Week 9 – My Consultant was right
I was really quite cautious about embracing the optimism shown by my consultant when I had my plaster removed. Two weeks to shed my boot and crutches….and then physiotherapy and maybe a year (or more) of swelling and pain if I’ve had a particularly busy day.
The boot went within about 36 hours. I knew that I wouldn’t have a real chance of getting back to normal clomping around in it. Especially when it had only been given to me to increase my confidence in walking. Within a few days I was down to one crutch, and at the end of last week (1 week after seeing consultant) I was actually able to hobble around with no crutches….although they were never far away in case I needed them.
The big news is I’m driving again! My consultants instructions were that as soon as I was free of boot and sticks I could drive. Some more supplies were required for my son at his resource centre – and my husband had forgotten them….and there was no way he could get out of work to deliver them! He barked down the phone that I should get a taxi. But as he said this I looked out of the window at his car (he was using my sons adapted car as he was still in charge of getting him about) and thought “Well, I really owe it to myself to see if I can at least operate the clutch!” To cut a long story short, I felt no pain at all….I drove round the block first, did an emergency stop and everything was fine, so off I went. Those 30 minutes were so liberating. I would’ve wound the windows down and screamed “I’M FREEEEEEE” at every passer by…but decided against it.
Following my break for freedom I decided that I needed to see if I could clamp my sons wheelchair in his car, so under supervision from my husband, I did just that. It’s hard work – but I can do it….although it’s taking me longer than usual. So Monday this week saw me back on the “College Run” and hubby back to normal working hours!
HOWEVER…..even bigger news….the biggest of big news, is that I started my new job on Tuesday! At last! Before anyone tells me that I’m doing too much too soon, I will point out that I’m only working one and half days a week – that is currently all I’m contracted to do.
Pain and swelling wise the consultant was right on that too. Evenings are hideous. By 9pm I’m back on two crutches and begging for my bed. A good sleep reboots me, and normal service is resumed to next morning. I am resting with my leg up whenever I can and this always helps.
All in all, I’m feeling really positive.
I’m not missing my cast. Seven days ago I was released from the safe plaster haven that has allowed my ankle to heal for the past two months. I was told by my consultant that within a fortnight I’d be free of boot AND crutches. I thought this was a tall order – but now I actually believe him. Here I am at day 7 – minus boot and minus 1 crutch (most of the time). However whenever I go outside I always take two crutches with me. The pain, especially if I’ve pushed myself, is sometimes misery inducing. Most of the time though it’s entirely livable. I’ve not experienced too much swelling either. Both of these symptoms will certainly be with me for the foreseeable future though, so I’d best learn to live with them!
I actually got brave and went into a large supermarket last weekend – with both my crutches. It wasn’t pleasant – but at least I did it. I left any more shopping until yesterday, when I took a walk to the local supermarket with my youngest son. It was a glorious day, I really enjoyed the walk, and spending time with my 16-year-old (which is rare in itself these days) was precious.
Tomorrow my eldest son comes home. He’s been in respite care for the last seven days, and I’m hoping I’m in a bit better position to assist my husband with looking after him again. I still feel nervous about doing his college runs – especially about pushing his wheelchair up our steep driveway. I really don’t know how long it’s going to be until I can do that again actually – which means my husbands working hours are still going to remain compromised. It’s times like this that make you realise just how long a healing process this will be!
I’m also going to have a go at driving again this weekend. Can’t believe it’s been so long since I was behind the wheel, but it’s something that needs to be done so I’d best crack on with it!
One small (but actually massive victory) is that I’ve been using the stairs again. I’ve been very lucky that our home is equipped with a lift for our son – so I’ve used that. My descent down the stairs did actually make me inwardly determined never to use a flight of stairs again. Sounds weak right? Well all I can say is I’ve never experienced shock like it – and I never want to ever again. But I’ve starting using the stairs again. I’m moving up and down them pretty much like a toddler would – one foot and then the other foot….and very slowly. But in all fairness I was really scared about taking that step again!
Well, with that victory under my belt, I’m off to cross another item off my to-do list.
