Eight Weeks On

I haven’t blogged for a while and it hasn’t been through lack of desire but a lack of time. Eight weeks on post Nicholas and I think we are back to normal, whatever normal is!

James is back at work and I’m back to running around like a headless chicken trying to make sure that the kids are happy, fed and healthy. By the time the children are in bed and James and I have caught up on each others day my eyes fail me and my bed calls. The weeks are rolling by in a beautiful, happy haze though. I love my family more than I ever thought I could.
Children are remarkable creatures. Their ability to adapt to a given situation is amazing. I am so proud of them and how they coped with everything that was thrown at us.

When I look back on the last six months it feels almost like a dream. Did that actually happen to me and did we actually get through it? It’s a very surreal feeling. At the time it was a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from and what’s left now are the lingering memories. My ability to cope with these memories is improving all the time. The panic is no longer taking over and I can talk about the accident and the aftermath without the fear enveloping me. Time is a great healer and I believe that without help I would have probably worked it out for myself, but the therapy is undoubtedly helping me to process my memories and look at them differently. I did also see my GP and have started on a small dose of antidepressants. I don’t think that there is any shame in this, if you have a headache you take a paracetamol, I need a little help with my emotions and I’m just doing what I need to.
Sometimes the hardest thing is admitting you need help and one thing that this journey has taught me is that you need never suffer in silence.

My leg still resembles that of an elephant. I try to rest it as much as possible but with life it can be tricky. I need to speak to my consultant about the numbness as if anything, it’s getting worse :/ There wont be a lot that can be done but it would be nice to know what the cause is. I was looking at the scars last night that the pins have left on my leg and in all honesty I don’t know how I feel about them. They are still very red and very obvious and despite not being a particularly vain person I can’t say that they will never bother me. The question is do I do something about it? My solicitor has said that if I so wish I could ‘get them done’ (I presume it would be laser surgery?!). It’s hard when it’s winter and they’re covered up anyway but come the summer (the little bit that we occasionally get) will I feel differently?

As I write this I am sat in the cafe in the Children’s Hospital at the JR with a large Latte whilst my little man Archie is having an operation on his winkle. I’m as anxious as anything waiting for my phone to ring to tell me he’s in recovery and I can go and get him.


Normality On The Horizon

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 🙂

The Removal! Good Bye Nicholas

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.


The Final Night With Nicholas (and the fear)

So we are down to just one sleep. One last night with Nicholas.
The last week has really dragged and I have felt every second tick by painfully slowly.
We’ve had three birthdays to celebrate, Charleigh’s 11th, my Mum’s 50th and my 31st. I really tried hard to get into the spirit and for the most part I did enjoy myself, shared many laughs with my family and friends, lunches, dinners and nights out. There were moments of despair, crying to my Mum on her birthday that I looked awful, had nothing to wear and just felt exhausted from trying. I hated myself at that moment, I don’t like laying my feelings on other people.

It has felt as though this moment would never come, actually knowing that Nicholas is going to be removed. I have been so excited filling my mind with the things that I will finally be able to do again. Enjoy a bath, wear my jeans, feel the bed sheets around my leg as I curl up to sleep. I want to be able to sit crossed legged on the floor with my boys and once again be a part of their make believe world.
There will also be a point where I need to drive. It’s a funny thing, I wasn’t injured because of my driving ability or anyone that I often get into a car with. However, cars and driving in general fill me with fear. I hate it. I didn’t realise just how much until I started the therapy for my PTSD. The questions asked have a clever way of bringing the thoughts out that you didn’t realise were there, just hovering on the surface. On every journey I go on be it short or long I wonder if we will be involved in an accident. I hate roundabouts, the uncertainty of the drivers. Driving through a town with pedestrians, the unpredictability of what they might do. It’s become apparent that it wasn’t just my bones that were broken, something in my subconscious has been shaken and I need to straighten it out.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the thousands of people that must go through accidents every day, the majority presumably a lot worse than mine. How do they cope? Do they have the same fears as me? Is it normal to feel so desperate afterwards? I do feel incredibly ridiculous sometimes when I look at myself and how this whole thing has affected me. I don’t feel strong at all, I feel like a weak duckling struggling to stay afloat.

