Sunday, July 1, 2012

Falling out of a shampoo chair: not as much fun as it sounds


June 2012 has been (check all that apply):
   ___ a memorable experience
   ___ a colossal waste of time
   ___ a learning opportunity

I’m checking all three.

On June 1, I fell. I’ve taken to telling people I fell out of a shampoo chair, but the prosaic truth is that I fell getting out of the chair. The right leg of my jeans caught on the chair’s footrest, and as I tried to step away it held, throwing me off balance. My left leg twisted and I went down, hard, on top of it.

I had no idea it was broken. The greatest pain was from what now appear to be a severely strained and maybe slightly torn muscle and from several sprained ligaments at the ankle. I rested and iced, took ibuprofen, and wrapped my leg in an ACE bandage for a couple of days. Then I tried to carry on. I accompanied Peter and the kids to the park. I limped to both kids’ preschool classrooms to say goodbye to the teachers on the last day of the year. I went grocery shopping alone, leaning heavily on the cart. I used an old pair of crutches for the long trek from the car to our seats at the ballpark, though I lacked the strength to swing myself so I was still walking.

After 10 days, the leg felt no better, the swelling and bruising looked a bit worse, and none of our limited supply of drugs was helping. (Either Vicodin doesn’t deserve its reputation or it loses its effectiveness after a couple of years.) So I hobbled to the new Urgent Care service at my HMO clinic where, after a series of x-rays, I learned that I had fractured my fibula. Oh yes, and there was “some displacement,” meaning I had probably made it worse by walking on it.

They built me a fiberglass splint, which I’m still using, and told me not to put weight on the leg. Over the next week we made three trips across town, twice to see the orthopedic specialist and once for an MRI which, I’m happy to say, confirmed that I didn’t need surgery to put pins into my ankle. The doctor said to keep taking ibuprofen for the inflammation, and the second time I saw him he said I could put weight on it “as tolerated.” I interpreted that as “continue sitting around watching the Game Show Network and using the iPad.”

Here’s the thing, which you may already know if you’ve been through this: walking on a healing leg may feel fine at the time. But that night, when you are trying to get to sleep, the leg may decide not to be so tolerant. It may ache, or it may set up a tingly feeling that makes you crazy. In the last week it’s gotten better; one dose of ibuprofen at bedtime usually lets me get to sleep.

To those, like Peter, who live with chronic pain, I must say I am sorry. I hope you have found a way to cope with the pain better than I have…to focus on the things that are meaningful in your life and not seek escape in ridiculous 30-year-old game shows featuring “guest stars” you never heard of.

I had a lot of big projects planned for the last three weeks of June, once the grandkids were no longer coming for daycare. But I’ve been distracted by the pain and discomfort, and it’s hard to focus. My activities have been passive. I have faithfully read your blog posts, and often even commented. I’ve checked Facebook more often than usual. I happily play Dragonvale when the kids come to visit. I’ve just about finished tossing out a foot-high stack of old Newsweek and other magazines, something that requires perusing each issue just in case it contains Something Really Valuable. I’ve watched Olympic trials in swimming, diving, gymnastics, and track. And, of course, game shows.

The leg is clearly healing, but still it bothers me. Much of the time, it needs to be in the splint and elevated. But sometimes, it feels mostly okay to walk. I need to kick this invalid mentality. I need to undertake some activity that will energize me and keep my leg healing. I need to start cooking dinner again, to free up Peter for the projects he’s trying to handle on top of his heavy workload. The garden, largely ignored for the past month, is beginning to beckon.  

And now I’ve finished my first blog entry in a month. Sorry if it sounds whiney. I just needed to record this so I can kick myself into gear and move on. I wasted enough time in June; now it’s time to learn from my memorable experience.

27 comments:

Teresa Evangeline said...

Ouch. It sounds like no fun at all. The hardest part for someone such as yourself, who is so used to being busy with a lot to do and take care of, being immobile must, indeed, be very challenging. If you have cable, and still need more downtime, may I recommend the cooking channel? There's a show called "Chopped" that's pure addictive fun. It actually has helped me to understand cooking better, too.

Jeanie said...

I don't think you sound whiney, I think you sound brave. How did you ever walk around on a fractured fibula for 10 days? I know you are eager to get back to your normal activities, but please cut yourself some slack and let yourself heal.
I am so sorry you are having to go through this.

Miss Dazey said...

Of course I am sorry about you breaking an ankle and your long difficult month. But, you write so well and done the story so very enjoyable to read.

On a personal note, I know humor helps in all situations.

DJan said...

You really DO need to cut yourself some slack. You sound like as bad a patient as I am, meaning we don't seem to have any. Good thing you finally found out what was wrong, but isn't it humbling to have something so common be the thing that brings us down? I was feeding the birds the other day and tripped over a rock I've put on the porch to keep the rug from blowing up, trying to chase a squirrel away. I came down so hard on the concrete I thought that I had broken something. Fortunately I didn't, but I could have, and it was nothing out of the ordinary.

I'm glad you are clearly on the mend. I feel for you in so many ways! Really. :-)

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Nancy, sounds like you're being hard on yourself! It's a big mend, immobilising, and real strain to be taking part in everyday stuff. You've done brilliantly! And for what it's worth, I wish I'd had time to watch Olympic trials ;> Take care, Indigo x

joeh said...

Weel we have clearly established you are NOT a whimp!

Ms Sparrow said...

