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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Downtime

Week 3:  My moods are changing all the time.  Each week brings a change.

With any luck I am now just over half way through my time in plaster, but this week has seemed the longest yet.  I’ve felt quite reclusive.  I’ve not studied.  I’ve just basically holed myself up and watched films that I’ve always meant to watch, and I’ve read books that I’ve wanted to read and not had the time.  I’ve tried to get about, but the swelling starts within five minutes of being on my feet, so I really have resigned myself to rest.  Total rest.  I did have two days where I had to look after my eldest son – and that absolutely wore me out.

I seem to have come in for a bit of grief regarding me resting.  I think the thought seems to be that I should be up and about and doing much more than I am.  But this is my ankle, and my family, and if I don’t rest up then I’m going to end up with surgery – and then being right back to square one.  My normal life can be an exhausting one.  If you don’t walk my path, then you cannot possibly understand it.  And if I have any hope of returning to it without my son ending up in residential care, then I need to do as I’m told now.

This evening for the first time, I am wearing mascara, perfume and a pretty top (with my ever faithful track suit bottoms).  My hair is blow dried and I feel half decent for the first time in weeks.  The girls are coming round for takeaway and for us to make plans for later in the year.  I’m not doing too bad on the Sticks of Satan, and I can shower quite easily alone now, although I need help getting the cover for my cast on.  Taking things slowly seems to be the key for me.  I know I will get though this.  And then once I’m back on my feet I’m going to send my husband away on a holiday cos he actually really deserves it!  Well actually the family budget probably wouldn’t allow for it, but I’d like to try to do something.  I will have to get my thinking cap on.

I know that soon I’ll be out of plaster and into a boot.  I’m hoping that it’s on my next appointment, although I daren’t put too much hope on it.  I’m hoping that will also mean some partial weight-bearing?  And then hopefully after another six weeks I’ll be well and truly on the home straight to recovery.

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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.

 

 

“Oh I’ve never broken a bone”

The sentence above was my personal claim of glory.  I’ve been through lots in my life – but I was made of strong stuff!

And then I met my fate, whilst carrying a big basket of washing down the stairs on Thursday 26th January 2017.

Life was going really well for a change. My eldest son Jack was doing really well at college, despite all the daily challenges he faces, and I had just managed to get my first job since his birth. Emotionally I was flying high.

About halfway down the stairs, I felt my right foot slide out from under me, my left foot go under me, and my left ankle in the opposite direction.  And then I heard a good solid snapping sound which will actually haunt me forever.  I slid down the rest of the stairs gasping with pain, and then I heard screaming.  That screaming came from me as it turned out.

My husband, once he’d very quickly established that I’d broken my ankle, picked me up over his shoulder (no mean feat as I’m no lightweight) and laid me on the back seat of the car and drove as quickly as he could to hospital.  By this time I think I must’ve been in a bit of shock as I just remember seeing street lights going past and me trying to block out the pain by going to the “Happy Place” in my mind.  Once we’d reached A&E I was seen really quickly, given pain relief, x-rayed.  Just as I thought I would be heading home with crutches and a cast, an orthopaedic doctor appeared and informed me that, no only had I broken a bone on the left side of my ankle, I’d manage to move another bone out-of-place, and that I’d be requiring surgery the next morning and was being admitted to a ward.  A big arrow was drawn on my leg, a canula was put in my right arm, bloods were taken and I was given some morphine.  And then I was put into a temporary cast.  However, prior to the cast, my ankle bone was manipulated back into place by the doctor.  Again, I don’t remember much, except threatening to place my big toe inside her nostril if she didn’t pack it in!  The doctor laughed.  I cried for what felt like the 50th time that evening.

The warm feel of the cast brought some relief, or maybe that was the morphine, but I was wheeled up to the trauma ward.  The story of my time there, which was thankfully brief, is one for another time.  But I met a lady I will never forget.  Her name was Monique, and she was dutch, and in her 70’s.  This lady took no prisoners, and whilst I don’t advocate being a thorn in the side of any healthcare staff, she expressed her wishes in a very forthright manner, told staff off for not treating the other patients how they deserved, and somehow got her 12 pieces of toast for breakfast the following day in a very crafty manner.  If you hear me every use the term that I’m “channelling my Inner Monique” then you will know what I’m talking about!

I was dreading surgery.  I’m no emotional lightweight, but I think the reality of being in the hospital alone was a really scary prospect.  But then I’d look around at the other ladies on the ward (all elderly) and pulled myself together and tried to get some sleep.