Brenda’s Journey: Broken Leg Offers Opportunity for Mental Health Check

After being diagnosed with cancer in 2009, Brenda decided it was time to take charge and get healthy. As she exercised and gained a new level of fitness, she realized that she was in charge of her body and started enjoying the activity. She had another setback with a recent broken leg. Brenda periodically shares her insights on getting back to healthy.


What happens when some random act changes your healthy living trajectory? First you cry. Then you figure out how you’re going to manage day-to-day life. This recently happened to me when someone at an event I was attending tripped and knocked me over, landing on my leg and breaking it.

Since a cancer diagnosis in 2009, I’ve become a fairly active person. I strive to walk as much as possible. I even moved to a neighborhood where we could walk to dinner or the store. I live in a 3-story townhouse, so get many stairs on a daily basis. I had recently started going to a few different types of exercise classes several days a week. I like variety; having different options that don’t involve the treadmill at the gym keep me motivated. That and a great instructor and friends.

So breaking my leg wasn’t exactly on my list of top 10 things to do this winter. After surgery, I found myself struggling with keeping my mental state positive and my energy up. Since I couldn’t put weight on my broken leg, and it was in a brace from above the knee to the ankle, I didn’t have a lot of range of motion. Here’s what has helped me:

  • Letting people help. One of the hardest things for me to do, but people were genuinely happy to help. By giving people small tasks, they felt like they were making a difference. And it eased my load. And no guilt!
  • Keeping people up to date. I was inundated with questions and wishes for quick healing. I couldn’t respond to each person, so I would do group updates. Again, people felt engaged and like they were helping me.
  • Celebrating the little wins. When I could make it up the 14 stairs in my home (scooting on my rear) without stopping to rest, that was cause for a celebration!
  • Finding ways to move. I met with my dance and strength instructor and we found ways to sit in a chair and stretch and move. It felt so good to get some movement in and helped to ease the tightness I was feeling across my back from using a walker and crutches.
  • Following doctor’s orders. And asking a lot of questions. I started at 8 weeks no weight bearing, then had another 2 weeks added. When he started to add another 2 weeks to my recovery at 10 weeks out, I negotiated.
  • Following PT plan. Since I had the opportunity to work from home, I found little ways to work in my physical therapy throughout the day. That helped me get my range of motion back more quickly once my brace came off.

I graduate to weight bearing soon. With that will come a lot of challenges. Like not trying to do too much too soon (I’m notorious for jumping right into things).

ANW Team

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