It was a dark and dreary morning in October 2020. I was up “with the roosters” to greet the construction crew expected to show up anytime to dig 3-foot holes on my property and install brand new fencing.
When the crew arrived, they began shoveling immediately because heavy rain was headed in our direction. Within minutes of breaking ground, a drizzle began and soon turned to steady rain.
As the rain continued, I sprinted up and down my driveway, making sure the workers had everything they needed.
An hour later, the boss, Larry, said, “Amla, it's raining harder. Go ahead inside, and I will text or call you if I need anything.”
“Ok, will do,” I said.
Soon after, I received a text from Larry.
“We need you out here for a moment.”
I took off like a lightning bolt, and failed to grab “Sophia,” my cane for mobility, since I have an eye condition called, gyrate atrophy, which causes blindness.
As I approached the work area, I noticed a pile of soil directly in front of me. Although, because of my limited vision, it feels like peering through thick haze and fog. Focused on reaching Larry, I quickly forgot about the hole and approached him. After we wrapped up a few minutes later, I turned around, and “BAM!” I tripped and fell into the hole. Between the rain, the pile of dirt, and not having Sophia to guide me, I missed seeing the hole next to the dark chocolate colored soil.
I heard the construction crew gasp when they saw me trapped inside the hole. They frantically sought to help me, but because of my tunnel vision, I couldn’t see the workers’ hands reaching out to rescue me from this freakish accident.
To make matters worse, when I finally spotted a pair of hands to take hold of, it occurred to me that we’re in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic with no availability of vaccines on the market. Therefore, I resisted the “hands-on” help and somehow managed to pull myself out of that gosh darn hole. As my body shook, I wiped off the wet dirt from my hands and legs.
Larry approached me.
"Amla, are you OK?
“Yes, I am fine. I’m going to do some yoga stretches right now just to make sure I feel everything is functioning in my body okay,” I responded.
In the middle of the pouring rain, there I was doing downward-facing dog, and other yoga poses on my lawn. I finished, and I noticed that my right knee felt “off” as I proceeded to walk up the driveway to my house. I hurried to the freezer, reached for the ice, and sat down to ice my knee.
I sent Larry and his crew home since they couldn't complete the job in what looked like a monsoon outside.
After 30 minutes of icing, my knee began to feel numb. I knew I had to spring into action and rush to the urgent care facility. As I hobbled into the lobby with sopping wet hair and a feeling of utter exhaustion, my leg felt like it was wading through sludge.
I waited for the on-call doctor, and asked myself, “How could this have happened? Life has been hard enough, gradually losing my vision, and now for the first time in my life, it caused me to literally fall into a hole. I can't stand going blind!”
Right then, the attending nurse arrived and assisted me through the facility. She noticed my obvious limp, and graciously helped me to the exam room table. Before she even addressed the reason I was there, she asked the standard COVID-19 questions. Did I have any symptoms? Did I have shortness of breath? And so on. These questions would not usually bother me. However, this time, it overwhelmed me because of the excruciating pain.
At last, the doctor entered the room and announced his name. Dr. Brown asked what happened so I gave him a brief play by play. He performed a short series of physical assessments and suggested X-rays be taken and sent in the technician.
Moments later, Dr. Brown returned.
“Amla, the way you were able to move your knee when I initially examined you led me to believe you were moving pretty well and didn’t sustain any major damage,” he explained.
“Unfortunately, after reviewing the X-rays, I am afraid there is a slight crack. Technically, it’s a fracture of your tibia, which is the weight bearing bone on the lower right side of your knee.”
I was floored. “Are you serious? What the heck?” I cried.
“It will take at least four to six weeks to heal. But, I am not an orthopedic doctor. I strongly suggest you schedule an appointment with an orthopedic specialist as soon as possible,” Dr. Brown said.
He continued to explain that because I fractured my tibia, I need to use crutches to get around, even at home. The good news was I didn’t need a cast since the bone is intact. However, I did need to elevate my knee, and ice it daily for 20-30 minutes, as needed.
Dr. Brown also warned me, “If you don’t take care of your knee now, it might worsen over time and lead to more complications and possibly surgery. So don’t put pressure on your right leg and do place yourself on complete bedrest.”
“Okay, I understand,” I replied. “Thank you, doctor.”
My mobility is already constricted using Sophia. But now, because I need crutches, I am forced to be super focused and mindful of each and every step I take.
