Twenty three weeks after breaking both of my legs I have walked over three miles and raised £300 for the Trauma unit that treated me. To say I feel proud of myself doesn’t even begin to explain it!
I am aware that I was never in danger of not walking again with the fractures I sustained, my legs were safe but the fears of how mobile I would actually be ran through me like ice. Living with an Ilizarov gives you independence whilst your fractures heal, however it’s a false sense of security. You develop a way of living and a certain mobility that just isn’t normal but it becomes your every day life so quickly. When the frame is removed, the security you spent so long building up is ripped away in an instant. My walking isn’t natural, every step is made purposefully and with care. I cannot risk twisting an ankle or losing my footing. I can’t bend my ankles like I could before.
Three miles isn’t far, but for me it may have been a walk to the moon.
It was a beautiful day and together with James, Rachel, Trevor and all of our gorgeous children we walked the three miles (plus a bit extra) around the grounds of Blenheim Palace. The beautiful countryside, amazing Autumn colours and the company of fantastic friends made it so much easier. The crutches were made redundant and a halfway pit stop and hot chocolate were enough to keep my legs going. The air was full of laughter and sunshine, the wind carried our smiles.
I am now sat with my legs elevated as the walk has taken it’s toll, they are swollen and painful but I would do it again in a heartbeat, the feeling of complete freedom was overwhelming.
And to know that I raised some money for a unit that helped me makes my heart smile.
You can still donate at https://www.justgiving.com/thewonkywalkers
I am back at the hospital tomorrow for my first post-Nicholas check up. I can’t lie and say that I’m not anxious as I am. The wounds on the outside have healed well but it’s the inside that fills me with uncertainty. I have been pleasantly surprised that I am relatively pain free day to day when I am up on my legs but there is a deep throb and occasional shooting pain that rips through my bones. I rub my leg often to feel for any changes. I’m not sure what I expect, to feel a bone suddenly pop out? My mind plays tricks on my I am sure as I talk myself into thinking I have bumps where there shouldn’t be. Tomorrow and the power of xray will tell all there is to know.
I am more concerned about the numbness in my big toe. On the night of the accident my toe was excruciating if touched (the doctor who wiggled it retreated quickly as I screamed the ward awake). Xrays to my foot and toes showed they had escaped any fractures and after the operation the toe became numb and has remained that way. Unfortunately the numbness doesn’t prevent me from feeling the shooting pains of fire rip through my toe and foot. The numbess is starting to spread to the side of my foot which can’t be good. Nerve damage? Most likely. Fixable? Who knows.
If you fear something, the more you think about it the worse it becomes. The mind is such a wonderful amazing thing, but it can also be your worst enemy. Sometimes you need to just stop thinking and just do. That’s how I faced my fear of driving again, I jumped in and drove the three miles home from my mother in laws house. It was petrifying and exciting all at once. I have never been a confident driver and it will take time to build up the confidence that I did have, but at least I have made a start!
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
― Robert Frost
My counselling has begun for my PTSD. My therapist is really lovely and luckily I find her easy to talk to. She is almost more aware of my feelings than I am and has an amazing ability to withdraw things from me that I didn’t know were lurking beneath the surface. I don’t ever expect to forget about the accident, and in a peculiar way I wouldn’t want to, however I am positive that with her help I will be able to finally process my thoughts in such a way that I will no longer be scared of them. They won’t rule my mind forever. It is a huge relief to find out that things that worry me now that aren’t directly related to what has happened are completely normal. The vulnerability I now feel just walking down the street on my own, being in a car, the fear of having to eventually drive again.
The mind is a wonderful thing but sometimes it just needs a little help.
My leg is still swelling quite considerably during the day which leaves me feeling uncomfortable. I know it’s to be expected though. The wounds are healing very well which is brilliant, I was so worried about infections. I’m managing to walk around using just one crutch and I’m being strict with my physiotherapy. One day I will walk straight with bendy ankles and without bowing knees!
Tonight I have my first date (post Nicholas) with my bath, a large glass of white wine, candles and my book (don’t panic, I have been showering, just not submerging my leg in water).
Today saw me joining Rachel and James take the boys swimming (the boys being my two troublesome monsters and their best chum Theo). Amazing is the only way to describe it. Not only did the water help my leg feel free and able, I was a part of the joy on my sons faces. I felt totally normal doing a normal family thing.
The boys still aren’t 100% for me yet but progress is being made. With every little thing I do with them I feel a step closer to normality. We have two and half weeks until James is back to work. I can’t lie and say I’m not worried because I am, very. However I am starting to gain my confidence back as a Mother. He is an amazing Dad and husband, he has been my rock since May and this time he has been able to spend with our children has been so precious and possibly the biggest positive to come from my broken bones.
