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Broken Grandma – a journey on wheels and feet and back again PART 5

Mar 30 2015

PART FIVE

 

This is really going on much longer than I expected! I keep remembering things…

Let’s move on to February, anyway.

If January was foggy, February was a month of sitting-up-and-taking-notice. I was going to the doc every two weeks. Each time, for the first three visits, I got a new cast. On the third visit I got the unpleasant news that one of the breaks wasn’t healing as expected – then I heard the PA (physician’s assistant) saying something about a special treatment after 90 days, and I was so freaked out about hearing that “90 Days,” I didn’t hear the rest. My husband had to explain it to me later. I was thinking that was 90 days starting that day, which would put me well into May with this thing, which would mean I was going to lose almost half a year.

Hearing the 90 days started in January was a cold comfort, as I’d been thinking you were done with something like this after 8 weeks, max. I had also begun to feel that I couldn’t really address the tailbone issue until I was back on my feet, moving around and relieving some of the pressure on my poor butt.

The next couple of days were pretty bad. All I could think about were all the things I was missing – my Sundays making coffee and cookies at the airport Military Comfort Center, meetings, committees and just being able to drive into town when I needed to. Then one morning I remember quite clearly I was on the scooter coming back from the bathroom, turning the corner into the kitchen. Right there I could see outside through the kitchen window. We have a mostly unobstructed view of 40 miles of desert, from Pilot Knob a couple of miles to the northwest all the way to Picacho State Park in California. For some unknown reason while looking at the mountains,  I felt grateful for the month’s rest I’d had thus far, and I knew that I was going to get precisely the rest and the healing that I needed, and not only for my physical body. There was no need to be in a hurry about it.

Go figure – but that, anyway, was the moment the fog lifted. I knew I would and could make some progress, albeit in smaller increments than I’d previously thought.

By then I was making my breakfast and lunch all on my own, and I could make some parts of dinner that weren’t too complex. I could only manage working at the kitchen counter in the half-standing position with one knee on the scooter, and my other foot on floor for a few minutes before my back and thigh muscles started to kink up and complain. So these things took a long time to do, allowing for rest/stretch breaks.

Some days I didn’t have lunch at all because it was too much bother. I realized that here was a bit of insight into the reason so many homebound, disabled seniors run into problems getting their meals and the right nourishment: it’s too damn hard to make the trip into the kitchen and deal with all that. It’s much easier to stay put, continue reading or watching TV or whatever. In my case, though, I didn’t need to make dinner, so eventually I’d get something to eat no matter what. Had I been on my own, I’m sure there would be many more meals I’d miss, other than the occasional lunch. I could see a real connection, though, between food intake and energy level. Those days I skipped lunch or breakfast were days when I slept a lot more, and didn’t feel like doing even the small tasks I was learning to do from the scooter or the chair.

I found I could do one major non-food related thing a day, on top of making breakfast and a new pot of coffee, noonish. I could straighten up my area – the end tables on either side of my chair— OR if it was full, I could replace the little trash bag I kept hanging from one of the tables. I could not do both. I could do a sponge bath and change clothes, OR I could refill my weekly pill minder I used for my herbals. Sure, I could do an extra item, but that would mean I’d seriously pay for it the next day, when everything would hurt. The more I moved around, the more I hurt. I can see how that could be a serious problem in the long term, and I think I recognized that then as well. Some days I’d throw caution to the wind and do TWO things – what the heck! Knowing, of course, that the next day I might finish two books and watch two movies, one of which I’d sleep thru.

It wasn’t long after that major bite of reality when I recognized I wouldn’t be back to normal on the last day of February that I heard about my husband’s co-worker, who’d also had a similar New Year’s injury. Turns out she’d had the surgery, but was having problems with those nuts and bolts healing, so she wasn’t any further ahead than I. She’s also ten or twenty years younger as well, so I guess everything evens out.

Week by week I was making some progress, though it didn’t seem like it at the time. I had another small setback when my PA gave me the order for PT (physical therapy). The first appointment I could get wasn’t until March 17th.  Another whole month at least! I felt really sorry for myself for a while, I can tell you.

