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Published October 20. 2012 09:01AM

One of our elderly neighbors recently fell and broke her hip. She went to a nursing home for rehabilitation and did not do well. Her age was against her, and the inactivity took its toll. She died last week.

This event brought back memories of my Aunt Madaline. She, too, fell and broke her hip. She never truly recovered from that incident. Ultimately, she went to a nursing home and died there.

Suffering a fracture of the hip bone is a traumatic event for anyone. But, for a senior citizen, it can be deadly. When you can't walk and you can't live your everyday life, physical ailments and mental depression take hold. Sometimes, dementia occurs, too.

But, in a larger sense, bone fractures can be cured. Sure, old bones heal slower and are more brittle and subject to greater stress. The surgery required for a fracture disturbs the equilibrium and can cause other problems. But, modern medicine can work wonders.

There are quite a few elderly residents of our community who have suffered fractures and come back to good health. One man speaks of his leg fracture as "a message from God." He truly believes that the broken bone taught him an important lesson to maintain his health. He is back to playing shuffleboard and walking on a treadmill. Not all fractures defeat you.

To me, fractures of the heart can be just as painful and dangerous as bone fractures. When you are sad or grieving, your life takes on a negative hue. The old saying, "All looks yellow to the jaundiced eye" is true. When we are sorrowful, our everyday lives are colored by our emotions.

With a bone fracture, there is a prescribed method that helps in healing. You are instructed to keep pressure off the broken bone, to protect the cast and not get it wet, to elevate the cast to decrease the possibility of swelling, and to increase your fluid intake to offset bowel problems due to inactivity.

With a heart fracture, the treatment is decidedly different. You need to first understand how the break happened. Did you put your trust in someone who violated that trust? Did you give your heart to an unworthy person who took you for granted, stomped on your heart, and caused the fracture? Or, did you drive them away somehow?

Identifying the cause of a heart fracture isn't as easy as having an X-ray for a bone fracture. Being introspective is hard. We human beings would much rather lie on an X-ray table than have to analyze ourselves and our actions.

I'd like to take a stab at producing a list of helps for healing a fractured heart. I'll admit right away that I am not a psychiatrist. But, anyone who has suffered through a broken heart can tell you how they came out of the darkness. Here's my list…..

1 Figure out what really happened. How much of it was your fault? Admit your mistakes and say "I'm sorry."

2. Don't dwell on the break. Distract yourself with a new hobby, a trip, a good book, or a visit to a friend.

3. Remember that "Where there's life, there's hope." Just because you had a heart fracture doesn't mean that it will last forever. Perhaps, in the future, you and the other person can make peace and have a relationship again. However, I would caution you not to be pushy. That's how stalkers are created. Sit back and wait.

4. Don't delude yourself into thinking that drugs or alcohol or casual sex can help solve this. They only make it worse.

5. Take time for yourself. Learn to like who you are. Only then can you be happy.

I know that there might be at least 1,000 other pieces of advice that could be on this list. But, I choose to stop now. I think my readers are smart enough to get the message.

Seeing a doctor and having an X-ray to evaluate a bone fracture begin the healing process. Finding ways to evaluate behavior and analyzing it are much harder. Too bad no one has invented a machine to begin the healing from a heart fracture.


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