The early excitement of being cage free has slowly been replaced with with trepidation. The five pins I am quite prepared for after having one removed with no pain relief. I am confident that with gas and air taking me to another place I can get through that with dignity. However, I have two screws imbedded in my bone, they are not going to come out happily. I am dreading the removal of these. It isn’t going to pretty, the removal or my coping.
I am anxious about walking on my leg, actually putting weight through my newly mended bones. What if I can’t do it? I’m not naive to believe that the cage will come off and I will walk out of the hospital on air. I don’t expect it to be pain free but I am nervous about how much pain I can take.
I got through a lot during the aftermath of the accident, having my broken bones straightened twice, the spasms, feeling my bones moving.
So surely I can do this?

If I could remove the fear that is enveloping me perhaps I could feel a little bit more optimistic at my own capabilities.


The Night Before ….. Again

So I’m back to the ‘night before the next check up’ and feeling as anxious as hell as always.
Although this time it’s mixed with trepidation. I honestly feel as though I have come to the end of the road with Nicholas, it’s no more a love hate, it’s quite simply hate. My bones may or may not have finished fixing but I cannot live any longer with this contraption attached to me.
I just to work out how to ask my surgeon as nicely and politely as possible to remove the damn thing!

I haven’t had a pain free day since May 12th and I’ve never felt so out of control of my life as I do right. I need to gain a little control back of my life.
I’m not being melodramatic, just honest with my feelings.
Obviously I don’t want to make things worse for myself but at the same time I need to ask myself at what cost do these fully heeled bones need to come at?
I’m in constant pain, I can’t sleep, I’m plagued with anxiousness and worry and it’s all just too suffocating.

Yesterday was Charleigh’s 11th birthday and we had a family day out to Chessington. I had umm-ed and arr-ed all week about whether I should go or not and in the end I did. It was heart warming to see her so excited. It’s the first time in a long time that I remember seeing her so happy (and my treasure hunt for her to find the One Direction concert tickets was a huge success!!).
However it’s come at a price for my legs. The swelling is unbelievably uncomfortable and I’ve given up on the pain meds, they’re not even touching it tonight. I’m not holding out for a peaceful night ahead.
The weekend was spent at my Mum’s as we have family visiting from New Zealand. My three cousins are the same age as Charleigh give or take a year or two and they all get on fantastically. It’s been busy and noisy to say the least! My Mum’s house won’t be my quiet haven for the next four weeks that’s for sure (Rach, you’d better stock up on tea bags, tuna, cheese and donuts!).

Sometimes in life certain happenings make you realise what kind of person you are or person you’d like to be. I would like to think that I’ve grown up into a good person. I’m a loving, caring Mum, my children are happy and polite and mean everything to me and I hope my parents think I’m a good daughter!
Being an only child from separated parents, both of whom met other people (and one remarrying), I have extended family coming out of my ears. Aunts, Uncles, cousins, even four of my grandparents are still alive and very much kicking. I have family in abundance and have always been surrounded by them.
I’m sure that every family has it’s fair share of problems and arguments. I just always seem to be at fault in mine. I feel like the black sheep and, no matter how many years I gain,am always left feeling like a naughty schoolgirl. I’m too out spoken and will let it be known if something has upset me and I will always stand by what I believe in. Stobborn? Probably a little. Maybe some think I should ‘respect my elders’, I actually think respect is something that is earnt and being a specific age in life does not give you the right to be spiteful and cruel. I wont be quiet just because others think I should, especially if it involves the feelings of my children. Nobody has the right to upset my children with their thoughts.
I always speak out for the ones I love and always will, it’s the way I’ve been built.
But just once it would be nice for someone to speak up for me. Just the once.
Being an only child can be a very lonely existence.

