Last Friday was my second post-op appointment to see how my ankle is doing. The stitches came out. I have incisions on both sides of my leg. X-rays were taken and my surgeon says it all looks very good even though my leg looks like Frankenstein. The bad news that I wasn’t expecting is that I am to completely stay off my leg for three more weeks, keep it elevated like I have been and start wearing a boot that looks like a giant elephant foot whenever I go out (just to protect my foot) The nurse said it only weighs three pounds but YOU try lugging that thing around on a leg with muscle atrophy after a month of not using it. That boot feels like it weighs 30 pounds. Anyway, I’m supposed to kind of bend my ankle back and forth to work the muscles and soft tissue before I start PT the middle of April. That’s when I can start trying to walk on toes with the boot on. Several weeks of PT and I “should” be walking without any assistance devices by June. WHAT??? JUNE??? Ugh. I don’t know what I expected to hear. In fact, the doctor said my foot will be swollen for months and it won’t even really feel right until September. OK…fine. I had a 48 hour pity party over the weekend and then set my sights for June. I will do everything the doctor tells me to do so I can get back to living my life, walking Truman eight miles a day, driving, going up and down stairs, shopping for groceries, doing my own laundry, cooking food other than canned soup in the microwave and starting that garden I wanted to plant this year. OK, maybe I won’t get to my garden but at least I want to mow the lawn…and that’s something I NEVER thought I would say.
So, living with a broken ankle has allowed me to rediscover that set of muscles in my left leg that I wasn’t using very much. I’ve become very good at hopping and balancing on my left leg when I need to do something that my crutches get in the way of. For example, in order for me to cook something for dinner I will take the food out of the cupboard or fridge and hop with it over to the microwave or stove. Then I will sit in the chair I placed in front of the stove to cook and then I just sit and eat it at the stove. It’s much easier than hopping with hot food over to the table. Hopping and balancing on one leg is very good for the gluts. My left thigh is getting used more than usual too. In order for me to stand from sitting on the floor (Why am I sitting on the floor you ask. Because I have to scoot backwards on my behind up the stairs to my house in order to get in. I fell doing this using crutches so….yeah, not going to do that again) I use my thigh muscles to pull myself up using just my leg. This is something people do in a crazy, boot camp work out class. Good thing this broken leg is allowing me to still get in a workout without paying a personal trainer. And I find that swinging myself around on crutches all day is a great cardiovascular workout. It’ll be interesting to see what my right leg looks like compared to my left leg in a couple of months.
I tend to be a very independent, self sufficient person. I will choose to try to fix things myself before having to call for help. I am always willing and ready to learn new things so in case of an emergency I can either help myself or someone else who needs it. This is why it has been extremely difficult for me to ask others for help with my broken ankle. It’s quite a humbling experience to have someone else do my laundry. I feel guilty asking people for rides to and from work. I am embarrassed to have people come over to see dishes piled up in my sink and Cheerios spilled all over the kitchen floor because I am unable to sweep anything or load my dishwasher. (And apparently I am unable to properly pour a bowl of cereal, hence the Cheerios all over the floor) It’s hard for me to have Truman stay with my neighbor. I wonder if he misses me since she tells me what a wonderful time he is having running around in the backyard and playing with her dogs. She said she is happy to have him, he is a very good boy and he acts like he’s lived there forever. I’m glad he’s happy and feels comfortable. I’m grateful…so incredibly grateful to my neighbor for taking him in since I am unable to care for him at all but I miss him horribly.
It’s hard for me to have someone do my grocery shopping for me, to clean my house, to take out my trash, to take me to doctor appointments and everything else that I can’t do. But the reality is I am grateful to learn a new lesson in humility. People need people. We can’t all do this by ourselves and when you need help….ask.
In the grand scheme of things, a broken ankle is nothing. It will heal. I will be back to normal in a few weeks. In life, you can choose to complain or you can choose to be grateful for everything that happens to you even when it’s bad. A grateful heart helps you heal faster and opens you up to people and opportunities that you might not experience and enjoy if you become angry and closed off. All in all I’d say this broken ankle has been a good thing just to reinforce that lesson.
February 24th was just like any other Saturday for me until a patch of ice threw a wrench into my machine. I was babysitting dogs for the weekend and decided to take some of them for a short walk around the block before bed. I was almost home when my right shoe hit a patch of ice. The friction caused my foot to snap to the right and that was that. My ankle broke. I actually saw it happen and immediately said out loud, “Well….THAT’S broken”. It actually didn’t hurt…..at first. So, since I didn’t have my cell phone with me I decided I should probably lie down in the snow bank and yell for help.
I yelled help for oh…I don’t know….five minutes. Nobody came. A car came by; I tried to flag it down. It did not see me. So, I decided to yell a little louder. Still nobody came. So, I decided I should maybe scream for help. So I lay there screaming for help for at least another five minutes. Still no one came. Meanwhile, all three dogs are sitting by my side…or so I think. Finally, I see a car come across the road and pull up beside me. It was a policeman who said someone heard me screaming help and called 911.
(OK….so glad they came out to see if I was dying but that’s ok) The policeman saw my ankle and called an ambulance right away. I told the officer he could take my dogs back to my house. He asked me what their names were. I told him the one next to me was Truman, the brown one was Cooper and the little white one was Marley. He then said, “ummm, ma’am there’s no little white dog”. Oh, NO! Apparently my screaming for help freaked her out so much that she chewed through her leash and ran away. They said they saw her but she kept running away from them. I told the police who she belonged to so they could call the owners and maybe they would be able to catch her. They put me in the ambulance and took me to the hospital.
While I was in the hospital doped up on morphine I was on the phone trying to contact all the other dog owners to make arrangements to get their dogs….and I still didn’t have my phone. It was a wonderful coordination between the police department and the hospital to get my phone and look at my contact list to give me the numbers of the people I needed to call. What a mess. Meanwhile, the owner of the little white lost dog called the hospital and got through to me to tell me she was going to bring me my phone so she could keep me posted. When she finally got to the ER with my phone she told me that she found her dog, waiting on my porch steps at my house. Someone she recognized was across the street so she ran across the street to him when a truck came around the corner and…..yes. She was struck.
They thought she was dead but when they went to pick her up she started whimpering. They took her to the animal hospital where she only needed a stitch on her face. Apparently she ran into the truck tire instead of the truck tire running into her. Thank goodness! Needless to say I felt horrible. Just horrible. And I still needed to figure out how all the dogs I was babysitting were going to get home…or at least outside in the morning. It was finally 3:30am when they admitted me to a hospital room. I don’t think I slept at all.
The surgeon wasn’t available to do surgery on my ankle until Monday afternoon. Both bones broken so once again I need a plate and screws and pins and ugh. What an ordeal. Here are some lessons I learned to help YOU in case of emergency. Always carry your cell phone and your keys with you. Always. When someone offers you help when you need it, take it. Then when you’re able, repay the favor. If you must walk your dogs on icy sidewalks, wear traction grippers on your shoes. Finally, yelling fire in an emergency will probably get you help faster than just yelling help.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me so far: Rebecca, Marny, KB, Cheryl, Amy, Joanne, Tracy, Michelle and everyone else who have sent their prayers and letters and phone calls and texts. Thanks to everyone who has gone grocery shopping for me, cleaned my house, washed my clothes, taken care of Truman, given me rides to and from work and cooked for me. I am overwhelmed with such an outpouring of generosity and kindness. I cannot thank you enough. I’ll be back to normal in a few weeks. I will always remember to pay your kindness forward when I can.