Last Monday, January 8th, there was an ice storm here in the Philadelphia area. Around 5 o’clock that evening, I made a quick run to the grocery store with my daughter, Wendy, to grab some things we both needed. I was also getting a few ingredients that my middle son, Zachary, needed for dinner that night. As I came out of Whole Foods, rain was falling, but the ground seemed to only be wet and the roads were fine. We were happy to have beat the storm and headed home, needing only to make a quick stop by Zachary’s to drop off the groceries I’d picked up for him. I was rushing at that point; it was 5:45 when we pulled into his driveway and I wanted to make it to a 6:00 exercise class. I walked around to the back of the car, gathered his things together, and quickly turned towards his front door. It was about a six foot walk over what looked like a very wet pavement. Before I knew it, I was airborne. My feet and legs went out from under me and I was high enough in the air to know that I was falling and that I needed to get my right arm under me before hitting the ground. Unfortunately a concrete flower pot had other ideas. I came crashing down on top of it, with my ribs taking the full impact of my fall. I went to the local trauma center in an ambulance, where we spent a long and crazy night before learning that I had five fractured ribs, two displaced and three non-displaced. Liver and lungs looked good. Normal protocol would have been to hospitalize me for 2-3 days to control my pain via IV meds, and to monitor my breathing. Pneumonia and a collapsed lung are the biggest complications from broken ribs. There was another option that involved me going home, managing my own pain, and doing daily breathing treatments. That’s the one I chose.
So I have been home recuperating for the past 10 days with a lot of support and care from the people who love me. I’ve had a great deal of time to think, and have learned a lot from this whole experience. I learned that there’s absolutely no recovery plan for broken ribs. No physical therapy, no at home exercises. Nothing. While searching online for more information on the recovery process, I wandered onto a message board site for bikers. Apparently they break a lot of ribs. Their advice was quite simple. Oxycontin and Vicodin are the way to go. They get you back on your bike the fastest, which is a rather frightening thought. I chucked my meds after the first day. The pain was, and still is at times, fairly spectacular, but I chose to manage it with as little heavy duty intervention as possible. Not because of bravado, but because of fear. My family has a history of addictive behavior and who was I to say that I wouldn’t go down that same path. I’d never confronted that kind of pain before or the prospect of a 6 to 8 week recovery. I managed. I’m surviving. I also learned that getting out of and into bed is so challenging that it could easily be considered an Olympic event. I have earned no medals so far. I’ve learned that I will never again underestimate the importance of exercise. I’ve often found it difficult to arrange my schedule over the last few years to make it to Pure Barre classes five times a week, but without the core and leg strength that those classes developed for me, I would never be feeling as well as I do at the moment. I’m certain of that.
During this second week at home, my thoughts have turned a bit more serious. It may be because the reality of the situation has hit me, or because I’ve been spending more time alone, or because I had a day or so of what are called stress reaction symptoms that can sometimes occur after an accident or a bad fall. I couldn’t stop a terrible scenario from playing out in my mind over and over again. Had I gone into the air with slightly more loft, or a bit of a different trajectory, it would have been my head that hit that flower pot. Most of the folks in my life who are in the medical profession agree that I would have come out on the losing side of that encounter. I could not stop myself from thinking about how awful that would have been for the people who love me. And how by now they’d have no choice other than to begin the process of trying to move on, one minute at a time, one foot in front of the other. Morbid, right? Horribly so. Thank goodness those thoughts are subsiding. I’m safe, my head is intact and as hard as ever, and I’m still here. A bit broken and a bit slow, but incredibly grateful to still be very much a part of this world.
Earlier this month there was a Dictionary.com Word of the Day that caught my eye. The word was moira, which is defined as a person’s fate or destiny. It’s Greek in origin and relates directly back to ancient mythology. The Moirai are the three Fates who presided over that delicate thread that represented human life. Clotho was the Spinner of the thread, controlling when a person was born and everything about his or her present. Lachesis was the Disposer of Lots and Portions who managed the past and measured the thread’s length. Atropos, the Unturnable and Inflexible, was the most feared of all, responsible for the future and charged with ultimately cutting the thread, thus causing death. It was not my moira for my life to end on that icy night; Atropos’ knife stayed under her cloak. As frightening as the thought may have been, pondering my own mortality has brought me much clarity. I know exactly what I want my life to look like and feel like in the next few years. I know exactly who I am. I know that while it’s okay for me to follow my heart and take chances, it’s equally important for me to seek some degree of certainty and to remain grounded in some sense of reality. I knew that I had a question that I needed to ask, and that there was a chance that the universe would break my heart with its answer. I asked, and the universe responded as expected, but I know that my heart will heal along with my ribs. Above all else, I know who I love. I value them. I’ve told them. I will not let them go.
For today’s cocktail, there is only one drink that always speaks to me of healing. Did you guess the Penicillin?? You get a gold star! I made only a few minor changes that focused on bringing more turmeric and ginger into the drink because of their ability to heal inflammation. I loved the idea of using Barrow’s Intense Ginger and Element [Shrub] Pineapple Turmeric because both brands have been so kind and generous to me over the last year. When you’re hurting, you learn to value kindness so much more. This cocktail retains the Penicillin’s personality with just a bit more of a savory turn because of the addition of the turmeric. And who knew that the Laphroaig and the turmeric would be such wonderful dance partners? Cheers everyone. Life turns on a dime, and the tiniest differences can have a monumental impact. Know who you are. Feel it. Live it. Let it guide your purpose. Know who you love. See them. Tell them. Don’t ever let them get away from you.
2 oz. Dewar’s White Label Blended Scotch Whisky
½ oz Barrow’s Intense Ginger
½ oz Element [Shrub] Pineapple Turmeric
½ oz fresh lemon juice
¼ oz turmeric tea simple syrup*
¼ oz Laphroaig 10-year-old single malt
2 fresh ginger slices
Muddle one of the ginger slices with the shrub and the simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the Laphroaig and the other ginger slice. Shake over ice and strain into an old-fashioned glass over one large cube. Float the Laphroaig on top gently and garnish with the second ginger slice. Enjoy!
*Make a double strength cup of turmeric tea. Add the same amount of sugar and heat until clear.