Slightly off the beaten track there tonight. Nothing like being too upset to think about the constant throb and burn that is my right leg ………


Looking Up, Not Down

The hospital visit was biter sweet. The remaining fractures are finally starting to heal which is great news. It just means that Nicholas and I will be friends for a whole longer. They can’t say how long, how long is a piece of string? The only thing that can dictate the time remaining are the bones themselves. If they carry on repairing then eventually Nicholas will be removed and I will be on my very merry way. If they stop responding then depending on how they have fixed I may or may not need an operation. Only time will tell.
It’s this that I find the hardest – the simply not knowing. The tunnel I am travelling down is never ending and just drowns me with anxiety as to what will appear around the next corner.

However, after a few dark days and a spout of insomnia keeping me awake for over 30 hours I have my happy feet on again. They’ve taken me to family and friends who have shown me just how much I have to be thankful for (and to the fridge for a few much needed cold beers!)

Life is ever evolving, nothing stays the same forever. We grow from children into adults, we create new families of our own. Sometimes things can happen that can disrupt the normality of the lives that we have created for ourselves and this can have a huge impact on the way in which you look at things. I definitely don’t look at my life in the same way that I did before. I have come to realise how much love I have and, how subsequently, how much love I also have to give.

I have been so angry and fed up with the limitations that have been unwillingly set upon me but I really want to stop mourning what I can no longer do and starting recognising the things that I am able to do. I can still enjoy and love my gorgeous children, I can still be a loving wife and I can still be a good friend.

Looking back over the past 16 weeks I wished at times I had been a better patient for James. I wish I could be more laid back and not let things get to me so much. But I am just the worst person that this sort of trauma could happen to. I’m not good at sitting around not doing anything and watching everyone else do things (and more often than not quite the way I would do them, what can I say, it’s the Monica in me 😉 ). I am constantly battling with the inner person wanting to scream out.

But I am really going to try and focus on the good things in my life. (and with the help of the lovely sleeping tablets from the GP actually enjoy some real sleep!)
My counselling starts this week so hopefully I’ll be able to fight off the daemons attacking my thoughts and dreams.

As Professor Hawkins said ‘Look up at the stars and not your feet’


Hope For Tomorrow

So tomorrow I am back at the hospital and to say I am dreading it is an understatement. Perhaps the underlying worry is the cause of my inability to sleep. I am lucky to get two hours sleep before the remainder of the night is spent watching the sky turn from dark to light. My mornings are spent dozing resulting in feeling entirely wiped out and almost jet lagged. Unfortunately the world doesn’t slow down for sleep deprivation and I struggle to keep up.
It isn’t just me that this has an impact on, James and the children suffer. They feel the end of my short temper and the boys just don’t understand. Why isn’t Mummy coming down to play? Why can’t we go and wake Mummy up?
Tomorrow I just want to know that the rest of the bones are fixing. If they are still broken I don’t know how I will deal with that. Every day is becoming harder to get through, I am so tired mentally from trying to be happy but at the moment I feel I am failing. I need to know that the end is actually in sight, rather than it it appearing and then moving further away.
Will I get a date for removal? I really hope so.

The Paralympics have been keeping me entertained. Totally amazing. Some of the things that these athletes achieve is totally brilliant. I will be Ilizarov free yet these people live their lives with their disabilities with such strength and courage, it really does put my my worries to shame!

On Saturday I went to town with Mum as she had a hairdressers appointment and I had a few bits and bobs to do. It was the first time that I have walked around town by myself. I found myself walking much slower than I normally would and the stares and comments seemed all the more obvious. Did I just notice them more as I was on my own? Or are people quicker to comment if you don’t have the support of someone else? I don’t think I’ll be taking to town on my own again soon.

