Recovery is a Full-Time Job

I began my day at 6:23 A.M. this morning, unless you count getting up at 5:00 A.M. to take medicine and let the dog out.  I set the alarm for 6:23 because my teenager asked me to wake him up at 6:30, if he slept through his alarm.  He is a bit of a character and when the movie 23 came out, he made a big issue over the number 23 (just to entertain folks… primarily himself).  I figured if I set my alarm for 6:23 (I like to get up before everyone else so I can get a head start.), I would initially note the odd  time and then remember my son’s request because of his number.  Incidentally, he was up as soon as his alarm sounded, so my little mind game wasn’t necessary.  I still enjoyed the little device I used to help me remember his request.  I try to do this more often lately, since I am having some difficulty with short-term memory… and going off on tangents.  So I then nudged my youngest through the process of getting ready for school. 

Then at 7:00 A.M. I had a physical therapy appointment.  I was grateful my husband warmed up the car, as the temperature was a whopping 4 degrees this morning.  I was also thankful that the therapist’s office is only 5 minutes from home, so I was able to slap on some sweats and leave only 30 minutes after getting out of bed (off the couch).    

After the therapist kicked my butt, my husband and I did have time to have breakfast before heading to my appointment with my hand surgeon.  They removed the large splint from my left arm, revealing the pins and stitches left over from my hand surgery.  A technician took two x-rays, one of which had to be redone.  Then I was fitted for a new, less cumbersome splint. 

I needed to have a document notarized, and I had decided to do this while I was already out of the house.  When I arrived at the bank, I needed to use the restroom which involved more of a walk than I had done to date.  While there, I ran into a friend who I chatted with for a couple of minutes.  Afterward, the notary took care of me and we headed toward home.

Realizing it was now lunch time, we stopped for Mongolian stir fry.  It was my choice, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but by this time I was tired and my back hurt.  Afterward, we headed home and I sat in the recliner for two hours until my youngest son came home from school.  And then I sat for another 30 minutes or so.

A little before dinner time, my substitute teacher brought by food that a coworker had prepared for my family.  We talked a while, and I realized that standing for any length of time hurts.  In the meantime, another friend had also asked to bring dinner as she does weekly.  I already knew the first meal would be cold and could be held until tomorrow.  And I never turn down offers of food, as I am still unable to cook.  So when our hot meal arrived, I visited with my friend and returned her dishes from the previous week.

We ate dinner and then I retired back to the recliner, this time with a heating pad. Now I compose this post in my perfected three-finger style, and I am having the thought that this recovery is a full-time job.

Thank You Note to My Husband

Since my accident in November, so many people have stepped up to help me in so many ways.  While I am grateful to them all, I want to take a moment and thank someone who has been beside me every step of the way. 

My husband helped his dad build me a wheelchair ramp when I came home from the hospital, and built me a low stool when my physical therapist recommended it.  He let me take over his recliner, and didn’t complain when I kept him awake moaning and groaning at night.  He tolerated my moves from the recliner, to the couch, to bed, and back to the couch so I could sleep comfortably.      

My husband has taken on all the household duties I am unable to do.  He has managed to work from home with only a couple of exceptions, and has altered his schedule to fit my doctors’ appointments. My husband has bathed me, shaved my legs, and cut my fingernails and toenails. 

My husband does the cooking and washes the dishes.  He washes my hair for me and blows it dry (which I won’t even do for myself).  He does all the shopping and errands (including taking the dog to vet).  He makes sure the kids’ needs are addressed, as well as mine.

I am also grateful that my husband still makes me feel like a wife, in spite of all the things I cannot do.  He knows I love to have fresh cut flowers in the house, so he took over my habit of picking them up with the groceries.  He slips me squares of dark chocolate, and pops popcorn for me. 

Before I was cleared to bear weight, he wheeled me to movies and out to dinner.  When we went out of town for a funeral, he lugged all the devices necessary to make my trip more comfortable (wedges, stool, styrofoam tube, neck pillow).  And before I resumed blogging, he made sure all of my technology needs were met.

I am fortunate to be married to a good man.  Thank you, Kelly, for all you do for me.  I love you.  (I know he will see this because he creeps my page nightly.)    

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.)  

Writer’s Hands

Here is a photo of this writer’s hands. 

Image

Because of my determination to write and post every day, I am typing this post with the three of my four working fingers on my right hand.  This morning I had surgery to correct a bony mallet finger, one of my laundry list of injuries incurred in my November accident.  The right pinkie was injured as well, hence the splint.  The school bus struck me on the left side and actually broke the left pinkie, along with many more bones on that side of my body.

I was once told that the size of a woman is determined by the size of the obstacle it takes to stop her.  So far, I’m bigger than a bus! (I still have a sense of humor.  The nerve block is still in full effect.)