Wow. A LOT has happened in the past 13 months for me. It’s been a real life roller coaster ride which I did not buy a ticket for, but somehow became entitled to just the same. And honestly, the ride just keeps on going. I’m hoping to find a way off of the track sometime soon. I guess we all are in light of the coronavirus. Time will tell. It always does. Meanwhile, let me take a few precious minutes to reflect a little from whence I came to help me know better where I am going.
Almost thirteen months ago, I was naively anticipating a short recovery period following my impending ankle surgery. At that point in time, I was walking as though I was inebriated and the nerve pain associated with my torn tendon hit an all-time high of fourteen out of ten. Medication, medication, medication and ice, ice, ice.
Twelve months ago, I was thrilled to have lived beyond the first few days of my post-op recovery. I won’t recount the specifics–the experience of it all was quite enough. Despite ridiculous swelling and pain of all sorts, my surgeon moved me from a post-op boot to a ‘special’ shoe and I was grateful—the boot made for a tough go-round. If I wasn’t sitting or lying about with my feet raised, which was a great deal of the time, crutches were my mode of transportation and I needed help with pretty much everything from going to the bathroom to getting dressed, showered and getting food. All kinds of modifications had been made to our house to assist my being able to ‘move’ around. Sleep? Mostly didn’t happen for either one of us–my husband or myself.
Eleven months ago, I could finally keep my foot down long enough to drive myself around in our newly purchased, used SUV. My truck was a no-no. My crutches and I made our first lone outing–coffee with a friend. Curbs and doors were a new endeavour for me. The pain was still really bad. I started physiotherapy and was super nervous about the possibility of re-injuring my foot. Icing and elevation were key.
Ten months ago, my surgeon suggested a second surgery to lengthen my Achilles since my walking was atrocious. I was devastated! I put on my Kiss Army shirt (no word of a lie) and headed into my physio guy whom I’d seen only twice before. I told him that *we* had to do whatever was necessary to avoid that surgery without causing more damage. That I simply couldn’t and wouldn’t undergo another operation and that I would do whatever it took to prove to my doctor that *I* could gain back my full range of motion and then some. I was going to fight through pain and fear like I’ve never fought before. My physiotherapist and I immediately got to work on a more vigorous plan. I decided right then and there that I liked him. He would become my cheerleader and my nemesis. He was exactly what I didn’t know that I needed. I gained a ten degree range in two weeks. No more talk of surgery. Victory!
Nine months ago, I put on my own Baba shoes (the kind with a Velcro fastener that reminds me of my Baba, hence the name) to wear around the house and said a final good-bye to my ‘special’ shoe. It was an extremely painful transition, but worth it. So worth it! I never ever thought that I could or would get that excited over putting on a pair of ‘old-lady’ (bless my Baba) shoes. I was practicing how to get around with one crutch and I continued to ride my borrowed knee scooter around the house for ‘longer’ trips as it housed a brilliant front basket for transporting coffee, food and other necessities that otherwise required the use of two hands. The scooter allowed me to ‘stand’ long enough to do a few little chores to help out such as dishes and meal prep. I could also stand up in the shower for short periods which meant that I no longer required a chair or my husband’s help; we purchased a walker to enable me to shower safely on my own. Freedom alas for both of us, though my husband never once complained, bless his soul! That month, I made a trip to my parents’ house for my dad’s birthday. The outside steps at their house were a worry and a challenge, but I made it. Visiting him on his birthday felt like I was finally doing something normal that I would have done in my past life.
