The following are “journal entries” I either documented on Facebook or jotted down in a notebook this past year. It chronicles the year as I worked my way through coping with my broken leg/ankle.
November 25, 2010 – Thanksgiving Day,
A pretty fantastic Thanksgiving meal at local restaurant, Tuscany. Love that it’s just down the street from us and after a short nap, we hit the road for the four-hour drive to Zion National Park in Southern Utah!
November 26, 2010 – Oh Crap.
The day started out beautifully. We hiked Emerald Pools and though it was very chilly, I felt energized and so excited to be enjoying the beauty. But on the way down I slid on some ice and hurt my ankle. (Well, “hurt” sounds too minor. The foot was actually pointing the wrong direction.) Let me be clear: IT HURT LIKE HELL! Steve and two lady hikers who came upon us dragged me about 800 meters while we waited for the Park Ranger to arrive. We were worried about hypothermia setting in, hence the need to get me out of the shade and into the sun. I was worried about my hands and feet. I have Reynaud’s Syndrome, which in most instances is just inconvenient, as it makes my hands and feet turn white, then purple, and then red and swollen when exposed to cold. But in this case, I was worried that I’d get frost bite much quicker than the average person.
Search and Rescue eventually reached me and carried me out. Still, at this point, I’m thinking it’s just a sprained ankle. I was loaded into the ambulance and taken an hour away to St. George.
So I broke my tibia and fibula. Seems as though I have to have surgery so I opted to have it done back in Salt Lake City. After loads of drugs, the staff tried to put Humpty Dumpty back together again and wrapped up my leg and we went back to the hotel in Zion.
November 29, 2010 – Phone calls
First call: Call work to let them know it’s going to be awhile before I make it into work, which has me really worried. I just started this job FOUR WEEKS AGO! (I actually texted to my boss the picture of me being carried off by Search and Rescue. There’s nothing better than great proof on why you’re not going to be in the office.)
Second call: Find a surgeon. So how do you shop around for a surgeon? Well, you start making phone calls. I finally decided to call my Physical Therapist who actually worked with me the previous summer on that very same ankle. (For acute achilles tendonitis.) First of all, she was not happy to hear that I messed up a perfectly good ankle but did give me the name of a good surgeon.
Third call: MOM!!!! Steve’s great and all, but I needed my mother around. She knows how to deal with these things.
November 30, 2010 – New Hardware
Today is surgery day. Feeling okay about it until I saw this Reader’s Digest sitting in the waiting room before I went in.
Everything seemed to have come out okay. A plate, five screws and 2 pins later I looked like this:
December 1 – 10, 2010 – The Lost Days
Don’t remember much about the 10 days following surgery. Except there was a lot of television (I watched so much HGTV that I’m certain I can build a house, decorate it and landscape it with no problem), a lot of vomiting (and mom was always there with the bucket), and a lot of pain. Actually, it wasn’t pain, it was just extreme discomfort. I learned a big lesson–the difference between being in pain and being uncomfortable. And that’s how I got off my pain meds so quickly.
December 24, 2010 – On Our Own
Mom left to go back to Oregon today. I was very, very sad to see her go. I hope that one day I can be like her and drop everything to go help someone for 25 days. Okay, let’s see how Steve does this on his own.
January 4, 2011 – Back to Work
I needed a wheelchair to go back to work. I had crutches, of course, but it’s a little problematic when your hands are swollen all the time like mine are (the Reynaud’s and this crazy autoimmune thing I’ve got going on), but mostly, it’s tough carrying around a laptop and notebook to meetings when you’re on crutches. I’m tired a lot. I’m also feeling quite lost–remember, I just started this job and was in it for only four weeks before I was out on medical for five weeks. I hate talking to my direct reports in a wheelchair or while sitting down. I have to look up at them. I feel like I’m not very commanding or even important. I’ve also discovered what’s ADA compliant in the office and what isn’t. I’m so dehydrated because I try not to drink water so I don’t have to use the bathroom at work. It’s such an ordeal–I have to take the elevator to another floor to use an ADA compliant bathroom.
January 10, 2011 – Project Runway
This injury changes just about everything. It’s hard to look cute when you’ve got the Storm Trooper boot on. But thank goodness for footless tights. (Regular tights pulled too much on the injured foot.) A whole world of possibilities have opened for me now.
