Do you ever make a decision that you are happy about? Do you ever accomplish something and want to shout about it from the rooftops? Have you ever questioned your happy moment? Or put a downer on it as you were expecting more from yourself? Or were you disappointed that it was all that you could achieve? I have and I’ll explain so you don’t think I’ve gone crazy.
I overcame a huge hurdle today – I went outside for the first time in 6 weeks, I went to a local park and tried to walk round the pond. There were swans, ducks, cygnets and ducklings. It was picturesque. I am 6 weeks post op and I have so many questions I want to ask; where am I meant to be at this stage of recovery? Will my recovery be delayed due to diagnosis of blood clot? And I look forward to my next appointment to have some answers.
I have achieved little things over the last few weeks; things that I wanted to shout about and tell the world. But to able-bodied people they wouldn’t understand. The other week I stood long enough to chop up an apple and then a few days later I managed to stand long enough to chop up two. I managed to cook basis meals, use my imagination and put them in tupperware so I could carry them (plastic bag) into my room to eat them.
Bathing has become easier; I am no longer reliant on a a sink bath – pretty self explanatory. The local council provided me with a perching stool as one of my aids to help my recovery and i’m able to sit next to sink to wash. Two weeks after being discharged from hospital, I was finally provided with a shower seat which helped me to wash my hair and take a proper shower. Prior to the seat being delivered I struggled as I had to balance on one leg whilst showering and try to wash my hair within a timescale of 1 – 4 minutes at the most – Nightmare and impossible!
Now the whole situation has become easier and I am grateful. I appreciate showering is a ‘normal’ routine for most but I struggle to find the energy and afterwards i’m not fit to do much else. I’m finally managing to shower more and I am able to do so without my boyfriend’s supervision. He still has to assist me out of the shower or if I drop something but I am coping to get in to the shower cubicle alone and to me that’s another hurdle complete.
The next challenge is getting dressed; with all the restrictions preventing me to do so, without help from another person or use of an aid. Trust me it’s very frustrating! I mean, have you ever tried to put clothes on without bending at all? Not being allowed to bend down to your toes? Only being able to reach what you can with your arms out in front of you? Whilst in a seated position? Why don’t you try? – just so you can understand. Before the surgery, I enjoyed taking my time to get ready/dressed approx. up to 1 hour and other times I could take approx. 20 minutes to be ready, have breakfast and take medication (to allow me to move) and be out the door.
These days my showers last 10 minutes max. I used to be a 30-40 minutes kind of girl; who would enjoy all the lotions and potions and face masks. These days, it’s not for relaxation purposes. I tend to feel pretty exhausted after a shower and I tend to plan ahead and take my pain medication prior. Getting dressed takes about 30 mins and most of that time is used – fighting with a grabber* to get my trousers on. A *grabber is an aid – which looks like a litter picker – allowing me to pick up items. If you can imagine using a litter picker to put on your pants/trousers – it can take a long time! Since I was diagnosed with a blood clot, my boyfriend has had to help me put on my thigh length compression stockings. Trust me even if I was allowed to bend forward, apparently I would still struggle to put the stockings on by myself.
So as you can appreciate I have started to notice some progress and I like what I am starting to see. Of course, I have had to become more patient and not expect to be capable of everything I could do before the surgery. But I feel much better when I notice another hurdle I’ve managed to complete. I felt happy to be able to take off the dirty bed sheet, pillowcases and duvet cover whilst staying seated – I have heard through a social media forum that someone dislocated from doing this task, so I proceeded with caution. But it felt great to have completed something so simple. Plus I was able to help in some way, just the same as folding clean clothes and tidying my surroundings. I’m trying to help with any little thing I can – as I am embarrassed that I cannot pull my weight. I feel like a burden.
I feel the sooner I am better, the sooner things can get back on track and I can be in control of my life and my responsibilities. Therefore I have recently increased my physiotherapy exercises that I was given prior to being discharged from hospital. I know that the priority is to strengthen my muscles. I do worry though, that I could be pushing myself too much and of course, I don’t want to risk any set backs or dislocation. Hopefully, when I attend my hospital appointment I will be given the go ahead to continue, in this fashion.
During the last 6 weeks; I have been limited to partial-weight-baring of 20% maximum and it has been very restrictive. As of next week, I hope that my consultant will allow me to start to fully weight-bare on operated leg. With this in mind, I will look forward to going out more; I will be able to strengthen my muscles and make my bones/joints stronger. Plus enjoy the fresh air, freedom and hopefully get to the stage where I will be able to walk unaided – without my crutches.
And one final challenge: I aim to stop taking my medication. Do you have any idea what 12 hour slow release morphine does to a person? How it prevents you from functioning properly? I have now had my surgery and it frustrates me that I still feel confused, forgetful, tired and quite honestly, I still don’t feel like me. The medication will need to be decreased slowly and I may suffer withdrawals but quite honestly once I have managed this I know that my final hurdle is complete.