I know this is a long blog post and selfishly it’s really just for me to read in a few years as a reminder of what I’m going through now. I could save it just for me, but why not share it? 🙂
On the 30th of August I was discharged from hospital after breaking my leg. I was pretty scared to go home, not just because I had to get up some stairs, but because I was leaving the relative safety of nurses and guaranteed 5 healthy meals a day. The thing I would most miss though was the bed that tilted up and down plus went up and down – it was awesome. In compensation, I would be able to breathe fresh air again, see the sun and watch all the movies and tv I wanted to watch rather than be subjected to free to air. Unfortunately for Pauline she would be taking over nurse, carer, chef and carrier for the first week I was home.To get home though I had to take an ambulance because they had to get me up some stairs and not just a few – about 10. I was picked up in a patient transport vehicle which had room for two in the back. Escorting me were male and (hot) female ambos and an old lady called Mavis who we picked up from the Mater Adults hospital on the way. She lived in Annerley and got dropped off first. While she was being carried up her stairs I got to watch cars come round the roundabout and head straight for me since the ambulance doors were wide open. Not the greatest reintroduction to traffic again and I have to say it freaked me out a little. It was probably about then that I realised that there were some mental impacts from this accident and it may take a while to get over. I’m not one to usually get scared about lots of things, so this was new territory for me.
At Mavis’s I overheard them ask for a stair assist for me at my house. Thinking this was some kind of really cool machine I was a little disappointed to discover that a stair assist just meant two more ambulance men. They got me out of the stretcher and in to the special chair to get me up the stairs and valiantly carried me up the stairs – all four of them. For not the first time I felt sheepish about being overweight and vowed to do something about it when I’m able to walk again. I was unceremoniously awkwardly dumped in to the spare bed where I was going to sleep because I was better getting in to the bed in that direction (although I still needed someone to lift my leg at that point). I sat there for about 2 minutes before attempting to head to the loo. In hospital I had mainly used a hopper to get from the bed to the toilet, but before I checked out I had to get down stairs on crutches in case the house had a fire or something. At home they had delivered me a hopper, but by the time I was home I was more confident with crutches and decided the hopper was just too slow. So Pauline went out and hired me some crutches. Meanwhile I had been set up on the recliner on the back deck where I soaked in the sun, the air and dozed happily. It had been so long since I’d been outside and it did wonders for healing.
In the first two weeks I had home nurses to come and help me bathe and change my dressings from the surgery. In truth I could virtually do the bathing myself, I just needed someone to give me techniques to start with since bathing using a sink wasn’t something I had to do in hospital. I couldn’t use the shower because it was downstairs and I couldn’t use the bath because it was way too deep. So I struggled with a shower chair, a sink full of water, sponges and washers. I absolutely hate it, but it is a necessity.
Pauline was being a good sport carrying all my stuff around, bringing me tea and making our dinners, while I excelled at being bossy and learning how particular I am about things. I mostly moved between the bed, couch, toilet and recliner. My knee was so swollen that I actually couldn’t detect where the kneecap was, nor did I bother putting a sheet over it since it was generating enough heat to cook a chicken.
For entertaining, I had my movies, tv and books, but also had a steady supply of visitors to keep me happy. By the end of the first week I felt brave enough to go out and took up an invitation from my aunt to see riverfire at Torbrek. She hired me a wheelchair with a leg extension which allowed me to keep my leg straight while getting about. It was great to hang out with my extended family and helped a lot on the way to feeling normal again. Especially after tasting Fiona’s cupcakes. 🙂
The next day my father spent fathers day cleaning my deck and hanging up paintings while Mum made us her homemade lasagne. Dad’s reward was a movie, while Pauline and I both felt spoilt having all this stuff done for us on the day that was meant to be for my dad.
A few days later my mother took a carers day to look after me since Pauline had gone back to work. We decided to take advantage of the wheelchair we had for the week and ventured out to Carindale – but before going out I got to have a shower for the first time since I was now making it down the stairs under supervision. Of course the leg had to be covered and a rubbish bag did the trick, a large yellow one that smelt of lemons. But damn it felt good.