A week later, I visited the orthopedic doctor. Sure enough, Dr. Clark confirmed I fractured my right knee. When I got back home, I was angry with myself.
Why is my life so increasingly difficult? Suddenly I realized, I wasn’t just upset because of the fall.
As illustrated in my first book, Eye with a View, I’m no stranger to falling, over and over again. However, this particular injury was the perfect storm because it symbolized the revelation that I can no longer be as mobile and nimble as I once was, due to my “steamy” vision.
I physically tripped, fell, and got stuck at the bottom of a lousy hole. More devastating is that I had “hit rock bottom.”
Life had become too intense for me. I simply wasn’t ready to spring forward and get right back up again. So, I gave myself permission to just stop and do nothing.
Throughout my journey of blindness, I always managed to redeem myself and recover through challenging times. I never allowed my vision loss to dilute my attitude of living a fresh and fulfilling life.
However, this particular accident brought me to my wit’s end. I was forced to pump the brakes and STOP.
My other slips in life were just as painful, if not worse, than this knee injury. So what makes this setback so different?
Within the first month of healing, my close friends and family noticed I was still stuck in a figurative hole, and tried to encourage me.
“Get up. Lift your spirits high,” my uncle said.
“I need to feel my emotions whether it takes days or months,” I told my uncle. “I cannot just pretend this injury doesn’t affect me. It hits me on every level: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.”
I continued to explain, “I will get up when I am ready and able which means accepting this in totality. After all, as you already know, aside from sleep, almost everything I do requires vision. My knee will eventually heal, but physically my vision will only get worse. That’s precisely why this injury strikes me at my core. If I’m currently falling with partial vision, how am I supposed to shift and adapt to maybe falling multiple times when I’m sightless?”
"Oh, Amla, I’m sorry. Now I understand," he said.
I acknowledge my uncle had good intentions by attempting to cheer me up. But I’m only human and sometimes it’s just easier to sit, sulk, and “make friends” with the underlying layers of pain and suffering. And if that means laying down in deep despair, so be it.
Within the first month of recovery, I dipped from one extreme to another, from being enraged to feeling sorrow, to sobbing over my biggest fear: completely losing my vision within the next five years.
Dr. Clark stated that full recovery would take about three months. Now, more than three months after the fall, I’m still struggling to move my knee, while enduring moderate strain and drain, especially in the morning and evening hours. Ironically enough, I feel stronger, wiser, and even more resilient.
I discovered I have been given a gift: a reminder that nothing happens “to” you, it happens “for” you. After all, without resistance, there’s no opportunity for perseverance. More so, there’s always a deeper meaning and understanding for our trials and tribulations. This is the beauty of growing and evolving within the journey of life.
Every fall is a test of faith, momentum, and resilience. Having the ability to see obstacles as opportunities is my “Amla definition” of success.
Success is not about winning and being on top. Rather, success is about accepting your authentic self, and concentrating on what you CAN do instead of what you cannot. If you think you can’t, you won’t. If you think you can, you WILL. In my case, falling down wasn’t enough to just accept and flush it away. I had to accept and digest the root cause of the pain, which takes time and patience. Once I allowed that to organically unfold, only then could my individual healing process begin.
No matter what my external circumstances may be, I choose to bounce back again in my “Amla time,” not in anybody else’s time. Every fall in life is different, not only for every individual but also each time it happens. I realized that just because I have fallen countless times doesn’t mean it’s any easier for me to embrace the latest fall. There’s no one size fits all for every fall and recovery. And, sometimes you can’t always grasp the depth of the hole until you’re face-down inside it.
I never give up. I am a warrior woman with the drive and determination to move forward, no matter how long it takes to walk through any roadblock, big or small.
Resilience requires trusting my own “Amla process,” pacing myself through life with grace and ease.
There is a richness in slowing down and reflecting upon the luminous being that you already are, inside and out. As a child of divinity, I embrace the beaming, shining light that I am.
To me, this is pure success.
Amla Mehta, is a Connecticut based speaker, teacher and author of four books, "Eye With a View," (Memoir/Self-help book) "The Ultimate Guide to Self-Healing" Volume 3, ( A collaborative book) "Success in any Season," (Another collaborative book) and "Amla Speaks 365," (Insights and Reflections book) being launched June 1, 2021.
All books are available @ https://www.amlaspeaks.com
Amla's purpose is to inspire individuals to shine authentically, despite any adversity, based on her journey of vision loss. After all, everybody is worthy and deserving of self-love.
Finding Faith by Falling Down
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