Made coffee this morning and got another lesson in gravity: The rich cream slid down into cup’s depths, while all the sweetness sank to the bottom, leaving a thin, bitter layer of dark on the surface.
What does it mean when your morning cuppa joe becomes a metaphor? Probably that gravity is ruling my life lately, and it needs to stop.
We saved Elmo. That walnut-sized sharkbite in my femur continues to heal, and there’s little doubt now that the bones are knitting back together. On February 7 Doc Rich gave me the coveted “full weight-bearing” status.“Time to start walking,” he said, with a grin.
Sweet mother of pearl forgive me, but my Inner Child truly believed that recovery would be all downhill from the moment I heard those words. Brain knew better, understood that saving Elmo was only the beginning of the journey…but neglected to mention 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.
It’s easy to overcome gravity in a cup of coffee: Stick the spoon in, and stir. Learning to walk, turns out, needs a lot more than a spoon: Grannywalkers, perseverance, physical therapy, and a lot of wincing. Even then, I walk like my feet have been put on backwards…and given far too much whisky.
I’ve learned to envy those leggy folk who make walking look easy. “For heavens sake,” says Brenda-the-Physical-Therapist, “You’ve only been standing up reliably since mid-February. Be patient, Cynthia.”
Be patient, Cynthia. BPC. The mantra of my life.
By now I expected I’d be “accidentally” losing my cane in places as I forgetfully walked away like a normal person. Instead, here’s me, leaning heavily on the grannywalker at every step, gritting my teeth as I streeeeetch out tendons shortened by months of inactivity, secretly yearning for the safety and comfort of Tyrone Spiffy, the most comfortable (and comforting) wheelchair ever invented.
I want normal and I want it NOW, so it’s hard to accept that It Just Doesn’t Work That Way. The first time I had to stand for five minutes…holy cow. Ouch. A month later, I can stand for 15 without wanting to cry…but my lower half still longs for Tyrone Spiffy.
My traitorous muscles only get stronger by ignoring the seductive call of the wheelchair, so mostly Tyrone stays in the trunk of the car, waiting for emergencies. I remind myself to get up and move every hour or so now that I’m back at work–it’s far too easy to sit at that desk for eight hours straight and get stuck, unable to move.
OTOH…I have a leg, and not just temporarily. Time to stop whining and move on.
Not that there aren’t plenty of distractions. The upstairs renovations on the house are done. In place of the old, barely functional master bedroom suite, I now live in the Glorious Bedroom and Bath of Dreams, as accessible as it is beautiful. (Thank you, contractors!)
The Resident Carpenter, AKA Nathan, has taken up, well, residence (duh) and made the former guest room his own, decorating it with various and sundry sporting goods (if you’re into fishing poles, it’s a bit of a museum). Then he tackled The Junkroom.
The Junkroom got its name from being practically the only room in the house with a doorlatch that Lola couldn’t pick. Anything I didn’t want the cats to have (mostly breakable art) wound up stowed in there. On really good days you could actually see the floor, but mostly…it’s The Junk Room.
It contained my hospital bed, set like a jewel in immense piles of stuff, before I went down south for surgery. Now, thoroughly cleaned and reorganized, it’s become The Media Room That Doubles as a Guest Room.
The Resident Carpenter has supplied it with wall-to-wall monitors, two Xboxes, and all sorts of droolworthy electronic recreation. He may be the only human on the planet who can watch a movie, manage email on his laptop, chat on his tablet, and text on his smartwatch, and still play Battlegrounds while discussing studio renovations.
…which is the next big project: The new studio shed outside, the garage, and my former studio/laundry room are all getting a makeover. We’ll add a half-bath to the former laundry room and enclose the HVAC and stuff, then turn the remaining space into a combination glass and jewelry studio with a ginormous storage wall.
The studio shed will become the place for coldworking, woodworking, and (eventually, if Kickstarter ever gets off the dime) waterjet cutting, as well as large-scale storage in its loft.
The garage will contain the glass kilns (the little PMC/enamel kiln stays in the indoor studio), but mostly make room for (gasp!) SherryBaby the Camry. There will be moldmaking out there, too.
In the meantime, my friend Aviva donated an 80-gallon aquarium setup and it’s becoming a coral reef environment, a major job in itself. The resident carpenter is making over the cabinet that she thoughtfully supplied with it, adding a special multidoor lid that he GUARANTEES will keep Lola out (this I’ve gotta see), and setting up the whole shebang in the living room.
It’ll make up for the somewhat disappointing news from The Leg front: It’s beginning to look like my knee will never bend much past the 65-70 degree mark, too inflexible to easily traverse stairs, ride bicycles…or go scuba diving. Instead, I’m told I must content myself with reef diving in my living room.
Of course, I’m determined to get to at least 90 degrees, no matter what the medicos say. But there’s a very real danger, while the bone is growing back, that if I push too hard to streeeetch the scar tissue around my knee, the broken place will act as a hinge, breaking again. So for now…stationery hobbies will have to do.
Salt water reef aquariums are a whole ‘nother story, and something that’s going to be fun to write about…as soon as we can ransom a couple of kings to pay for it. In the meantime, we’ve been whetting our appetites for such things at the Newport Aquarium, flying drones, and just generally gearing up for the next big renovation.
Sorry about the episodic writing…I promise that as things get back to normal, so will the blog.