Week 8. Liberation
Two days ago, on Thursday 9th March, I was finally set free from my cast. I wasn’t certain how the appointment would go, but to my joy, the circular saw from hell removed the cast, the consultant tapped my the bottom of my foot and my ankle joint and asked me if it hurt (which it didn’t) and he declared me healed!! I was given a boot, just to ease me back into weight-bearing, and obviously I still have my crutches. However, I was told that he expected me to be free of both the boot and the crutches within two weeks. At the time this seemed like a tall order. As I eased myself off the plaster table with my newly acquired Darth Vader boot, the prospect of putting one foot in front of the other seemed very daunting. I do have some physio sessions ahead of me, and I don’t have to have injections anymore. Also once I’m free of both and both my Bitch Sticks I will be able to drive again!
One of the big surprises once the cast came off was the amount of dry skin that was living under the plaster. I’d spent a few days fearing Godzilla legs, but I will he honest now and say that it’s not the hair that’s the shocker. The dry cracked skin is really something to behold. It wasn’t apparent straight away, but I discovered over the next few hours what was happening to my skin. I’m using Palmers Cocoa Butter skin oil to relieve the dryness, and it’s doing a good job.
Mobility wise, its early days, but I’ve already been able to dispense with the boot! And I can quite easily potter about the house, very slowly, with just one crutch. I do still feel ‘safer’ with two crutches when outside the house though. Today I actually went into a supermarket for the first time in 2 months! I took things very slowly, and I lived to tell the tale, although I think I might pay for it later swelling wise.
I really feel that I’m going to come out the other side of this and get on with my life. And I can’t tell you how happy that’s made me.
I’m so close to that ever important appointment where my cast comes off. Or at least I hope I am. Another x-ray may reveal I need more time in a cast….or they may decide that my foot needs sawing off period. Sounds far-fetched I know, but 6 weeks of being out of action does allow silly thoughts to slip inside your head. And this morning, I seem to have woken up (after a rubbish night) full of fear. I’ve flung open the blinds and the windows to let the sunlight and fresh air in, hoping it will clear my head. It may be something to do with the fact that I hate Mondays anyway; it’s the day when everyone has gone back to school/college/work and I’m here alone for 8 hours or so after a weekend of hustle and bustle. A big shout-out to those who live alone and are in this position. You’re in my thoughts – a lot!
So I’m going to share my list of fears. If I’m alone in these thoughts and you all think I’m a big scaredy cat then so be it, but I get the feeling that someone somewhere must have experienced these feelings at some point during their recovery.
- I’m resentful of those that are helping me out and have taken over my old life. That’s a big one for me to admit to. I should be grateful – and I am, but I still feel jealous.
- I watch people walk up and down my street and wish I’d been out and walked more (especially with my dog) while I had the chance.
- I yearn to go out with a cup of tea this morning and sit in the sunshine on my decking. But as it’s been raining it would be unsafe on crutches, and how the hell do I get the cup of tea outside? Actually there is a simple answer to this; flask and backpack – but I’m feeling sorry for myself so bear with me please!
- I’m worried that the first time I weight-bear my ankle with snap in two like a matchstick, or my talus will shift again (I had no surgery to pin it all together) and that I’ll be right back to square one!
- I’m worried that I will always be in pain with a dodgy ankle forever and ever. Amen.
- I’m worrying that when I go away on holiday in 4 months to a beautiful house we rent by the sea, that I’m not going to be able to go down the rather iffy, steep cliff path to get to the beach. And if I do get down, that I won’t be able to get back up. I’m currently picturing my husband having to fashion some sort of pulley system together to winch me up and down.
- I’m worried that I won’t be able to enjoy the 80’s music festival that I’m going to for the weekend without being in pain. Both my sister-in-law and I have paid a small fortune to Glamp there all weekend.
- I’m worried this is all going to hold me back with my new job.
- I’m worried I won’t have the strength required to get my disabled son in and out of the car. This for some reason is the job that requires the most strength. Anything else I can handle usually!
There is a saying, one that has held true for me for many years. A hospice nurse was the first one to put it to me 20 years ago, when I was fretful how I would deal with my sons life-limiting condition (just as a side note, he’s now 21 with a totally different diagnosis and prognosis). She told me these words, and I really need to hold onto those right now:
Don’t Try To Run Before You Can Walk.
Never has a saying rung truer than right now. I really need to hold that close, get on with my recovery, and stop stressing about things that I actually very minimal – if any – control over right now.
Please know, that if you’re feeling the same….you’re not alone.
