Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | March 12, 2003

Graceful – NOT

The term “graceful” is one that I always knew would never be used to describe me – unless the word “not” preceded it.

I’m not at all athletically gifted, and you really don’t want to see me on a dance floor – and you won’t, unless I’ve consumed too much alcohol. That’s the only way I know to forget my two left and complete lack of natural rhythm. And because I really hate the results of a night of the necessary amount of imbibing, my dance floor appearances are rare.

Perhaps my lack of grace is why I chose it for my daughter’s middle name – maybe having “Grace” as part of her moniker will make up for the lack of it passed along to her in my DNA.

But I have never felt less graceful than I did at 2:15 p.m. last Wednesday. That’s when I was writhing in pain on the crosswalk outside Barrett Elementary School.

I wish I had a dramatic story to relate, maybe that I had been mountain climbing, or skydiving, or even just jogging, but no, the sad and – yawn – boring truth is that I sprained my ankle stepping off a curb while walking my kids home from school. Oh, the drama, the intrigue! Get me an agent, I think I smell a TV movie contract headed my way.

My kids – stunned by the fact that their mother was inexplicably grasping her right ankle and whimpering in pain while sprawled in the the street – gathered the papers and keys I had dropped. Meanwhile, a man driving a white Suburban-type vehicle (see Arianna Huffington, not all SUV drivers are evil) stopped, helped me to my feet and aided me in limping across the street.

I managed with my son’s help to get the rest of the way home – just three houses away – without the kind SUV driver’s assistance, but I think the only reason I didn’t pass out from the pain is that my brain was swinging wildly between unconsciousness and vomiting as a coping mechanism. Just as soon as I thought I was about to see stars, a switch flipped and I felt like tossing my cookies instead.

My husband trekked home from work in Santa Clara several hours early to ferry me to the doctor, who poked and prodded my swollen ankle while asking me where it hurt. Everywhere was where it hurt, at least until the Advil, miracle drug that it is, kicked in enough that I was no longer in tears.

Three X-rays and a gel splint later, I got some good news: I managed not to break my ankle, just give it a really nasty sprain. In spite of my clumsy nature, my streak remains unbroken: I’ve never broken a bone in my life.

Next, I’ll start an adventure that I’m sure will serve to underline my lack of grace: physical therapy, three times a week for a month. I’ve never had physical therapy before, so I have no idea what to expect. My worried visions range from the therapist asking me to do a few ankle circles all the way to exercises that might be used to torture captured al-Qaeda operatives.

Whatever it is the physical therapist asks me to do, I’m sure I’ll rank among the clumsiest clients ever. After all, how many people manage to severely injure themselves by stepping off a curb?

And, by the way, as evidence that writing a weekly column is a warping experience, while laying on the asphalt trying to stay conscious, I remember thinking: “At least I‘ll get a column out of this.”

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