Monday, April 14, 2014

Reflections on being Woman of Steel

Hello my beloved blog readers!  Here is a blogpost that I've had saved as a draft for quite a while, and I owe you something don't I?  Better late than never!

Back in November I broke my right hip in a freak accident at the gym.  And now I am part steel.  When I was at the hospital, I was happy to be hurt.  Now I understand why Christ urges people to visit the sick.  Seeing people, getting calls and texts, was so uplifting.  I also learned many lessons in how to best interact with a sick person, which I share below.

There were certainly some negatives to the experience, which included people needing to understand exactly how it happened.  I didn't mind saying oh it was an accident at the gym while using the leg press, but when people wanted to know exactly how it happened, I had to reenact the whole thing in my head again and again which was just a stressful memory.  Throw in the fact that most people didn't even know what a leg press was yet still insisted on understanding the exact nature of the fracture, it was super annoying.  So I think I'll use this rule of thumb the next time I visit a sick person: find out from someone else what happened if I'm curious, or just ask very general questions.

What pissed me off the most, though, was people trying to give me advice, and it usually came from people 1,000 times less fit than me.  "Be careful next time!" "Don't push yourself so hard!" "Obviously you have no idea what you're doing at the gym."  Did they really think that they felt worse about it than I did?  So another thing I learned is: don't try to give advice to a sick person, especially if you have no idea what they are experiencing.  Give comfort, not advice.  A better explanation of this idea can be found here:, an article on how not to say the wrong thing to a sick person.

Lastly, I thought it was pretty morbid when people would compliment me on my figure and tell me I lost weight.  "Wow, being hospitalized for a week and getting surgery and constantly throwing up and having no appetite and having extreme muscle atrophy in your leg really did you good!"  Um, thanks?  O2belkom?  Especially considering I wasn't fat and didn't need to lose weight.  Maybe people just forgot how I looked before.  Regardless, they were morbid comments that probably reflected our society's obsession with being skinny--the mentality that being skinny is a positive end in and of itself, regardless of whether the person used a healthy means to attain it.   Even if I were obese, even if losing weight from a hip fracture brought me down to a normal weight, I do not think telling someone they look great is an appropriate comment to make under such circumstances.

But other than the less-than-wise words of a few people, this has been a beautiful experience.  I've always been healthy and have never been hurt, so I've never been hospitalized for extended periods of time.  I always thought if someone is sick, they must want to rest and have peace and quiet.  I thought visitors must be annoying, and constant calls and texts tiring.  But I found, for me, nothing could be farther from the truth.

The care of everyone, from relatives to a distant acquaintance, is a beautiful memory that I will always carry with me, even now that I am healed.  The love I was given made despair seem like a silly thought.  It would have been easy to get frustrated and feel like a burden, not being able to do the most simple things on my own and needing to constantly ask for help, and not being able to go back to the gym for months on end (which was my sanctuary), but when everyone around me was just happy that I was alive and healing, it brought me back to reality and what really matters. It felt like the words of Christ, "there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance." (Luke 15:7) My whole family and my whole church were rejoicing over one person getting better and walking again.

What probably made it even more sweet was that the reach out was always personal.  I permanently deleted my facebook a few months before I got hurt, and I think if I had facebook I might have gotten many facebook messages or wall posts, but wouldn't have appreciated it as much as the visits, the phone calls, the texts, the emails.

This experience has truly deepened and matured me, and I think God used this accident as an opportunity to teach me many lessons I was overlooking.

I used to be super fitness girl, my motto was "your body is the only place you have to live."  Which is true, we are human beings, not incorporeal angels or ghosts in machines, and our bodies aren't just transport systems for our brains, they are part of our very being and affect our wellness in so many ways.  We have to take care of this temple God has given us to live in.  But everything needs balance, and I was starting to get out of balance.  I used the gym as an escape from life, where I could just leave all my problems at the door and just focus on me against the iron, which was very fulfilling, but it was really an illusion of fulfillment, and I was neglecting my other, more important talents.

With this injury, my movement was so limited because of the injury itself and because of precautions post-surgery, that I might as well have been paralyzed.  The old Martha was so used to moving around and being capable of anything, so being bedridden for the first couple of weeks was torture, but eventually I came to terms with it, and I read so many books.  This experience has solidified the reality that the body is temporal no matter what you do and that I must focus on developing my mind, and my main talent, critical thinking.  It has strengthened my desire to be a teacher because my mind will be the only thing I have to give to my children and students, and will be the most important way I can influence them.

Soon enough I will be back to my iron pounding ways, but now it will be a much more solemn experience. A healthy body functions best when it is subject to a healthy spirit.


  1. Many best wishes for a renewed workout regime, free from further injury. I must admit to being *very* disappointed in those who would presume to lecture you to assign blame where no lecture is needed. As you said, this whole experience is a learning opportunity and of all people you have never been one to waste a chance to learn.

    1. Thank you for your wishes!

      I hope free from injury as well...or at least crazy injuries. Yeah I agree, I guess its an unfortunate human trait, the need to assign blame and think one is always has authority to give advice. But this experience really showed me the real love and care that people have, it was amazing! I'm so thankful for it.

      Thanks for commenting :-)