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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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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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……

 

 

 

An achievable life

Oh to do the things I normally do.

Who would’ve thought that I would miss tasks like loading the washing machine and dryer!  However, I’m sure that with a bit of adaptation I could manage to do at least something other than fall down the side of the toilet?

Here’s my wish list.  I will cross things off as I achieve them!

  • Go to the loo – without fearing for my life
  • Make a cup of tea
  • Make myself a sandwich
  • Do some washing up (even if I realise afterwards that I’ve used the sponge that’s used to clean the dog bowls out)
  • Get dressed in something other than tracksuit bottoms
  • Be able to get into my wardrobe and chose what I want to wear without having to plan a military operation
  • Be able to put my knickers on without swearing or pulling a muscle
  • Realise that I’m actually not superhuman and need to rest and not feel guilty about it
  • Load the washing machine
  • Drive the car (that’s a long way off)
  • Tackle a flight of stairs – even if it’s on my bum
  • Learn to tackle the outside steps on my crutches – so husband no longer has to half carry half drag me back into the house
  • Stop feeling envious of my friends leading their normal happy lives
  • Let go of the fear.  It’s a bloody plaster cast….not an angry alligator clamped to my leg (although it feels like it at times)
  • Cook a meal for the family.
  • Stop worrying about what will happen financially.
  • Realise that this is a temporary situation.  This will pass.  I will walk on two legs again.
  • Lay to rest the fact that I may not be able to wear high heels and glamorous shoes again….not that I have in the past 5 years anyway.  I’m a Skechers girl though and through!
  • Create another page on this blog listing all the useful tips that are being passed my way by others in the same situation.