Broken

I lie in bed with my leg elevated. Six weeks of rest, elevation, no weight allowed on my right foot. I am halfway through my stint. A broken tibia.

Forced inertia allows time for one time to think. And I have had plenty of time to think. It hasn’t driven me round the twist. I haven’t felt weak and reached for alcohol. Have you tried crutches lately? You cannot hold anything while walking with crutches. A backpack would help but a cup of tea you cannot carry. A thermos of tea, yes but not a cup of tea. The effort to sit up in bed relying on one foot only, the effort to get to the toilet, to go down steps. I cannot go up steps. That’s where my bottom comes in handy. I creep up steps, one by one on the seat of my bum, with a flat cushion and make it to the top.

Could my fitness have been better before the break? Yes. Would it have made getting about easier. Yes. That doesn’t help me now though. I am not great on crutches.

Let me interrupt and say this: New Zealand has excellent public medical service when it comes to broken bones. I paid NZ$40 for subsidised X-rays and NZ$35 for a subsidised GP appointment and the rest was paid for by the government. Which really means by the people and our taxes. I received a moon boot. There was a long wait in Accident & Emergency. New Zealand hospitals are understaffed and underpaid. Capacity of patients in winter is at 145%. They are busy. That doesn’t stop them from being both professional and caring. I was impressed. Yes I waited a long time but others who waited also waited patiently. I received a cast after more X-rays. And follow up appointments for out-patients.

For getting about home I have been loaned a toilet seat with handles and stability. A shower chair. And later a knee scooter. I had my own crutches. The shower chair actually sits beside the bed so it makes it easier to get up and standing. Who knew how hard it is to do everything on just one leg. I am humbled by my situation. I have time to recover. I do not have children to look after. DH has been an angel with fetching and carrying things for me to keep me fed, watered, amused and functioning.

All this time to think and I have not gone bat shit crazy. I appreciate this moment in time that I have been given. It is a glitch or a correction in my life. A time to reflect and look to the future and see how I can do better, plan better. I can write, draw, use my computer. I can hobble about the house. I cannot clean. I hate cleaning anyway. But that got me thinking. I deserve to live in a clean house. I can look at cleaning as self care. Take more pride in my surroundings and care more. Don’t listen to what I say here, watch what I actually do later. Hold me to what I said here later.

The doctor asked me if I wanted a knee scooter. I said no. Why? I didn’t know what it was and it didn’t sound stable. I was an idiot. When I rang support at ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation), a government department, they suggested a knee scooter when I said how poorly I was managing on crutches. I said yes please. Not realising how helpful it would be. It was delivered to the house the next day. What a game changer. Mobility and stability with getting about. It has a basket on the front so I can carry things at the same time, The catch is, if the basket is on the front then it’s harder to turn. I ended up taking the basket off. Since having the knee scooter I can now do the laundry. I balance on my ‘bad’ leg which is supported by the knee, the breaks are on, with my ‘good’ leg firmly on the ground. I can lean down with the help of the handle bars. It allows me to function more normally. Rather than feeling useless and immobile I feel more independent and capable.

I can eat in the kitchen now for meals. I can turn the jug on. I can gather the placemats. I can do simple things. I can collect the yoghurt from the fridge, the muesli from the bench and the kiwifruit from the bowl. I can carry the knife, the bowl and the spoon in the basket and I can get my own breakfast. I still cannot carry a cup of tea.

I am not writing this for you to feel sorry for me. I am writing to voice how lucky I am. I didn’t need an operation with plates and screws. I can recover at home. I only have myself to look after and get well. DH looks after me. The cats have looked after me too. The public hospital system in New Zealand is excellent. I may have waited many hours for service but I was dealt with empathy, care and professionalism. I wish that others countries have the same level of care that we have here. My next cast will be renewed. My leg is getting skinnier. The cast feels roomier. That is life.

Everything takes longer at the moment but I have an appreciation for each thing or each action. I am lucky that this is temporary. I am grateful.

