Or as normal as it ever gets! I’ve officially been cleared to work again, I’m no longer wearing splints and walking longer and longer distances until i start limping again and need to stop. I did alarm the physio with a very swollen left ankle (the fractured tibia one) on Friday night so I am taped up for the duration of the long weekend but flesh coloured tape is much less conspicuous than big black lace up splints.
There are so many things you take for granted until you have your mobility taken away from you. I’m really enjoying things like:
having a shower standing up
carrying things around from one place to another
walking around places
being able to get up off chairs
getting my own cup of coffee and indeed getting cuppas for other people
walking along hand in hand with my little boy
DRIVING – even though I have to use Anthony’s car for the time being.
I’m in the process of transitioning from convalescence to supply teaching again and I feel as if I am launching myself onto the world as a whole new person. A wise person told me that all these thigns happen for a reason and I found that statement hard to take as I hobbled around on crutches. But now, as I find myself on the way out of it all I believe she may have known what she was talking about after all.
I’ve got two little “minders” home for their Easter holiday as of today and I am determined to make it as good a holiday as possible given that they have done an awful lot of running around after me in the past three weeks. We’ve brainstormed a list of “places to go” and “things to do at home” today and will do some more work on our list tomorrow. Eric seems to think they should rank their ideas in order of preference next – I don’t know where he gets this from!
We’ll have to wait until after Monday afternoon to determine what will really be manageable because that’s when I’m seeing my specialist for the verdict on my ankles thus far. I’m not too worried about the right ankle because it is doing well (for a sprained ankle) but the left (fractured one) is causing some grief. It is still very painful, the splints rubbed against my skin when they first went on without socks so there is some major skin irritation gone on and worst of all my foot keeps cramping up. According to the physio I saw today it is sort of seizing up (she called it a type of “dystrophy” but we won’t go there). Apparently it doesn’t like being not used so the foot and calf are all very tight and uncomfortable which all helps to make me a bit more miserable. The GP suggested a magnesium supplement which the chemist said would take 3 weeks to work (!!!) and a non-stick dressing for my wounded bit. The physio massaged it all very carefully with me watching her every move. I’m sure my howls would have given it away if she did something that hurt too much.
So it is lucky I have my Dan around. After my post about Eric’s breakfast preparation efforts which could be used to, er, embarrass him in years to come I thought I had better share some of Daniel’s quirks. He is insatiable in his quest for knowledge. This leads to some quite startling questions ate any time at all. The most recent I can remember is a few nights ago when he was eating dinner just with dh and I and he came out with, “What’s sexual assault?” The boys and I watched about the last third of the Titanic movie this evening or rather Eric and I tried to watch it amongst the barrage of questions from Daniel.
Why are the kids on the life boats? What was wrong with this ship? How many people on the lifeboats? How many fell in the water? How many got stuck on the ship? Is this a horror movie? Why is it all slanting? What is the captain going to do? Are those the other captains? (referring to ship’s officers) Is Jack going to die? They should look out for all that broken glass in the water because they could cut themselves couldn’t they Mum? Will that bad guy die? I think that bad guy should die! Why did the bad guy pick up that kid? Who’s the old lady? (referring to Rose at the end of the movie) And then to top it all off as the credits start rolling: “Do you think that if they made solar panels about 5c each that everyone would have them?”
I’ve been bored and lonely today. So bored I rang dh and asked if he could come home early. Yes I was that desperate! He is going to bring the boys home from OSHC earlier than he would normally but left me with several long hours stretching out ahead of me. There was the prospect of the tuna sandwich and prunes for lunch. Yes, I’m eating prunes to er- keep everything moving and that is enough on that subject!
So I ordered a pizza and between Vera and I half of said pizza was consumed. It was very extravagant and not very healthy but it did a bit for my mental health which needs looking after too!
It was chicken and feta and it was good!
Since my tumble down the stairs resulting in two injured ankles, I have learned many things – how to use crutches, how to go up and down stairs on crutches, the best way of calling a cab and the best sort of socks to wear when you have to wear them under splints 24/7 for SIX weeks – only three to go!
how to make a cup of coffee (very important for his mother’s survival)
how to make a toasted sandwich (necessary for his survival)
how to change the shelves in the oven and turn it on
which things I need on my trolley when I go from place to place
He has also walked to the local chemist by himself when I was stranded at home and really needed prickly heat powder to put on under the aforementioned socks. As the days go on he is using his school diary to keep track of the pick-up arrangements for each afternoon which is very useful given that the arrangements are different every single day!
