I have been in a non-weight bearing cast since August 15, almost 12 weeks. In order to get around, I have a rented scooter. We have purchased a ramp from our attached garage. We rented a huge ramp so I could spend time outside while the weather was pleasant. We also had to purchase a special seat for our shower, a biking machine which I use for my arms to do aerobics regularly, hand weights for strength exercises and a walker for close quarters. I haven’t used the walker much because I have to hop on it. Assuming the x-rays look good, I get rid of the cast on Thursday. The prognosis from there is still unclear. I may be back in a walking book, or a brace, or best news of all, paraphrasing the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, “Off with the cast!” and into a regular shoe.
I have learned a number of things while scooting around:
- Things will not go as expected. The doctor told me that since this surgery was on my left foot I could drive. I had images of continuing my coffee and lunches out with friends. When I picked up the scooter, I realized that wasn’t going to happen. I couldn’t stay off my left foot and lift the scooter. I couldn’t expect my friends who are my age to deal with the scooter either. So I can drive but I can’t get out of the car. My visions of friendly encounters had to be readjusted to inviting friends to my house. Here how those invitations went, “Would you like to come visit me and bring the food and drinks?” One of my long term friends from my Wyoming days spent a week helping me out when I first got out of the hospital and after Pete went back to work. A number of my Boise friends were kind enough to come by with treats. These friends are a real blessing.
- People say a place is accessible and it really isn’t. I have gotten in numerous restrooms with my scooter and not been able to open the heavy door to get out. Fortunately, either my husband has come to my rescue or someone is coming in the door and will hold it for me. Most doors into buildings are too heavy for me to open on my own and very few doors have push button access openings. I was on a tour with City Club at a supposedly accessible facility. Rather than extending my hand, I allowed the elevator door to hit the wheel of my scooter tire while I was exiting. I was using my hands to direct the scooter over the elevator gap. The elevator didn’t stop and knocked my scooter and me over. Once on its side, the scooter did eventually wedge the door open. I was bruised from the experience.
- I am capable of entertaining myself. I spent a great deal more time by myself over the past 3 months than I ever have. As long as I could get outside, however, I enjoyed reading the paper and having a cup of coffee on the front porch in the mornings. I could spend an entire afternoon out back streaming videos, reading books and sleeping on our comfortable wicker furniture. Once the weather turned cold, I have found I am much grumpier. I, for one, took having a great porch, patio, and yard at my house for granted. I now understand why seniors flock to warm climates. Getting out in the sun is healing and important to one’s mental health.
- People with good intentions ask way too many questions. I just came from lunch where someone I didn’t know wanted to know what happened to me. “Was it an accident?” No. “What type of surgery?” Complicated, not regularly done on most people. It was suppose to take six hours and turned out taking eight. I have many screws in my foot and I had a tendon removed. “What caused it?” Running when I was younger, flat feet and old age. I think people want to be helpful and acknowledge that they can see you’ve had some major life experience. But a simple, “How are you doing?” is really all that is needed. Asking further questions seems invasive and is annoying, not comforting.
- Health care is expensive. We have excellent insurance because my husband is still working. We also both have Medicare. We are the few people in America with public and private insurance. We had to personally pay for the ramps, walkers, bathing equipment and our deductible is in the thousands. I’m also blessed that we have a large home so I have been able to consistently maneuver the large scooter. We have a downstairs bedroom and bath. I heard of someone who crawled up their stairs every day (Good exercise) and someone else who was able to use crutches up and down stairs. I am not able to use crutches because of balance issues. I also have weekly cleaning help. We have paid for me to have a driver at times to get me to meetings and help around the house. We have also paid for taxis and Uber to get to doctors’ appointments when my husband has not been available to drive. In other words, much of my positive ability to deal with surgery is a direct result of the fact we have resources. I’m not sure what other people would do.
I am planning on the x-rays being great. I am thrilled to be looking forward to taking my cast off this week. I’m so done with casting about.