The thing that got me thru that one was getting rid of the cast and progressing to a boot. At first it didn’t seem much different, but it’s really a whole different world. Up until then, I’d been taking a bottle of hand sanitizer along when I went to the doc and liberally dousing the leg after the old cast was off and before the new one was applied. I could take the boot off, for one thing, and wash my leg. So that was a big consideration in itself. Another was the fact that the flipper was gone and my real leg was back! I took to removing the boot for an hour or so in the afternoon, to let my leg and foot air out and wiggle my toes, just for grins.

Weekends when my husband was home, we’d watch the dumbest, most ridiculous sci-fi movies and criticize them – one of our favorite forms of entertainment. So many things happen in those movies that are either physically impossible, far beyond the realm of common sense or both, that you have to wonder what people were thinking when they made these movies. Or what they were smoking!

We also took some time to plan menus for the week, and talk about my husband’s upcoming retirement in November. This was all actually pretty nice. We hadn’t always had time to just sit and talk about stuff when I was ambulatory and out doing my thing, so there was one little benefit to being stuck in the recliner.

We took one day and started brainstorming the content for a DIY cookbook kit I’d gotten for Christmas. By the time we were done we had come up with 77 recipes for things we cook, and the kit had room for only 52, as near as I could tell. I suspected we’d also come up with more along the way, but I started getting them all down anyway. The basic premise of the kit was that you’re supposed to write them by hand on the cards and pages provided, but that’s really not how I roll. Even when I share a single recipe with a friend I can’t resist adding a little history on the origin of the recipe, or the best kind of ingredients. So I decided it would be one hard copy, using the kit as a sort of template for a version I could type and use MSPublisher to fit on the cards/pages, with an e-book version I could share with family and friends.

One day I figured out how to get in the office, and fire up the desktop computer. Hooray! I found I could even sit in the chair for almost an hour before my tailbone sent me screaming for the exit.  I loved being back in my own little space again. It would be a while before I’d get in there on anything like a regular basis, but working with a full-sized keyboard is a lot better if I’m going to be writing anything more complex than the occasional email.

I was still spending most of my time in the recliner, but there were possibilities now. By mid-February I was cooking parts of, and almost whole meals. The boot allowed me to stand on both feet, giving me a little more time in the kitchen. I was also feeling a little guilty about not being able to do more, to alleviate some of the pressure on Paul, who was not only doing everything at home, but had more hours at work as well. For many years, his weekend had been 2-2 ½ days. Now, some weeks, his weekend consisted only of part of one day, and he was getting tired.

In some ways, I was getting used to life lived in a recliner, but each new thing I was able to attempt suggested something else. Of course, a new action required some thought and consideration, but I was discovering that in addition to body parts beginning again to cooperate and function, my mind was working, too. I came up with idea of reviewing some of those many books I’d been reading, wrote the reviews and posted the result on the blog in a matter of three or four days. Then this project came along, too. So, despite my worries about how long the healing process was taking, I was healing, whether I was recognizing what was happening or not.

And now I’m going to take a breather here – well, really, I’ve been writing this in bits and pieces for over a month now! – and get these first installments posted. I started PT as planned on the 17th of March, and that’s a whole new story!


 

Broken Grandma – a journey on wheels and feet and back again Part 1

Broken Grandma – a journey on wheels and feet and back again Part 2

Broken Grandma – a journey on wheels and feet and back again Part 3

Broken Grandma – a journey on wheels and feet and back again Part 4

NOW READING >>>>>Broken Grandma – a journey on wheels and feet and back again Part 5




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Meet Trudy

Trudy W. Schuett chairs the Regional Council on Aging for Arizona's Region IV, which includes Yuma, La Paz, and Mohave counties. She is also a member of the Governor's Advisory Council on Aging, and sits on the Board of Directors of Arizona Humanities. She lives in Yuma, but this year spent the summer in Glendale helping out with the grandkids. Carley and Tori are now in third and fourth grade.

Meanwhile back in Yuma, her husband Paul is watching the calendar. In November 2015 he retires from Marine Corps Community Services, where he's been teaching Marines how to fix their cars since 2000.

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