Baby Steps

I. Just. WALKED!

No crutches, no leaning on counters/walls/beds/handles/chairs, no hopping hobbles. Walking shuffles. Almost just a shifting of my weight side-to-side as I moved my legs forward, but honest-to-God walking. Bring it.


I know it’s not condoned, but I’ve been going stir-crazy. It needed to happen. Today, I drove.

It’s been a week since I got my plaster cast removed. Since then, my aircast has helped me bear more weight every day. When I asked my OS (before the surgery) if I could drive, he said no. He also said that he wouldn’t be following me home, so if I do drive, please don’t do it while on painkillers. Deal.

Before surgery, I was driving in shoes with a complete tendon rupture, so I’ve got the mechanics down. Let the foot do as it will, the rest of the leg can be responsible for the shifting.

Adventures in Transit-land

What. A. Week.

I needed to be in Logan (120 miles North of where I live) for a teacher fair on Tuesday. Dilemma: I can’t drive & no one I know goes up there. Solution: public transit adventure. Every step of the way was SOMETHING.

Monday, after I got my cast taken off, I went back to work. Hooray! It’s the final week of the 3rd term, so everything was pretty hectic (students waited until the last minute to turn in the homework they had been avoiding, etc), especially since I had been out for the 2 weeks prior. I worked straight through lunch & right up until my carpool needed to leave. Woo! Adrenaline rush on crutches.

My carpool needed to pick up her wedding dress & she was going to drop me off at the commuter train on her way home. Her GPS navigation got really confusing near the final turns & she followed a bus into what she thought was the park ‘n’ ride. It was the “bus only” lot. Yeah, we got pulled over for that one.

After the officer sent us off with a warning & directions to the commuter train lot, I found that I had missed my intended train, but the next train was one of the few that goes past Ogden (which is usually the end of the line) so I had lucked out in that respect! The train even had power outlets, so I was able to charge my phone & take care of a few things. Like purchasing my shuttle fare for the evening.

I got off the train a few hours later in Pleasant View and started crutching to the bus stop; it was gusty & starting to hail. A woman offered me a ride to the bus stop (half a block away) and, though I did try to turn down her offer, accepted her kindness. When I told her my bus was only 40 minutes in coming, she suggested I come over for a quick dinner with her family! She only lived a few blocks down the road and I’d only eaten granola bars all day, so I eagerly agreed. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, we ate slow-cooked steak, potatoes, & carrots. Luck o’ the Irish?

She returned me to my bus stop right as it whizzed by us, so we chased it down & I continued on my journey. As soon as I sat down, the man next to me asked what I’d done to me leg. I thought, “So we’re talking on this bus, are we? I’ll rest later.” He has bone cancer, so we bonded over our increased appreciation for simple mobility. Pleasant conversation, warm bus ride, and then back into the storm with my loaded backpack.

By this point, my bladder was screaming for a break, so before I started the 1.5 mile crutch to the shuttle stop, I headed toward Wal-Mart to use the facilities & maybe just sit on a bench for a few minutes. As I was crossing the parking lot, I was offered another ride! This time, it was an elderly couple that ferried me to my next destination. We had common ties to the town in which I do my student-teaching. Utah really is a small world. After exchanging names that I’ve unfortunately forgotten, I crutched straight indoors a full 2 hours early for my shuttle. Grateful for the extra time (and for not having to crutch the full 1.5 miles), I spent it on grading papers & texting.

When I finally arrived in Logan around 11pm, my friend was waiting in the parking lot for me. Sweet victory, I had arrived! We spent the next few hours preparing for the teacher fair. I think I went to bed around 3:30 & got up at 6:30. It took me a full 2 1/2 hours to get ready, not including breakfast (because I skipped it - I was out if time!), making my morning average to be one task per 15 minutes. Tasks included: shower, dress, brush teeth, put on makeup, pack my bag, do ROM exercises, use the restroom, straighten hair, & I’m sure I did another task or two. Life takes so much longer on crutches!

