In the pitch black of a suffolk night, moving around the dark side of a converted barn, I heard the noise. The ground had become slippery due to the rain and despite wearing sensible shoes, my foot slipped and folded underneath my leg. Nausea instantly wafted its way throughout the whole of my body. I shut my eyes to compose myself, as I uttered the words to my husband. “I think I broke something. I need a chair.”
As the host of the party brought one towards me-I kept my eyes tightly closed as I attempted to compose myself as the pain hit. Quietly I said to my husband, “get them to go away.”
I’ve never been good at sharing my pain with others. Shutting my eyes to shut them out, as my mind began to discern what was happening to me. I had committed to catering for our hosts 60th birthday and I think this is what got me through. My need to be reliable and fulfil my side of the agreement. But I limped the evening through. Focusing on the food I was cooking to help me keep my mind off the pain I was experiencing. Crying in the dark through the journey home but feeling so exhausted, deciding not to go to A&E until the next morning.
I knew I’d broken something, nothing cracks the way this did and you walk away unscathed. My ankle was broken. Being put on crutches in the hospital, despite having seen many people use them, I felt distress at not being able to manage any thing more than a couple of steps without nearly falling over. Again, I shut my eyes tightly so that I could not see others observing my distress-as a hushed vibe and had come over the waiting room, others watched my predicament. A kind stranger brought forward a wheelchair and quickly I was whisked home to the sanctity of my own domain to begin to come to grips with this turn of event.
Life had suddenly become very difficult and the reality of what this break meant for me, on the run up to christmas left me realising I was going to be spending a lot of time in my home – alone. I had enjoyed a visit from my daughter, it made it easier to have company for the first week. With Vin being home also, there was help in cooking and cleaning, washing and moving around but on finding out I would be indoors alone from that point, tears came.
This was when I began to question if adventure is a state of mind. As I adjusted to this new way of living and experience.
Wondering how I would get about if crutches were so difficult at this early stage, I spied a teenager in a wheelchair from the british red cross. and found out that I could loan one for £15 a week, which didn’t seem unreasonable. It has been such a help.
Learning to navigate it around my home has been a challenge and can be easier or more difficult, depending on the time of day and how tired I am feeling but I’ve found a sense of enjoyment with it, as I am having to learn how to adapt to looking after myself during the day. What I can do and what challenges me the most.
Reversing into the kitchen is easier than reversing into the bedroom. Realising how tiring it is to be standing up, down, up, down, to simply wash or prepare dinner. Suddenly everything takes so much energy and I’ve only had a desire to leave the house alone once – as I began to plot how I would move my wheelchair out of the front door alone, over the shingle and on to the flat drive, whilst relying on these bloody crutches to help me get up and down.
Jumping on one leg up the front step to get in to my home with help from Vin, has been such a momentus task, which has taken so much effort to achieve. It has me really appreciating my son’s ability as a freerunner – as I watch him leap through hoops taller than him, as a performer in the cast for Volta-Cirque du Soliel!
Nearly 3 weeks in and it’s still those damn crutches which i’m struggling with. I’ve watched youtube videos on how to use them, have even played with them before, when my son had them but nothing prepares you for using them when you are actually injured. Add to the fact that my right knee is not strong and taking most of the weight of my body on it alone and I am needing to consciously remind myself to lift up and sit down using my core muscles. Finding myself delighted by the fact my incapacitated leg can be used as a counter lever. My home in a strange sort of way has become a playground. One which is a fun obstacle course, infuriating at times, scary at others (the stairs). One which I now explore from a different level as I go through this process of healing.
Popping into our town at the weekend and parking in Victoria Shopping centre, we discovered only one lift was working to take us back to the car park. Add to this the number of people waiting to use it, the length of time we had to wait was too long. My husband ended up walking up the stairs to get the car and I alone, in wheelchair navigated the outside world and as I rolled down the hill from centre to point of pickup. It was fun to be freewheeling but difficult when navigating aisles and people in the shops.
On arriving home, I sat and found tears rolling down my face. It had been an adventure I’d enjoyed but although I didn’t feel vulnerable, the realisation of vulnerability was not lost on me. It made me realise that adventure can be a state of mind, you have to find the fun in everything, deal with the difficulties and find ways to adapt and challenge your situation in an appropriate manner.
I’ve found ways to deal with this challenge. Wheelchair yoga has now become part of my weekly routine, as has hypnosis to help me adapt my eating patterns to ensure I don’t gain weight and thank gawd for books, the internet, tv and netflix.
In my head I’m beginning to think about swimming as a way to regain my fitness and agility and feeling a little scared about the moment i’m told I can put my weight back on my foot. Yet each new day throws up something new and I adapt and adjust and think that in one way – as much as I love to be physical that adventure definitely is a state of mind..