I wish I could say something similar for Daniel but he’s just not into trying new things without a lot of help. His main interest in my injuries is the fact that I have much more time than usual for reading stories to him and listening to him read to me. So he is learning in a more indirect way from what has happened. To be fair, he has filled a few water bottles for me and he quite enjoys getting me a Berocca each morning.
All of this has really made me think about the times at which we begin to teach life skills to our children. I think about it more, when I’m stranded somewhere at home needing something done and I wonder whether I can ask one of the boys to do it. Will they be able? Will they be willing? I’ve got a long mental list of things they do know how to do already but I’ve been thinking about how to move them on and some more things I could teach them.
Given that Eric is 10, I’d like to teach him to do simple ironing, start a load of washing choosing water level and temperature, do some vacuuming and where to access the electricity box and water in an emergency. For Daniel my ambitions include stacking dishwasher, hanging out small washing on clothes airer, folding things and taking simple phone messages. That’s just off the top of my head and I’m sure there are many more things.
I’d like my boys to get into very familiar routines for mornings, after school and evenings so that the jobs we wanted them to do and homework requirements etc were all just happening instead of coaxed out of them step by step each day. That means of course that I need to have better routines for myself and I do recognise that. I’d like them to develop their problem solving skills so they can see that there is often more than one solution to something that is bothering or perplexing them. I’d like to help them develop their emotional resilience while also leaving them secure in the knowledge that it is ok for a boy to cry.
Eric and I are going to a funeral on Thursday and it will be his first one. His teacher’s mum passed away last week. Other students from his class are likely to attend with their parents so he is feeling some safety in numbers. A friend and I had a conversation with Eric and her daughter this afternoon about the sorts of things that happen at a funeral and why they are important. We talked about what it means to the family left behind to see that their community supports them. Both children now have some concept of what they will see, hear and perhaps feel. Dh and I decided that it was important for him to attend a funeral now for someone he didn’t know well because there will come a time when he has to attend a funeral for someone he does know well. When that time comes it may be a bit less overwhelming because he knows the sorts of things that will happen.
Now is the time for us to be mindful of the learning opportunities that are out there in everyday life for our children and to make the most of them even if it does take longer to get things done and they may not be done as well as we would have done them.
You may have noticed that I didn’t put on Eric’s list that he knew how to make toast with honey. To explain I give you (as accurately as I can remember) our conversation on the Sunday morning before last.
“I’m going to make you a coffee Mum. Would you like something for breakfast?”
I take frantic mental inventory – what can he make and bring into bedroom without spilling it? I think that rules out cereal so I settle on toast with jam. He disappears.
“There’s no jam anywhere Mum. Can I put something else on?”
“Um, yes. How about some honey?”
At this point the kettle stopped boiling ages ago, he’s been to the fridge several times but no smoke alarms have gone off. Then he appears again.
“I’ve sort of made a mistake.”
“I sort of put the margarine and honey on but I forgot to put the bread in the toaster. Should I put it in now?”
“Um, no, that will be fine, you can just bring it in to me the way it is.”
As it turned out, he probably could have put the bread in the toaster quite easily because he eventually appeared with barely lukewarm coffee and two slices of stale bread with a tiny smear of margarine down the centre of each and about 1 teaspoon of honey altogether between two pieces.
“Thank-you gorgeous, it was so nice of you to make me some breakfast!”
“That’s ok Mum, nothing to it” and he struts away, chest out feeling very proud of himself.
We might still be learning but I’ve got very good material to work with!
Hopefully this will be a more positive post than the whinge that I posted in the early hours of this morning!
