The Medicine Was Gratitude

In 2006 I broke both my tibia and fibula directly above my right ankle. I was training accuracy jumps outside at night. Crunch. Not so accurate. Initially there was no pain. Unaware of the severity of what happened I attempted to put weight on my leg right away, which was unpleasant and alarming, but not overtly painful. A long night (waiting to get a ride pre-uber to the ER, then in the hospital waiting room with an ever swelling ankle, the x-ray, having a splint put on, the ride back home) ensued relatively painlessly. It wasn’t until I finally laid down in bed and shut off the lights that the wave of unbearable throbbing pain overtook my leg. The pressure felt like it was going to make my ankle burst open. It was far beyond any pain threshold I had previously attuned to. My body didn’t know what to do about it, but it desperately sought liberation. I refused the pain meds they offered at the hospital; I was on my own. My fists clenched the sheets, angst gripped my face, tears rolled down to my ears. At the precipice of this internal crisis imagery from the evening began playing out in my mind. Every person who had extended kindness that night appeared to me in sequential flashes. As they would materialize behind my eyelids I heard myself thanking them out loud one by one. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. By the time the vision of the final person evaporated I felt nothing but a mild euphoria. The pain had vanished. The medicine was gratitude.

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