Eight months ago, I graduated to a cane and began acupuncture to reduce scar tissue and nerve pain. The very next morning after needling, I surprisingly ‘took off’ walking with my cane as though nothing had ever been wrong with me. I strolled into our bedroom, shocked the pants off of my husband and proudly strutted up and down the hall as he videoed the momentous occasion. Of course, I paid for it later pain-wise, but it didn’t matter. I was walking again, Christmas was upon us. I slowly decorated the house as my husband diligently dug up our adornments from the basement since I still couldn’t do the stairs by myself. My mother-in-law came to visit for a couple of days and we did some baking. It was nice to be together. Christmas dinner was enjoyed with family at a local resort-type of restaurant given that I was unable to put on a dinner at home. I was happy to be out celebrating amongst other people–recovery can be lonely at times. Unfortunately, my husband and I each came down with the flu after our Christmas dinner and we were out of commission for a few days. I was grateful that I could at least get around by myself.
Seven months ago, I was able to retire the scooter. We happily removed all of the extra carpeting that had been put down to protect our hardwood floors from the wrath of its decrepit wheels. Our living room began to look somewhat normal again without my bike path. The cane and I were getting along well and my physio sessions were helping me to build strength and a pretty good range. I was and still am extremely dedicated to my daily physiotherapy. If I wanted to get my life back as I once knew it, I had to work for it and I did. I was proud of myself in that regard. I spent a lot of time practicing how to walk properly and began toying with the stairs. Getting to the basement was my goal. The weather was cold and snowy as usual here in Canada, and my only outings were to appointments and to town to retrieve our mail. I was extremely cautious when having to walk across parking lots outside, thus my family doctor enabled me to obtain a temporary handicap placard for our SUV. I was grateful for that little, blue sign. It saved me from some pretty dicey, icy situations. Falling was my greatest fear throughout the winter months.
Six months ago, we put on a small family dinner. I was exhausted. It was too soon for me to be on my feet as much as was required, but I was happy that we did it. Everything came at a price. Each week, I had a medical appointment or two of sorts as I employed a small ‘Kiss Army’ of professionals to help piece me back together. I was beyond frustrated at still suffering from crazy episodes of nerve pain. Each new thing I tried or did seemed to throw me four steps backward. Icing and elevation were still a part of the game. Some days, I admittedly stayed down because I just didn’t have it in me, but eventually I would get back up again and keep fighting. I had to! My full-time job was to recover and get my health back. My husband stayed by my side through it all, riding the coaster track with me. He was just as much of a champion as I was. Maybe more.
Five months ago, the coronavirus put a halt on everything. We were given stay-at-home orders and I thought that I would lose my mind at the announcement. I had been stuck at home for months already!!!! I was just beginning to venture out to the stores and such to do shopping and then whammo! It all came to a grinding stop. Appointments and all. My progress was stunted. The pandemic news and numbers were depressing as all get-out and I felt trapped as did many. The new, ever-changing virus was scarily looming over our heads and day-to-day life became one of either a virtual nature or one of social distancing. Schools even shut down! Talk about an eye-opener. Death tolls climbed. Italy and other countries were hit hard. News and media outlets were flooded with everything and everyone COVID-19.
Four months ago, the snow was beginning to melt. I drove myself into town to walk the mostly melted sidewalks with my cane. I had to keep moving somehow. I dearly missed my surgeon and therapy visits, but devised my own plan to keep my progress going. Virus or no virus, I had to get on with things, on with my recovery. It was then that Ben Huberman from WordPress announced the rebirth of the daily word prompts. I was ecstatic! Writing and being part of that community again was exactly what I needed–dare I say, what we ALL needed for the month of April. Daily writing became my drug of choice. I was hooked again and it felt great. During that time, the spring melt allowed for me to take to our gravel driveway and resume my morning walks at home. I was on cloud nine. Writing and walking helped to re-define me. Sadly, shopping was also re-defined as the hoarding mentality took over, leaving some store shelves bare. Line-ups and sanitizers hit the scene hard and fast and social distancing stickers were placed everywhere. A new normal began.