Between the library, the teacher fair, and several errands on campus, I crutched a few miles. Since I’m stubborn, that included many flights of stairs. My the time I got to the University Inn (my return shuttle stop), I was absolutely spent.

And then my shuttle driver rolled in. Blasting country music & skimming the curb with a single tire. Out stepped the angel Frank, my driver. Boots, jeans, button-up shirt under a vest, handkerchief around his neck, and a cowboy hat. Factor in the unflappable affability & his offer to take me all the way to Salt Lake City even though I’d only paid for fare to Brigham City, and I was about ready to marry that cowboy. Or at least ask for a dance. We talked about John Wayne, Burt Reynolds, & people he knows all over Utah. I rode through heaven to the Salt Lake Central Depot.

From there, I took the commuter train back south, caught a bus, and accidentally got off 1 stop too far. Rather than wait for a northbound bus in the cold, since it was around 9pm by this point (and I was getting picked up for work at 6:45 the next morning), I crutched a mile or so back toward my apartment. It was slow, painful going and I stopped several times before I decided to sit down in Starbucks and call for backup. I told my roommate I didn’t think I could walk anymore & she came straightaway. Monday & Tuesday, check. Adventure.

Wednesday was hectic, but by comparison it felt tame. I did get stuck at work until 5:30 because no one could give me a ride to the bus before then. I crutched over to my friends’ apartment since it is close to a bus stop & I learned my lesson the previous night. The week was wearing on me, so I ended up staying the night there.

Though I tried to recover on Thursday (and did successfully rest/elevate my leg for a good, long while), by the time I got all my work done and coached a lacrosse game, I was so tired that my simple plans for the evening (shower, dinner, bed, wake up early to prepare for Friday) seemed daunting.


It’s no small wonder, then, that I was so tired I fell asleep with dinner in the oven. For the record, this is what a frozen chicken breast (that had taken up the entire diameter of the dish) looks like when your roommate gets home around midnight & turns off the oven because the charring smells didn’t wake you.

First post-op: FWB Scare

The cast came off today! I’m in an aircast with 3 wedges (remove one a week) and PWB as much as is comfortable. Back to the OS in 4 weeks for another post-op. He’s hoping to start some actual PT shortly thereafter!

My 10 ROM exercises per day are allowed to be supplemented with my choice of appropriate activity: stationary bike with the aircast, weights in the gym, and in a week I can swim. (No full immersion of the injury for a week, to ensure proper wound-healing under my steri-strips.) All in all, my OS was pleased with my progress & I was thrilled at his instructions!


I went back in the aircast (I feel so LIGHT!) and was testing out how much weight I could bear. Without thinking, I took 2 or 3 hobbling steps in the aircast from the front to rear passenger door to retrieve my own crutches. The tingling pain I felt scared me so badly that I spent the rest of the morning fearing I’d reinjured my tendon! I’ve definitely undone any “ahead-of-the-curve” delusions of pushing my tendon to be strong quickly. I’m hoping I can be realistic and progress correctly.

So…this happened

After church, we stopped for fajita fixins. This is what transpired.


Me: “Do you guys mind if I just stay in the car? I don’t need anything.”
Steph: “You need a buggy ride.”
Me: “Good point. Hand me my crutches? I’m coming in.”


“I can’t believe this is legit!”
*Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!*
“Back it up, back it up, back it up.”

Gimpy, First Responder

I would really like to be able to title this post “Gimpy, MD.” Unfortunately, that goes against my moral compass. Darned ethics.

I got to watch lacrosse today! (I coach a high school girls’ team.) It’s a good thing I went, because I administered first aid twice. While on crutches. Like a boss.

The Gimp leading the Blind


I just had a Buddy the Elf public restroom experience.


It was ridiculous. And (no pressure) a blind man held the first door for me, so I ended up guiding him through the hallway, door after door, and the freaking Lincoln Tunnel to the bathrooms. Without making any wrong turns.