I'm relieved you're on the mend, but it sounds like you had a hard time of it. After two hip replacements, I know how the pain and healing process can drain your energy and change your disposition. You are dealing with it quite well and the fact that you're blogging again is a sure sign you're "over the hump"! Welcome back!

Linda Myers said...

It's aggravating to be unexpectedly slowed down by the failure of a body part. And when it takes longer to heal than it would have 30 years ago it's especially frustrating.

Time takes time, though, and you're well on your way to being back to your normal self.

The Broad said...

I do so feel for you. The sad fact is that the older we are the longer it takes to heal fully -- and the most important thing is not to rush things faster than they want to be rushed -- and broken bones are a bug-bear to be sure. Just one step at a time and slowly does it. I think you are doing very well to be as far along as you are in only a few weeks. My dear, just thinking of you hobbling around with a broken ankle all that time makes me wince -- you are indeed, very brave.

Anita said...

I'm trying to think of comforting words, but they are all cliche, so I'll just say that I'm really sorry that happened to you; and it really "is" temporary. Hang in there. Blessings.

Far Side of Fifty said...

No you are not winey..anyone that has ever broken anything will understand that it hurts..especially at night when you are trying to sleep. It takes time to heal after you get older..and a fibula break..should probably take 6 to 8 weeks and you are just at 4. So give yourself just a bit more time. Use the crutches when you are going someplace.
I hope you feel better soon..or find some old movies to watch:)

Stephen Hayes said...

So sorry you had to go through this painful experience. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones; in sixty years I've never broken any bones. Take care.

Grandmother said...

So sorry, Nancy. Instructions from a (retired) nurse: drugs do lose their effectiveness and should be thrown out at the labeled expiration date. You need effective drugs for that much pain! Don't underestimate the healing power of gravity- keep your leg elevated lots. Your own body will signal you (via pain, sometimes delayed) about what it can tolerate and you must listen and obey. You are not an invalid but you are healing so passive is fine. Whine regularly if you want, this is the time you deserve to. See a physical therapist for strengthening exercises afterwards and do them all faithfully to return to full mobility. Workloads can wait, your healing is job one. Enjoy DragonVale (did you get Ruby?). Accept my sympathy and wishes for quick healing!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

You are not whiny at all. I'm so sorry for your leg. Glad you went to the doctor when you did. I walked around once with a broken foot thinking it would get better - for four months. Stupid me.

As for watching the game shows - I confess that late at night, I like to watch the old $25,000 Pyramid with Dick Clark. I don't think people would know most of those words today. Fun to watch. Get better soon.

Emma said...

How terrible! I hope that it feels much better soon. Watching the Olympic Trials seems like a fun way to pass the time. I wish I could catch more of it!

Daughter Number Three said...

Thanks for writing. I was just a bit worried about you.

WhisperingWriter said...

Ouch! You aren't being whiney at all, that sounds painful!

laurie said...

oh pLEASE take it easy. don't walk much. it's too hot to walk anyway! rest!

Lisa @ Grandmas Briefs said...

Oh, wow! I feel for you. My hubby has chronic pain and it. is. horrible. (For all of us.) Best wishes for healing soon. And don't kick yourself too hard for the fall; it happens to the best of us!

jshawflamm said...

IMHO, it is perfectly reasonable to complain when one is in pain if one acknowledges that there are others who have it worse--as you have done. It's also therapeutic. Hope you are soon able to do all you like and need to do.

Pearl said...

Oh, honey, I am so sorry. I'm a "faller", and having experience with that and through your fine description of the event I was there for all of it.

Yes. Stay off it during the day, for crying out loud!!

Pearl

injaynesworld said...

Oh my friend, I'm so sorry to hear this. I've had my own experience "crashing and burning" and I feel for you big time. In hindsight, the lessons usually become clear, but that's scant consolation right now. Be patient and forgiving with yourself. And, by the way, careful with the Vicodin. It's a depressant, and I've never found it to do squat on pain. Hugs...

Boom Boom Larew said...

Oh, Nancy! I feel your pain. Really! My broken leg still gives me pain and gets swollen easily. I got addicted to HGTV while I was laid up with my leg. (Although I managed to avoid the game shows.) Take care of yourself!

Connie said...

Oh gosh! I do hope you are better by now! I have awarded you the Vesatile Blogger Award and you can see it at http://www.familyhomeandlife.com/2012/07/another-versatile-blogger-award.html

Deb Shucka said...

Yikes! I'm so sorry you're going through this. I don't think you're being whiny. I think some of us tend to downplay how much energy pain takes to endure, and how debilitating in every way chronic pain can be. I hope your healing continues to go well and that you're back to your regular energetic self soon. I hope, too, that all those game shows haven't done permanent damage. :-)

Retired English Teacher said...

Oh my gosh! I am so far behind on reading blogs, I just read this. I am so, so sorry. I hate that this happened to you. I wish you could have gotten the splint sooner, but who knows if that would have helped.

Those shampoo chairs are dangerous. I have almost tripped on them before getting into them. I can only imagine how shocked you were. I think the stylists need to make sure their clients exit the chairs safely.

Take care of yourself. You are not whining. This was an accident that has really set you back. I hope you heal completely and quickly.

Green Monkey said...

I have to share this with Mary, my daughter-in-law, she broke her foot dancing, but didn't realize it was broken, continued dancing, walked to subway, took subway to train, took train home, walked up avenue till she reached her apartment. She was in a cast from the end of May til..... hmmm. 2 weeks ago? no driving and the crutches were the worst!

(((((hug))))) to you. It's okay to bitch! its good for the soul. as long as you turn the page when you're done!

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