Tuesday, September 3, 2013

navigating my new "normal" - the first two weeks

Where did we leave off? Ah, yes. Day 3, the day The Boot entered my life.

The Boot is heavy. Like, the first couple days it took both hands to lift my leg up onto its pillow perch from the ground kind of heavy. The Boot is ugly. The Boot is inconvenient.

And every time I wanted to pull it off my leg those first two weeks and set it on fire, I kept reminding myself that The Boot represented the best case scenario. The Boot is not a hard cast. The Boot means I didn't break my leg clean through. The Boot means I will not need surgery.

I'm grateful to be in The Boot.

Ice is magic.
Best advice doctor gave me? Use crushed ice. 

The first two weeks of life in The Boot were excruciating. My ankle started to feel better as soon as The Boot went on (it wanted to be all wrapped up tight, snug and cozy. Clearly, my ankle), but it was certainly not pain free. For the first portion of this broken ankle saga, I was completely non-weight bearing. Or NWB as they say on the internet forums, which I know I shouldn't have looked at, but they were my only source of knowledge about what happens when you break an ankle bone. Being NWB meant that every time I moved, I kept my bad leg off the floor.

Do you know what's difficult? Trying to get up off of a couch without putting any weight on one leg, and perching yourself securely on crutches once you manage to stand up. I was grateful these days that I had strong legs, but wanted to smack myself across the face for my glaring lack of upper body strength. Do you know why you need upper body strength? To use crutches.

It took me a little while to be brave enough to face our stairs. The stairs that tried to kill me less than a week before. Internet research showed me how I was "supposed" to climb the stairs using my crutches, but it swiftly became clear that wouldn't be happening. You see, to climb stairs on crutches, you go up the stairs good leg first. You step up on your good foot, and bring the crutches and the bad foot up to meet you. Rinse and repeat. The catch? A normal step up requires you to, however momentarily, have ALL of your weight on one foot while the other lifts. That means if good goes up, bad bears the weight. If bad has to remain off the floor, it means that to step up you have to have no feet on the floor and your entire weight balanced on the crutches. With our steps, that was over a 5" jump straight up and trying to land squarely on a step that is the exact same width as my foot.

I'm not a genius y'all but even I knew that this scenario was the perfect recipe for me to fall down the stairs. Again. And so I did the next best thing and scooted myself up the stairs backward, lifting myself with my shoulders. Fun times. I timed myself, and the first time it took me over 15 minutes to get up the stairs. 15 minutes.

So for the first week or so, I tried to strategically minimize my trips up and downstairs. It was not easy.

Then the bruising came. My foot went from merely swollen to a rainbow color of purple, red, green and yellow. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about bruising and how it heals and what it represents in the body. I panicked, sure that I had somehow injured myself further.

Beyond late onset ankle hypochondria, I was more frustrated than I have ever been in my life. I have always been fiercely independent. FIERCELY. I do not like to ask for help, and I do not ever expect anybody to help me. This isn't something I'm proud of, but it's who I am. So finding myself in a situation where I can't do so much as carry a glass of milk 3 feet, or leave my house to buy that milk, or even drink that glass of milk without having to sit down first, was infuriating. I had to rely on the kindness of friends to go to the store and get me groceries, to come visit me. To get me to the doctor, or carry anything more than about a foot. Crutches mean that not only is your leg out of commission, so are both of your hands because you need them to remain upright.

My sweet friend brought me a gallon of milk (doctor's orders) and added in some chocolate.
If the bottle says it's fortified with extra calcium, that makes it healthy. Right?
Everything was hard. I tweeted this a week in: "I'll be doing awesome and then the smallest thing will thwart me. Today: dropping the milk cap on the floor. #brokenankle"

But if there was anything those first weeks taught me it was who my real friends are. Who was there for me, who took initiative to reach out to me. Who I felt comfortable reaching out to for help. Because here's the deal - if you are seriously injured and you feel like you can't ask someone to help you with a small task? They are not a close friend. The hardest part of the first few weeks was this kind of thing, not the pain in my foot.

It was way more than 50% mental, let me tell you. Well, I'll tell you about that later.

Have you ever had a season where it became clear who was a true friend and who was just a friendly acquaintance?

1 comment:

  1. Oh man, reading this makes me really thankful that I was not NWB for my injury. I hated every minute of the 4 months I spent in my boot, but gosh the crutches part sounds way worse.

    I am glad that you had good friends to step up and support you. If i was in your shoes, I do not know what i would have done because I do not have any friends that are THAT good of friends here in Charlotte.

    I think that the past year has shown me who is a true friend. I don't expect everyone to check in with me all the time, but I have definitely seen who steps up to reach out and support me and who remains silent on the sidelines...

    ReplyDelete

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