Leather Britches

Ever since I was a child, I have had an attitude and will that made me feel like I could and should learn to do everything myself. I was affectionately known to my mama’s daddy as Little Leather Britches because I wanted to do everything my way and right now with no waiting. I apparently decided on my first birthday to decide I was done with diapers and was potty trained by the end of the week, and I was not the toddler that appreciated having someone nearby when I was toddling along either. And I distinctly remember a time when I was perhaps 3 or 4 when I told my mother I would help with laundry.

We had a chute in the bathroom that fell straight into the laundry room. I very dutifully pulled everything off the bed at once, including the comforter, marched into the bathroom, and tried to put all the laundry into the chute in one big mass. The trouble was that the opening was too small, but that didn’t bother me one bit! I got on top of the pile of laundry on top of the too small chute to the basement and I began to jump. Little by little I felt the sheets go into the chute end out the other side. And very suddenly, the remaining laundry popped through the chute right underneath me! I somehow managed to save myself by catching the sides of the chute, and I did the only thing left to do… I cried for mom. She eventually heard and came to my rescue. After a glass of chocolate milk everything was alright again.

As an adult it seems I have the same hard headedness I had as a child… And I let this quality shine in the most epic way on Friday. I learned that there were a few things I left in my classroom when I cleaned everything out right before being hospitalized. Obviously I needed to pick up those boxes so knowing I had PT scheduled for later my entourage and I left early to pick up my things on the way to PT. On the way, I took off my stump protector (picture a metal and foam finger splint; it’s rather like that for the thigh and remaining lower leg made from a soft foam with a hard outer shell) and Ms Leather Britches didn’t put it back on later.

I took the wheelchair into the only ground level door in the front — which means I wheeled to the door and the husband had to remove the wheels to fit the wheelchair through the door — rolled to a staircase with only 8 steps, got out of the chair and bumped up the stairs, and finally I popped into the wheelchair at the top so I could roll to the office to locate my boxes and take care of business only to have to go through those motions again to get out of the building.

After facing the handicap inaccessible school, I decided that I was strong enough to hop from the back of my little two door hatchback to the door, no crutches necessary, and I promptly learned that I’m not as strong as I thought. Thank you, Ms Leather Britches. I landed squarely on the end of my stump, knee locked, hip straight… The pain was like it was after the surgery except worse because of the pain in my knee and hip. I completely scared my better half and scarred everyone else within earshot for life with my blood curdling scream.  Naturally I went to the ER where they know me as “that woman with the blood disease” and therefore knew what questions to ask about my current treatment despite despite my state of shock. After three shots of dilauded and one of morphine I was still in excruciating pain. The X-rays showed I had no breaks and I managed to not break any stitches so they decided to send me home. When the last piece of paper was signed and my Tucita (that’s the name of my stumpy leg) was bandaged again, I moved toward the end of the bed to transfer to my chair… And my Tucita began to shake so violently I was thrown back into the table, my husband looked unsure, and the nurse froze with a look of horror on his face. It turns out that there is virtually nothing that can be done when that happens other than renewing the electrolytes in my body (long term treatment) and hold the leg in a particular way. I was thankful to learn my body was okay but I also learned not to be be stubborn and willful with my daily challenges. Just because I understand how to do something doesn’t mean I am physically capable of doing it. It is important to do all the hard work to prepare myself for everything that will come to me in my life.

In life I think we all have the propensity to see difficult times in our life as a challenge that we should get through as quickly as possible because no one likes to sit in the pain or frustration of a difficult situation. We like to have everything made easy for us. Don’t want to actually cook dinner? Go through the drive through or get it delivered. Don’t want to shop? Shop online and have it delivered to your home: prescription medications, clothing, groceries, what have you. Don’t want to take the time to actually check the kid’s homework? Use that app that checks the homework for you using your phone’s camera. Don’t want to look up fancy new recipes and shop for everything? Have it sent to you in a box! There’s a service for everything you don’t want to do. If you’re rich and lazy enough you can do pretty much nothing forever. I don’t think that is what we are meant to do or experience in our lives.

Would the feeling of accomplishment, that exhausting and empowering feeling even be possible without the challenge? Would we ever become the best versions of ourself, the shining image we were intended to be without having to face and overcome the hard situations?

Difficult times in our lives, difficult situations, difficult people, and difficult decisions are all opportunities to have your cracks exposed to the world. The question is whether you will choose to fill them with gold or with something else. Will you take the time to sit in the difficulty and learn the strength to persevere and face the lesson imbedded in be challenge, or are you more concerned with getting out of it as soon as possible?

Little Miss Leather Britches is learning again, because I’ve faced difficulties before, that what is best for me in my trial may not be quick or easy or pain free, but it will nourish my soul as it is intended to do so.

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