“Buh-bye” To What No Longer Serves Me

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Today, my hubby posted these pictures on his Facebook page with the words “Buh-bye ramp!”  I was grateful for my father-in-law’s labor of love (building my wheelchair ramp after my accident) and now it no longer serves me so it is time to let it go. 

The day I was cleared to walk, we returned home from the orthopedist and I asked my husband to leave the wheelchair in the trunk of the car.  I was grateful for the loaner from my step-father, and I was ready to release it.  I returned it rather than bringing it back into the house.

When it no longer served me, I asked my husband to put my walker out in the garage.  The same was true for my tub transfer seat.  And I recently put my cane out of sight.  It isn’t that these things trigger bad memories.  I simply want to keep moving forward, and it seems like getting the things that no longer serve me out of my awareness helps me do just that. 

 

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

I am noticing that my recovery is not linear.  Today I struggled to get up and get moving.  I managed to make it through an hour and a half of physical therapy.  Initially it was wonderful.  My therapist did some soft tissue work, relieving the tension in my muscles from my previous visit and the headache I endured much of the previous night. She then assigned several exercises that quickly reactivated all the tension she had just relieved.  I then returned home only to struggle to stay awake a short while.  I finally gave in to the exhaustion and slept for two and a half hours.  This evening my husband suggested dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, to which I quickly agreed.  I will complete this post and my day will be essentially done. 

This has been the pattern lately.  If I take a shower, that’s the most physical activity I can endure in one day.  If I go to the store or to run an errand, I’m done.  It is somewhat frustrating for someone who has been used to running at full speed all of her adult life.  I am learning to accept the low energy times, although I do regret the “lost time” until I remember that it isn’t “lost.”  I have to remind myself that these afternoons when I have to recover from therapy or other activities are times my body needs to heal itself.  

Above all else I have to remind myself that I am fortunate that these obstacles I am facing are not permanent.  So I will accept the fact that some days my body’s need for rest will win out over my will to be Wonder Woman.  In the long run, this will ensure that I keep moving forward.  After all, three steps forward and two step back does equal forward movement… one step at a time.

    

Writer’s Hands, Part II

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This is a follow-up to my post on January 16, 2014 entitled Writer’s Hands. I resisted the temptation to include a picture of my exposed, post-surgery, pin-laden, stitched pinkie. I found it fascinating, yet others have described the graphic photo with other less-than-desirable adjectives (i.e, gruesome, gross).

I can now type with 5 fingers, 3 on the right and 2 on the left. Unfortunately, I still cannot wash dishes or vacuum. (Okay, I must confess. I actually don’t really mind doing dishes. In fact, I actually enjoy housework in general. Strange, I know.) Using my cane is a little tricky, but not impossible.

In addition to my hand issues, I am now attending physical therapy regularly. It feels good to be moving again, and I am exhausted (and somewhat uncomfortable) afterward. And at the end of the day, I am grateful to be making progress every day toward a full recovery.

Ironically, my temporary disability is what has allowed me to write more, and that writing, in turn, has facilitated my healing process.

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.)