Friday, August 7, 2015

What is hardest about being down to one good leg?

My recent leg surgery is the first time in my life that I've gone for a prolonged period without being able to walk normally.  Before that the longest I'd ever gone was about 3 days- once after my first 10 mile hike and once after my first 20 mile hike.  So I'd never had a reason to use crutches or wheelchairs or anything of that sort before.  Around the house I've had to use crutches, though while out and about I might use the courtesy provided powered wheelchair at Walmart or a knee scooter.  I thought I'd record some of what were the hardest things for me.

First- clearing my own walkways.  With kids at home- there are always toys and childrens books strewn everywhere.  At first I felt I spent about as much time using the crutches to push things out of my way as I did walking anywhere with them.

Second- getting up in the middle of the night.  If I turned on the light, I'd wake up my wife.  If I didn't- you don't know what on obstacle course is until you try to hobble to the bathroom in the dark past a variety of laundry baskets, children's toys and books, fallen pillows, dropped or folded clothing, power cords,  etc...  It might be a small miracle I didn't injure myself trying to go to the bathroom.  Looking back I should have just turned on a light- I just didn't want to be a burden in one more way if I could do it myself.

Third- carrying anything.  If your arms are busy holding onto the crutches, carrying anything while walking becomes difficult and depending on the object, impossible.  Just the simple act of making a peanut butter sandwich requires getting up from the table, fetching a plate and a knife (if I'm confident enough to carry them both at once), then going back to the counter and getting the peanut butter which I grab carefully with all fingers of one hand except the thumb which is hooked around the crutches handle.  Then I repeat the process even more carefully with the jelly jar.  Hopefully either the trip for the peanut butter or the jelly also involved grabbing the bread, which I can dangle from the other hand that isn't holding a jar.  By then I've hobbled the distance between the table and the cupboard 6 times and it will require another 6 times to put all the items back away again afterwards on my own.  By that time I'd just as soon sit down and wait for help.

Forth- exhaustion.  Walking with crutches is very difficult work when your muscles aren't used to it.  The twelve trips between the table and the cupboard are exhausting. Much of what I couldn't easily do on my own wasn't I couldn't do it, but because the amount of effort involved was so high.  Of course, being tired and dizzy from taking prescription pain medications probably didn't help in this regard.

Fifth- little boy pounces.  My kids feel that a daddy lying down is an open invitation to pounce and play.  So all that time I tried to spend lying down to elevate my leg or to recover from walking around the room was largely eaten up being jumped on by little boys.  Given how difficult it was to stand up or to move to a new location, it was difficult to make them stop by just getting up and going away like I might normally do if they were being unmanageable.  So often I just had to put up with their antics, even if it meant I got very little rest compared to the amount of time I tried to spend resting.

Sixth- anything that requires standing.  Any optional standing becomes easy to throw out the window.  Taking a shower?  No, too much work if not impossible.  How about shaving?  Again too much work.  Brushing teeth?  When I get around to it.  When all you really want to do is lie down and elevate your leg, basic hygiene is a lot harder to maintain.

There were a host of other issues as well.  How do you go shopping on your own?  Can you fit as much groceries in a powered wheel chair as in a normal shopping cart?  How do you drive when every bump in the road causes a sharp pain in the leg?  How to make the children hold still in church if they just want to play with the knee scooter in the aisle?  But those six issues are probably the worst.  Even though I'm still very restricted, I'm glad I have a walking cast now that I can use to move around.  The end is in sight.

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