Freedom

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.

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The Fear

Week 7

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.

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Seven Days

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!

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Reassurance

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.

  1. 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”.
  2. You will feel guilty that you’re not doing anything
  3. You will feel useless and like a burden
  4. 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.
  5. You will worry if you ever will be able to walk “normally” again.
  6. You will regret not walking your dog for 10 miles a day while you had the chance.
  7. You will worry about your job.
  8. You will start to go stir crazy.
  9. 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.
  10. 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…..
  11. You will think that you will NEVER be able to control your crutches.  You will.  I promise.
  12. 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.
  13. You will miss driving and your independence.
  14. You will wonder if you’ll be able to weight bear without your ankle snapping again immediately.
  15. You will feel slightly jealous at some point of those that can drive or those that are independent.
  16. You will think about events that you’ve got planned for the year ahead and wonder if you’ll be able to cope.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. You will realise what’s really important in life.
  20. 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.

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Finding my way – but at a standstill

I’m starting to wonder if there is a mental process to all this.

Is there a line we all follow, the same sort of process as The Five Stages of Grief for example?  I know it’s a bit rich to compare the death of a loved one to a broken limb.  Death is permanent – A broken limb is temporary so really there should be no comparison whatsoever, but maybe the shock of the accident and the loss of mobility, and being able to do things alone does  cause grief.  Mourning for our usual life…not being able to get out and about, not being able to work, not being able to care for our families as we usually do.  Maybe an element of self-pity?  Actually I think the self-pity is caused by the guilt.  Guilt for being a burden, guilt for not being able to be productive.  This all sounds very deep I realise, but this weekend has been difficult.

When I first did my ankle in, I felt shock.  Mind numbing shock actually.  The first 48 hours passed in a blur.  There were visitors, and there were flowers and cards.  A few days later I got proactive; finished my college course, got some elearning for work done, caught up on important phone calls, made lists, got things done.  Then I decided that I would live as normal.  I would adapt to my circumstances!  I would be the Bitch of Broken Bones.  And then my ankle swelling got me a telling off from the fracture clinic.  And I finally had to come to terms with the fact that no I wouldn’t be adapting, and I really do have to rest.

So now, here I am.  I don’t want to be proactive anymore.  My laptop is sitting looking at me begging to get some things done.  But my mind keeps saying “Nope, today I’m just going to watch crappy TV and old films”.  I’ve heard from others that depression is common in this situation, but I really could do with avoiding that.  I think I’m more fed up that my life was just coming together for the first time in 21 years.  I was literally days away from starting, and then I fell down the stairs.  My job is being held for me, but I honestly don’t know when I’m going to be start!  In theory out of plaster in 4 weeks and then into a boot, but until I can drive everything is a non starter. Will I have full strength in my ankle?  Will this cause long-lasting effects?  Sounds pathetic doesn’t it.  I need to concentrate on just taking one day at a time.  Me stressing about things isn’t going to change a thing.

Here’s hoping tomorrow is an emotionally brighter day.

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Some kind of normality?

7am.  Husband is up and about.

Last night was the first night he actually shared a bed with me since the middle of last week.  I don’t know if it’s because right now he’s scared of kicking my leg in his sleep, or whether it’s because I’m a class A bitch to be around at the moment (I do have my nice moments though), or it may have been because he’s purely too tired by the time he’s finished meeting my barking demands and keeping everything else ticking over that he’s just fell asleep on the sofa downstairs.  Downstairs is the one part of the house that isn’t filled with my bossiness.  Maybe it’s become his own personal sanctuary.  Space to clear his head of the days events?

Or maybe he’s just being an arsehole.  I don’t know, and to be honest I haven’t really thought about it that much.  Trapped somewhere between the pure irritation and indignance of not being in control of my own life and responsibilities (How Dare life do this to me!), and at time big juicy bites of feeling sorry for myself, I’ve been purely selfish in my train of thought 99 per cent of the time.

The title of this blog is How to own a broken ankle.  You can take the title in two ways:

  1. How to own a broken ankle – and be a po-faced martyr, making everyone miserable in the process.
  2. How to OWN a broken ankle; be the boss of your own life even if you are hopping through it currently.  Hop through it with style, use the break to get on with your life in other ways, smile, find ways of coping. Take your painkillers like a good girl and GET ON WITH IT!

Currently I’m yet to reach stage 2.  I’ve found an amazing Facebook group filled with a few thousand folks that are in the same boat as me all in varying degrees.  Although I’m one of millions around the world currently in plaster, it still feels like I’m the only one.  I think that the only way to stop feeling this way is to get on with life.  And that has to start now.

9.43am.

