Bittersweet memories

Before I had my surgery on my hips and legs a few years ago, I also used to get a lot of pain in my shoulders too. This was caused by my posture. They hurt every day and the bones would ‘crack’ all the time which wasn’t very nice either. Some nights I couldn’t lie on one side because it was too uncomfortable. It’s not something I’d care to go through again if I’m being truthful.

At the time, my knees had rotated inwards thanks to the way I stood, to the point where they practically faced each other rather than facing outwards, so I had operations in which they broke my hips and one of the bones in my legs and reset them to correct this. Then I had another operation to lengthen all the muscles in my legs.

I’m pleased to say that after that the pain in my shoulders stopped and they haven’t really bothered me all that much since. Well, not unless I have quite a long day pulling my walking frame Martha around or decide to bring home one too many books from the library, which I hang in a carrier bag that I put over the side of Martha so that I don’t have to carry them in my handbag and get backache. I was guilty of probably taking out a stack of heavy books yesterday actually, but thankfully my dad was on hand to give me lift home so it saved my shoulders a lot of work. Thanks Dad!

But there is another reason for me writing this post today besides confessing that I am a bookworm who is often guilty of checking out more books that she can comfortably carry sometimes. Please tell me some of you have done that too and that it’s not just me!

Sometime last week I was laying on my tummy, which I personally find is a way for me to get a good stretch, because my legs and back were quite achy that day. I moved my arm to put it in a more comfortable position and I could instantly I’d done something that my shoulder wasn’t happy about because it ‘cracked’ and started aching right away.

Thankfully, the achiness is starting to subside now, but having discomfort in my shoulders again has brought back memories of how I used to be in the days before I had my surgery.

Although it hasn’t been nice to think about how much my shoulders hurt, it’s been quite nice to take some time to reflect and think about how far I’ve come over the last few years, which I think is actually further than I realise most days and definitely further than I give myself credit for.

Let’s hope it continues!

The Surgery Diaries: Getting more walking frames

So there’s just under a week left of August which means that my posts reflecting on my surgery six years ago in this month are almost over. Thanks for sticking with me so far. Today I’m going to fast forward to when I had the second operation. If you’ve missed anything so far and want to catch up, feel free to do that by clicking here.

Eventually I managed to build up my walking stamina enough to be able to do it around the house again. The problem was that the Kaye Walker frame I was using at the time was too big to fit around our house, so I was given some smaller ones. One that went in front me but didn’t have wheels so I had to pick it up to walk with, and one that did have them so I could roll. We tried crutches too, but the physio and I decided very quickly that they weren’t the right kind of walking aid for me. I felt like I was going to fall over the second I got hold of them, and apparently it showed because the colour drained from my face.

I was back in my own bedroom too by this point and was no longer sleeping in the dining room on the ground floor. Mum made dad redecorate it for me as a special treat and it was nice to be back in my own space again, if not a little strange. Being able to use the bathroom unaided was also something I will never, ever take for granted again.

One little frame stayed upstairs and we kept the other one downstairs. I was surprise how well I managed with a frame that went in front of me rather than one I pulled behind me. There were a couple of mishaps, including one where I almost lost a front tooth. Thankfully it only came slightly out of place and was fixed when Mum accidently bumped my wheelchair down the kurb a bit too hard in her rush to get me to the dentist. My jaws rattled together and somehow this managed to knock it back into the right position it had always been in. Talk about lucky. I just had to eat soft foods for a week while it healed and it was good as new. Phew!

I was starting to finally feel a little bit better about how things were starting to happen. I could see progress every day, even if it was quite small some of the time, but it was starting to happen. I could see a time when I could walk unaided again, and I’ll tell you more about that in my next post!

The Surgery Diaries: Learning not to rush it

So there’s just over a week left of August which means that my posts reflecting on my surgery six years ago in this month are almost over. Thanks for sticking with me so far. Today I’m going to fast forward to when I had the second operation. If you’ve missed anything so far and want to catch up, feel free to do that by clicking here.

Six weeks after  I had the muscles in my legs lengthened, I went back to see my surgeon who was happy for the pots to come off my feet, and for me to only have to wear my leg gaiters at night from there on in. This was an amazing feeling! It was kind of nice to be back in my own wheelchair too, I won’t lie.

One of the things that excited me most of all was the fact that I could start to try and go back to wearing jeans again, rather than all the skirts and dresses that I’d bought especially to wear over the previous couple of months. It helped me start to feel like I was getting back to my old self again, even though there was still a really long way to go.

This was the time when all the hard work of getting myself back on my feet and making the most of the surgeries that I’d been fortunate enough to have on the NHS. There were often times when I was angry and frustrated because things didn’t happen at the pace I wanted them to and I felt like I should have been making things happen right away.

I was starting to walk again now, but very slowly. I could only comfortably manage a few steps at a time and I couldn’t even imagine being able to ever do it without holding onto something ever again. If I’m being completely honest, I don’t think that the enormity of what I was going through hit me until a point a couple of weeks after my second surgery. I’d been doing some work with one of the people helping me with my recovery. I think we’d been practicing getting me used to standing still for short bursts of time to build up my stamina. I was holding on to a table for dear life, but I was doing it. I walked part-way around the table I was using (gripping it tightly, of course) and then was allowed to collapse into my wheelchair for a much needed rest. I was feeling especially frustrated because it hurt quite a lot and used up most of my energy, and the fact that this was something I could have done quite easily before I’d had my operations made it feel worse. I decided to point out how I was feeling to the person helping me, and then they said something that really made reality hit home.

This person mentioned something about learning to walk again.

Oh, Maybe that’s kind of what I was doing In a way? After all, a few months before I hadn’t been able to stand, or even crawl and now I was literally having to take things one step at a time. Dang. I hadn’t looked at it that way before. Maybe I was just being too hard on myself. My family and friends had been using similar phrases for weeks and I’d been brushing them off, refusing to believe that anything that had been happening to me over the last couple of months had been a big deal. After that I tried to keep a rational head when I was getting mad and not judge myself too harshly.

The surgery diaries: noticing my knees

Even though I had my surgery six years ago now back when I was 16, I can still remember they first time I really paid attention to knees as clear as though it were yesterday.

Before I had the operation, they had both begun to turn inwards (the left more so that the right) and were giving me a fair bit of pain in lots of parts of my body because of the way that I was standing and sitting. By then, it had got to the point where they didn’t even really face outwards when I sat down anymore either.

As silly as this possibly sounds, I don’t really remember paying all that much attention to how they now looked for the first couple of days after I’d had the work done. I must have seen them at some point but it didn’t really register. I was still in bed with an epidural block in my spine with lots of pain killers in my system. I think I noticed that they were looking better as I lay there with my legs outstretched (which was already a huge change in the right direction for Lefty already.

It hit home most of all when the epidural was taken away and I was told that it was time to brave my first attempt at getting out of bed and having a shower. This is the point where my memory really kicks in. Mostly because everything that followed in the next half-an hour of so really, really hurt.

I very quickly realised that sitting myself up onto a sliding board and pulling myself into the shower friendly wheelchair wasn’t easy. I couldn’t do into matter how hard I seemed to try. My hips (which had been broken as part of the surgery so that my knees could be reset) were throbbing and my arms were heavy with effort. Eventually (and a lot of help later) I was in! Later, I was given something called a Monkey Pole to help me pull myself into a sitting position, and mum came up with the idea of swinging my legs off the edge of bed before I tried to use the slide board, which made life so much easier I cannot even begin to tell you. For now though, back to sitting in The Chair.

These chairs also had a hole in the bottom so that you could sit on them over the toilet to go to the loo. There is probably a proper name for it but I don’t know it, sorry. I’m pretty sure my one hips brushed against the edges of the hole a couple of times. That hurt a fair bit, too.

So I sat in the shower, being washed down by my mum, crying. It all felt too soon and it all felt too much. I sat and wailed that I had made a mistake,  that I had been stupid, and Mum kept telling me that I hadn’t and carried on washing my hair. I looked glumly at the floor and waited for her to rinse the shampoo from my eyes.

That was when I was them, blurry from water at first, but I blinked that away and they were still there. Two nice and pink, (the water was lovely and warm)  front-facing, ‘normal’-looking knees! I wasn’t crying now, but I did hear myself actually gasp the phrase “I’ve got normal knees”.

Mum laughed and assured me that I had, them there were more tears, but happy ones this time, and suddenly I knew that I hadn’t made a mistake. It would be a long journey, but it would all be worth it.