Things That Are Making Me Cranky

Yesterday was for giving thanks. Today I’m remembering all the things that are making me cranky. Okay, maybe not all of them, but at least some.

Outpatient physical therapy is ending on December 14th. I’ve apparently met my goals and maxed out on insurance coverage for this category of “outpatient following inpatient following hospitalization.” There probably is some kind of Home Health Physical Therapy that falls into a different coverage category – or that I can have if I pay for myself. Since I’m not close to feeling ready to give up on therapy, I need to work the phones starting Monday to figure out options. My PT wants me to continue with e-stim so I need to figure out if there’s an option that will cover that. So I’m cranky.

Christmas is a month from yesterday and I want to put up decorations. But I can’t reach them in the closet. The wreath is in a box on the floor but I can’t wrangle it out to the hall and up on the door while also keeping the cats from escaping to the exciting world of the hallway, which they are dying to explore. And the wreath box is in the way of getting to the box to store the fall velvet pumpkins and gnomes, so I can’t put them away first anyway. I need help and it won’t be here until next week. So I’m cranky.

Somehow I pulled a muscle on the inside of my left thigh and it hurts like hell when I try to raise my knee. Or when I am using the leg lifter to get my leg into the bed. Or rolling over in bed. Basically it hurts. And I’m too cold to want to put ice on it, although after almost a week, it probably is too late for that anyway.

I’m cold. It’s been a very long time since I lived somewhere without rugs on the floor. While the bedroom has carpet, my living room has a very cold floor that can’t have an area rug because it’s a trip hazard. Our apartments apparently have a 70 degree heat setting, which I can live with except my feet are cold. So I’m now wrapped up in a fleece robe and two throws and feeling like a wimp for wanting it to be warmer after years of living in colder settings in New England.

I really want pizza. We have wonderful food but pizza’s not on the menu. I can get it delivered from somewhere like Bruno’s but then I would have way too much pizza and not enough self control to not overeat it because it’s here.

I really want to just be able to stand up. Today I managed 20 seconds of standing without holding on to anything which sounds so ridiculously tiny that I can’t believe I’m even telling you about it. I understand that it’s a big deal because it’s the most I’ve done so far, but it’s still ridiculously tiny. I have so far to go.

I’m tired of dealing with all of this medical stuff. Most of the time I push that down because it doesn’t help me to wallow when I have no other option but to deal with it. Maybe I’m not as courageous as I said I was. I really missed my family this Thanksgiving, even though I spent time on the phone with them and with my other scattered single friends. I don’t want what I have now to be my new normal even while I recognize that it’s my normal for NOW – and it might be forever stuff. It’s just hard.

What I’m Thankful For Today

This year has given me many challenges and changes, but there is so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day 2021:

  • For God’s love, protection, and guiding hand through changes big and small.
  • For my health and improving strength.
  • For the ability to walk and live independently.
  • For the love and support of family and friends both near and far.
  • For financial stability and excellent medical insurance.
  • For my new home and its accessibility.
  • For my beautiful floofy kitties.
  • For the Internet and the connections it gives me to the world outside.
  • For the skill of my doctors, nurses, and therapists.
  • For words that help me make sense of it all.

I’m alone this Thanksgiving Day but that’s okay: my family and friends are just a phone call away. Today isn’t just about eating and being together. It’s about giving thanks always and everywhere. Happy Thanksgiving to you, no matter how you spend your day.

Brave, courageous, or realistic?

Twice today someone told me they thought I was brave for how I’m handling the physical and emotional challenges I’ve had on my plate since August. A third person said a better word was courageous. I’ve been shying away from claiming either of those, preferring to think of myself as simply realistic. But now I think I’m wrong to do that; it minimizes the reality and the daily choices that got me where I am now.

Naturally, being me, I Googled bravery and courage to get definitions because I’d really thought of them as being synonymous only to discover that they’re not the same thing at all. According to Shonna Waters at BetterUp, “The main thing that really sets the mental state of bravery apart is a lack of fear.” She also said:

Courage doesn’t necessarily come with an absence of fear. In fact, being courageous normally involves taking action in spite of fear. It’s knowing full well that something will be dangerous or hard, but doing it anyway. Bravery tends to be more spontaneous, whereas courage comes with a high degree of choice and forethought.

When I think about what challenges and difficulties I’ve faced these last months, “Bravery” isn’t what fits because I sure as hell have been afraid. Afraid of being unable to walk again, or live independently, or have my own life. I’ve been afraid that things will go backwards and I’ll lose hard-won abilities and be a drain on my family and friends.

But I’ve taken steps anyway – physical steps without falling, adding them up until I can walk a football field (which is a LOT of steps!). Emotional steps of asking for help, and accepting it both gracefully and gratefully. Practical steps of learning how to dress myself and do my own laundry.

