I’m a Runner

As the time draws nearer to the anniversary of that day the same feelings return to the pit of my stomach. It’s peculiar as I don’t so much think about the actual accident itself, the memories that shadow my thoughts now are of the days after. The look on friends and families faces when they came to visit, the fear in my sons’ eyes, the inability to scoop them up and cuddle them and promise that it would all be ok. Will the memories ever fade? Will I ever get to a point that the day will pass and I won’t remember? The boys have no recollection of the aftermath of Mummy living in the front room or of Nicholas (the cage), Charleigh’s memories have become faded with time, for these facts I am grateful as their minds are so young and pure and I don’t want them filled with bad, only the good.

I sometimes think that only I will ever remember the true moments from that time. Perhaps a little part of me will always be filled with it, but I will learn to keep that door closed.

I am determined to use this frustrated energy though and put it to good and not let is turn into a wasted emotion. I think we are all capable of directing our emotions onto a path of our own choosing. Our destiny is ours to make of what we will.

It is true that that time is a healer and despite the door to the dark side being slightly ajar at present, I can see the positives that have come out of something awful and I will try and focus on those.

The main positive being my desire to run. My training is well under way for the half marathon madness that I signed up for! I am stronger, physically and mentally, than I ever thought possible. I am learning to push myself to limits I once only ever thought would be out of reach.
These legs, despite the lumps, bumps and metal, are doing me proud.
James and I took part in the London Winter 10km run last weekend as part of my training plan. Surrounded by the beautiful sights of London down at South Bank, polar bears offering hugs (I kid you not) and the cold, cold air, we set off. I wanted to complete it in 55 minutes – a target that meant I had to push myself harder than ever before. At 5km the cold was hurting, at 7km I wasn’t even convinced I would finish the course and a 9km I knew I wouldn’t stop. With the encouragement of James next to me, my amazing trainer’s (the actual person, not my footwear!) voice in my head ‘think results’ and with a deep determination I didn’t even realise I had,  I completed it in 54:40.
I shed tears of absolute happiness at the end and traveled home on a cloud of delight (with a well-earned Costa Coffee in hand!). I do have a confession though, at the end of the 10km a realisation hit me that when it came to the half marathon I would in theory have to run that again. To say I was a little struck by fear would be an accurate description. How on earth am I ever going to run 13 miles? Although this time last year I wouldn’t have even been able to run 5km let alone 10km so things can only get better. I won’t use the work ‘easier’ as there is nothing easy about this. My legs are not what they were, there is weakness and metal that aggravates – but they are the only ones I have so I can either give in to ache, or fight and work against in the desire to succeed. (medical disclaimer : I am not doing anything that will cause me injury, if at any point there was pain other than that caused by hard work I wouldn’t push it, I am being sensible)

So happy! x

So happy! x

Well earned sit down :)

Well earned sit down 🙂

Told you ;)

Told you 😉

I am lucky to have had people come into my life because of this journey, some of whom I wouldn’t have got through some very dark days without. The internet gets bad press but without it I wouldn’t have found support in strangers when I most needed to connect with someone who knew exactly what I was going through. I know I have mentioned it in a previous blog but I would have been lost without the people I talked to who had the Ilizarov frame at the same time as me. From the USA, South Africa, UK – you helped me when I felt alone, angry, fearful, sad …. I am looking forward to meeting up with (some of) the Ilizarov Forum crew this weekend – you guys all rock!

Sometimes I forget that that there are actually people out there reading this. This is just my little therapeutic bubble, so I am still a little shocked when I get a response from someone other than friends or family. I received a lovely email recently from a lady who is on her own journey and facing battles that I only know too well.

To think that my words and my journey may help someone just a little is truly overwhelming.

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

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.

Panic, Fear & Tears

Today has been a dark day. Even though I tried my hardest to stay positive yesterday and fight the dread seeping in I just wasn’t strong enough.

Sleep was restless for me last night and the agitation from yesterday was ever increased. I had no desire to leave my bed and I certainly didn’t want to get dressed or face the world. I have never been more grateful for the children not being around this weekend as I hate them seeing me lose control and could feel that today was not going to be pretty.
James insisted that I should come downstairs and at least sit in the garden as the sun was shining and I need the Vitamin D! Begrudgingly I made my way down, knowing that he was right, however the closer to the bottom I was, the heavier my heart felt. Once outside not even the wonderful sunshine could brighten my feelings. I sat and cried tears of sheer frustration. I know I have come such a long way in six weeks, so why doesn’t that knowledge bring with it some peace of mind about the rest of this journey? Instead, I cannot help but feel each second of each day tick by painfully slowly. I feel so scared about how I am supposed to get through the remaining ten weeks. I am trying to just deal with one day at a time and not look that far ahead, but even still, on days like today I struggle with the thought of even the next few hours. I just want it to be over so desperately. This cage feels like a method of torture for something that I wasn’t able to avoid, even though I know it is actually working a miracle on my bones.

So no, today has not been good. I have not been able to get comfortable anywhere, anyhow, I have cried too many tears.
But as always my James has been there at my side as strong as ever. Calming me to keep the rising panic at bay, saying all of the right things at the right time, cuddles aplenty.
I try not to give in to the panic as it’s so hard to come back from when it has it’s claws sunk in deep.

James and I were supposed to be going out for dinner tonight but I just cannot bring myself to do it. The thought of having to leave the house and be surrounded by people terrifies me today. I need the protection of these walls, separating me from the world, and to feel safe despite the dread that is running through my body tonight.

Tonight I would happily sacrifice the sleep to just feel comfortable and at peace, maybe then tomorrow things will seem brighter. I hope so.