Three months ago, we headed out camping for the first time in over a year and a half. Experiencing the outdoors with family was as if I had won the lottery between my pain-staking recovery and the all-encompassing pandemic. It felt amazing to partake in one of our beloved activities and to spend time with loved ones. Away from these four walls. Hallelujah!!! Later that month, my husband celebrated a milestone birthday and we were able to have my in-laws over for a porch visit. The days were getting longer, the weather was becoming more spring-like, and the trees and flowers took bloom. I saw a new light at the end of a very long tunnel. The downs of my coaster ride weren’t as severe. I was thankful. I took over the daily writing prompts after WordPress stopped them. The jibberjabber tag was born as was a fun and interesting group of writers. 🙂
Two months ago, camping and writing continued. Places of business began to re-open again bringing about feelings of both euphoria and trepidation concurrently. I was able to resume some of my appointments and such, but the way in which each occurred was vastly different from before. Masks became more of a mainstay, though they were still uncomfortable. As time went on, I carefully ventured out and about a bit more, distance-visited with the odd friend and stepped into my beloved Chevy half-ton for the first time in almost a year. Our garden vegetables began to grow as did the bed of ever-fine grasses and weeds which eventually took over the entire space. There was no possibility of rectifying it despite efforts to do just that, and we conceded to the idea that what would be, would be. We’d have to spray it in the fall a few times and hope that next year, a garden could flourish. But best of all, I came completely off of my nerve pain medications since my zingers (as I so fondly referred to my searing, shooting pains) began to settle. That meant that I could enjoy the odd drink again socially. On my birthday weekend, I had had my first drink drink in a year. It was an Italian Peroni beer and it was splendid. Just as I had remembered. My speed and endurance for walking was really coming along and stairs were pretty doable, though going down is still challenging at times. My physiotherapist and surgeon were proud of my progress when they saw me again after lock-down. Many others also commented on how well I was walking sans implements of any kind. While my recovery curve was starting to flatten after nearly a year’s time, the corona virus curve was just getting fired up again thanks to all of the newly opened activities.
One month ago, I decided to continue on with offering up the daily word prompts in a once-weekly format to accommodate my wanting to be outside more than inside. My own writing came to a slow however, on the flip side, I enjoyed getting to know more about each of our jibberjabber members. Personalities and writing styles were beginning to shine through unlike the sun in our parts. Our weather was unseasonably rainy and cool for the entire month shortening our already-short summer season. Thankfully, our camping reservation with one of Canada’s National Parks was upheld and we were able to escape the less than favourable conditions and enjoy a week-long stay in the mountains. It was glorious and I didn’t want to leave. It seems like a lifetime ago now. My foot was able to do more and more as I squatted amongst our flower beds and climbed hills at our lake lot. Heading back to work talks began. I felt nervous about it all. A year is a long time to be away from a job and so many things had/have changed since I was last there. Many thoughts began entering my mind, such as: How would my foot fare standing on it all day? Would the crazy pain come back? Do I remember how to even do my job the old way never mind given our new normal? Am I really ready and strong enough to handle the physical demands? The month seemed more settled in some ways, yet more unsettled in other ways.
This past month, my gradual return-to-work plan got ironed out and I actually went into my workplace a few times to sort out my space and slowly get my feet wet. I haven’t been able to look back since. A new roller coaster was/is about to ensue in resuming my position and I will have learn how to ride it out just as I had to with my ankle recovery. At least now I know more than ever that I can get through some pretty tough times, the present being no exception. This too shall pass! In the meantime, it has been an absolute pleasure and honour to get to know each of you who have journeyed with me on WP over the past few months especially. While I will still be here in spirit each day, I will have a lot less time to read & write, thus my decision to stop with the daily jibberjabber prompts. It doesn’t feel right to offer up words if I don’t have the time to invest in reading the posts which I have so enjoyed doing. I sincerely wish everyone a wonderful month of September! I look forward to seeing where this next ride takes me. Likely it’ll be up, down and all around like the previous roller coaster of this past year, but I’m ready. My seat belt is on and I am buckled in. Bring it on! I’ve got my Kiss Army shirt handy, just in case. Cheers… see you around! 🙂