain that I was feeling every hour of every day. I also knew that my arms and left leg won’t develop enough muscles to carry the rest of my body if I won’t make them work. So every day, I heaved myself up to a sturdy stand on my left leg and crutched my way through anything.
- Resourceful people are free. When you’ve got both of your hands on the crutches, it’s technically impossible to hold anything else. Thing is, you always need to hold objects–open doors, get eating utensils, unhang clothes, etc. Now, here’s where resourcefulness comes in. Nobody wants to ask help from everyone for everything all the time, so I devised ways to “get” and “transfer” things. I put them in my shirt, lightly bit on them, used a sling bag, or worst case scenario, freed my hands from the crutches and dragged myself along the floor. Yes, I was then a “disabled” person, but I felt like I was still free, independent, and basically able.
- There are more good people than bad people. I met several caring and thoughtful strangers when I was still walking with crutches. They would open a door, hold an elevator, and carry a tray for me. I was prioritized in long queues. I was assisted when getting out of a car. Indeed, God surrounds the weak with more angels.
Early on my third month, it rained. My sisters, cousins and I were tired and famished from the night traffic then. And so we were heading to a restaurant across the street when one of my crutches slid down a wet pavement, and my worst fear happened–I landed on my screwed right foot. I screamed in pain. I breathed hard. I almost fainted. So far, that was the most excruciating pain I’ve felt in my entire life. My cousins and sisters were flabbergasted, but good thing, strangers came and offered us help. Quickly, I was sent to the Emergency Room. The condo’s nurse eagerly stayed with me and my sister until an ER nurse arrived to take over. By then, I’d lost count of strangers who had willingly come to my aid.
- Accepting love is also a form of loving. This accident changed my life abruptly. I was used to doing things alone when suddenly, I had to need a lot of help. At first, I thought it was better to figure things out myself than ask for an available assistance. I did not want to “disturb” anyone. I did not want to be a burden. But I learned that my loved ones desired to love me at my weakest. Refusing their love when I apparently needed it was another way of breaking their heart. Later on, I learned to accept their love, to call for help, and to express my gratitude for it all. I learned a different way of loving.
I can say that the crutches changed me. Every day, I thank God for my life, for coming out “whole” from that accident, and for my loved ones. Life taught me oodles of lessons the hard way—hard enough to leave me visible and invisible scars, and there’s none of it that I’d like to change. No, I will never rue that day I crossed the street and almost died. Truly, some great blessings are in disguise.