But we have different ways of doing things and with us both being at home 24/7, our differences are starting to show. I am a good Mum and despite the slight uncertainty, I will be again. I feel the need to be able to spread my wings and put my stamp back on this family. I’m not an outsider anymore.
A little thought to leave this day with ….. Smile and the world will smile with you 🙂
I’ve now been without the frame for a week. Life without carrying a heap of metal attached to your leg is undoubtedly easier! Sleep has been restored and my sleep is a dreamless sanctuary once again.
Putting my jeans on every day brings a huge smile to my face. In fact I think I’ve smiled more in the past week than I have in the last five months.
Today I’ve been sitting on the floor building train sets with my boys and then we baked fairy cakes. After a long wait it feels as though I am finally getting back into my Mummy role within our family. The boys are still very much all about Daddy, all hell breaks loose if I try and put them to bed and if they are hurt it’s only Daddy cuddles that will do. James is back to work at the end of this month (thank the lord says our bank balance) and I am actually dreading it. It’s a very daunting to think I will be on my own everyday again with them. And then in the same thought I feel horrible for even worrying about it. They are my little boys, I’m supposed to be able to look after them!
But after almost five months of being broken and a by stander in your own life, you start to doubt your own capabilities.
Physio began on my right leg today. My ankle is very stiff from being held in the same position forms long with metal pins. At the moment I can happily toddle around the house without too much discomfort, however I still need the crutches for any distance (such as walking around town etc) Hopefully within the next couple of weeks I will be able to drop down to one crutch.
It really is about the small victories.
Having an Ilizarov removed is almost as hard to getting your head around having it attached.
You build yourself up to finally ‘being free’ but in reality it’s only the start of a new phase. My leg and foot swell to the size of an elephants if I’m on it too long. I didn’t think an ankle could swell so much but apparently three times the normal size is quite possible.
‘Over doing it’ results in a deep ache and a searing pain through my leg.
My big toe is still numb which is worrying me. Yet any pressure on it (small children standing on it, books dropped on it) is excruciating, much more than should be normal.
But despite the new found aches and pains and the fear of the future I feel the most optimistic I have done since the start of this journey.
So with a glowing fear in my belly I went to the JR on Monday. Hopefully I would be leaving a little bit lighter and a lot happier. But until the frame was actually gone I somehow couldn’t bring myself to actually believe it would happen.
As planned I had an X-ray and then my surgeon removed the three bolts that we have been adjusting. This removed any weight support that the frame was giving me and so allowing me to put weight through my leg and testing out my newly mended bones. James and I went to the Cafe for a cuppa (and a sneaky Belgium Bun). Sitting there my mind was racing and the suspense but built up like a sky scraper. Would my leg be able to take it? Would it suddenly bend in an abnormal way?
With all these thoughts racing through my mind James and I wandered nervously around the hospital until 1pm finally arrived and we made our way back to outpatients to hear my fate.
The lack of pain in the fracture sight gave us a huge thumbs up, Nicholas was going!
I was shown a bed in the plaster room whilst my surgeon went ‘to find some toys’ ….aka a wire cutter and clamp type contraption used to pull out the pins. I was very aware that yet again I found myself in the middle of the children’s clinic. I has to control myself and not say anything inappropriate. I was given the entonox (gas and air) and away I went. Unfortunately my other world wasn’t far enough from my reality and the removal of Nicholas was horrific.
They start by removing the clamps on top of the two screws and then cutting each wire at both sides to enable them to remove the frame itself. With each cut of the wires the ‘twang’ was felt through my leg inside my bones, not a feeling I wish to ever experience again.
With the wires cut he went about removing each one, simply pulling it out. Each wire takes seconds but it could have been hours. As each pin was removed the emotions built up and up inside me. The fear, the relief, the pain, the exhaustion, the anger. How can one person feel so many things at once?
But now came the time that I had been dreading the most. The two screws needed to be unscrewed from my leg. Laying there whilst he removed them, breathing the gas and air, holding onto James for dear life brought it all back to me. Laying on the car park floor in pain and being so incredibly scared. I have no idea why those images and feelings came back to me. Maybe to show how far I have actually come.
Once the screws were free four and a half months of emotion escaped. I sobbed and the tears flowed. I was finally free, I couldn’t believe I had done it. It was very hard to take it all in.
James and I celebrated that night with fabulously cooked steak and champagne.
That was two days ago and looking back it all seems to surreal. I can finally wear my jeans again, I’m not cold for the first time in a long time. I can feel the smooth coolness of my bed sheets wrapped around my leg at night. I keep stroking my leg like a lost pet! My ankle is quite sore as it had three of the pins directly through it so it will take a while to get over the trauma.
I still have a way to go but I am on the home straight.
The ugly reminder of my frame is still there in the wounds left by the pins and screws. They will fade with time and hopefully with them they will take the dark memories of my journey so far.