And I’ve become the queen of online purchasing. It’s just too much of an ordeal to go out shopping in either the wheelchair or on crutches. Navigating around in the wintertime just feeds my fear of slipping.
February 4, 2011 – Physical Therapy
I love my physical therapist, but this time around I’m beginning to hate her. Big crocodile tears rolled down my face today as she pushed on my ankle to try to get back my dorsal flection. This can’t be happening, I thought. What if I can’t walk again? Those are real thoughts. But the more profound thought for me has been around, “What if I get fatter?” This injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. I have a chronic illness already (at the time we thought it was lupus), I have an extraordinarily busy job, I travel, and I already needed to lose a few pounds. Now this?! Ugh. So endure the pain, I must. I’m now doing physical therapy three times a week.
February 15, 2011 – Shoes!
Today I can wear shoes!
February 20, 2011 – Navigating Airports
I’ve had two business trips for work since the accident. Steve’s been my sherpa for both trips. Thank goodness he has the flexibility to do that. The whole airport thing is an ordeal, though. It does allow me to bump to the front of the line, but getting through security is a more manual process. Poor Steve’s back–he’s had to manage the luggage and me in the wheel chair. While in Orlando, we had some time and went to Cocoa Beach and I practiced walking on the sand with the help of my crutches.
March 12, 2011 – Hiring a Trainer
I’m not done with physical therapy yet, but I went back to the gym and hired a trainer anyway. Steve also is training along with me, so it’s turned out to be quite fun. It’s been 3 and 1/2 months since I’ve broken out in a sweat that wasn’t induced by some sort of medication or menopause, so it felt great to feel a little raise in endorphins. It’s still a little awkward–I can’t do everything I used to do, but I’m determined. Besides, my clothes don’t seem to be fitting anymore and it’s getting quite depressing. I have to do something about this weight gain. All this sitting around for 3 plus months just sucks.
June 3, 2011 – Graduation Day
Today I graduated from Physical Therapy. You get a t-shirt when you graduate.It’s kind of weird, because for the past 4 and 1/2 months the folks at Mountain Land Physical Therapy have been a big part of my life.
I still have a great deal of work to do–my dorsal flection still is not where it should be and I still limp. Moreso, my confidence isn’t where it should be.
June 16, 2011 – What goes around comes around
Steve had surgery oh his nose today. It’s his turn to get all the attention and I’m happy to help him out. I don’t think I could ever do enough to repay him back for all the help he’s been to me.
August 9, 2011 – Getting older just doesn’t help
I turned 45 today. I still limp from my injury, though. My legs (both of them) are still stiff. I think the 3 and 1/2 months of not walking took its toll on my body. I know I don’t have lupus…I can sense it. Thank goodness I have an appointment with a new rheumatologist and hopefully I can get some answers. I seem to be working long hours at the office, which isn’t helping anything with my body right now. Will have to seek a balance somehow.
September 5, 2011 – Zumba
I may still limp. I may have those days where I feel like I’m moving in cement (thank you, autoimmune disease, which I now know is scleroderma), but there’s something about Zumba that helps with both my confidence and my ability to still feel like I can move. I do not lie when I say that there are sometimes I’m nearly moved to tears during a Zumba class. It’s almost the same feeling I’ve gotten when doing yoga. I think it must tap into something inside of me that brings my emotions to the surface.
The best part is this: I often limp as I walk into Zumba and when I’m done I can walk pretty normally.
November 20, 2011 – Cycling through it all
This brings me to here–just days before Thanksgiving. I think this week I’ve turned a corner. Sure, I’ve gained 15 pounds this year WHICH I BLAME SOLELY ON THIS INJURY! But I’m at the point now where I can just let it all go and try to get back on track. It’s been a year of making my place at a new job, getting my confidence back with simple things like walking, and learning to receive help from others. I also feel that this year I was able to move forward in getting answers for my chronic condition–learning that it’s not one disease but another one.
My father died suddenly and unexpectedly on January 3rd in 1996. It was a tough year that followed, but I remember distinctively that I felt as though a burden was lifted as I rang the New Year in with my mom on 1997. I felt as though I was done cycling through that year and it was time to move on. Big things happened to me as I moved forward. I went to graduate school, moved up the career ladder, traveled and eventually found my husband.
I think I’m done cycling through with this injury now. I still have a ways to go with getting my foot back to normal, but I want to let go of the fear.
Oh, and I want to let go of all those medical bills too.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!