Feeling Normal

Things are pretty ok at the moment I think!

My counselling continues and that along with my happy medication I seem to on an even keel plodding along nicely. Maybe it’s a false euphoria, I always w dee if the tablets are actually just hiding the daemons but you know what? I feel happy and content and normal for the first time in a long time. So for now I am going to enjoy it.

Christmas has been a family fuelled roller coaster! I am so lucky to have married into such a warm and loving family, the Hyatt clan coupled with my family make me a very lucky girl indeed. For Christmas we stayed in our home and catered for everyone with James cooking a feast and the children being entertained by Uncles, Aunts and Grandparents. The house was bursting with laughter and joy, the magic of Christmas really did happen.

My legs continue to ache, often waking me up, but I am learning slowly to live with it. The most difficult thing for me is still the numbness and shooting pains in my big toe and foot. I saw a surgeon two weeks ago as part of my civil action (ironically he was the surgeon on call who saw me when I was bought into A&E) and he says that it is undoubtedly nerve damage caused by the Ilizarov pins that were in my ankle. He also said that it will take 18-24 months to know if there will be any long term damage. It’s always a waiting game, never seeming to get a final answer. It does nothing for the impatient soul that lives within me.
I have been discharged from the physio department now and have a huge list of exercises to be getting in with, including walking backwards on the treadmill. I caused no end of amusement to my friends tonight over a curry when I asked how you programme a treadmill to go backwards …… how was I to know that I am just supposed to turn around?

On a day to day basis I can say that the memories of the accident no longer haunt me, in fact I don’t even believe that I think about it every day. When I do recall the events that unfolded that day and beyond I am able to reflect on how I came through it and so making it easier to remember without being panicked and scared. The mind is an amazing tool but sometimes you just need to take control of it.

If someone had asked me a month ago if I would be feeling so upbeat and happy I would have shot them down. Just goes to show that with some love, positive thinking and courage anything is possible!
In two days we will be celebrating the end of 2012. What a fantastic year it has been for so many reasons, the Olympics, the Jubilee, the Tour de France ….. but quite frankly I will be glad to see the back of it and start 2013 with a smile and a fresh beginning.

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Don’t Run Before You Can Walk

So I feel like I have hit a bit of a brick wall.

My legs were getting increasingly better but now I seem to be stuck. Don’t get me wrong, I am well and there is nothing ‘wrong’ … but the level of discomfort and pain I have now seems to be here to stay. I am constantly being asked how they are and ‘same as ever’ has become by robot answer. My left ankle aches constantly and it is almost stuck rigid when I wake up in the morning. My right leg has a constant niggling pain that increases as the day goes on. I know that I need to rest it more but that is impossible with my life. The cold weather is no doubt playing havoc with newly grown bones too.

I have struggled the last couple of weeks with trying to keep up with life. It’s wonderful to be able to do everything again but there are still days when I can’t seem to catch my breath. The tiredness can be overwhelming and takes over my every thought.

In two days it will seven months. To me it still seems like yesterday but I am sure to everyone else it is just a distant memory.
When I had the Ilizarov still attached no-one could really forget what had happened and offered help before I needed to ask. Now life is ‘normal’ again and all physical reminders have gone I don’t think it’s as easy for people to remember. Yes I am up and walking and looking after the children but it’s so much harder than it was before. These legs are not the same and I am not ashamed to say that I am struggling with being on them all day.

We were given a timescale from the very start for the repair of the bones but no-one warns you about once they are fixed.
I just thought life would be the same again but it doesn’t feel like it yet.

These little worries play havoc with my fragile mind. I get scared that I will never feel like the old me again sometimes. But perhaps that Kerry has gone to be replaced by this new one and I just need to get over myself. Maybe this new Kerry will be stronger and better than the last if I allow myself to be. Having been on this journey, surely l I could face anything now!

This blog sounds very woe is me and I didn’t mean it to be. Things may be tougher than I anticipated but I know that I am so lucky that things aren’t worse. And Christmas is only round the corner and I plan to surround myself by all the people that mean the world to me ❤

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.

3 Miles …. Done!

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

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 🙂

A Week On Post Nicholas

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.

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.

2 Sleeps Down …… 12 To Go!!

It’s coming off on October 1st!!!!
The X-rays on Monday showed that the bones are doing really well and new bone growth is there! Two more weeks or loosening it to keep the slack there and we ‘should’ be good to say goodbye to Nicholas 😀
Despite my obvious excitement it is not a given so I am trying not to build my hopes up. Butnlets be honest, I have been waiting almost four and a half months to get a date for removal, it’s only natural to hold a little belief that things go as planned.
I will still need another X-ray to make sure that the bones look nicely repaired and the new bone growth has continued and then my surgeon needs to make sure that I can put weight through my leg.
I have long bolts that run down between the rings and it’s these that take the weight. He will remove the ones either side of where the fractures were and that’s where the true test will be. Very nervous about this as it will have been 19 weeks since I walked on the leg without support.
I know my surgeon wouldn’t take the frame off before he believed I was ready but in the back of my mind I have the burning question, ‘what if my bones break?’
What if I can’t walk on it?
I have lived with this for so long it is going to be extremely nerve wracking to be allowed to walk without it.

Once we get over the hurdles of weight bearing and walking we need to actually remove the two screws and five pins holding my leg together.
After having one pin removed in clinic I said there was no way I was going to let my surgeon near me with wire cutters again whilst awake.
Well …… I’m going to give it a go :/ I am SO desperate to have the cage removed and knowing that on October 1st it will more than likely be ready I cannot walk out of that hospital to sit and wait for an appointment for day surgery to have a general anaesthetic. He has said I can have gas and air and there are ‘other things’ I can have for the pain (handful of Valium?!).
I can do this! I will be cage free!! Just five pins am two screws between me and freedom ……..

I’ve decided that surgeons are all a little bit crazy. Whilst at the hospital on Monday waiting for my surgeon to stroll in (and he very much just strolls around in a leisurely way) another, rather larger than life, surgeon walks past in scrubs and leather shoes with tassels on. He looks at my leg, smiles and produces a sound that can only be described as an ‘ooooooop’ and then walks off. A few minutes later he walks back and has another peek only this time he stopped to have a proper look and enquires as to the reason for the Ilizarov. Apparently, according to him, my leg looks extremely healthy for one being encased in one of these contraptions. He then congratulates my surgeon with a smile and ‘Good job Bob!’
Nice to know I suppose!

A little note to anyone who might read this who has an Ilizarov ….. If trying to catch a toddler who obviously needs the toilet, don’t catch your frame on the door frame because it REALLY hurts and will probably make you cry ………

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 ………