I’ve gotten into the habit of pushing push-doors open with my shoulder so I can crutch in as it swings. This time, as I went to push the door I just kept pushing! Oops. Almost ran into the woman who had already started to open the door from the other side as I pushed into the door that had been there just a second ago! We had a good laugh and I learned to open push-doors with my knee.


When my friends went to the bathroom after me, they ended up in a kitchen storage area, a game room (local business next door), and the restaurant one door too far on the way back.

Exhausting, Relaxing Baths

Hooray! Another jailbreak day! My roommate didn’t tell me she was leaving the apartment unattended for a week, so I went to pick up the mail. It feels so good to get out & about, if only for an hour or so. I love the view from my tower window, but variety is the spice of life & it’s nice to see the world from a different angle.


The next big excitement for the day will be a nice, relaxing bath. After getting everything in place, I’m exhausted. I never really feel clean after sponge-bathing, so it’s worth it to be able to wash my hair, but I sure am earning these baths in sweat & prep-crutching! When I can finally shower, it will be gloriously loooooooow-maintenance. Just how I like it.

Surgery Week-iversary

One week ago, I was talking with the anesthetist about…I don’t even know what (we may have been joking about how I had so many signatures on my leg I was planning on framing it & sending it to the Met - on loan, of course)…and then seconds later I was waking up to someone saying, “Okay, that’s it. You’re done! You don’t believe me, do you?” I told him, of course, that I didn’t, and my recovery since then has been similar parts denial/acceptance/anxiety/tenacity.

I didn’t feel like any time had passed between being knocked out & brought back to. It didn’t feel like I had been moved, intubated, flipped, sliced, stretched, sutured, stitched (I’m sure there’s a difference & that I have got it backwards, but I’ll educate myself on the particulars later), and moved to the recovery room. I didn’t even think I had left my little pre-op cubicle.

I know that I’m on crutches and need to operate in ways that are strictly non-weight-bearing (NWB), but one of my biggest fears is that I will get out of a car/bed/couch right leg first and step up on that leg without thinking. Especially in the middle of the night when I my auto-pilot is groggy.

However, the reality was made clear to me - very little of what I take pride in doing myself (especially transportation) is practical or even possible. The day I tried to return to my apartment and resume a normal life, I was forced to accept that little things like heading up/down my 34 stairs, taking a bath, or being vertical long enough to brush my teeth & wash my face - the most ridiculous of small challenges left me exhausted.

Time had passed without my knowledge, challenges could be overcome but would take their toll, and I accepted that I would waste much of my energy on recovery if I did not start accepting help as it was offered.

My main concerns from here on out have less to do with successful recovery and rehab than they do with the possible complications. Going from the most active person many of my friends knew to an all-but-sedentary bump on a bed has my mind on high-alert to any unusual sensation in my leg. The hard pooling of fluid in the pad of my foot - tingly to the touch. The throbbing calf pain. Whether I should rest my cast/splint on the inside, outside, or squarely on the back. I wonder if I would feel all of this if I were on the dulling medications; I wonder if masking these pains is dangerous or par for the course.

Even with the challenges & occasional overconfidence, I am still getting stronger & healthier daily. I’m off the prescription pain killers & trying to take very little of even the OTC ibuprofen I’m allowed. It’s probably a good thing I’m staying with families that refuse to let me do anything for myself (trust me, I’ve asked numerous times) because I can stay awake for most of the day and have energy to spare.

As one who values her independence ad ridiculum, it could be frustrating to live on someone else’s schedule. For a few minutes every day, it still is. I take pride in my physical toughness and my mental tenacity, so now I need to back it up with intentionality of action. By that I mean I’m going to use this learning opportunity to refine my time-management skills.


One more thing. I’ll make sure my needs are met - even my need for independence.

Backslider Crew, Represent!

I went to a friend’s church a few hours early since she had worship practice. This is how I started the morning:


During the service, I tried standing for a few of the songs, but had to sit for the last few because I was getting light-headed. This is how I looked for the majority of the sermon: