Changing Priorities
Contributor
Written by
cheryl stahle
March 2012
Contributor
Written by
cheryl stahle
March 2012

$10.00  The price of a parking ticket that allowed me to have one hour of freedom from home confinement.  A bowl of soup savored  in a corner of the restaurant where my walker could be tucked away from public view.   I’ve become a public spectacle as people watch me struggle with a walker through doors of the doctors’ offices, up an elevator and down a hallway.  Maneuvering around  my town proves next to impossible as the town  grew before the era of ADA so steps sandwich both front and back doors of stores.

I finally screamed “no more” to struggling with the walker, navigating through tight doorways, steps, and long hallways after a 20 minute walk from the waiting room to the  CT scanner dragging the cast and my broken body down this never ending hallway.  Quite simply refusing to leave the scanner room, the technician sent my son to find a wheelchair.  Being the last appointment on a beautiful Friday afternoon does yield some power.  It’s just as well that I cannot maneuver about town as I still have not been granted any non-bedrest time by the doctor.  Absolutely no weight on the foot constitute my doctor’s orders.   That’s asking almost the impossible.

Three weeks have passed since “the incident” resulting in a shattered linzfranc joint during a quick adventure in Costa Rica.  I’m now sporting cast  number two; this time Barney purple but just as uncomfortable as the original cast. Not liking what the x-ray showed during last week’s appointment, the doctor sawed off the original blue cast to take an actual look at my foot.  “It won’t cut you” does not sound very believable when you feel the saw blade against your skin.  Apparently, he needed the strength of Samson to pry a cast off of my foot as he kept cracking it open and tugging.  Each tug sent a pain jolt through my foot.

During the past three weeks, I’ve experienced many firsts:  MRI, CT scan and moving to total dependence. I’ve regressed from crutches to a walker as I kept falling; falling in the bathroom; falling in the bedroom; falling down stairs. The most troubling first is that my son has to lift me up from the floor.  When did he gain the strength to carry me?  No longer a bi-ped, I have learned to crawl, crab walk up and down stairs and pull myself to standing.  At this point in my recovery, I have reached  total exhaustion.   Healing takes  more energy than I ever thought possible, especially since I consider myself fit due to years of yoga and hiking.  Apparently, my body requires more resources now than I have tucked into reserve.

Now at my third week, a decision still remains concerning surgery.  Are my bones healing?  Can they heal?  What happens to the shards from the shattered bones?  Do any ligaments work?  I don’t know yet.  What I do know is that I have no control over any of my toes.  My toes, the only part of my leg I can actually see, are still blue and cold to the touch.   Something in my foot twitches uncontrollably.  I can feel that vibration almost constantly and sometimes even see its effect when my middle toe twitches feverishly.  The pain has receded to a constant throb centered at my arch.  I try to ignore it.  Or if it becomes too much, I just pile bed pillows on top of the cast and bury the pain under feathers.

I joke about an awesome shoe sale as my Jimmy Choos will no longer fit my foot.  My days of sexy heels and sassy sandals are over and it’s time to start browsing  the flats and clogs pages of Zappos.      I’ve got time before shoe shopping so there is no rush to find the perfect flats.  Sometime this week, I get the results of the latest CT scan; perhaps a new cast and hopefully a decision about surgery.   Mobility…that is what I want more than anything else.  After that, not to feel so utterly helpless.  Those two things matter more than anything else at this point.  More than even a new pair of shoes.  My how priorities have changed in three short weeks.

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Comments
  • HI DEAR

    IM TOTALLY IMMOBILE AND HAVE SHARED YOUR UTTER FRUSTRATION AND UNBEARABLE DEPENDENCE ON EVERYONE FOR 42 YRS BUT I WANTED TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO KEEP LEARNING AND UNDERSTANDING THIS SIDE OF YOU WHICH AT PRESENT MAY SEEM LIKE A FRUITLESS TREE OF DAILY ATTEMPTS.  THIS SEASON CAN ONLY SMOLDER A NEW EMBER WITHIN THAT WILL ALLOW YOU TO TOUCH COUNTLESS MORE HEARTS.

  • Jan Nerenberg

    Just remember that what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger!  Hang in there.

  • Sherrey Meyer

    Cheryl, please don't think I'm just saying this to be saying it, but I know your pain and frustration.  About four years ago, I underwent a 4-part reconstruction of my left foot.  Yes, it wasn't an accident that put me there, but it was something that had to be done or I'd end up with a rigid left foot.

    The recovery meant the first two weeks following surgery were total bedrest with the exception of moving from bed to bathroom using a scooter, which by the way was way better than crutches and/or a walker.  I'll add a link at the end for you.  From there we moved into a Barney purple cast which stayed on for six weeks, and then a total of four more weeks in a fashion boot (you probably know what I refer to here). 

