A snapping sound in her calf muscle sent her to urgent care. What happened next involved a lot of sitting. (Jennifer Bardsley)

A snapping sound in her calf muscle sent her to urgent care. What happened next involved a lot of sitting. (Jennifer Bardsley)

This injury changed me from a ‘human-doing’ to a ‘human-being’

A painful torn calf muscle doesn’t require surgery — just a LOT of rest. So pass the Advil and the TV remote.

One of the worst sounds you can hear while exercising is “Snap!” Yet that’s what I heard while doing mountain climbers, a plank exercise where you pull in one foot after the other. First I heard the snapping sound, and then I felt intense pain in my right calf muscle.

“No problem,” I thought. “Probably a Charlie horse.” I took a mini-break, thinking I could shake it off only to discover that shaking made things worse — a lot worse. The pain wasn’t on par with previous injuries I’d experienced, like fracturing my wrist, or slipping down icy stairs and bruising my tailbone, but it was becoming worse by the second.

“I guess I’m done for the day,” I thought begrudgingly. “Maybe I need ice and some good old-fashioned rest.” But it immediately became clear that I couldn’t walk.

I laid on the ground and reached for my phone, which was thankfully nearby. My husband was upstairs on a Zoom meeting for work. I could hear the muffled “Wa-wa-wa,” sounds coming through the ceiling. I didn’t want to interrupt him on a busy Monday, but I had no choice.

“I think I ripped something in my leg,” I said. The pain was getting worse. “I need to go to urgent care.”

He dropped everything and we zipped off to the doctor who diagnosed me with gastrocnemius muscle tear. In layman’s terms, that meant I’d torn my calf muscle. “You’re going to have a hard week,” he told me. “You don’t need surgery, but you do need rest.” Specifically, six weeks to three months’ worth of rest.

Shoot. That’s difficult news to hear when you’re used to living like a “human doing” instead of a “human being.”

We came home and brought out the crutches, which were in fact kid-sized. I loaded up on Tylenol and Advil and tried to wrap my head around my new normal. I can’t vacuum. I can’t walk to the mailbox. If I want to run upstairs to brush my teeth it requires advanced planning. The only good thing about any of this is a legitimate excuse to boss my kids around and make them fetch me snacks from the kitchen.

“Don’t worry about the house,” said my husband. “Let your robot army clean for you.”

“But Roomba needs to be properly supervised,” I protested. “And nobody’s brave enough to use the Instant Pot but me.”

“Forget about all of that and watch some TV,” he advised.

“In the middle of the day?” I was aghast. What was this, 2020?

I opened my computer and ordered myself a pair of adult-size crutches, as well as a walking cane, for later. I was thinking optimistically. Surely, I wouldn’t be immobile for long. “I’m 44 and in good shape,” I told myself. “I’ll heal quickly.”

But as the days turned into a week and I still required the crutches I realized that what I most need is patience — and the TV remote. Could someone please get it for me?

Jennifer Bardsley is the author of “Sweet Bliss,” “Good Catch” and more. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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