~ October 7, 2008 8:45 AM ~
It was raining as I got out of the car and dashed across the parking lot to work. I looked up to see a truck start to back up. What I didn't see was the small round pebble in the puddle that my high heel landed. In a split second I was trying to balance on a ball bearing. My ankle rolled forward out from under me and I was headed down backwards, a vision of a broken hip and smashed skull flashed in front of me. I had never done a flip, but on this morning, some unknown and amazing reflexive action reversed my direction. I landed forward, smacking down hard on my hands and knees. My forehead missed slamming into the pavement by a fraction of an inch.
Adrenalin pumping I jumped up quickly and hobbled into the office. I was met at the front door by co-workers who had seen the fall. Was I OK? I wasn't sure, but if someone wouldn't mind bringing me a cup of coffee and I could just spend a few minutes at my desk, I would be fine. My good slacks were wet and muddy; my hands were covered with mucky water and had gravel imbedded. There was no blood, all was well. I sat down with my coffee, took a few deep calming breaths and turned my computer on; the feeling began to return to my body parts. I could not use my left hand, my left ankle was throbbing. I tried to stand up, my right knee could not bear weight. Maybe not all was well and I agreed to visit a doctor.
An hour later I was riding in a wheel chair, my husband wheeling me into ER. After lots of questions, checking in, and being evaluated by a nurse I was transferred to a room and a bed. A nurse brought me a warmed blanket and an ice pack for my wrist.
No blood, it was definitely not too urgent. Being cozy and warm in bed I began to think that maybe I had overreacted. Only my wrist was really hurting. An Ace bandage would be all I needed. Then my nice warm bed and I were wheeled down the hall for X-rays and then a ride back to my room.
The doctor came in with x-rays and grimly announced that I had a sprained left ankle, a badly sprained left wrist and thumb, and a broken right knee. He had ordered supplies from the Fracture Clinic.
An hour or so later I was clad in assorted immobilizers with heavy metal rods and Velcro straps. My left ankle from toes to knee was in a hard plastic walking boot. The right leg was sheathed from thigh to ankle in a foam and metal brace. My throbbing wrist and thumb also sported an immobilizer. In all there were fourteen heavy Velcro straps hold everything in place.
I was pain free, but not exactly mobile. My first trip to the bathroom revealed my limitations. With-out help I could not walk, unfasten my pants, sit down or stand up.
As I waited in a wheelchair, there was much of conferring on how I could manage mobility. Both crutches and a walker had been ruled out because they require two hands. Eventually they figured I needed to leave and I was handed a cane. Four hours after we arrived, I was wheeled back to the car and released to go home to rest. I began a new journey into the world of being handicapped.
The first hurdle was to get into our car. Thank goodness it is a large SUV. With the seat as far back as it would go and by scooting clear onto the console, I was able to squeeze the long straight leg into the car. I didn't go home, I went back to work. I was very afraid I would fall and end up like a turtle on its back. I would not be able to get up.
The cane made me feel vulnerable and off balance. It was banished to the closet by dinner time. That night I slept like a log. No pain medications other than an occasional ibuprofen.
My list of "can't do" was long. Even the simplest things: put on socks or shoes; button a button or zip a zipper; vacuum or mop; pick up a grandchild; drive; go up or down stairs; walk on slopes or inclines; sit in a booth, or an airplane; practice the piano; sew, knit, or crochet; use a hair brush or hold a hair dryer; or maneuver in crowds. The changes to my life were instant any many. But there must be some good in all of this. Things happen for a reason.
We live in a three story house. Bedrooms and fulls baths are upstairs, family room, laundry and another full bath are on the lower level. Our main living area including my office and my computer are on the main floor. I have a large desk. I discovered I could get my impossibly long and awkward leg under the desk and prop it up on a stool. Maybe I could work on the book I started writing in February. I had promised myself that I would finally write the whole thing this year. But as always, life always gets in the way of my goals. But for the next six weeks, I have nothing better to do than heal bones. I can type with one hand and write when I get home from work. Is this what it takes to get my attention? God just unfolded a chuck of my road map, it shows me exactly how and where to how to find time and the isolation to achieve my goal.
~ November 16, 2008 ~
It has been six weeks and the braces are off. In these six weeks I have developed a new habit and the book is becoming a reality.
~ December 23, 2008 ~>
The packages have all arrived and are wrapped and under the tree, there are no crowds to deal with on-line. With my husband's help, we are cooking Christmas dinner for the family here.
~ December 28, 2008 ~
I had to push to get the book finished but it is finished. At least the first major revision is complete.
~ November 10, 2009 ~
It took thirteen months of physical therapy and hard work before I could again do deep knee bends. Physically, it was the hardest part of my rehab. It turned out that both thumbs had received nerve damage from the impact at the junction of my palms and wrists. The left tumb may be permanently damaged, but the nerves still cause muscle cramps, so they give me hope they are reattaching. The human body is amazing it its ability to heal.
In the year and a half since I fell, I have continued to write, almost daily. I have missed a few goals but have accomplished far more than I would have believed possible. There is only one thing I wish I could change about the morning of October 7th, 2008, I wish I had picked up that round pebble. I've always loved small stones.
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This piece was written long before the devastation that has been unleashed on the people around the world. I cannot begin to imagine how they cope from day to day. Each day must be a burden on them when there are no supplies, no necessities, and everything they had is gone. Each day and night must be a burden on their hearts when loved ones, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and pets are dead or missing. My prayers are for the people of Japan, Alabama and Haiti. Their plight is unfathomable.
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