Thursday, May 19, 2011

Here’s What’s Up

I never know how to name or begin these “here is where I am right now” posts. But it’s been a little while since I’ve given you a general update, so I hope you’ll indulge me. If you’re not interested in my personal life, I understand. This is incredibly self-indulgent, I know.

The biggest news, for me, is that I saw the orthopedic surgeon and got X-rays on Monday, the ninth, and my fibula is now officially healed! There is a possibility that come October or November, the decision might be made to remove the plate and screws, depending on whether they’re bothering me or not. At this point, I have the sense that the screw fixing my fibula and tibia together is inhibiting the range of motion in my ankle (it’s impossible to squat, and hard to descend staircases without walking down them sideways).

Another reason they might want to take out the hardware is that there’s really not much “meat” between one’s lower fibula and that delicate ankle skin, and yes, when I reach down and touch my ankle, I can feel the plate and the lumpy little screw heads through my skin. At this point, that sore lumpiness, combined with the tenderness at the incision (it’s five inches long) (be glad I’m not posting pictures), makes it kind of impossible for me to sit “Indian style.” Not to mention that it’s just creepy. (But I can get over the “creepy” factor.)

Meanwhile, I’m not keen on having to meet the deductible again, which a second surgery could easily require.

There’s still swelling, aches, and pains that are residual from the injury itself, the surgery, and the few months of immobilization. “The body heals itself with collagen,” the doc said. And that ain’t helping the function of tendons, muscles, flexibility, and whatever. Or so I gather. I’ve got to “work out” that excess collagen and swelling-stuff, make my ankle lean and mean again.

Exercise and use should go far to restoring normalcy, the doc says, and he prescribed a few weeks of PT for me. I asked him if I’m to the point of “no restrictions,” and he held back from that, advising me not to jump on it yet.

Hooray! No more thick, clunky “moon boot,” and not a day too soon, ’cause right after I saw the doc, we had some unseasonably warm (and humid) weather. One night, I only got about four hours of sleep, with it so hot and humid, and no breeze.

Since then, we’ve had cooler weather, and rain. This morning (as I write), we’re having gentle showers. It’s the kind of rain that makes the birds happy. I think they view it as a clean, gentle bird-shower, a nice change of pace from the dirty ol’ birdbaths and muddy puddles they sometimes bathe in.

A few nights after I saw the doc, Sue and I celebrated my foot being officially healed by bicycling up to the Missouri River Bridge and riding across it on the new bicycle/pedestrian addition. Very, very nice! The ramp, like a square spiral that rises from river level to the level of the bridge, has a very comfortable grade, whether you’re ascending or descending. It was great to see so many people using the bridge!

Then, we rode northward on the Jeff City Greenway trail spur from the bridge to the connection to the Katy Trail. And, my friends, that’s as far as we got. What can I say? I’ve had my ankle in a vise for about two months, and one of my calves is about half the size of the other one. And we still had to ride back home, a trip that always ends with a “breathtaking” ride up steep little Broadway hill. So I think we did rather well!

This week I started on physical therapy, and all I’ve got to say about it is, “ow.” Nearly every exercise involves me bending my foot upward toward my shin. There’s a squatting exercise, lots of various “lunging” postures/stretches, plus the exercise where I stand facing a wall, touching it lightly with my fingers, and lift myself up on my toes repeatedly (I remember that one from PT a few years ago). And more. It all makes my ankle “sing,” and it’s also working quadriceps on my bad leg to the point where it’s feeling rather Grand-Canyony. (If you’ve hiked the Grand Canyon, you know what I mean!) I’m running out of ibuprofen! (I think I had better not try to push it too hard here at the beginning.)

They know what they’re doing—those docs and physical therapists have seen oodles of people just like me limp through their offices, daily, monthly, yearly. In that respect, they are being remarkably generous when they show the patience to sit and listen to me describe my sensations and concerns, which they must have memorized even before they got out of school.

What else is new? Overall, I’ve been feeling rather positive about things, which is unfamiliar territory for me at this point. Maybe that sounds strange to you, because I make a point of avoiding negativity on this blog. From the outset, the Op Op has been an exercise in looking at the brighter side of life, a way of forcing myself to meditate, on a regular basis, on “things that I like and love.”

But make no mistake—for the past five years or so, life has offered me trials, and it’s brought me down. I reached the point where I have found it impossible to look at my future with optimism or enthusiasm.

But as I was saying—I’ve been experiencing some days where I’ve felt optimistic and hopeful about certain parts of my life. I feel like there’s a possibility for growth; I’ve even been feeling like my sense of hope is founded on something sort of substantial.

I’ve also been able to shrug off some of the insipid situations that have seemed like irrevocable sentences, insurmountable obstacles to my happiness; recently, I’ve been recognizing them as things I genuinely do not control (so why stress out over them?), and also as things I can simply walk away from, whenever I decide I’ve had enough. And that goes a long way in keeping me from feeling trapped and powerless.

I won’t bore you with all the things that have contributed to my recent depressive mind-set, but trust me, this rise in spirits has been a long time coming; it feels strange, and I honestly don’t have much faith that it will last for very long. I’m skeptical. Naturally, I’m expecting some new calamity to come along and squash me again.

Why are my spirits lifting now? Maybe it’s that it’s springtime, and the days are growing nice and long. Also, it’s a huge relief to be ambulatory again. There’s fresh air, and things are growing. The mock orange, peonies, roses, and irises are blooming. And hell, maybe the human psyche simply can not stay depressed indefinitely in the absence of truly horrible events. . . . I don’t really know what it is. But as long as I’m feeling this way, I’m going to try to fly with it.

This weekend, if the ground dries out enough, we’re planting the elephant ears and hibiscus in the backyard again!

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