At Carindale we found the most awesomest park right at the entrance to the store and it wasn’t even a disabled spot. Mum got me in to the wheelchair then we headed for the travelator to go upstairs. Getting on was fine, but at the top the wheelchair’s front legs weren’t straight and mum couldn’t push me off. In what felt like slow motion I grabbed the escalator arm and somehow extricated my leg and myself from the wheelchair, which in turn collapsed and somehow fell on mum. A man came to my rescue as I hopped on one leg wondering where I was going to go and I lent on him for support. A lady helped mum up while everyone was asking me if I was ok. I said I was fine and they should check on mum since she was the one who had fallen over (knowing she doesn’t fall well). Security guards came running and took our details to check on us, mum saying she was fine until the adrenaline wore off and she discovered all the cuts and bruises she had. She’d managed to cut up her leg, hurt her toe and underarm and various other impact points. None of them were hospital worthy but they cleaned up her leg cuts. She thought it was really really funny and once I knew she was ok, I thought it was pretty classic too. We were laughing thinking it should have been on funniest home video or something. In fact it was the best laugh the two of us have had in years and lasted the whole shopping trip. We saw the security guard walking in front of us picking things up so we didn’t run over them and made sure we knew where all the lifts were – that made us giggle again. Turns out on the side of travelators is a sign that says wheelchairs shouldn’t be used. Live and learn. LOL!
Pauline got to try the wheelchair next to take me to the doctors before we had to take it back. To add to the fun it rained, which made it a little difficult but we got through it. The doctor took off my dressings, cut off the long stitch that was hanging around and was not impressed by my inability to lift my leg up. He made an appointment for October 22 (which is now what I call “break out of leg jail day”) and wrote me a letter for physio.
A few days later I rocked up to physio which was an effort in itself. It’s amazing how one or two stairs can complicate a whole situation. The carpark had one step and the physio entrance had another and although I’m good at going down I suck at going up (no rude jokes please! LOL). I fudged it by bracing one hand against a stationary item and using a crutch. The physio wasn’t impressed with me and also adjusted the crutches since I was using them too low and was stooping. He then proceeded to put me through some leg exercises and then manipulate my knee cap which hurt like hell. The knee hadn’t moved for about a month so it was totally screwed. I proceeded to deal with the pain by grimacing and laughing which we both thought was an odd reaction. He put some electrodes around the knee and let it sit there for about 15 minutes in an effort to get some of the swelling down. I was sent home with some exercises I needed to do 5 times a day.
The good thing about physio is that they do things to your leg that you wouldn’t do yourself which makes you discover the limits of what you can do with it. My first few days of doing the exercises resulted in me swearing a lot and being angry at the lady who caused the accident, but as the pain lessened and the movement got greater the swearing stopped and the healing rate improved. Today I am at the point where I am rarely taking any drugs, can do the exercises with relative ease (although with a lot of tenseness still) and am pretty fast on the crutches. My knee is still a hot cauldron, my foot turns red and swells up whenever it isn’t raised and I can’t bend my leg fully, but I am certainly getting better. I’m annoyed that I had one scratch on my leg after the accident but now have a leg full of scars after two surgerys, but it’s really a minor inconvenience and I guess it builds character?
As for being at home I’m surprisingly busy. Between the exercises, bathing, eating and entertaining myself the days go pretty quickly. I have a bit of cabin fever at the moment thanks to maybe two weeks of cloudy days but going out for breakfast yesterday helped that. I still don’t have great focus and can’t sit in a chair for a long time but that is improving too. I’m avoiding shows with blood and injuries for obvious reasons as flinching and eye covering has been added to my repertoire. Over the halfway point now towards being able to walk and although I won’t amazingly take the leg brace off and walk normally, just being able to take a few steps will make me happy enough. This has been an ordeal and I just have to make the best of it. For now I must continue to live in my leg jail: