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  • Writer's pictureDrew Dotson

Bone voyage

“Looks like a knee replacement to me,” a poll worker said when I walkered into my voting precinct last week.

“Close!” I responded. “A lower leg replacement.”

“Well, at least that means you were doing something active,” he said with a smile.

I’d been thinking about this very fact while writhing in pain at the hospital a few weeks ago. Someone there asked if I’d ever broken a bone before, and I said no.

It was in that moment that I realized I could no longer wear “No Broken Bones” as a badge of honor. Then I wondered why I’d ever viewed it as something to be proud of in the first place. Was it a subtle brag that I was coordinated? Was it a “Look how good I am at calcium” flex? Was it that I needed something physical to brag about given the ways in which cystic fibrosis has wrecked my body?

I don’t know the answer.

Maybe it made me feel unique—like how I used to love announcing that I’d never driven through a drive-thru until I was in my thirties. Odd boast, I know.

Why was I proud of what I’d NOT done in life?

Except things that are inherently bad and evil, of course.

After returning home from the hospital, I looked in my electronic medical record to better understand what they did during surgery. Under “Indications for Procedure,” it read:

38F with CF and rollerblading fall resulting in L tib fib fracture.

This matter-of-fact line made me laugh out loud because it sounds somewhat facetious. Like, which part is most surprising? That I’m:

  1. rollerblading at 38?

  2. a whopping 38 years old with CF?

  3. a whopping 38 years old with CF and had the nerve to go rollerblading?

No matter the answer, I’m okay with it.

I’d been thinking about rollerblading for years, and I finally did something about it. I’m glad I followed through on something I wanted to do, outcome notwithstanding.

When I first broke (!) the news to people, I made the conscious choice to say how it happened before they could ask—like it would somehow make the whole thing less embarrassing. But, as time has gone on, I’ve realized I don’t care.

I was rollerblading.

And I went from zero breaks to three.

All because I was doing something active rather than letting life pass me by. 

Practicing crutching on the porch this morning!
Here's my repaired leg. It's healing as expected despite the visible fibula fractures. Woohoo!


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