“Excuse me,” I said politely to the tiny, scowling lady walking past, “Would you mind grabbing a package of dental floss for me?”
Stores don’t really consider wheelchairs when they set up their displays. The floss was all the way on the top shelf, far above my reach when seated in the wheelchair. I would have stood, but the Kaiserbeast struck again: The loaner wheelchair they gave me doesn’t have very good brakes.
No matter; people are generally helpful. My tiny lady picked out a package of floss and handed it to me, then giggled.
“This is the first time in my entire life that I got to be the TALL one!” We laughed together, and she strutted down the aisle, smiling.
The dental floss she gave me proclaimed, “Extra Comfort,” strangely appropriate. Today is officially a JitterDay, the day before my bone growth check-in. I’m usually a grouchy basket case by the end of it.
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.
Tomorrow (Thursday) I get my 6-week post-op checkup. It’s the first time x-rays might show whether my pain and fighting and money and skill and faith have kickstarted real growth in my busted femur, so it’s a pretty big deal.
If there’s growth, Dr. Dan will tell me to start putting weight on The Leg, forcing accelerated strengthening and growth. We’ll begin the long, blessed road to walking on my own.
If, however, the x-rays reveal a femoral deadzone, I’ll get that dad-dratted look of compassion–or maybe pity–from doctors, nurses, and whoever else happens to know my story.
“It’s still very early days, Cynthia,” they’ll say reassuringly, doubt shining in their eyes, “Let’s give it another month.”
Sigh. I’ve been playing the “another month” game for 13 months, which means I’ve had a bunch of JitterDays. I think they’ve now topped IRS audits in the pantheon of tough days.
When the going gets tough, the tough…go shopping. Right?
Yup. And that’s what I did today. The Court, the assisted living facility where I’m staying until the docs let me fly home to Portland, will transport its residents to appointments, church, the library, and shopping trips.
Normally, if you need something at The Court, you tell the front desk, and they go buy it for you and bring it to your room. This time, though, I also needed access to an ATM, so they suggested I sign up for the afternoon CVS field trip.
It was (apparently) badly overdue and the best thing I could have possibly done. I needed the fresh air, the sunshine, and a big change of scenery. A CVS doesn’t exactly sound like an exciting getaway, but today, it made all the difference.
Sally, The Court’s bus driver, loaded four of us in–I was the only one in a wheelchair, the rest are all ambulatory. (I call that “naturally mobile;” at the moment I’m “artificially mobile.”)
We laughed, we joked, we told stories, laughed more. I picked up a few things, replenished my cash at the ATM, played a few rounds of Pokemon Go…but mostly just reveled in being outside for non-medical purposes for the first time in ages.
Tomorrow I get to find out if I’ll ever again see a trip to the drugstore as a mundane, even tiresome, chore. For now, though, my ladies and I reveled in the bliss of freedom and boxes of dental floss.