Of Wheelchairs, Walkers, and Walking

My visit to the orthopedist yesterday brought a couple of blessings.  The doctor lifted all physical restrictions, besides those imposed by my hand surgeon.  This means I can bear weight on my left leg.  I can walk on my own again.  He recommended I use my walker for stability, but said I could hop out of the hospital if I liked.  I might have done it, had my leg not atrophied over the past ten weeks.  

I expected to be given the go ahead, yet it still feels surreal to be walking again.  In addition to being given permission to walk, I was also given time to regain my strength.  The doctor ordered six weeks of physical therapy and a final evaluation three months from now.  For me, this means I have time to fully recover before I must return to work.  (I am a bit of a workaholic, so I am a bit surprised to be relieved to find I will be home a bit longer.)

When I returned home from my appointment, I asked my husband to leave the wheelchair in the trunk of the car.  We borrowed it from my step-father who is living with COPD.  Like me, he only needed it when out and about, but I want to be sure to get it back to him as soon as possible.  It isn’t a post-traumatic avoidance issue, but a desire to close that chapter of my journey.  

I have a new-found respect for those who have accepted being permanently bound to a wheelchair, and compassion for those who struggle with the same.  There are things I learned firsthand from being temporarily disabled.  For example, the handicap stalls in many public restrooms are the farthest from the entryway.  Entrance doors in many businesses are frequently too heavy to hold open and wheel yourself in at the same time.  Some people ignore the reserved signs in movie theaters for those accompanying movie-goers in wheelchairs.  I could go on, but I point these out to show my own ignorance as well.  I am certainly more mindful of the obstacles the physically handicapped must face.    

I also had my husband fold up my walker and leave it near our front door.  I will still take it with me when I leave the house, as I don’t want to hurt myself by being overly zealous about my mobility.  At home, I am taking it slowly and using furniture for stability where possible.  I have found that just a few trips to the bathroom and kitchen are physically exhausting, yet I am so grateful to be able to make them.  

Before my accident, I was walking or running daily (and occasionally riding my bicycle).  I wore a FitBit One tracker and had a goal of 10,000 steps per day.  I didn’t always hit the target, but occasionally exceeded the goal, some days getting in as many as 20,000 steps. Now, I am tracking around 200 steps per day.  I ran a 5K two weeks before I became immobilized.  So, as part of my healing process, I have registered for my next 5K.  (I may be walking rather than running, but I will be out there.)  

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