Many people have asked how I am managing to get around with two injured ankles. I had to master crutches before leaving hospital and both ankles are immobilized with splints. Thankfully the right ankle which was “just” sprained is feeling much better and I can bear weight on it quite easily. I cannot stay on it for too long however and I have to avoid any twisting or rolling movements because they really hurt and could cause me to utter some words that you really don’t want to hear. The left ankle which has a “non-displaced fracture of the lower tibia” is a different proposition. According to the specialist it was well on its way to being broken but the ligaments held it all together. And according the the physio I had for hydro on Tuesday it is more unusual to fracture the tibia because that is the larger bone in the shin. As I have said all along, it takes extraordinary talent to sustain two injuries at once! It cannot handle much weight at all and basically doesn’t enjoy moving very far full stop. It’s the one that hurts when i put it up or down and when I roll over in bed.
So crutches it is but I am quite blessed to have been loaned the little trolley in the photo. It carries all the necessities of life including: water, tissues, pain meds, wipes, mobile phone and knitting project. I just push it ahead of me when I move around the house and best of all I can transport food on it which saves me from eating at the kitchen bench. It gives me some measure of control over my environment and a tiny bit more independence.
The camera worked for long enough this afternoon to get a shot of my very unattractive ankles in socks and splints. They look a bit powdery because I need to put on prickly heat powder before the socks so I don’t get driven mad with itching and it certainly makes me glad not to be in plaster.
Today hasn’t been a good day. I’ve been down, teary and tired all day. It was a combination of things. I was still pathetically exhausted after my trip to hydrotherapy yesterday, today was bit of an anti-climax because I wasn’t going anywhere and I’m not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Hydrotherapy will only continue once it is approved by Work Cover as I already had had the five automatically allowed physio sessions while in hospital. It is really my only prospect of getting out of the house because we will be reimbursed for the cab fare. I’m not able to drive yet and I don’t know how long it will be before I get behind the wheel. If I was to get taken somewhere like a shopping centre I would have to hire a wheelchair and then have someone to push it. The potential “someones” are either a bit old to be pushing me in a wheel chair or they have small children to deal with. We can’t afford to spend any money on cabs that will not be reimbursed as my work prospects are going to be limited once again and for who knows how long.
Dh is working full time 5 days a week and may be doing overtime on Saturday and of course the boys are at school. They will be off on holidays at the end of next week but we will still be housebound because it is too far from here to get to any public transport and we cannot afford cabs. The book club girls took me out last night for coffee and book discussion but I came away from that realizing that everyone is still really busy and the fact that I am out of action doesn’t change that. So while plenty of people have asked, “What can I do to help?”, I’ve really only been able to ask for people to bring the boys home from school and even that was quite difficult to organise. Life goes on as normal for everyone else which means they don’t have time to stop for visits or cups of tea. Everyone balances multiple roles and has a busy schedule including me when I’m not on crutches. So I can hardly ask someone to pick me up and cart me around in a wheelchair and no one really has spare time to spend here with me. I think all of that hit home for me this afternoon and I felt really black.
The flood of phone calls and text messages that happened while I was in hospital has dried up to almost nothing. I’m lucky if I get two texts in a day and no one has time for phone calls these days. There isn’t really much to say either because I don’t know when things will improve with my ankles and there is nothing happening here at home.
I also realised that I wouldn’t be able to get to Weight Watchers tomorrow night as I had planned because the boys have hockey training. I cannot ask them to miss it as they missed out already last week while I was in hospital and it is on every Thursday so with great sadness I changed my Weight Watchers subscription to “on-line only” even though I need it and the meetings especially now more than I ever have before. My weight has made this whole injury thing even more complicated and I really can’t see things improving while I am so sedentary and while I am relying on everyone else to supply me with food.
Dh really is doing all he can. In fact he has been quite legendary since I’ve been home. He sets up the lounge room each night ready for me the next day with the TV left on stand-by, the remotes all put where I can reach them and most importantly, makes sure that the floors throughout the house are almost completely free of clutter. We are both terrified of what could happen if a crutch slipped on something that shouldn’t be there and went out from under me. He gets the bathroom ready for me to take a shower each night with the transfer bench half in and half out of the bath and everything where I can reach it. Then he puts on my socks and splints for me afterwards in the lounge. I get a coffee made for me in the morning before they leave and yesterday he left a ham and cheese sandwich in the fridge and the sandwich toaster out on the bench. I was so glad to find that when I got home from hydro!
