Adventures without a leg
March & April, 2017
As the other posts may have mentioned, I broke my leg.
I didn’t tear my ACL… but I did break the bone around it, and stretched the ACL enough that it can’t support me anymore. We think, at least. The surgeons and physical therapists, all four of them, still aren’t sure. So I may need surgery, or I may not. We’re not sure.
What I am sure of, is that this is another learning experience.
I broke my arm and tore my tendon back at the very end of 2009. I wasn’t able to climb again until May of 2010, and I wasn’t back at reasonable strength until July or so. This time, it looks to be an even longer recovery; 7 months post-surgery is an optimistic outlook… and I still don’t even have a scheduled date for a surgery.
So I’m taking it slow; slowing myself and my expectations down to match my new reality.
Sarah’s doing the same; she’s slowing down her expectations for our coming year, and tempering her own goals now that her partner can’t support her through those goals (belaying through Smith and Vantage, climbing Hood and Reiner, learning to AT ski).
It’s been really hard, but I’m making progress and slowly bringing myself back up to my natural mental state. Finding the ways to do that has been a challenge, but it’s also reconnecting me with some of my old self.
I’ve picked up some old video games that I’ve been meaning to play, and I finally got the time to read that new Neil Gaiman novel that came out a while back. I’ve got a backlog for both too; a few games that I want to play or replay, and two other books that I’ve been meaning to read. It’s good to remember the other things that make me happy, aside from adventures and outdoor exploits.
But it’s still hard. Carrying things wasn’t really an option for a long time. I had to either ask for help, or use a wheelchair if I wanted to bring anything not in a container from one spot to another. It took cooking away from me, and it complicated even having coffee or tea at work, by requiring a special thermos that could seal well. If I forgot it at home… well, time to ask a coworker to carry my coffee the 15ft to my desk.
So. This isn’t supposed to be a doom and gloom post. Instead, it’s positive! Or… at least neutral. So how do we get back to positive? That’s been the challenge.
First; I’ve thrown myself into Physical Therapy. I do as much of it as I can, within bounds of what the PT recommends. I honestly could do more… and half the time I feel like I’m slacking off, but I’ve noticed a huge improvement. Sticking to the simple motions that I’m prescribed helps – I’m slowly building confidence, while making sure I don’t hurt myself more. I’m also focusing on working the muscles that I can work safely; upper body machines, arm bikes, really anything that doesn’t engage the legs.
Second; Sedentary activities. It sucks, and it’s kind of the antithesis to who I’ve been in the last year or two, but I’m enjoying video games and books. I used to love them; in Cambridge, I’d generally carve two days a week out to just relax, eat something fun, and game. Probably why I’m not in the excellent shape that my activity level would normally give… but it’s definitely why I’m sane. So, it’s a good trade.
Lastly; Forcing myself to keep doing things. I can’t do a lot, but what I can do… well, I do that as much as I can. Now that I can hobble with one crutch, I’m cooking a lot more – I’ve even started grilling again. I’m also doing dishes, and taking back some of the chore load that Sarah’s been shouldering. Normally, chores are just that – a chore. But when I haven’t been able to do them in two months… you know, they’re not the worst thing.
And as an extra, I’m focusing more on meditation. I’ve been reading happy poems, tying back to the meditation practices that I had before, and finding quiet places where I can. Having both of us tied to a single car has cut down on my alone time significantly (work does not even remotely count), so being able to unplug every once in a while has been a major source of relaxation for me.
Staying positive and staying active is the name of the game. We’ll see how it goes from here.