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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On Two Feet

Week 8/9

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.

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Fresh Air

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.

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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The light at the end of the tunnel

Week 4

There have been some changes this week!  I appear to be emerging out of the hiding under the duvet stage and quietly happy to start living my life again – even if it is on one leg.

I’ve actually gained a good amount of control on the Sticks of Satan, and am able to get about with reasonable ease.  My shoulders no longer hurt with the effort of using them and I am a total boss of balancing one leg!  Getting dressed is a lot easier, and I’ve learned how to get down on hands and knees to crawl round my bedroom to get into lower drawers etc and to be able to get back up again.

My rucksack really has become my best friend (thanks Mel!), and with this enables me to get all my essentials downstairs if need be.

I also gained the confidence to shower alone – with no assistance this week.  I know that sounds totally lame that I haven’t done that before week 4, but this accident has really knocked the stuffing out of me and I can state here and now that breaking a bone shatters your confidence as well as body parts.

In week 1 I completed all of my overdue college work, and then although I had eLearning to do for my new job (that I was due to start days after I broke my ankle), I lost my passion for study, side lined everything, and spent my time reading, watching movies and sleeping.  In all fairness I don’t think it was a bad thing – I actually needed to switch off for a bit,  but now I feel the need to reboot and get on with all the things that I feel passionate about – including my new job.

I’ve not really written about my job.  I think that I’ve felt so grateful that it’s being held open for me that I didn’t want to jinx it.  I currently have no idea when I’ll be able to drive again, and therefore no idea when I can start – and I really pray that they can continue to accommodate this.

Twenty two years ago I became a mum.  My eldest son was born with a whole range of medical conditions and caring for him became my sole focus.  Two more beautiful children followed a few years later, and I was lucky enough to be able to be a full-time mum and carer.  In the last few years I started to think about what I’d like to be able to do with the remainder of my working life, should I be in the position to work again.  With everything that you learn being  a parent of a child (now adult) with special needs, you learn more that you could ever dream possible.  And you also come to learn and embrace that you really should use these newly acquired skills in whatever way you can….or maybe that’s just me?  Anyway, having left school with no qualifications , I decided that maybe some distance learning would help me get some qualifications to show for everything I’d been doing since I was last in the world of work.  My local college offered Health and Social Care NCFE qualifications via distance learning, so I began with a qualification in working with Individuals with Learning Disabilities.  I passed – which led the way to me doing two more; Administration of Medication and End of Life Care.  To cut a long story short, I applied for a part-time position as Support Worker at the Resource Centre that my son attends and got the job!  I began my induction, and was flying high in every respect.  And then I fell down the stairs one evening at home – and that, my friends, was that.

Hopefully I am coming towards the end of my time in plaster. In less than two weeks I am back to the Fracture Clinic again.  Hopefully I will be free of my cast and then into a boot.  And then a new phase of adaptation comes again.  I suspect that I still won’t be able to drive again until possibly week 12.  However – maybe I’ll be in a better position to spend some time at work – even if it is only shadowing and reading policies and procedures.  We shall see what the next appointment brings.

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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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Reality Check

Week 2.  And a kick up the bum

I really am going to have to do this another way.  I went to the hospital yesterday for my check up. Ankle was found to be in a non-satisfactory position.  Cast was whipped off (well, sawn off with that vibrating circular saw from hell) and my ankle was then moved into a totally new position.  I didn’t swear, I just stuck my top in my mouth and bit down.  After 5 minutes of my foot being held in the new position I didn’t feel the pain anymore….so it’s official….I’m hardcore.  In the grand scheme of things I’m not.  The folks who have hardware in their ankle are hardcore.  I am just so grateful I never had to endure that. I had a new cast to hold my foot, and another x-ray and sent home for another 4 weeks.  The Consultant said that when I go back hopefully the cast can come off and I can go into a boot.

However.  The swelling I have is not good.  And the Nurse picked up on this straight away.  I got a telling off.  And yep, she was right on everything she said, so I’m abandoning my to-do list because this isn’t a race.  I escaped pins and plates by the skin of my teeth and there is nothing to say that in 4 weeks, if my ankle hasn’t repaired well, the decision won’t be made to put pins in then!  And that really would be the end of the world for me.  The bottom line is I’m trying to do too much and I’m not resting enough.  Attempting to load washing machines or trying to live as I did before in any way is not an option as things stand at the moment.  I am still going to attempt to get around the house a bit more BUT in short bursts, and actually not for the next few days at least as I need to get this swelling down.  I’m at the stage evidently (2 weeks in) where the swelling is at its worst, so I really need to behave and be kind to myself.  And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

 

 

 

 

The little things

I think we all have a well-meaning person in our lives.

They think that by telling you not to feel sorry for yourself and to get up and crack on you will recover much quicker.  This is not so.  And I seem hell-bent on learning this the hard way.

I should have known.  The same person told me to get my coat on and get my baby in the buggy and take a walk (uphill) to the shop less than 10 days after my C-section.  I did it, thinking fresh air would do me good – and ended up with a really nasty infection in my scar.  These people are the ones who are all too happy to give you advice over the phone, but they are never the ones who will show up or even offer to come over and help.  And if their conscience does prick them, they show up for a day and then tell you they are ill and can’t possibly help out in any other way….but they will always “be at the end of the phone” should you need them.

And then there are the people, who despite fighting many battles of their own, offer to drop everything, drive many miles, and get everything back in order housework wise!  And you know that they mean it and they would absolutely help you.

There are others that can’t help, and you don’t expect them too….but they throw you a vital lifeline in the form of constructive advice about crutch use (because they used to work in this kind of field), and they loan you a laptop indefinitely that becomes your absolute lifeline to the outside world.  You know, that had their own situation been better they would’ve been on the doorstep when you got home from hospital with everything under control.

It really is a case of the little things counting at the moment.

The point of me saying all this, isn’t to shame anyone or to make them look bad, but just to highlight my thoughts.  It really is when the chips are down that you discover who you can really count on, and who you never really could.

So.  After that period of digression, let me tell you about my day so far (it’s 11.30am)

I’ve just dragged a duvet cover full of wet laundry back upstairs to go in the dryer after I was told that I needed to stop relying on others and just get on with it over the phone yesterday.  Whilst I was downstairs I made myself some breakfast and a coffee (go me!), and now I’m back upstairs and I am completely. done. in. I’m back on the bed, typing this, wondering where I’m going to get the strength from to go back into the bathroom, get washed and dressed and ready for my hospital appointment in two hours time.  My advice giver has rung my phone out twice this morning, and I really can’t be bothered to answer.  I know they mean well, but I just can’t deal with hearing anymore right now.  I won’t be dragging any more laundry anywhere.  I’m going to basically sit on my butt now and bark orders.  No more listening to any advice from anyone who isn’t qualified to give it!

Before this, I thought it was easy to get on with normal life minus one leg…just a case of finding a different way of doing stuff.  But it’s a lot more complex.  So many different factors come into play and not just practical ones.  But the upshot of all this is, this situation is just temporary.  I will be back on my feet at some point soon.  I just need to accept that for now, I need to rest and I need to recover.  Maybe I need to use this lovely laptop to draw up a housework rota for my family who are just getting on with their lives. They are helping when I ask, but my teenagers seem to have lost the ability to switch a vacuum cleaner on.  I have a fantastic idea!  Maybe I should fashion one of my crutches into a some sort of cattle prod….any lame excuses and they get zapped!

Don’t put that idea past me……