You know it is so strange when you look back on photographs over the last 8 years and you don’t have one picture that represents who you really are. I mean you can see the changing hair colour, location, fashion, friends and boyfriends. But at no point did I allow my crutches to be part of any photograph. I always ensured that they were hidden or I was seated so there was no risk of them being seen. This saddens me in a way, I used them to walk; to allow me to be mobile. Yet I didn’t want them to be included in any photographs due to fear of embarrassment or people not really understanding. Sad, I know.
I have 1 picture on a social media website; I’m smiling in a wheelchair in the middle of Trafalgar Square. I do remember wishing I could stand for this photo but that wasn’t possible. Now this isn’t a sob story, nor am I looking for sympathy – I just didn’t realize how ashamed I was of my situation. Maybe ashamed isn’t the correct word. I am no stranger to crutches or being in a wheelchair – I have used them since I was 11 years old. But back then it was different; I may have spent between 3-5 months/year on crutches but I had breaks during those months where I became ‘normal.’ I was able to walk unaided, play outside with friends, not take medication and be pretty mobile (I was always wary not to over-do it but that was fine).
Things changed though; the breaks became less over the years and when I turned 22 – I waited for the break to come; weeks became months and the break never came. To this day I have been on crutches for over 3 years, no ability to stand/walk on my own and I accepted that. I was proud when I was able to take a bus to work on my own & drag myself in agony, in to work just to feel like I had a purpose to get up in the morning. I could see people’s eyes follow me; either thinking what a poor sod or come on hen you can move faster than that!
I remember 1 occasion when my mum took me out to our local shopping centre – I decided it would be best to go in a wheelchair, as I couldn’t walk the length of myself. Whilst out, an older woman came over to us & asked my mum what was wrong with me and why was I in the chair. She didn’t give me eye contact, nor acknowledge the fact that I could answer this question on my own. The woman didn’t take too kindly to me eventually letting her know she could ask me how I was feeling and walked away all flustered.
Gosh i’m really not selling myself very well. Trust me I’m not really a bad person. I would just like to think that society these days could speak to a disabled person without feeling that they are going to upset or insult them. I am, of course, not speaking on other peoples’ behalf. I’m more than aware that there are people out there, worse off than me, with illnesses that are incurable and are suffering every day. Which is why I have always tried to get on with my life without complaining but when life is not in your control, it is likely that at times you will become frustrated with your situation and wish that things were different.
Anyways let’s get to the point, finally: Life Changing! I was finally given the opportunity to change my situation, I was given no guarantee that going through major surgery would allow me to stop using crutches altogether but my surgeon was hopeful that it would reduce the pain & hopefully give me back ‘my quality of life’ which is certainly something I looked forward to.
So 3 weeks ago today, I was rolled into theatre with extreme pain and not much feeling in either hip or leg and I was wheeled out an emotional, slightly groggier, ecstatic person. I was happy to hear the surgery had been successful & that I had a brand new ceramic hip! The journey began from that day forward. Today is 3 weeks post op and I am still on crutches and everyday trying to weight-bare a little on my new hip. I have exercises to do in bed; 4 times a day. I will stay with my trusty sidekicks (crutches) at least for another 6 weeks to 3 months and then hopefully we get to part.
Of course, hopefully after a full recovery, I will live a fun, healthy, active lifestyle! Catching up on the life that I put on hold for 3 years and making the most of life without pain. The operation surprised me in more ways than one, I went into surgery with severe hip pain in both hips & after a few days came to realize that the right hip pain has also gone – which is fantastic!
So I know I’ve still got a long road to recovery but i’m glad I’ve got this far. I won’t need my hip replaced again for another 10-15 years. At this time, I will potentially be 35/40, hopefully married with kids and having been able to fulfill my dreams of traveling and seeing the world.
I don’t know what I wanted this to be….I just realized how embarrassed I was about my situation and felt the need to jot it down. If nothing else, it will be great to have the opportunity to come back and read this and to see what has changed.