    Being dependent on others for my movements early on was such a pain, not physical but emotional pain for someone accustomed to being independent.  And as you mentioned, every time something was removed from my reconstructed foot, ankle and calf I wanted to scream! 

    If I can offer you anything, it is hope that you will heal, that surgery will be a possibility for you to restore you to the biped you once were, and that you will find a coping mechanism for your frustrations.  Truly, this will give you, as it did me, another open window on the world of those who are unable to do the things we can.  And by the way, I've learned that fashion heels aren't all that important -- I'm a tennis shoe, orthotic-friendly Mary Jane kind of girl now.  :)

    Here's a link to the scooter I mentioned above (for me, it was a lifesaver!):  http://kneescooter.net/.  Talk with your doctor about this possibility.  And be sure if you go this route, you consider buying vs. renting, and that you get one that allows you to steer (some are rigid in the front and very difficult to maneuver). 

    Best wishes and full healing for you!

  • Gloria Getman Writing

    Thank you for sharing. Your plight is a good reminder that life can change in an instant without our permission. When you are back on your feet walking, in whatever shoes that will fit, you will be a more compassionate person and it will show in your life and in your writing.

  • Catrina Barton

    You're really brave about everything, which will make for a memorable moment. My mother had to have neck surgery a few years back because of a horrible car accident years prior messing up her vertebra. It was really scary watching her go through all that, so I can honestly sympathize with what you're going through.Priorities have a way of completely shifting when you least expect them too.

    We will keep you and your family in our prayers.

  • Tyra Brumfield

    Blessing on you Cheryl, Susanne, and Louise (and probably others on this blog). I am so sorry for your faltering health and since I'm co-dependent, I want to help. I have found relief for my own many aches and pains through a chiropractor. If you haven't considered this, it could be worth researching and finding a good one. It's amazing how our bodies are designed to heal themselves, through alternative means. Drugs, while also good when one can't take it anymore, often do little to actually heal us. In the meantime, my prayers are with you.

  • Jane R. Snyder

    Cheryl -  So sorry you are having such a hard time. Two quick tidbits to share that helped me through some serious pain many years ago. I tried everything to help myself recover including a hands-on healer and massage. The healer taught me to imagine my pain surrounded by a bright golden light (I pictured glitter!) and try to let the "warmth" of that light ease the pain. The massage therapist taught me to imagine having a second mouth on my body at the location of the pain and then see that second mouth exhaling the pain. This was new thinking for me at that time and, believe it or not, I actually used the techniques with some success. The mind and body connection is very powerful and I wish you a speedy recovery that leaves you even stronger than before your accident. Don't lose sight of the fact that we all have tremendous healing potential inside us and if you can empower it and combine traditional medicine with alternative choices the end results can be amazing!!!

  • Carrie Ann Lahain

    It's amazing how often we don't even think about what a gift it is to be able to walk or dance or just be pain free. Then, in a moment, this silent ease is gone. Our body goes from just "being there" to being our enemy.

    Most of my own ills--and they are paltry compared to what I've read here--are due to bad choices rather than unfortunate circumstances. 

    So this morning I made a good choice and exercised to a Leslie Sansone walking DVD. I want to thank you all for reminding me not to take good health for granted.

  • Susanne Barrett

    I really understand where you are writing from.

     

    Ten years ago, at age 35, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis by one doctor, fibromyalgia by another. I went from being an active home schooling mom of four young children, a mom who took them on field trips galore, daily walks to the park to play, and beach trips as often as we could manage to being in a wheelchair within three months. I went from being a runner and dancer to being bedridden.

     

    The constant pain is bad enough, but where I've come with our children is more difficult. The older two remember me when I was well; the younger two do not. I'm not sure which is worse. I walk with a four-pronged cane on good days, and need a wheelchair on bad ones. I take strong narcotics to keep the pain at a low roar.

     

    I write...because that's something I can do, but with my hands swollen and stiffer in recent weeks, we'll be trying out a speech-to-text software to help me keep writing when the pain is too much. We'll see how it works.

     

    So get well and be well, dear writing friend...and I pray I can do the same some day. :)

     

  • louise Mayer

    I empathize with your struggles that set you apart, but at the same time I am jealous.  Your laborious trips through imaging offer you hope.  My scans in the last 6 months have shown that my metastatic breast cancer has spread more rapidly and widely than any case the oncologist has seen in the last 20 years.  A distinction no one would ever want.  I savor every trip in the car, every trip to the store while wondering is this the last time I can do this on my own?  Is this the last March I will see?  The questions are relentless, but I'm not ready for the answers.

  • Sherie Venner

    That is powerful writing...thanks for sharing and I wish you a speedy, complete recovery!

  • Laura Brennan

    Wow.  Fearless writing.  I am so sorry for your pain and so in awe that you can write about it.