Week 6 – The end is in sight
This week has drifted past in another blur of having good days and having bad days. It may be a lot to do with the fact that I can count the times I’ve been outside on 3 fingers since I had my accident. In hindsight, the first thing I should’ve done is get a wheelchair on loan from the Red Cross. It might have been difficult for me to get around on my own though, which was one of the things that stopped me. But as least I might have been able to get outside into the garden safely and get a bit of fresh air. Or perhaps been able to go shopping with a friend etc. It sure would’ve made for some interesting blog posts too; me getting carried away in a gust of wind (I live on a hill), or ending up upside down by the wheelie bins in the garden. I rule nothing out where accidents are concerned now believe me! The longer being “holed up” goes on, the more reclusive I can feel myself becoming and that is no good at all. I know that once I’m in a boot my life isn’t suddenly going to be as good as it was before. I know that I’m still going to be pretty much semi mobile for a few weeks yet, but I will be one step further to normality….that’s what I keep having to tell myself.
I’ve been reading other people’s experiences via the internet and social media groups, and I suppose a lot depends on the kind of fracture you have, and whether you’ve had surgery. I think probably I need to stop reading and stop over analysing and just RECOVER! Yes, actually that sounds like a plan!
Having said that I’ve really loved being able to talk to others online, and especially to be able to offer help or be around for a chat to anyone who’s just hobbling around on the fracture start line. My hopes are that my blog will continue to hang around in cyber space and that maybe others will read this and think “Yep, she’s saying everything I feel and really don’t want to admit to!”, or that some link or tip I share will really help someone out. Who knows eh? Anyway, I’m nowhere near signing off and disappearing back off the land of the two functioning leg person for a good while yet – so you are stuck with me!
Maybe the next entry will be from me – free of cast! I have to be honest here and say that I cannot wait to shave my legs again – a quick peek down my cast has pretty much confirmed that I have morphed into a hairy beast of some description (possible a gibbon). I may have to resist the temptation for take my ladyshave to the plaster room with me to de-fuzz the moment that the plaster is removed.
I will see you on the other side!
To all of you reading who are new to the world of Broken Ankleism.
I’m imagining that you, dear reader, are at the beginning of your journey. You’re freshly dispatched from A&E with a Backslab cast and you’re wondering what the hell has happened to your life in the past 24 hours. I’ve been blogging about my inner feelings for the past few weeks, but I felt that a summarising post was necessary. A post that you can quickly refer to, just to reassure yourself that you are normal.
So here are the key feelings that you may experience.
- If you are used to being the housewife/husband and your partner has taken over, nothing they do in the first 14 days will be right or up to your “standards”.
- You will feel guilty that you’re not doing anything
- You will feel useless and like a burden
- You will feel totally overwhelmed that you will be off your feet for at the very least 6 – 8 weeks, and in reality it’s going to be more like 12 weeks before you’re back in the saddle. Actually that thought still overwhelms me (I’m 5 weeks in) so I’m not going to read that back to myself.
- You will worry if you ever will be able to walk “normally” again.
- You will regret not walking your dog for 10 miles a day while you had the chance.
- You will worry about your job.
- You will start to go stir crazy.
- You will watch rubbish like The Jeremy Kyle show – and wish that you could walk 10 miles with your dog just to avoid daytime TV.
- You will make mental lists about what you’re going to do when you are able to walk again. If you never had a bucket list before, you will make one now. Mine includes visiting the Grand Canyon and the Shoes by the River Exhibit in Budapest. Best get a passport then…..
- You will think that you will NEVER be able to control your crutches. You will. I promise.
- You will discover you have a temper. In the early days you will lose the plot at the slightest thing or if someone/something isn’t in the right place at the right time. Reassurance for your loved ones – this does get better. It’s gradually improving for me anyhow.
- You will miss driving and your independence.
- You will wonder if you’ll be able to weight bear without your ankle snapping again immediately.
- You will feel slightly jealous at some point of those that can drive or those that are independent.
- You will think about events that you’ve got planned for the year ahead and wonder if you’ll be able to cope.
- You will enjoy, for a brief period, being the centre of attention. That stops when you realise how long you will be out of service.
- You may have a period of time where you sink under covers and feel very blue. You will seriously consider the possibility of hibernation for the duration of your recovery.
- You will realise what’s really important in life.
- This will change you.
I’m sure, being at week 5 myself, I will continue to be able to add to that list as the weeks go on. It’s really important that you know that you’re not alone. There are others in exactly the same position. And most importantly you’re not alone in how you feel. Your feelings are normal. You will recover. That last point is what I’m hanging onto myself right now.