I’m dressed, I’ve eaten and drank, I’ve taken meds.  I’m still upstairs.  I stood perched and unaided by my bedroom window looking out on the morning.  I’ve watched the lady across the road clean the inside of her windows, I’ve looked at the clouds and pondered the concept of chemtrails, and I’ve watched husband wheel our son into his car and take him off to college.  I’ve packed a bag that I will sling across my body containing the essentials I will need during the day – including my phone just in cast I get trapped in the lift…which is my biggest fear.   I’ve read another chapter of Apple Tree Yard (books are always better that anything on TV).  And here I am.  Still on the bed.  I think the excuse I’m using is the elbow crutches I am using are killing my left shoulder and therefore I should just stay put.  However, I’m determined to start living and resting in other parts of the house.  Anyone would think I’m contemplating boarding a plane whilst trying to deal with a fear of flying.  I’m just contemplating moving myself downstairs.  This is so ridiculous.

12.44pm.

I’ve been a busy girl.  I got downstairs in one piece to let the dog out….and then got one of my crutches caught round a chair leg whilst trying to close the door and took a tumble sideways again.  Luckily, I managed to avoid falling by hopping madly to the left…..and I stayed upright.  I swore at the chair, and demanded it’s removal.  I’ve been doing this a lot.  As well as the chair, I’ve demanded the removal of remote controls, bras on the floor (don’t ask), a trailing cable from an extension lead (this house is a health and safety nightmare it seems) and the dog for nearly tripping me over.

But time to put my proud hat on now.  Get ready for this:

  • I’ve washed up
  • I’ve cleaned the dogs bowls out and fed the dog
  • I’ve cleaned the kitchen sink
  • I’ve programmed the washing machine for later
  • I made myself a coffee and sat and drank it.

All this was achieved using the walking frame my Mum loaned me.  It has a seat, so I’m able to sit down and either pull myself around the kitchen or I can hop with it.  I think I may well not hop barefoot anymore though as it actually hurts.  I have some Skechers Go Walks in my wardrobe….I will fish those out as I think they may well help in a hopping situation.

By the end of this I was desperate to go back upstairs and lay down on the bed.  I’m in no hurry to go back down, but I’m getting kind of peckish, so I may nip back down , make myself a packed lunch and bring it back up.  Comfort is the call of order for the rest of the day I think.  But I still feel proud – and not so useless as I did when I started this post.

1.30pm.

I did it!  I made my packed lunch and brought it back up to bed.  Feel really sleepy now.

5pm.

Wow – where did the afternoon go?  Fell sound asleep, and now time to take my son to respite.  I seriously need to get out and about, so I’m going along for the ride.

8pm.

That didn’t go as planned.  Usual route was jammed with traffic.  Stuck for ages.  Ankle started to swell up inside cast.  While husband was checking son in to respite, I hobbled out of front seat and into back.  As soon as my foot was up, swelling went down.  I’m feeling knackered again.  This is bloody ridiculous.

9pm.

Pouring with rain, husband points out that my cast is going to get wet if I hobble round the back.  Getting up the front steps is out of the question.  His solution is to half carry, half drag me up the front steps.  Something makes a cracking noise…can’t tell if it’s my spine or his, and actually I’m beyond caring and so is he.  I know I will have to get to grips with the Sticks of Satan and slay the steps, but my shoulder is hurting so much it’s hard to see how I’m every going to master the ruddy things.

10.10pm

In bed, meds taken. Husband snoring.

I think I might take things a bit steadier tomorrow.  Like I should’ve done today.

 

Cracking on with it

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I’m usually always on the go.

I have 3 children to look after.  Although they aren’t small any more I’m still either giving lifts here there and everywhere, or doing the mound of washing that they keep well stacked.  My eldest keeps me especially busy.  My husband pretty much keeps himself to himself and works a lot – which is probably his saving grace for his own sanity as our home can become chaotic at times!

So, right now, off my feet, not being able to do anything really apart from stagger on the Sticks of Satan into the loo, is not really going down too well.  I  have mastered the art of having a wash sitting down – no biggie you might think, but actually turning yourself round on crutches and sitting yourself down on a chair is a craft that must be mastered in the early days of breaking anything from the waist down!  I have my shower stool and my cast cover and glory be, last night I managed to have a shower and wash my hair.  Oh the liberation!  I’ve been downstairs and sat in the kitchen while my daughter made a sandwich, and I’ve been in the living room twice – until my crutch slipped on the living room rug and I nearly went flying.  Mental note made to push the rug over by the window and avoid the area in general.

However tomorrow is the big day where I must become at least partially self-sufficient.  I am actually very pleased that our house is adapted for our eldest son, who’s mobility requirements are about as high as they come; level access, through floor lift, level access shower room and widened doorways.  I still live with this sense of dread that either the lift will get stuck (with me in it), or that I’ll slip over and break something else or heaven forbid that I’ll fall down the side of the loo again!  But the thing is I have to learn to manage this alone.  I have a few weeks yet of not operating on full power, so I need to pull myself together and sort my it out – and tomorrow will be the start, so please give me a thought.  I keep telling myself that others don’t have the luxury of having a husband to take over the caring role (albeit he’s moaning like hell about it – and at times expecting a medal or three for the simplest of tasks), so I have to yank myself up by the bra straps and crack on!

 

 

Rest, Rest & More Rest

What can I say about the past nine days?

