Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Moment of Grace

Let's face it. 2014 was, for the most part, just awful for me. Given that I've cried enough, I'm not going to subject you to a look back to all that. I am going to list a few things I'm grateful for over the past year.

I'm thinner. Much thinner. Not as thin as I'd hoped I'd be by now, but that's okay. Especially as after I lost the weight, I kept it off. I restarted the diet this week and have a new goal to reach in 2015. I'm ready to get the rest of the weight off.

I'm three weeks away from being released from this boot and being allowed to drive again. I can't wait. But I must thank all those who helped me through this. From Larry, who has dealt not only with feeding and transporting me, to Michael, Sarah, Sara, and Emily who jumped in and helped with a wide array of tasks when I was first unable to do anything at the house, to our friends and family who brought us food, to the students at the school where I work who simply opened doors for me to wheel or hobble through.

The people at work. The events of this year have meant that I've had to work remotely on occasion and they were supportive through it all. Being able to work from various locales and with adjusted schedules helped me keep a bit of much needed normalcy in my life throughout everything that happened. 

Our redone space in the house. Over the summer, I redid our entry hall, living and dining room completely. It was a project I had in my head for over a year and it's done now, aside from finding the perfect dining table and chairs. The finishing touch for me though are the new light fixtures which my sister Jane gave me for Christmas. I still can't believe she sent me my dream lighting for these rooms. It's beyond perfect for these rooms. And they wouldn't be sparkling in these rooms if Larry and my son Michael hadn't spent quite a bit of time installing them. Working on these rooms was therapy for me following the death of my sister MC and now that they are done, being in them continues to sooth me, giving me a peaceful, beautiful space to sit and read or sew or just think.

My granddaughters. Luci and Ellen are pure love. I hold them and cannot believe how lucky I am to have them in my life. 

My husband. It's been a tough year and I am not an easy person to live with normally, much less when I am deeply unhappy as I have been for too long. 

My sisters. All of them. Mary Claire taught me so much. And being part of a team with Julia and Jane, heartbreaking as our appointed task was, was life altering. I've always loved them. But that love is deepened now by our shared experience.

My children. Who continue to love me. I hope they know how much I love them.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

A Three Month Sentence

More reason to hate 2014. Last Monday I went for the two week follow up visit with my surgeon. I was foolishly optimistic. I went in thinking that I could positive attitude myself through this. If I had a positive attitude, I could pull it all together and get my life back as early as Thanksgiving week. 

What a pathetic fool I am. 

The good news is, the stitches came out and the xrays look great. The bad news is the truth told to me by the surgeon. Because I was told to not put any weight on the damn leg, I didn't move anything within the splint for those two weeks because I was afraid of messing something up. And as a result, the muscles/tendons/whatever in my ankle have tightened up and need help. As in 'aggressive' physical therapy three times a week for six weeks. Which I can't even start for another week and a half! And which I will have to take time off from work to do as the physical therapy facility's last appointment of the day is at 4:00 pm. I also won't be seeing my surgeon again for six weeks. During which time I am not to put any weight on the injured leg. At all. And then to add insult to my injury, I asked when I will be able to drive again, thinking 'the minute I can put weight on this foot again'. And I was wrong again. Best case scenario is three months and that's only if at three months I can put my full weight on the leg and have full flexibility in the leg/ankle will he clear me to drive. Three months during which I cannot drive myself anywhere in my mini cooper. Three months when I have to rely on someone (mainly my husband who does have a job of his own) to drive me literally everywhere. Work. Physical therapy. Doctor appointments. Stores. You name it. 

As I sat in the exam room taking it all in, I started to look around for something to hurl at the wall and break. Because I was so angry and frustrated. Luckily, there was nothing within reach. But I'm still angry and frustrated. I am used to being independent and doing everything for myself. I'm used to doing things for others, not having things done for me. And right now, there is so much I can't do. And it's not that I am not beyond grateful to everyone who has been helping me. I am beyond grateful. But I am having a very, very hard time getting past the frustration of being helpless. And afraid. Afraid of getting in a rush and falling again and making it worse. Afraid it will take even longer for me to get my life back.

Friday, October 24, 2014

An Expedition to Deepest, Darkest Borneo

Or My Return to Work with a Broken Leg

After being discharged from the hospital late on Tuesday night last week, I spent Wednesday and Thursday adjusting to being home and figuring out the basics of having a broken leg in this house. Family and neighbors fed us. Essential changes were made to make things a little easier for me, and I started to build up my strength. On Tuesday night I announced my goal of being at work by that Friday. 

My husband refrained from asking, "Are you insane??" and did not make plans to spike my tea on Friday morning w/ an extra dose of the codeine based pain killer I was given. Instead he was a good sport and listened to my reasons for wanting to jump back in so soon. My reasons were simple and, I think, valid. On Friday, a meeting was scheduled with the marketing firm that has been examining and exploring the school where I work with the goal of providing us w/ new creative for our marketing efforts. This process has been a months long effort and Friday was the day the committee I am on was to see the design options they had created after all of this research, observation and input. As I will be one of those working with these new designs, I naturally wanted to be there for the unveiling. 

