Thursday it will have been two weeks since I broke the fibula on my left leg while exercising, and I am glad to report that I am already able to gently walk on it. But I have to tell you that first week was really eye-opening. My ankle was very tender, and after the first day when I tried to take a shower with a chair (not made for taking showers) slid out from under me and I landed on my broken leg, I was hesitant to put any weight on it after that mishap! The pain from that shower incident made me nauseous, and by the time it subsided I was truly wiped out. I believe it was the best night of sleep I have had since I broke my ankle.
That leads me to the first thing I now appreciate – being able to shower standing up without any assistance. The first night of my fall was really scary. I couldn’t put any weight on my left leg – that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but even a small step up and over, like the 4-inch outer shower lip, requires a weight transfer from one foot to the other. You would have thought I was looking at Mt. Everest when I stepped up to the shower. I stood there just looking at that step and wondering how in the world can I step over that? It required my husband holding my weight while I lifted my good foot into the shower, and then hopping over to the shower chair. A BIG thank you to my Mom, her garage sale days paid off for me – she lent me a medical chair made specifically for shower use. I believe I was never more grateful for having a chair than that shower chair.
The second thing I am most appreciative of is the simplicity of getting dressed. Getting dressed has taken on new meaning. This is an activity that normally can be done quickly and efficiently, now takes me twice as long. Before putting any weight on my broken leg, I have to get dressed sitting on the bed. My left leg is pretty much useless, the wrong angle and it would remind you of just how badly it was damaged. Never was the saying “We all put our pants on one leg at a time” apter. Thankfully, most of my pants were wide leg – a curse of being overweight, but in this case a blessing – so at least getting the pant leg on was easier. Then I would have to wrangle the pant leg on my good leg while sitting on the bed and hop around on my right foot while I got my pants on. This became quite routine, but I have learned to adapt and maybe shave 10 seconds off my best dress time. Wink. Wink.
The third thing I appreciate the most is, normal, everyday walking that you do without giving it a second thought. The first week on crutches was brutal – my right leg was doing all the heavy lifting, and my hip and bottom of my foot would ache from the stress put on them. I remember my husband talking about how I should be rehydrating while at work, and my first thought was “It is a long way to the bathroom.” I really felt that I had to prioritize my trips in order to ensure that I wasn’t exhausting my right leg, hips, back, foot, shoulders, arms and even armpits (yes, even my armpits were sore). By the end of the day, I felt like I was sucked dry by a pack of vampires and my whole body just felt exhausted. The positive from this is knowing that my right leg is even stronger now. I believe in this short amount of time my good leg has added some muscle and lost some of the extra fat, not a lot but some. I am actually considering continuing to use the crutches after I am better to strengthen my left leg. Am I really serious?
The fourth thing I have come to appreciate is handicap accessible places. We live on the second floor. Up a long flight of narrow wooden stairs. The first night back from the hospital I had to sit on these stairs and scoot backward to get to the second-floor landing. It had already been a long a day of work, a failed work out (coupled by my accident), an extended visit to the ER, so facing those stairs was like standing at the foothills of K-2. That mountain of stairs needed to be climbed and was the only thing between me and taking a much-needed shower and getting a good nights sleep. Perhaps I should have just stayed at the bottom of those stairs, as we know what the results were of that disastrous first shower.
Probably the biggest lesson and appreciation that I have taken away from this is how tough the people are that have to deal with these debilitating, handicap issues every day, perhaps with no end in sight. I know that I have a month to go and I should be free of the boot. I might have some physical therapy to get the movement back where it needs to be, but the doctor and nurses were impressed that I was walking with only one crutch today. I have a light at the end of my tunnel. So if you see someone who is handicapped, who is struggling please consider being their light, open a door, say hello, or strike up a short conversation with them.
I want to give a BIG Thanks to all the people who cared for me, who opened doors and who wished me a quick recovery. I especially want to thank my husband, for his attention, love and over-protectiveness…for my children and my parents for always seeming to have what we need when we need it (that shower chair has made such a big difference in my confidence in the shower and made my coworkers’ breathing so much easier!).