The days between my trip (literally) downstairs and now have been strange.  I’ve tried to keep the happy front on show at all times, and there times where I have been genuinely happy, and there have been times where I’ve sat on the loo and cried.  Mainly because it’s taken so much effort to get there in the first place, and now I’d face a trip back on The Sticks of Satan to find some comfort again.  I’ve had two more loss of balance episodes on the crutches, but thankfully only one more sideways tumble-down the side of the dressing table.  That was amusing.  My husband and youngest son just stood and watched as I fell like a freshly felled tree.  In hindsight there actually was very little they could’ve done apart from pick me up, but I believe that was the first occasion my ‘Inner Monique’ came out to play, and to be honest she’s been sitting on the foot of my bed or on the handle of my crutch ever since.

I’ve had visits from the Hardcore Heidi crew…I’ve been brought flowers, chocolates and  even doughnuts.  I’ve rested, I’ve done as I’ve been told and I’ve had my first clinic visit where I was given another x-ray, a new plaster, and seen the same lovely consultant who told me I could eat breakfast last week!  My bones are healing really well, so thankfully my sideways tumbles, the dog jumping on my cast, and my husband accidentally  (not convinced on this by the way) dropping a crutch on my ankle, haven’t set me back at all in the healing stakes.  I have another check up in a few days, and then if all is well I’ll be left to continue healing for another four weeks.

The hardest part of all of this is that I can’t drive my children to where they need to be.  I haven’t attempted anything domestic as husband has been in control, and along with the lack of freedom I can’t look after my eldest son who requires pretty much constant care due to Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities and a whole other collection of conditions, most of which fall under the umbrella of m-cm syndrome.  Again, husband has taken over my sons care too, but I know he’s finding it very hard, I have actually had the opportunity to sit back and ponder over how the heck I’ve managed to keep all the balls in the air for so long myself!  I have taken a trip downstairs a couple of times in my sons lift, but none of it feels like mine anymore.  I suppose that sounds strange.  Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much time up here in the bedroom.  I’m sure that I could’ve laid on the sofa downstairs, but it’s been a lot easier to be up here as the bathroom is more accessible than the one downstairs.

Next week will see some changes though.  Son is off to respite care and husband will be going back to work.  The kids will be at school, so I will be left to my own devices – which will be very strange.  I’ve got hold of some basic equipment this week; a shower stool, a cast cover that arrived today – so I can at last have a shower and wash my hair, and I am fast becoming the boss of balancing on one leg when needed.  With the aid of the stool and a carefully placed pack of bed pads, I was able to get my son ready for bed and gave him his medication.  This was a huge boost.  My Mum has also loaned me a walking frame with a seat on it, and this will help me get around in the kitchen, so no fear of starvation whilst everyone is out!  I’m a solitary creature by nature so as long as the fridge is full and I have that walking frame, I will be fine.

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Homeward Bound

Bright and early my nurse arrived to get me up and ready for surgery.

I believe it was somewhere between 5.30 – 6am.  I figured perhaps I was on the morning list, but when they woke all the other ladies too I realised this was the norm.  Monique told the nurse to go away and turn the light out – which cheered me up no end.

No breakfast for me – nil by mouth, so I sat and watched the shenanigans with Monique unfold in the opposite bed.  I decided that if was going to be there, then I may as well pick up some tips to add to my ever-expanding portfolio of being a pain in the backside to those that I really don’t want to deal with but have to.   However as it turned out my stay was short-lived as the consultant arrived, and with a big grin on his face declared that at this moment in time he was happy with my x-rays and that I could go home on the condition I was on strict bed rest with my leg elevated.  If I didn’t behave then I would end up having plates and pins in my foot, and that he’d see me in clinic the following week.  “Get this woman some breakfast” was his parting command as he breezed off out of the bay.  Tea and toast had never tasted so good.  A good mental picture of me with that breakfast would be to vision the Cookie Monster with a big plate of cookies.

sesame-street-party-cookie-monster-lunch-napkins-bx-90776A visit from the physio with a pair of crutches, and a whole bag full of drugs to take home later, I was free to go!

I had never been so relieved to see my house.  But I had one thing preventing me from dashing up the front steps and in through the door.  My busted ankle.  This was my first trip on crutches….hereby known as The Sticks of Satan.  I had two choices of entrance; up a hill and along my long back garden into the back door, or up three steps into the front door.  It took me about five seconds to decide that yes the front might be more tricky – but it was quicker.  One problem though – the physio hadn’t shown me how to tackle steps….or if he had I’d forgotten all about it in my morphine induced delirium at being able to go home!  I’m not really sure how to put into words how I got in through the front door, but it is a wonder I didn’t end up straight back in hospital!

First stop was a toilet break.  That was another baptism of fire as I lost my balance fell backwards and ended up down the sideways of the loo.  Grim reality started to sink in.  This wasn’t going to as easy as I thought.  I contemplated the future for about 3 seconds and decided I had a clear choice between bursting into tears (again) or taking a nap.  I chose the nap.  Which lasted for the rest of the day.