February 24, 2011
**WARNING: My "Here I am in a wheelchair" photo is a bit graphic. Enter at your own risk. :)
I bought a wheelchair. I'm using it. Things added to the list of "Stuff I Never Thought I'd Do." But here I am unable to walk because this left leg is basically useless for the next few months, so the wheelchair was unavoidable. As soon as I can get the roadrash (described by the doctor as a severe burn) healed up, I need to try moving around a little in a walker, avoiding letting my left foot touch the floor. For now, my focus is on getting these huge burnt areas a bit more healed. Unfortunately, the biggest, baddest of the burns are covering my leg in exactly the same places that this tight brace straps on. I have to have the brace to keep the bone immobilized (rather than with a cast). It's a little of a challenge to figure out how to care for the burns and protect them from being further scraped, while still using this brace and getting from the bed to the wheelchair or restroom. Thankfully, I have good help.
We're at the Morton's home for right now, while we get through the next few weeks of appointments and such. It seems this has become our second home, after spending weeks here for Ken's recovery recently. It's like the rehab hospital of Paraguay, i guess! The benefit is that not only is the time with friends good for my spirits, but Abi is quite attentive, wanting to pat my head and bring me things constantly. And last night baby Sammy said my name! Ken and the girls are champs. The only person we have to be cautious with is Shaun, who has a weak stomach for the nastiness of my open wounds. Sara, however, once wanted to be a doctor, and has taken it upon herself to apply the antibiotic cream to the wounds. She'd do more if I'd let her, but causing pain is something I'd rather do myself to my tolerance.
We're kinda winging it because the burns were basically ignored in the hospital. Thankfully, we have a friend who is a spectacular doctor, and who is giving us advice via email, as we send photos and describe what's happening. Not the ideal situation, but it works. The leg is totally dead weight right now, but I am doing a few exercises to try to make these muscles work again.
My biggest fear is the upcoming appointment this Monday, when the surgeon will want to see the wound and watch me move around. I dread this because any other time he's wanted to see it, the bandages that have dried and stuck to the burns are just ripped off quickly. I can't tell you how much that hurts. My goal is to get as much healing as possible before that appointment, and to arrive with moist bandages that come off easily.
In another week and a half, I'm told I'll have to spend a couple of weeks in the city for intensive physical therapy. This is good, because I didn't get any at the hospital. I thanked God a trillion times that in my former life, my career was in physical therapy. It's been since the birth of my children that I've actually WORKED in this field, but I did remember how I should move around to protect the femur, how to use the wheelchair, how to maneuver in and out of the restroom, etc. Thank God, because saying, "You'll need to get out of bed and go to the potty and back before we'll let you go home," and then leaving the room, simply wasn't enough to get me there.
After the two weeks of physical therapy, I'll have another month of not putting any weight on the leg. Hopefully, after those two months total, I'll begin to put small amounts of weight and use the leg to walk a bit, rather than hop on one foot. Then at the 3 to 6 month point, I may be allowed to walk with a cane. After nine months to a year, I may be walking normally, with a slight limp that goes away with time. I did know that the femur is the longest, heaviest, strongest bone in the body, and that it only breaks under severe force, but I have to admit that I was naive in the recovery time and thinking I'd be up and rolling pretty soon. Well, if you count rolling in a wheelchair, I was kinda right.