Friday, May 27, 2011

One Year Ago Today - Part 1: The Foot

Today I'm starting a new series that will walk you through the horror we lived through "1 year ago today". You may think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not - the events that unfolded last year at this time were utterly, incessantly traumatic. We survived. Some others did. Some did not. Our lives will never be the same but hopefully by documenting it all as it happened I can process through it, intentionally this time, and finally put it to rest having it no longer be "1 year ago".

One year ago today - started out somewhat differently than any other Friday. It was the Friday before memorial day and it was a good day. I had to stay home that day in the morning because we had a visit from the social worker for our 1st sibling group. I had a 1pm meeting, so I intended to be there for the visit then head into work and finish the day while the hubby was home with the kids for the afternoon. I'm trying to remember if my son was there - I don't remember him being there at all but he may have been either at school already that day or at home with us - funny how some things you don't remember. I bet he was at home because his daycare used to like to take Friday's before holidays off. I bet he was home.
We had just moved into our new home exactly 1 week earlier and though we had put away most things in that week we still had several boxes left to unpack, scattered throughout the house. I think the appointment time we had with the social worker was something like 9:30 or 10am. Sometimes (ahem...) caseworkers are late so as the time approached I didn't wonder too much where she was but as it became later and later I started to wonder if she was coming. Then I realized that she was a new caseworker and didn't live in the area. I didn't have her cell phone number (I hadn't really met her yet), just her office number and email address, and as I thought about it, I wondered if she never had our new address. She never showed.
So we waited and waited. I worked downstairs through the waiting while my husband played with the kids upstairs in the playroom. He was so good to do that. I suppose it was about 11:30 or so when I finally decided she wasn't coming so I was going to head into the office. I went upstairs to say goodbye to the hubby and kiddos. I decided I would carry a big box downstairs just to be helpful. It was empty but big so though I didn't have a hard time carrying it I couldn’t see where I was going really. That turned out to be a major issue. Our playroom is on the 2nd story, but you have to climb 2 additional steps to get to the playroom vs. the rest of the 2nd floor. I forgot about that; we had only lived there for 1 week. I couldn’t see the steps. I took a step expecting the floor to be there and it wasn’t. I landed sideways on my left ankle with full weight, immediately fell to the floor (obviously), and knew then this was a bad injury. My kids ran to me immediately and laid on top of me, worried about me crying in pain – which really was more fear of the incident than the actual pain. I was hurt but the pain wasn’t hugely overwhelming and my pain threshold is high.
My husband immediately called my sister to come get the kids so he could take me to the urgent care. When he helped me up I was surprised that I could put wait on it but there was no stability in my ankle. Turns out I had a hairline fracture but the biggest deal was that I tore all the (whatever) in the ankle area. All of it. I believe it was ligaments and tendons and everything. So if I put direct pressure on it then it was ok as long as it was light pressure, but if I had any twist in my ankle at all it was bad. So really I couldn’t walk on it because if I didn’t step exactly perfectly it was a huge problem.

The doctor gave me a half-leg boot that I had to wear for 8 weeks. I mean – at the time we didn’t know how long I had to wear it but it ended up being 8 weeks. During the middle of the summer – through everything else. So remember as I tell the rest of the “1 year ago today” story that I was fairly disabled in terms of my ability to walk around and I did so wearing the big boot. I call it the big boot because after the big boot, sometime in the middle of July, I was able to go onto the small ankle boot brace. It made my ankle immobile and stable but I was able to wear some shoes (I hadn’t in 8 weeks) and it wasn’t as heavy or disabling as the big boot. Sometimes I had to go back to the big boot for a period of time but mostly I wore the small one. It was very helpful as I really couldn’t walk without it. I wore that small ankle brace thing for another 3-4 months. After that I tapered off and still occasionally pull it out as I feel instable. Yes, 1 year later I feel unstable.
I can walk pretty well now. Stairs and anything else that cause me to bend my ankle up or down (point or flex my toe) reminds me of the injury – I’m still very weak there and I don’t know if it will ever be all the way better. It’s not really something I can work out. There’s a lot of scar tissue and just general weakness. Last night my son and I did a workout video and there were a lot of lunges – the good news is I made it through the whole (26 minute) video but the bad news is I still can’t really do lunges or that type of movement. And it’s not like it hurts and I can’t or it’s weak and I can’t – I just can’t; my foot doesn’t move like that anymore. I hope it goes back to normal someday but it’s one of those injuries where I think I might be living with it for a long time. Hopefully not.
I will say I’m pretty darn proud of myself though. Aside from everything else we went on to experience I made it through just day-to-day life. At the time I had 3 kids 3 and under. Shortly after I had an infant, then 2 infants who together weighed 50 lbs (and neither walked). I went on a hike in July (the day I got my small brace, though I don’t remember if I wore the small or big one). I didn’t go swimming much: the movement of the water and need to use my ankle to keep my body standing was just to much for me to ensure my kids were safe but we did go some especially later in the summer. We finished unpacking. I survived with a new found appreciation for handicap spots (though I didn’t have a placard). It was hard, but became more like a hindrance as we experienced things to come.

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