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A Purring

I’m one of those people who like to get everywhere early. Punctual. I allowed for traffic and the unforeseen hurdles. So I planned for bad traffic and a delay at the post office picking up the parcel. And low and behold we were more than half an hour early for our vet appointment. There was no traffic at all. It was smooth driving, interrupted occasionally by a wailing cat. He wasn’t happy. Perhaps he thought he was being returned or abandoned. Who really knows. Maybe he didn’t like the music on the radio.

He sat patiently in the waiting room, caged and smoochy. Was expertly avoiding eye contact with the two dogs and the other cat. All was well. We waited. The canary sang behind the counter. The parrot was grumpy. A blanket was thrown over his cage. He napped after that. It was the afternoon of a heat wave.

Once in the consultation room the purring began. A reluctance to get out of the cage, a shyness to show off his inside back leg. Once it was done he was fine. He behaved like a champion, all 4.2kg of him. He has grown, a lot. We met him when he was 400g. He has come a long way.

It was nothing. It was a war wound, a bite or a scratch, licked to death with a ring of bald skin. Made it look worse than it was. He was thinking why did we bother, I could have stayed on the couch. Antibiotics were offered. We obliged. Pills twice a day for the next five days. Ten pink pills to shove down his throat. He won’t like me for ten moments. I wish for a short memory.

Life without booze is freedom. Early appointments are now a possibility. My head is on straight. I can face whatever life throws at me. Okay except the ice machine. I haven’t won that battle yet. The wooden spoon is not winning again the ice buildup. I have jabbed with a bbq fork. And a large knife. Still not working. Patience. Will try again tomorrow. I have read the manual. It’s useless. Might need to call customer service. Will assess if that’s a must tomorrow.

Picked up pizza tonight, washed it down with fizzy drink. Pepperoni, chili flakes extra. Pizza eaten sober is quite delicious. I didn’t opt for the larger pizza. I chose regular. It’s all gone now. Every bite was hot and crisp. Just right. Not a crust left in sight. Today was a carefree day. No gym, no cooking. A be kind to me day.

Two months sober. Yesss. Pizza was my sober treat.

Day 52

In bed by 11pm after a long soak in an Epsom salt bath with a book. More reading till almost midnight. Lights out. I relaxed every part of my body in anticipation of sleep. Sleep didn’t come. 1:30am rolled around. Light on again. More reading. Light off. Calling quiet now for sleep. Less tossing and turning and sighing last night. Managed to get to sleep somewhere around two. Better. Not great but better. Doesn’t help when my cats wake me up at 7:30am greeting me with ciaos and demanding food and acknowledgement with a tummy rub. I get up without a grizzle. I do it with love and wander off to the toilet before heading back to bed and more sleep. The alarm clock said 8am. I changed it back to 9am. Even then it wasn’t enough. 10am and finally I emerged. Bleary eyed. Not rearing to go but up.

Sleep is not my BFF anymore. I don’t know where we went wrong. It all happened around the time I became sober. I stayed up late instead of going to bed. The evenings were long. I sat in a daze of what now. Either I abandoned sleep or she abandoned me. I’m trying to get in sleep’s good graces but it is an effort. Worth it but exhausting.

Showing up is showing commitment and I will show up before midnight every night and wait patiently for sleep. I won’t get frustrated if she doesn’t show. I won’t get angry. I will not sigh. I will not toss and turn and wrestle with the sheets. I will persevere. Sleep will come around again. I may get up and wander the house and do something else but I will come back to bed and try again. Patience and perseverance will prevail.

The gym today. I made it. I walked on the treadmill to the words of my audio book. I cycled for a bit. Then I jumped onto a bosu ball and tottered awkwardly about. And done. Heat rate elevated more than usual so I took it easy.

Grit The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth is my book for the evenings. It is almost finished. It is fascinating. It is difficult to put down. Perhaps it is the wrong choice to have beside the bed. Instead it should be a boring/difficult book. One hard to pick up rather than one to put down. I will be onto the next soon and it will no longer matter.