A Year Comes And Goes

I have been trying to write this post for a while now but the right words have been hard to come by. 

Sunday 12th May saw the one year anniversary of the day my life took an unexpected turn down a rather long and often scary road. But travel on the road I did and through the tears, the pain, the anger and the frustration I got to the end. I would never have been able to do it without the love and support (and now and then a few stern words!) of my friends and family. I’ve said it in previous posts but it is so true. It is amazing how something horrific can bring people closer together.

It’s quite amazing that is has been a year. 

Getting this blog finished today I have been watching the opening day of Wimbledon. It’s hard to believe that this time last year I was watching from my bed, unable to walk with two broken legs. 
The actually anniversary was a bizarre day. Leading up to it I was more anxious about how it would make me feel than actually being anxious about it. Does that even make sense? I’m not sure if I was expecting to break down and cry, sit in a trance, scream with anger. As it happens I did none of those things. I tried to keep myself busy but I was taken over by the need to clock watch and mentally recall events of the same time a year previous. When I got to my Mum’s to pick the children up, when I got to Sainsbury’s, when I was run over, when I got to the hospital and so forth. However, shockingly, I didn’t really feel anything. It was all very surreal, like reliving a dream and wondering if what you are recalling is actually reality.
The memories are still very real in my head, there is no escaping them, but they aren’t painful anymore. Gradually they are becoming my past and not the life that I am living every day. 

The physical reminders however have been a little harder. 
As well as May being the one year anniversary it was also the time for us to finally embark on our family holiday to Egypt along with our friends. (For those that know me, you would have been witness to the countdown for approximately 5 months!)
It was a holiday that we very much needed and definitely deserved. Summer clothes were packed, the sun lotion was ready, the passports and tickets all in order. So why was I apprehensive about two weeks that I had been looking forward to for over five months?
The reason would be the scars on my legs. 
I’m not a vain person, my body is not a temple. It is a portrait of having carried and given birth to three children (two at the same time I may add). However the scars on my legs caused me to feel nervous of my appearance. And in all honesty I feel ashamed to even feel that way about them as in all honesty they aren’t huge or garish, but to me that’s all you can see. 
It would seem that I needed have worried. Out I went in my bikini showing the world my motherly lumps and bumps and it turns out that not one person was interested in me or my legs! The holiday was the best ever!

As for the further surgery to my left leg, I cancelled it. I have decided that for now I have faced as much of the hospital as I can bear and mentally I am in a good place. My surgeon has agreed that I can book it when when I feel it is needed and I am ready.

For now I am enjoying my legs and the adventures that they are taking me on with my beautiful family.

Maybe it is true after all …. time is a healer. 

 

 

Niggles and Money

So with nine weeks to go before the anniversary of ‘that day’ a new sense of anxiousness has evolved along with new worries.

My counselling is drawing to a close, I am in the process of being discharged. I have made huge progress, she has has been truly amazing. The session before last took us back to the car park to relive the event and put my few found help techniques to the test. It was quite overwhelming to actually stand there and talk through the events. But I surprised myself with my new found ability to deal with the feelings. I was no longer scared of the images or the memories. I was able to remember then but be able to look at where I am now and not be panicked.
In my session last  week we spoke about the normality of feeling anxious with ‘the year’ fast approaching. I’ll be happy when it’s out the way. I think that I am going to worry so much about worrying that I am going to send myself crazy. I’ve already been getting upset at the thought of reliving the whole thing minute by minute even though I know what I need to do to get through it.  But in reality, how easy is that going to be?

I don’t think it’s helping that I also saw my surgeon last week and the outcome was the need to have the metal plate removed. As we already knew, the bone has completely healed and even though the plate could potentially stay there it seems my leg has other ideas. For want of a better word it still ‘niggles’ me daily. Apparently I could have a bug in there that isn’t enough to cause a full blow infection but enough to annoy me. Because evidently I’m not annoyed enough by the scarring or the persistent ache, I need a niggling plate too! So once again I find myself on a surgical waiting list.

