Putting things into perspective
I’ve been a bit quiet over the last week. At the start of these holidays, I fully intended that we were going to have a fun-packed six weeks. The girls and I planned lots of activities that they wanted to do. It was all going so well – a fantastic weekend away in Lincolnshire, trips out to the park, meeting up with friends, going to the library and swimming. We were having so much fun and then it all fell apart.
Last weekend, whilst being out in the garden, I slipped on an edging stone and went over on my ankle. Rich took one look at it and before I knew it, the girls were being looked after by our neighbours and I was on my way to A&E. It turns out that I had sheared a bit of bone off my ankle as I fell. Pretty soon I was in a plaster cast and having to get used to crutches.
Thankfully, the pain was never too bad. What I really struggled with was suddenly, my freedom had disappeared. I couldn’t put any weight on my right foot. I had to get around on the crutches or by crawling, and then I couldn’t carry anything whilst I was getting around. I had to rely so much on other people to do so much for me. I felt absolutely helpless. If I wasn’t a mother, I don’t think wallowing in my own self-pity would be too bad. But I couldn’t even look after my own children without any help. I felt useless. I felt miserable. I felt like I had ruined the holiday for all of us. Doing everything was hard. Getting around the house felt like a mission.
Over the first few days I tried to do whatever I could. I developed a technique for being able to get on and off the toilet, for getting dressed and in and out of bed, all without putting any weight down on my injured foot. I even had a bath. I might have had one leg in a plastic cover, sticking over the edge of the bath, but it was a truly wonderful feeling to immerse as much as myself as I could into the water and feel clean. It was a struggle to hoist myself in and out of the bath, but it was worth it. I even managed to prepare a few meals by sitting down at the breakfast bar to chop vegetables and using a chair to rest my leg on whilst at the hob. I did need a bit of help, but it gave me a sense of achievement. I found a community on Twitter of other people with legs in casts, who not only gave me some helpful tips, shared their experiences. It really does give you a lift when you are feeling a bit helpless to have someone else understanding how you are feeling.
But no matter what you can do, it is hard not to focus on what you can’t do. I couldn’t make myself a hot cup of tea and carry it into the living room to enjoy it – something that I would do several times every day. I might be able to get a meal sorted for the girls (with difficulty) but I couldn’t carry it into the dining room. I couldn’t pop upstairs for something – I could only crawl up, dragging my heavy cast behind me as I went. I didn’t even dare go outside as it meant that I would have to contend with a step out of the house, and I had no idea how far I would be able to go on my crutches, so the short walk to the park was out of the question.
This morning I was back at the fracture clinic. My cast came off and I was then put into a weight-bearing static cast. It meant that I could walk on my right leg. My foot felt a little sore, but I could walk. I used my crutches at first as I was nervous about putting too much weight on it after almost a week, but it didn’t take long for me to realise that I could actually manage to walk without them. My hands could now be freed up whilst I got about! I could get up and down stairs – maybe with help from a crutch, but I didn’t feel trapped in my own home any more. A huge weight felt lifted from me.
This last week has really put things into perspective. We really shouldn’t take what our bodies can do for granted. I couldn’t walk around on one leg for a week, and yet for some people, this is the norm for them. I have developed such a greater level of respect for these amazing people – and I bet they don’t sit around sobbing about how awful things are for them like I did. I am never going to take for granted the equally amazing people who I have in my life who actually care enough about me and my family to help, to drop everything, cancel their own plans and come and do whatever is needed, or even just to send me words of encouragement, and let me know that they are thinking of me.
And what I am NEVER going to do is count down the days of the school holidays. Even if the girls are winding each other (and me) up. If there are arguments, a mess everywhere and I am not able to get on with anything, I am not going to care. I am going to appreciate the time together when we can do things – even if it is something as simple as to pop to the park!