I’ve made the choice to take those steps. I know others in therapy who balked at trying something hard or painful or that made them stumble, and there were plenty of times when it would have been more comfortable to stay cozy in my room and not take the risks. But I did it anyway, because it was the only choice I saw for myself.

And now I know that there was courage in doing that. Brave I’m not. Courageous, I am. And grateful.

Photo credit: Photo 90119079 / Courage Bravery © Serhii Bobyk |

Today’s Medical Update

I saw my surgeon this morning for my three month post-op follow up. It was a short appointment and to be frank, I’m not completely sure that it was all that helpful. He seemed a bit shocked when I told him I’d spent 9 weeks in residential rehab but was pleased to know that I was home and managing well. I showed him my leg range of motion, which was better than on my last visit, and let him know that I am going to PT three times a week with a focus on isolating and strengthening muscles, specifically with e-stim, which he thought was great. At my request (because it was from the therapists), he wrote a prescription for a custom articulated AFO brace for the right foot to help with foot drop. Of course, I don’t know where to take it and his office was not much help on that. I’m to go back in a few months but to remember that it will take up to a year to see all the results of surgery.

Yeah, yeah, I know that part.

Then this afternoon I went back for therapy and to give them a report on the doctor’s visit. My therapist’s husband works at the Olympic Center and she is going to ask him for suggestions of where I can take that AFO prescription to be filled, since it was his recommendation in the first place that I get one. For the next weeks, I’m to concentrate on walking at home without the left AFO (the one that has been giving me fits) but WITH the right one, using my aide to help me walk in the mornings in our hallways. My legs will be freshest in the morning, and this way I can get in more steps. Today I walked 260 feet with that combination and it felt fine, and was the most I’ve walked at one time in weeks. When I’m at therapy, I’ll leave the AFO at home and we’ll work on building things up without it. I like the idea of doing both.

So there’s progress. Not trying to use the left AFO feels like a real gift since it’s given me such fits. That alone was worth the visits.

Making itty bitty changes

I’ve been home a month now, and have figured out ways to do some things I didn’t know I could do. Take laundry, for example. It’s quite entertaining watching me move the dirty clothes from my bedroom, across the living room, into the other bedroom, and then into the bathroom where the stackable washer and dryer live. And of course, moving them back again when they’re clean. Standing up to move the clothes from washer to dryer and out again is a bit wobbly but that will be remedied this week when maintenance installs another grab bar next to the laundry closet. But even with that limit, I’m really happy that I can do my own laundry in my own place. It’s a step towards greater independence.

My aide is still coming to give me showers and wash my hair and I love that, really love that. But she’s away this week so I’m coming up with other options. I washed my hair in the kitchen sink today, standing on slightly wobbly legs and needing practice using the sprayer – but it’s clean and I did it. I think I know how I would give myself a shower but I’m not really ready to do that and definitely have promised NOT to try it without her there. Part of me doesn’t want to give up having her help but realistically, I may not need it for as long as I originally thought. Which is also a good thing and will save money, too.

I can also put my own shoes on! Well, not with the AFO braces in them, but still, having shoes is better than wearing fuzzy blue gripper socks all day. I have more stability and confidence when I stand and manouver around counters warily doing simple every day things. I’m not doing much walking right now because I’m not sure how stable the left foot is without the stupid AFO that keeps falling down; I’m not wearing it for that reason and the therapists know and understand. I see the surgeon on Wednesday of this week (delayed from last week) and we’ll have a chat. I suspect he will tell me to have therapy decide what I need, and therapy will tell me it’s the doctor. So I’m hoping to get a referral to an orthopod foot person who can direct that part of things. I definitely have significant foot drop in the right foot and know that one needs an AFO, but maybe the left doesn’t anymore.

One of my friends helped me with banking this week, which is another step. I haven’t been to a bank since before my move in August and although I’m not spending pots of cash, I do need some. Instead of doing “cash back” at the grocery store or using an ATM, my friend brought me cash from her bank and I wrote her a check for the same amount. Not ideal, but generous of her and it made things easier for me. At some point, I’ll be able to go out with people, but probably not until I can use the walker, which is a lot easier to fold up and transport than a wheelchair.

This is still a year of waiting. It’s been three months since surgery and I have another nine to go to wait out the healing process, at least that’s what the surgeon warned me. I need to give my body time and not get impatient. The e-stim we’re doing in therapy is really waking up the nerves in the right foot and leg, sometimes painfully, but any return of sensation is a good thing. Those really big steps of the first weeks of rehab were dramatic and scary and wonderful, but they aren’t the only kinds of progress. These teeny changes add up as well.

Image credit: Photo 47326021 © Nilanjan Bhattacharya |