My case against the woman has left a bitter taste in my mouth too. We wont have a final medical prognosis (physical and mental) for another 12 months or so. Waiting doesn’t bother me as I wont settle early as once you do you cannot go back. At the very least I need to wait until the new surgery is complete. I did however ask my solicitor, in his expert opinion, if I were to recover fully what settlement could we be looking at. The answer was not heart warming. To put it simply it wasn’t even enough to cover the debt we accumulated whilst James was on sabbatical to look after me. Now, I didn’t automatically see pound signs when I had my accident, I’m not like that. However, in reality we have had huge expenses over the past ten months because of the accident and I would expect to be sufficiently compensated for that. And yes, there is another part of me that thinks actually, you know what, I didn’t deserve this, why shouldn’t I get something out it? I sure didn’t get justice from our judicial  system.

It’s a horrible feeling and to be honest it feels like a black cloud over me. Not only am I still battling the physical changes to my body and learning daily new limits set silently upon me, I am now worrying about the financial hole this is going to leave us in.

 

It’s All In Place

So off I trundled to the JR to find out to cause of my lump and pain. It was very bizarre sat there waiting surrounded by people with casts, boots and frames and being totally free myself. Two of the people waiting I have met a few times before in the waiting room, all with different stories but all with the same Ilizarov nightmare. We share an experience that is very hard to describe in words to others.

After two hours a few X-rays I was reunited with my nutty but brilliant surgeon. The good news is that my bone is completely healed, the plate is still in place and intact. Hooray! But the bad news is that the swelling and pain are caused ‘just because’. I may have twanged it when I slipped or my body may have just had enough of having a foreign object invading it. I’m to go back on March 4th if it hasn’t settled down to arrange a date to have the plate removed. In the grand scheme of things this is just a small bump (if you’ll excuse the pun) in the road that will hopefully be fixed relatively easily.

As everything appears to be as it should I am fine to carry on as normal so have been back to the gym this week. Feeling tired but good!

Our family finished it’s run of bad luck this week with James colliding with a pedestrian whilst cycling through London (said pedestrian decided to try and cross the road in front of him). The result was the pedestrian and James meeting the ground with a thump. James is now sporting a hole in his elbow and the hospital discovered a peace of bone floating around in there. It would seem its an old ‘injury’ though so no action to be taken!

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

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 ………

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’

One Down …… Five (and two bolts) to go!

Last night I sat and watched as James had to struggle to get two little monkeys to bed (them falling asleep for an hour at 5pm on the way home from Mum’s was not a good idea!) and then tidy the house. It was complete agony every time I moved and I tried for so long to keep it together but inevitably I lost the battle and crumbled. James held me tight as I sobbed myself into exhaustion. As I predicted very little sleep was accomplished last night. Too many emotions running through me to relax enough despite being so incredibly tired. The inability to find a position that wasn’t painful.

Some days I am just too tired to fight.

We went to the hospital today to get the offending pins looked at. After looking at them my surgeon went off to look at my xrays and was weighing up the possibility of removing the frame. The bones have healed well but they need some extra support for another couple of weeks. The frame could be replaced with a cast however the frame provides better results in the long run. Instead he made the decision to just remove the pin causing me grief.
Up until now I was adamant that I would have a general anaesthetic to have the frame removed. After today I even more adamant!
Even though I have 12 pin sites, there are only six pins as they go straight into the leg and bone and out the other side. So, to remove a pin the doctor starts off by uncurling both ends of the pin from the metal ring and then loosens the bolts holding it tight and in place. Then using wire cutters he cuts one end so there is less length to pull through the leg. And finally he swiftly pulls the pin out.
I have never experienced anything so horrific and it is not something I am willing to go through again. I am happy to go to sleep and have it gone when I wake up.
When we got home I couldn’t even walk from the car to the house as it was just too sore. I tried to stand which resulted in screaming and tears so James carried me in. Painkillers are now doing their job and another course of antibiotics will kill off anything attacking me inside.

(a huge thank you to Rachel for being one of the best friends I could ask for. We are lucky to have you in our lives, always there to help without a second thought and a hug just when I need it. Love you xx)

Pain is a strange thing. I haven’t had a pain free day since May 12th. Obviously there have been different degrees but it has always been there. Sometimes I wonder if it actually lessens or if I am getting better at dealing with it. The human body is truly amazing.
Living with an Ilizarov has been the most painful experience of my life and the memories will never leave me. Not just carrying the physical weight around every day or the scars it will leave, but the pain, fear and anguish it brings.
It really is ingenious invention and I am in awe of how it has allowed my body to repair itself so perfectly. Using someone else’s words, but summing it up perfectly, it is ‘hideously wonderful’

Despite the horror of the pin removal today it has given me a sense of relief that finally I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I know that I am on the home straight. Although it has also been a big reminder that when the frame is removed, it isn’t the end, it is simply then start of the next chapter.

