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headmistress in a walking cast
Healing over Christmas in a festive walking cast.

I apologize! It’s been way too long since I’ve written. No, I have not been abducted by aliens – though my life has been a bit dramatic. I couldn’t let this year come to an end without getting in touch to let you know what’s going on with me.

Last year I wrote an article about the struggle of making peace with my body, “Honoring my Limitations.” Reading back over that article, I realize now that although I thought I was honoring my limitations, that wasn’t enough. This year I’ve been forced to FACE my limitations.

I’ve been hobbling around on a cartilage-free ankle for years. The choice of whether to do something about it came to an impasse in October. Right before the know Your Worth Conference, I amazingly broke my foot by merely walking over some soft ground.

Before I even went to the orthopedist to get my foot taken care of, I knew the real issue was my ankle. The time had come to fuse the joint into one piece. Guess my ballet dancing days are over. I didn’t want to anything drastic because of how I thought it would limit my mobility. That excuse seems laughable to me now that I realize how little mobility I actually had because of how painful it had become to walk.

headmistress in hospital bed
Waiting to be sprung from the hospital.

A quick two weeks after I saw the orthopedist, I was scheduled for surgery. Getting ready to be off my feet for a couple of months in such a short amount of time was challenging. I had to figure out how I would get around the house and take care of everything, including the poodle. The littlest things we take for granted, like getting up my front steps or off the toilet without putting weight on one leg, became tremendous obstacles that had to be overcome before surgery.

As if a broken foot wasn’t enough, right after the Know Your Worth conference, I came down with shingles! It was a mild case, thankfully, but enough to know I’m getting the shots for shingles as soon as I’m fully recovered.

Thanks to family, friends, and my doctors, I got it all figured out in time. Friends loaned me medical equipment to make the little things more manageable. My friend Kristen Beal set up a MealTrain for me, so people could sign up to bring me food, pick up groceries, and other errands. (This was super helpful and easy to use. I highly recommend it.)

Most beneficial, my mom Cecilia came to town to stay with me for a few days after returning from the hospital. She was a big help taking care of things around the house and teaching me how to get up from the floor when I fell off the knee wheeler.

The surgery went well, and I was making progress in my recovery, feeling stronger every day – when I had a significant setback. I was lying in bed, drinking hot tea and watching the British Baking Show when I accidentally spilled boiling water down the outside of the same leg as my surgery.

headmistress in a foot splint
My view for the first two weeks in a splint.

The boiling water was hot enough to cause second-and third-degree burns. This injury involved a visit to the burn unit and weekly follow-up appointments with a burn specialist to make sure I didn’t need skin grafts! I felt like such an idiot about injuring myself in such a stupid way; I only told a few people. I didn’t even mention it to my family until the burn doctor released me.

headmistress with cast and knee wheeler
My first cast and my best friend Wheelie, the treacherous knee scooter.

My leg is mostly healed now, and it looks like there won’t be any scarring. Over time all traces of the burn will disappear, but the pain and trauma of the experience is something I won’t forget.

Since then, everything has been much better. I’ve recently graduated to a walking cast and can walk on two legs again. I’m immensely relieved and happy about that. It’s hard to imagine how much we take for granted in living our everyday lives until something changes. I have a new outlook on what it must be like to permanently have limited mobility.

What surprised me the most about my adventure over the past three months has been all the psychological stuff that has come with the physical. That has been the most challenging part of the experience for me. I thought I had a lot of issues worked out! Maybe I’ve struggled with these feelings because I’ve had a lot of quiet time by myself to think, or perhaps it’s just part of the healing process.

I’ve had to make peace with asking for and accepting help. I’m so used to being the caregiver; it doesn’t feel right to be the one that needs care. I’ve had to face the reality of living by myself as I age and what that means for the future.

I also had to deal with letting go of some of the load I put on myself to focus on healing. It took an unimaginable amount of energy to get around to do the simplest tasks, never mind the energy the body needs to heal.

headmistress in walking cast
The walking cast has made my life easier.

Every time I set down to write, I just couldn’t make myself do it. I had some great classes lined up for this year that I just didn’t have the energy to market or teach, so I quietly canceled them. It hasn’t been easy, but now that I’ve dug deeper into these issues, I’m grateful to have a better understanding of myself and the growth that’s come with it.

Next week I go to the orthopedist to get my cast off. I’ll be wearing a boot for I don’t know how long, but this is an exciting step toward my recovery. I’m hoping it won’t be long before I can drive a car again. Even though I’d had a ton of help from my friends, I really miss the independence of being able to go where I want by myself.

Now that I’m feeling more myself, I’m ready to move out of survival mode and decide what’s next. Thankfully, my business consulting practice has been so busy during my recovery that I haven’t had much get-up-and-go for anything else.

Jack Poodle is an excellent care giver
Who woudn't feel better with this guy around?

It takes a lot out of a person to be in pain all the time. I am super excited for what life will be like to walk now that every step won’t hurt so much. Now that I have more energy, I want to be more thoughtful about using this precious resource in the future.

This includes how I’ll move forward with the Finishing School for Modern Women in 2021. I miss doing classes, but after teaching my Entrepreneurship in the Arts class remotely at WSU this fall, I am burned out on teaching through Zoom calls. I’ll bet you’re tired of remote events too.

I’m not sure what the future for the Finishing School will hold. I’m going to take some time to decide. I don’t have any classes scheduled for next year yet and am unsure what I want to do. It seems like the right timing to hit the reset button. I’m open to any suggestions you have as I ponder where to go from here.

As always, I appreciate your support and understanding. All the best to you and your loves in the new year.

Headmistress Jill


Because We’re Never Finished

The Finishing School for Modern Women, located in Wichita, Kansas, offers classes to help women find their authentic selves; not because we need finishing, but because we’re never finished. We bring together women of all ages, to learn from experts and each other, how to claim our power in business, finance, communication, and life.

To learn more about our in-person and online classes for our classes and free social membership.

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