Tuesday, November 9, 2010 arrived with a clear early morning that promised to become a chilly, sunny, and typically autumn day. I zipped my coat, buckled my helmet strap, unlocked my bike, and headed off to work. A few minutes later, a garbage truck crossed a bike lane to make a right turn. I was in that bike lane. The tires of the truck crushed my left leg and caused other internal injuries. An amazing team of trauma surgeons saved my life, but they had to amputate my leg to do so.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Confucius.

In July 2011, I set off to walk a thousand miles as an above-knee amputee in my new prosthesis. The journey has held more twists, turns, and detours than I ever imagined.

I reached Mile 1000 on March 30, 2013.

But of course, that wasn't the end.

I'll keep walking!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

5 Things I'm Not Good At

Mile Marker 2988:

The miles crawl.  The days feel stormy.

A broken right foot doesn't exactly play to my strengths.  To be honest, every coping skill I've accumulated over the last 4 years has pretty much gone out the window.  My Fitbit even ran out of steam this week.  Low battery or sympathy pains?  I'm not sure...

Let's just say this injury has brought me some new perspective and a big reality check.

I call it  5 THINGS I'M NOT GOOD AT:

1.  RESTING (and its evil twin, WAITING):   Being on crutches is exhausting, especially when your "fake leg" doesn't exactly pull its own weight.  (In case you were wondering, the Genium doesn't have a crutch-hopping mode!)  So I've relegated myself mostly to the couch.  This gives me plenty of time to think about what I'd rather be doing: walking around the neighborhood, rock climbing, planting flowers on the balcony, and baking in the kitchen.  Even boring stuff like laundry is tempting when I'm not supposed to be standing up.

Susan and Rocco do a
balcony skate-by!
On the upside, I've had some unexpected visitors drop by.  A few friendly faces and a good laugh can make your alone time a lot less lonely!

The other "Levs" stop in :)

2.  DRIVING A WHEELCHAIR:   It sure beats crutches, but boy am I out of practice!!   For the last 4 years, my wheelchair collected dust in my parents' basement while I learned to walk, climb, swim, and (nearly) run.  Now my chair and I have been reunited like old roommates with a tumultuous history.  Yes, it's better for my bones to roll instead of hop.  But I'm a terrible driver!

Wheelchair cam
I skirt doorways, reverse down the hallway, and attempt a 3-point turn to get out of the bathroom.  I scuff the edges of furniture and walls.  When I get in a tight spot, I sneak in a "stand."

Plus, with every push of those wheels, the old feelings roll back.  The trauma of the early days.  The many return trips to the hospital.  My struggling self-image as a person with a disability.

Its tough to be back in the wheelchair.  But this situation is hopefully short-term.  After one week, I can't even express the respect I have for those who drive full-time!


3.  UNDERSTANDING ANATOMY:   This injury has made it pretty obvious I don't know what my own body is up to.

Where's the pain?   
"Um, my foot?"  "My knee?"  "My ankle?"   

I point imprecisely like a weatherman waving over a green screen.  Medial?  Lateral?  Proximal?  Distal?  Tendon?  Ligament?  Joint?   With so much experience as a patient, I've definitely found my Achilles heel.   I think I need an anatomy lesson while I recover :)

4. THINKING OUTTA THE BOX:   When you've followed the same routine for 4 years, it's tough to come up with new solutions.  Putting on my prosthesis involves a whole lot of weight-shifting, foot-stamping, and a move my friends at Magee affectionately call "the dance."  But without a strong right leg, these steps are painful and difficult.  In fact, it's become the most dreaded activity of the day.

Voila!
Bedroom parallel bars!
But one evening, Chris comes over with fresh PT ideas.  He moves my "leg area" to the other side of the bed.  Then he sets up parallel bars -- a.k.a. a dining room chair -- so I can spread the weight through my arms as well as my legs.  Simple, yet genius.

Sometimes the box is so high you need somebody else to help you climb out!

Which leads to #5...

5.  ASKING FOR HELP:  I've canceled most commitments this week, yet I still lie awake at night overwhelmed with things to do.

How will I bring flowers to the Jefferson Garden?
Buy soap and shampoo at CVS?
Walk 2 blocks to the hair salon?

Even the smallest tasks and responsibilities loom large.  How can I depend on myself when I can't depend on my body?

There's an obvious answer here.  Seek help, right?   But it's easier said than done.  Asking for help shakes the very foundation I've built, the independence I've worked so hard to achieve.  So I remind myself this is only temporary.  And then I make lists.  Mom goes to the grocery store.  Friends wash the dishes after Game Night.

And with Dad's help, the Jefferson Garden gets new flowers :)

I'll make it up to them later.  For now, all I can say is THANK YOU.

I've heard admitting you've got a problem is the first step toward improvement.  So I'll admit it.  I've got at least 5.

But for me, keeping things in perspective is another key factor.  If I know relief is around the corner, I'm willing to work, and wait, to get there.

This right leg injury is inconvenient and annoying.   It does not play to my strengths.  But it's also NOT THAT SERIOUS.  It's not life threatening.  It's not permanent.  And most importantly, it does not involve an NG tube!

As long as I give it time, it should heal.  So at Mile Marker 2988, that's the plan.

In the meantime, I've got some skills to work on.


5 comments:

  1. Patience is truly a virtue Rebecca. Use this time of waiting to grow in an area that you would not normally be still long enough to do so.

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  3. Aw....hang in there girlie! What you said makes so much sense (about all of those old feelings coming back up!) But you're right....it is temporary. (And the "asking for help" thing is really hard!) When you're up and running again....on your running blade, maybe we can try a gentle jog together. :) That is all I can imagine right about now!

    Healing thoughts to your right foot headed out your way!

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  4. keep working on your driving... But if you need any help with errands let me know, I deliver!

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  5. Pish Posh! Five things you 'think' you're not good at, and a bazillion things you ARE good (if not excellent) at! Your time on the sofa, I'm sure, is well spent, and you're probably scheming and planning on all the stuff you're gonna do once you are up & about again! If you need some extra help with the Jefferson Garden, hit me up.

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