I broke my arm about two months ago. I’m 41 and I tried to ride a skateboard. It didn’t work out. It seemed like a much better idea in my head. While I counted myself very lucky—no surgery, no cast, no major damage to joints or ligaments—the broken humerus left me in an immobilizer for six weeks. Six weeks of one-armed activity. One-armed getting dressed, one-armed doing my hair (which proved to be the most difficult, if not impossible, activity), one-armed cooking, one-armed mothering. I wasn’t even able to drive for the first week of my injury. In my house, I need all hands—and arms—on deck to make things run.
One of the most difficult things for me to do is to ask for help. My husband and I have always tried to schedule our lives so that we didn’t need to ask anybody else to step in. Ever since Benny was born we’ve operated this way. When he was born, we were newly relocated in another state, apart from family and friends. So we tackled all of it by ourselves, and it was a lot to tackle because he was a difficult baby. But we did it, and those years were the foundation for this idea of going it alone. And I think some of my reluctance to ask for help comes from my fear of letting people see what goes on at a GAMT house.
Kids need a lot of help, but adding two with GAMT raises the stakes a bit. Benny needs help with all of his self-care, and Celia needs help with the medicine side of GAMT. All these things require two arms. My creatine deficiency friends, I challenge you to try using a syringe for medicine with only one arm. We would get deliveries of medicines and supplies and I would have to kick the box from the porch into the front door because I couldn’t lift anything. Or try helping your child shower and get dressed and tie shoes using just one arm.
Very quickly after my failed attempt at extreme sports, it was clear we could not get through this without help. And the help was plentiful. Family and friends heard the news and were quick with their offerings.
The help came in the form of food. I had sisters, parents, and friends dropping off delicious meals so my family could eat homemade food while my husband and I dealt with the operations of the house and the needs of the kids.
The help came in the form of extra sets of hands. My parents were at my house several nights a week to help shuttle kids to activities and help around the house. Parents in the neighborhood were quick to offer carpool rides. My co-workers picked up the Pilates classes I teach until I was well enough to get back into the studio. My mother-in-law watched the kids so we could get out for a night. My always-amazing husband did double-duty with kid and house care—taking, bath nights, and cleaning up from meals all by himself. This is not to suggest that he doesn’t do those things, but we usually divide and conquer and there was no “dividing” during these weeks. And I didn’t fold one basket of laundry during those six weeks. Just try folding with one hand. Even my daughters stepped up without me even asking. They lovingly put on their older brother’s shoes and tied them because I couldn’t help him.
The help came from sisters and friends who allowed me to vent my frustrations. I was humbled by the web of support that was woven underneath our family. I know it was always there, but seeing it come together before our eyes was amazing.
I learned many things. First, I’m a terrible patient. I don’t rest well. Second, it’s okay to ask for help. Let that sink in… “It’s okay to ask for help.” My mother reminded me that we would do the same for anyone else. We do try to help out our friends and family when we can, and now it was just our turn to take the help. And last, I’ve learned how remarkable our support system is. I’ve always known they were extraordinary, but these six weeks have been a reminder of just how lucky we are.
So now that I’m two weeks post-sling, I couldn’t be more excited about getting my strength back and folding some laundry. Our gratitude is still fresh. I’m looking for opportunities to help out other people in my circle who might need a hand (or arm). Sooner or later, we’re going to need to ask for help again and I want to do my part while I can.