Since being treated at the Trauma Unit I have wanted to give something back. Last time I was at the JR I saw a leaflet for ‘It’s Not Just A Walk In The Park’. It’s a 3 mile sponsored walk to raise vital funds for the Oxford University Hospitals – and best of all you can specify which department you would like your sponsorship money to go. This seems like a very apt challenge, so along with James and my wonderful friend Rachel, together we are the ‘Wonky Walkers’ and we will be participating on 21st October.
Please sponsor us!


The Past Week

Since last week it’s been a struggle to get my head around the not so good news. As instructed James has adjusted the cage four times a day, anti clockwise to loosen the frame and stretch the broken bones out. Once again when I walk the bones feel broken. My leg is painful to touch in that area and a bulge has appeared. I now have a week to wait for the next X-rays and the next plan. I have no pre-conceptions on what my surgeon will see or say. I am not guessing at any dates and it’s impossible to give an exact time frame. I have already become a victim of my own naivety in thinking that the initial 16 weeks was a certain. At the time I needed to believe that after 16 weeks the nightmare would be over, without that dream it would have been a harder road to travel. But the result has been disappointment and a huge knock to my optimism.

Over the weekend I achieved very little sleep, insomnia well and truly invaded my body. It has been increasingly hard to get comfortable as the pain has been slowly increasing. By Monday I was zombie like, I went to bed at 10pm and woke up the next morning at 11.30! I can’t go on like this though so am going to ask my GP for some sleeping tablets just for when I have these episodes of insomnia.

Despite the lack of sleep and growing annoyance at my leg being encased in metal, I have tried to get out and make the most of the sunshine we’ve had. We had a lovely day at Cotswold Wildlife Park, the boys were so cute! I am really enjoying them at the moment, their personalities are really starting to shine. I also braved Witney on Bank Holiday Sunday evening which was brilliant. Gin, good friends and good fun! I have however got yet another maxi dress with a hole in it thanks to the bolts on the frame. I feel a shopping trip coming on when I am frame free!

The boys aren’t sleeping particularly well at the moment, well Henry mainly. He wakes up every night screaming and it takes a while to settle him. He is my sensitive little soul and he doesn’t like change. I think he feels very vulnerable as everything around him, where he should feel secure, keeps changing. First I was bed bound downstairs, then I was bum shuffling upstairs, now I am walking around. Even though I am more mobile I still can’t do as much as I could before and I don’t think he understands that. He is in need of extra cuddles and reassurance. it’s taking its toll on James with broken sleep and a toddler out of sorts. I wish I could take it all away.

I still find it hard to see when friends and family tell me how much I am doing as I feel I am actually doing very little. They have watched as I have progressed to some form of normality and mobility and often tell me how amazing it is that I have come so far.
But the truth is all I try and do is get through one day at a time. I simply do the best I can. Some days my best is simply to not cry. Some days it’s to just endure the pain and discomfort.
I don’t know if my pain levels are any better or whether they have become such a way of life I don’t notice them.
Right now, my best is to just smile and try and get through the remainder of this journey somehow.


A Little Bit Longer

I’ve been trying to write this blog since yesterday but haven’t been able to. I have felt a lot of things on this journey so far but yesterday was the first time that I felt disappointment mixed with despair. I haven’t been sure how to write about it.

I had my check up at the hospital and this time instead of an X-ray I had a CT scan so that my surgeon could get an in-depth look at my bones. It was a mixture of good and not so good. (I don’t like to use the word ‘bad’ as this whole situation is bad). The fractures in the lower part of the leg have healed well and fused together. Unfortunately the fractures near the top haven’t. In order for bones to heal you need the outer layer to fuse thus creating a strong structure for the inside to heal. My bones are still broken. This means that I will have have Nicholas for at least another four weeks, two weeks longer than first thought.
For the past few weeks James has been tightening the cage 1mm per week to squeeze the bones together to try and encourage fusion. As this hasn’t had the desired affect and the bones aren’t in line we are now stretching the bones back out. Yesterday we had to loosen by 3mm and for the next seven days, four times a day we have to loosen by a quarter each time (so 1mm in total per day). The feeling is horrendous when the cage is adjusted. Once again I can feel my bones moving and am having to consume copious amounts of pain killers.
If in the weeks to come the bones still don’t heal the frame will be removed and replaced with a non weight bearing cast to allow the bones to settle. I will then have an operation to pin the fractures together.

