Halloa from the sea. Life is good, waves crash home to the beat of the setting sun, lots to tell.
This weekend the Resident Carpenter and I loaded the car with enough to last a family of four in Antarctica (we overpack), and headed west to the coast. We’d planned to shoot sunrise ocean video with the new drone, but that didn’t work out because Desdemona died.
On Friday night, Sept. 16, 2016, I fractured my left femur just above Elmo, my replacement knee. I lived in a wheelchair, facing hip-high amputation of my left leg, for about two years while I fought health care bureaucracy, cost-conscious HMOs, and myself to figure out a way to walk again. (Spoiler alert: Elmo won!)
I documented my adventures in remobilization in this blog. They’re awfully self-indulgent, occasionally icky, and probably only of interest to me, but on the off-chance that they help someone else with a catastrophic injury, I’m keeping them together here. If you don’t want to read them, that’s OK; I still love you. If you do, you might want to start from the beginning, on the archive page that lists all posts.
I acquired Desdemona Draken, a sleekly black Mavic Air, on Monday. She flew like a dream until Thursday, when some joystick-fumbling idiot (me) ran her into a tree.
Nathan the RC–whose obsession with gaming means he can play a drone joystick the way Pagliacci played violin–got as far as “Wait! Cynthia, watch out for that…” when Desi went WHACK! into a pine branch. Made for dramatic footage.
Propeller guards can’t protect sensitive electronics from a 60-foot fall onto concrete. Fortunately, I’m a much better buyer than pilot; I’d purchased DJI’s replacement support plan in case I happened.
Desi II arrives next week, too late for our coastal weekend. We decided instead to scout locations for a second excursion in a couple of weeks.
Post-mortem showed that Desi died of two broken legs, er, propeller arms. Ironic, since this same week I began walking on MY broken leg.
I guess that’s the big news: Doc Richard says the big hole in my shattered femur is filling in nicely, growing exactly as it should, and well on the way to being healed. See?
“I think,” he said, smiling broadly, “That we need to get you on your feet.”
My whole body tried to hide behind the wheelchair, which had suddenly transformed from a prison into this warm, cozy fortress of safety.
Awwwwww, c’maaaaan, Cynthia! Stop this nonsense, get the bloody blazes up out of that chair, and put one foot in front of the other.
“As of today, you’re full-weight-bearing, both legs,” he said, happily unaware that Good Leg (the right one) was having none of it, curling protectively around The Leg. “Start walking on a walker for as long as you can bear. When you decide it’s faster to simply pick up the walker and carry it, start using a cane.”
“Come back in a month for more x-rays, just to make sure things are going OK. In April, we’ll do a CAT scan of your leg, map out how much more the bone needs to grow. But yeah, it’s real. You’re really going to start walking. That bone is REALLY healing.”
So what do you do when you win? When all the effort and fighting and pain…works?
You go home, stand up, and try walking like a normal person, right? Too bad Good Leg refused to cooperate.
17 months of muscling me around, keeping The Leg from touching down, moving it into place under the sheets, had apparently taught Good Leg the joys of running the show. Brain was sending the signal to walk, but Good Leg said no. What the…?
Brenda the PT high-fived me the next day, at the pool. “THIS is what we’ve been waiting for! I’ve got a WHOLE NEW EXERCISE REGIMEN for you now!”
I explained that unfortunately, my body would not be cooperating in this scheme. “That’s perfectly normal,” she assured, “The hardest part of walking again is learning to trust what your healing leg says.”
“It’s telling me,” I said glumly, “To sit down and shut up.”
“You’ve been full weight-bearing for what, 20 hours?” she scolded gently, “You don’t get over 17 months of wheelchair in a day.”
Be Patient Cynthia (BPC), the mantra of my life.
I learned new exercises, rocking back and forth on both feet, holding onto the barre. Raising and lowering myself on BOTH toes. Sliding my full weight onto The Leg and holding it there, giving The Leg permission to control itself.
I’d been using a hoist to get in and out of the warm saltwater therapy pool, which made me feel a bit like a beached whale being towed out to sea.
“Today,” Brenda said, “You WALK down the steps, into the pool.”
Like normal people. Glorious. I swam, three whole laps, until I was panting too hard to breathe (swimming had been off-limits, too). Unbelievable how out of shape I’ve become.
“Don’t try too hard,” Brenda admonished, “But if you keep doing as well as today, you’ll be walking with a cane in four to six weeks.”
Four to six weeks. Wow.
At home now, I’m getting around more and more on the walker. The Resident Carpenter observed me on the stairs: “Hey!You’re going up almost normally.”
This morning, he loaded up the car for the coast, and I handed him the wheelchair to load while still the garage. Then I WALKED onto the driveway, out to the car, leaning on the grannywalker.
Walked. Bit stiff-legged, with Good Leg registering protest and The Leg aching mightily. But walked.
Down the sloping driveway, around the car to the passenger seat. Got in, folded up the walker, and sat down.
Walked, while the Resident Carpenter grinned from ear to ear. Holy cow.
The hotel (Hallmark Resort in Newport, OR) is great, with a fully wheelchair-accessible room that’s spacious and overlooking the beach. Nathan sat on the patio while I shot pics of the setting sun and we planned our scouting excursion tomorrow.
The beach here is gravel leading to sand leading to the sea. Tomorrow morning, I’m gonna see how far the walker gets me on that gravel.
I’m achy and tired but…four to six weeks. It’s really happening.