As for the boys, the novelty has well and truly worn off. They are usually very put out when I ask them for anything or to do something for them because it takes them away from their all important computer games. And of course, their projects and activities must always come first. Eric was very impatient for me to get to the computer and help him fix a flyer he was making this evening and kept coming out to ask me when I’d be there despite the fact that I didn’t have my splints back on. The flyer was about him offering his services as a cross country coach for the the other kids at school but that’s another story!
My parents came to help out today but even that is a mixed blessing. While I truly love that our bathroom got cleaned and the sheets on my bed were changed I didn’t need to be told that I must not apply for any job until I am off crutches, that knitting is waste of money (again!) and that I really must do something about my weight. (If I didn’t already know the last one it was brought home to me when I had to crawl up our back stairs on the night of my fall!). I know they mean well and they are really the only ones that are in a position to offer us any help but some moral support and encouragement would be nice once in a while.
That is the end of my whining for now. There are some good things happening. Unlimited time to knit, stitch, read and watch TV. Time to read lots of stories to Daniel. I get to sleep in because there is nothing to get up for and I would be in the way during morning rush hour anyway. I have a couple of projects to tackle – writing and researching some pieces for the school magazine and doing the “end of season” achievement cards and certificates for Little Athletics. The latter is an enormous but tedious job but I certainly don’t have the excuse of not enough time to do it.
It’s awful to say this but I am dreading today (I’m writing this after midnight which shows how ell my sleeping pattern is going). I’m going to miss a couple of my regular Thursday activities, my ankles will still hurt and I will still have the long day on my own. But I guess I just have to take a deep breath and think “this too shall pass”.
Long time no blog!
I have a lot of material for a lot of blog entries but I’ll begin by telling the story of how I can to be here, ankle splints on both ankles, crutches leaning against the desk and two ankles deciding whether they need to be dosed with painkillers anytime soon.
It was an ordinary day at school last Friday until on my way to playground duty I fell down three steps and found myself in a lots of pain. Somehow I managed to hobble through the prep playground and then to the school office. Both ankles were hurting but the left one was very bad. The beautiful office staff ran around getting me set up in sick bay with a pillow and ice while I waited for dh the come and get me. Later that evening after an x-ray and ultrasound they concluded that the left ankle was badly sprained. I was issued with painkillers and crutches and sent home. That’s when the real trouble began.
I found that I couldn’t put enough weight on the right foot – even with crutches – to get my left ankle in plaster and the rest of me up the stairs. I tried the “backwards on the backside” method but that didn’t work. In fact I actually slid down a few more steps in the throes of trying that maneuver and the boys heard me utter some words I have told them never to say. I ended up slowly and painfully climbing the stairs on my knees. At the top I was stuck on our verandah. I couldn’t flex my feet enough to stand and dh couldn’t get me up. The pain was so bad that I was seeing stars so I had a drink and a rest, then hauled myself onto a stool and then finally into the house. I took myself to bed for a very uncomfortable night trying to get comfortable despite the plaster. I was up early the next morning because of the pain and once I had painfully got myself from the bedroom to the lounge my left ankle was screaming and my right ankle has swollen right up. I persisted for a few hours but eventually realised that this simply wouldn’t work. I rang my wonderful GP who said she was ordering an ambulance and contacting the hospital so I could go back. It was considered far too dangerous for dh to attempt getting me down the stairs again.
This is the part in which we staged an emergency services floor show for the street and my humiliation continued. 2 Ambos arrived and asked me how much I weighed. With that information they decided that they would not be able to get me out and that they would have to call ANOTHER ambulance that had a marvelous device called a “stair chair”. Well, Eric thought it was marvellous – I was just scared! It took an hour for the second ambulance to come so the first team of Ambos and I watched Video Hits (as you do). Then, for the amusement of the neighbours I was toted down the stairs on the famous “stair chair”. I’ll have to google the thing to see what it looks like because I didn’t actually see it.
Then I had 6 nights in hospital where it was eventually determined that the ankle we thought was uninjured but sore was actually sprained and that the one we thought was sprained was actually fractured. I graduated from plaster and elastic bandage to splints on each ankle and from forearm walking frame to crutches. When I was able to do the hospital practice steps four times (to allow for the 12 steps at home) I was allowed to go home.
So now I’m at home, migrating from bed to desk to recliner and working out how to live life on crutches. I’m getting used to planning everything in great detail before I move anywhere and best of all, I have HEAPS of knitting time.