I feel I have taken a huge step backwards and am having real trouble getting my head around it and my ability to see the positives has taken a knock. I tried so incredibly hard yesterday to hold it together and even though I succeeded in not falling apart and kept the tears at bay, the disappointment simply buried itself just below the surface and I just became irritable and unbearable.
Maybe there is something to said for just letting your emotions out.

I have been so focused on getting through 16 weeks and to be told it’s going to be longer now is very hard to accept. Living with an Ilizarov doesn’t get easier as time passes by. The weight of carrying it around gets harder, the frustration grows and the desperation becomes unbearable. I am getting less eager to go out in public with it on show. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or worried, however the looks of pity, the whispered comments and the probing questions, it never ends.

So today I woke up with a heavy heart, I am so tired.
I know I need to keep fighting for a while longer, I just need to work out how.


I Might Be Mad, But I Don’t Want To Die

The cage and I have had a busy week since having the aggravating pin unceremoniously removed.

Even though it was just one pin it really seemed to help get me up and start feeling positive again. I’ve have waked around more this week than any other since the accident.
James and I went shopping in Oxford, we took the children to Millets Farm with Rachel and Theo. The weather has been perfect and it was magical to see the children running around and being so incredibly happy. I felt like a real part of the family again and am feeling less of a burden with each passing day.

Friday saw my first counselling session. I was anxious going there as I didn’t know what to expect. The building inside was eerily quiet, neutral colours in the decor, lots of closed doors and it was impeccably clean and tidy, almost to the point of being sanitary. None of these factors helped with putting me at ease.
However when my therapist introduced herself and we began the session I felt immediately at ease. She has a very calming nature and I found it very easy to talk to her. The back wall of her office houses a huge window that overlooks the idilyic Oxfordshire countryside. Quite often between questions and her taking furious notes I found myself mesmerised by it and just watching the trees.
The session basically entailed looking back over the questionnaires I had had to complete prior to the meeting and going into more depth in certain areas. I find it very hard to talk about my inner most feelings and the in depth memories of the accident, but she managed to draw everything out of me with such ease. She concluded by telling me that I do indeed have PTSD and am borderline depressed. How lovely!
At least I will get the right treatment and I know that this isn’t forever, I will get better.
One section of questions they have to cover are all based around suicide and do I feel as though I would be better off dead? I can quite categorically say that no, I don’t feel this way. However, I still stumbled when she asked the question ‘So, why don’t you want to kill yourself?’ …….. you’d think it was a pretty easy question to answer but my mind went totally blank. After what felt like an eternity I mumbled something along the lines of ‘Because I don’t want to be dead, I love my family’.
She didn’t call for a straight jacket so I must have passed as acceptably sane, enough to be sent back into society to wait for my next appointment.

Ending a busy week with another weekend at Mummy’s and a night out in Windsor has taken the last little bit of energy from me. It’s a good feeling though to be actually tired. Not lethargic or just a bit sleepy, but real physical tiredness. My left ankle is aching something rotten having not been used properly for weeks. The Physio exercises are excellent but they don’t beat real walking and use of the joint.
Hospital tomorrow for a CT scan to see how these bones are really doing. Hopefully mine and Nicholas’ relationship is coming to an end. I can’t say I will miss it but it certainly isn’t the end of this journey. It is purely the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next.

Some of my closest friends are going through their own personal hell at the moment. Divorce, miscarriage and birthing premature babies, I want to be as good a friend to them as they have been to me during my time of need. Without each and every one of them I would have been lost. As I come out of my dark place, it feels as though it will be my turn to take their hand and help them.

I’m a true believer that you get out of life what you put in. I have been dealt an ugly hand that could have swallowed me up. But I am determined to use it to make me a stronger and a better person.