Halfway Milestone

As of tomorrow I can finally say that I am halfway through my journey with Nicholas.
Eight weeks since the operation. I guess most people think that the time has flown by, but for me is has been painfully slow. I have heard each second of every day tick by.
This is unless the bones didn’t listen and are healing in the wrong order, in which case the timescale may change. I have a whole list of questions to ask my surgeon when we are back at the JR on Monday, and this time I will ask them instead of getting over excited by the xrays and totally losing all common sense and leaving with more questions than I started with.
This is the first time I have been a little nervous about a hospital visit as this time there are answers that I want to hear instead of just needing any answer.

The halfway milestone has been acknowledged a couple of days early in the form of a letter from the police. The first hearing at court has been set for 8th August.
Seeing the letter and reading in black and white that she is actually going to have to face what she has done bought with it a mix of emotions.
There is definitely a part of me that is excited, not in a bitchy, revengeful way, but as someone who has never had to deal with the law, the whole process is new and I am intrigued to see how it will play out.
I am also undoubtedly nervous about seeing her in person and hearing her talk. I have only ever seen her from afar, when she kindly looked back at me broken in the road, I have never heard her voice and I have no idea how I will react.
Will I be angry, upset, scared?
It makes me nervous not knowing how I am going to feel. Maybe I will feel all of the above.
I am scared about how she will react to me being there. As it is only a hearing there is no legal need for me to be there, but I need to be. There is no way I could sit at home wondering. I have to be there.
On the 8th she will just be making her plea, guilty or not guilty. The charges are failing to stop at an accident, failing to report an accident, and driving with undue care and attention. I am keeping an open mind as to what will happen as the truth is we just don’t know. She will take advice of her solicitor (assuming she actually has one) and whatever happens will happen. Of course I am desperately wanting her to plead guilty as that is what she is.
But I am in no doubt that she views the accident very differently to me.
We will see.
One of my biggest daemons at the moment is the fact that she has no idea how her actions (or lack of them depending on how you look at it) have affected me and my family. I am going to speak to the officer in charge of the case today and ask about the possibility of writing a Victim Impact Statement. Is it written by me to be read out in court explaining how the accident has affected me. I don’t want to do it because I hate her or want to hurt her with my words, I am not vindictive, I don’t want an apology or remorse, it’s gone way past that. I need to do it for my own healing process, I have to know she has heard how I feel.

So, 27 days and counting …….

Stairs? No Problem!

Since yesterday and being up and about more at home it has given me a new found energy.

I have wanted to get up today and move around and just being able to have freedom in my home again is wonderful.
I am probably putting too much weight on my left leg but it doesn’t hurt so I’m not too worried. My ankle on the right leg is a bit sore tonight and throbbing but it’s not unbearable. Again, I’m not worried as a certain amount of pain from Nicholas is expected.

Last night I even managed to WALK up one flight of stairs! With broken legs that is just amazing. I didn’t manage it quite as the Physio taught me but I did it and I am so proud of myself.
I started up on my bum as normal and decided to stand up on the first landing to go and tuck the children in and turn out lights. When faced with the flight of stairs up to our room I decided to give it a go. I have a habit of over-thinking things sometimes so doing something like this on the spare of the moment is a good thing. If I had thought about it too much I would have convinced myself I couldn’t do it.
It was brilliant and has given me real hope and reignited the fire in my belly.

I am back at the hospital on Monday where I hope that I will be allowed to fully weight bare (or is it bear?!) on my left leg and then I will only need one crutch. That is a huge step as it wasn’t so long ago I could barely move with a zimmer frame. Despite drowning in some dark days recently, today I feel like I have finally come up for breath.
Is it my new found freedom? The relief of finally admitting that I need help and am going to get it? Some peaceful nights sleep?
Who knows, but whatever the answer it’s working!

James and I are going out for lunch tomorrow with another totally amazing friend that we are very lucky to have in our lives. She has been there every day since the accident with words of advice and encouragement, an absolute angel.
For the first time in a long time I am actually looking forward to going out.
I wonder if the sun will shine in the sky? It will definitely be shining for me no matter what.