Thursday, February 28, 2019

How I Walk

Some days I feel as though I'll never walk normally again. It's a feeling that catches me by surprise. I find myself forgetting I can't get up off the floor, that my thighs are feeble that my core strength is slow to rebuild and then I push my nose over my toes, as the physical therapists encourage us to do, and I remember that standing and balancing and walking are still exercises that require thought and don't come naturally. 
My sister wrote me an encouraging note reminding me to be patient. She went through some tough  surgery which in Europe involves no bills or debt collectors or fighting with recalcitrant insurers but she spent five years recovering her ability to function. You wouldn't know it now but the path from here, where I stumble, to there where I stride seems endless.
At the gym a delightful neighbor full of vim and vigor and laughter told me about her car wreck that broke all the bones I broke plus a few more and she too walks and exercises with no sign of once being broken. So I know that indeed eventually I will throw away my cane and walk normally without rolling like a drunken sailor. My wife found this walking stick with a seat on Amazon. Many people who see it in action are amazed by it:
I use it, rather than my rolling walker these days when I am setting off for an uncertain destination. When I go to the pharmacy where bottling a  handful of pills takes forever and standing in line to drop off a prescription takes an eternity my three legged cane/seat is a godsend. It is heavier and clumsier than my basic cane but it is wonderful when I just need to sit.
I have increased my hours to 32 per week in eight hour shifts. I start at ten at night and work till 6am four nights a week, which puts me back with my regular night shift and that feels really good. I no longer feel like a supernumerary working with whichever shift needed coverage. However eight hours straight is taking some getting used to. In the old days I worked 12 hour shifts every two days and added overtime. Nowadays I feel as weak as a kitten by comparison. Patience they counsel.
My colleagues have donated sick leave to help me out as mine ran out after four months away from work, which was quite a long time. The donated leave is wonderful as it means I have never missed  a paycheck since this fiasco began at the end of August. My health insurance is covering the bhills such that my wife isn't panicking and a legal eagle is looking into why the women who caused the accident had so little insurance, not even enough to cover the cost of the helicopter flight to the hospital. Luckily because I'm a county resident my $15,000 share of the flight ($25,000 for the insurance company) was waived. I am very glad the private helicopter company that used to fleece people is gone, hopefully forever.
I drive myself to and from town, backing into the driver's seat and swinging my legs into place after I have sat down. I keep my cane on the passenger seat, and my phone is always in my pocket. These days its a 911 device in case I fall. The odd thing is my nerves in my thighs are still growing back so I can't feel it in my pocket and I have developed what looks like a nervous tic patting my thighs to make sure my lifeline is where it should be.
Climbing stairs is a slow difficult process fraught with the possibility of failure. Because I can't feel my right leg properly I'm not sure where my foot is so stepping up of down involves swinging the leg more like a croquet club and when it hits the back of the step I know it's safe to put weight on it. Climbing or descending stairs also requires putting my weight on only one leg at a time and that is exhausting. There is so much to think about I'm surprised I have time to think about writing this page. 
I walk with my camera, I think about the settings and choose black and white or color, I look for contrasts and oddities and it takes my mind off my walk, my slow gait, my dog slowing down patiently to allow me time to keep up. The camera helps me to see more than ever the world around me rather than looking dismally within myself.
Black and white. In this case I prefer the monochrome. I think the absence of color lends itself to the peeling paint and the contrasting sky. There I wasn't thinking about the burning in the elg I can't feel properly. That's a paradox, I can't feel the leg but it hurts when I use it. Explain that, I can't.
Eventually it will all sort itself out. Soon I hope I will get to wear shoes again. The doctor is pleased by the reduced swelling in my feet but I still have to shuffle around in slippers like an old man. Later this month I return to the hospital for one more operation, this time to remove a blood clot filter inserted in my groin which I shouldn't need anymore as I am quite mobile and blood clots shouldn't be forming in my legs. One more step to being normal which is I find a highly desirable state to be in.