Now, our technology department could have arranged for me to attend the meeting remotely. And normally, I'm the first to accept a technology solution to a problem, any problem. But in this case, I told my husband, I really wanted to be in the room to see it unfold and to actually witness the reactions of my coworkers. And to be a part of the moment. And he got it.

So, we made our preparations. Thursday night, he became my shampooist, wheeling me into the kitchen and washing my hair as I stood on my good leg with my head bent over the sink. Then he wheeled me into position in front of our closet mirror so I could dry my hair. 

Friday morning arrived. We had planned that we would shoot to arrive at the school a little before 9:45, which wold give us time to get me in, get him set up in my office for the day and get me into the conference room in time for the meeting. To do that, we'd need to be in the car by 9:15. So, we get up and he fixed me my tea and English muffin. I ate and took my meds and gave myself the shot I have to take as a result of this little debacle. We did a little dance getting ready. Normally, I leave before he has to get into the shower. This day was more than a bit different. This was the first time I'd worn makeup since the accident, so everything had to be brought to me and there was no room on my nightstand due to all the meds I was taking. Also, my hair was looking significantly worse since I had dried it the night before. So, he had to set up my flat iron and bring the wheelchair so I could see what I was doing in the closet mirror. Once we were finally both dressed and ready, it was time for my first trip out to the car since coming home. We gathered everything up we thought we might need. Pillows to elevate my leg in the back seat of the car. My laptop case. My purse. My meds for the day. A shawl to throw over my legs while sitting in the wheelchair in my skirt. His backpack with his computer and other essentials to work. My walker, in case I needed it instead of the wheelchair to get somewhere at work. We really didn't know what I would need to get around best. 

We piled everything on top of my lap and on the side of my seat except the walker and he wheeled me into our entry hall, then went to back the car down the driveway to the sidewalk. Once back in the house, he got me out, not w/ a ramp but with what I considered to be a rather dubious assortment of random lumber from the garage arranged to 'step down' the wheelchair to the pavement from the threshold. My verdict was that while it was a slight improvement, I still wanted a ramp. But he got me to the car and I managed to get into the back seat, hoist myself across the seat to the other side and  fastened in and my leg up on pillows while he fit the walker and wheelchair into the trunk. 

Thirty minutes later we pulled into the gate at the school. After a bit of business w/ the security guards, including being told to put on my badge (it's still in my Mini Cooper), we parked and began the process of extracting me from the car and unloading the wheelchair w/ me and my stuff.

We finally got me and my stuff into the building and made our way to my office. After a few of the welcome back/what happened to you conversations, Larry settled me in the conference room for the meeting and headed off to do his own work in my office. 

I am happy to say that I was right about going in for this meeting. It was so much better being there in person to see the work and the reactions of everyone. It wasn't easy, but as first days back to work after an injury like this go, it wasn't bad. I will report that we did not need the walker, but did need the pillows. I texted Larry a little after 2 hours in and asked him to bring me one to put under my elevated leg. He handled it smoothly, handing the pillow in through the door and was accomplished, I hope, with a minimum of fuss. After the meeting ended around 2 pm, I hung around to help to get some information to some of the others that they needed. Then we loaded up me in the wheelchair and headed out for home. 

Since then, we have streamlined the process. So, it's not nearly as big a deal though it's still not exactly a breeze. It helps that I am regaining a lot of strength and stamina. I also admit that I probably pushed it on that Friday going back so soon, only six days after breaking my leg and having surgery. But I wouldn't have missed being in that room for that meeting. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

An Unexpected Detour

One false step. Just one false step. And this is me right now.

Eight days ago, I was at a friend's house for a lovely evening filled with fabulous food, dear friends, and a lot of fun just sitting around talking to each other. Then, as I was headed out to our car, I stepped out of their gate and missed a step.

Ending up on the ground in a heap with a right leg that was screaming with pain. As I seemed overall okay with no visible bruises, just in a bit of shock from the fall, my husband began to urge me to try to get up. So, I finally raised myself up on my hands and in doing so caught a good look at my lower right leg. "It's broken," I said. And everyone concurred when they looked at it.

So, a long night followed which involved a ride in an ambulance to the Houston Med Center, hours in the ER in a treatment room waiting to be treated, including having two level one trauma cases right next to me on the other side of a screen in the treatment room (one made it, one didn't to my sorrow), admittance to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning, followed by surgery on my leg. In the days since, I've had evil physical therapists (who had my welfare at heart) trying to get me to hop up on a three inch tall platform using my walker and doing it without touching my broken leg to the ground. (I flatly refused to jump, finally telling them that we would get a ramp for the front door threshold.) 

And now, about a week and a half later, I'm figuring this out somewhat. It has not been easy. The timing of this little accident has not been optimal (when is it?) and I have quite a bit of guilt over some things that I have not been able to do as a result of being out of commission for several days. I have another 5 to 7 weeks approximately to go. And even once I'm okayed to walk again, will almost certainly have to have physical therapy. But I'll cope. We'll cope actually, as this is really a family effort and also, to a certain extent, an effort that involves my friends and co-workers as well. For which I am profoundly grateful.