I'm finding that I'm needing to make still more adjustments, after returning from my trip. it's a fortunate thing that my family continued to cover my time at Gran's the first week I got back, because it took probably two weeks to really start feeling like I'm home & back in the swing of this time zone.
this week it was planned for me to be with my Gran Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights, but as it turns out I've also done Tuesday night and will be doing tomorrow (Saturday) night as well. I don't mind the extra time at all, but since my brakes went I'm having to walk back & forth too. I don't mind that either, as it happens, because I needed to 'step up' my exercise level anyway and this is about perfect for what I need; it's a good walk, not too long - 10 minutes or so - and at least on the way to Gran's it's mostly downhill(ish) or flat. my Mom & Aunt keep saying they want to drive me, but I really don't mind having to walk... it's just another adjustment I'm mentioning, is all. figured I'd best throw that in, in case either of them reads this & starts feeling guiltier that they haven't been able to drive me - no need, ladies, really :).
it may seem odd for me to talk about a 10-minute walk twice a day - and not even every day at that - as an 'adjustment', but I guess you have to know my history, to understand. I mentioned my arthritis and the fact that I do stairs as seldom as possible (in an entry about London - bloody stairs everywhere in that country!), but I didn't really go into details. I don't suppose I have to now either, but I'm going to because at very least it should be chronicled as part of my life details, methinks. beyond that, though, I don't want to seem like a *totally* lazy, inactive lump, so I'll explain a bit about my physical condition ;).
I've had problems with my knees at various times in my life, but mostly since the advent of the more serious arthritis after my accident in '96. more on the accident itself in a bit. I've also had back issues for most of my life, and it was discovered when I was about 12 or 13 that I actually have a scoliosis in my back (that's a sort of 'S' curve in the spine for those who don't know; a twist). there was a period of treatment & adjustment in my teens following the discovery, but overall my scoliosis is rather 'small' in my lower back and if I take care of myself it's not completely bothersome (and it was an excellent excuse to get out of running in high school gym class, hehe... no harm there in my mind because I've always disliked running anyway!). my back problems were very much exacerbated by the accident though, so now I have arthritis in my back as well as a herniated disc to contend with. the worst area of arthritis in my back is in my sacroiliac joints, which have started to degenerate to the point where parts of them have actually dissolved. the specialist I last saw about this (the orthopaedic one who did my surgeries following the accident) told me that there's not a heck of a lot to be done - at this point anyway - for the condition, because it would be difficult to do injections of cortisone into the joints due to the very deep & hard-to-reach nature of the affected areas, and other than that the only option really was surgery to fuse the joints. erm, no - I'll pass on that thanks! only an option if it gets to the point where I can't walk, ever, and then only if it'll actually help. after weighing the options I decided - and continue to this day - that I would simply deal with this with anti-inflammatory drugs... pretty standard for arthritis issues. I take those along with another pill to protect my stomach lining, because I kept getting really wicked heart burn from the anti-inflammatories when I first started on them. along with those, I tend to exist on Tylenol 3s for daily pain. for any Europeans reading who don't know, Tylenol is just a brand name for our acetaminophen, which is the same thing as what you call paracetamol. what I'm taking for pain, then (and can take these every 4 to 6 hours though only take them once or twice a day on good days) are 2 x 325 mg of acetaminophen with 30 mg - I think it is - of codeine.
another strange physical condition I have is that my left leg is often shorter than my right. when I was a teen, I went to a chiropractor a lot for the scoliosis & sore back, and he told me my left leg was short & I should wear a 1/4" lift in my left shoe, and get every left shoe built up by 1/2". no one ever did an actual measurement of my bones... they just measured my leg with a tape measure & saw it was about 3/4" shorter than the right & decided I needed to prop my left side up with those additions in/on my left shoe. I never did get around to building up my left shoes, and I kept losing the lift I was supposed to wear inside the shoe, so for the most part I didn't follow those instructions. I'm quite glad about that, because as it turns out, the *real* problem would've gotten worse if I'd done those things.
at the end of 1995, about a month or two before my accident actually, I started seeing a massage therapist (for an unrelated sore neck after injuring myself in a drunken state, haha). we were discussing my short left leg and he checked me out, seeing that my left leg did appear shorter, and my hips were uneven height-wise. he said it looked like my lower body was going one direction & my upper body in a completely different one, haha. that must've looked completely hilarious, to anyone watching me approach! so anyway, he - his name is Ray, though he's not to be confused with my ex-hubby Ray - tried a certain manuever to test out an idea he had that my left leg wasn't *actually* shorter bone-wise than my right. sure enough, after the treatment, I stood up and he checked me... my left leg was as long as my right, my hips were at an even level and both halves of my body were pointing in the same direction! turns out my short left leg was really just a shortened muscle in my left hip (ish) area. I was still in treatment for this at the time of my accident and was responding really well, with my body generally starting to straighten up and my left side being proper length for a greater majority of the time. my left side shortened up again occasionally but at least it was a simple matter to re-adjust it, and Ray even taught me a couple of things I could do for myself to fix it at home.
so that's where I was physically at the time of my accident on February 9, 1996 - no longer thumping down so hard on the left side, when I walked ;). Ray actually was confused when I first saw him after my accident: the usual treatment didn't seem to be effective, so he checked me again. strangely enough, my right leg was shorter than the left this time! this 'short muscle' issue happens on both sides for me now so I just had to learn how to adjust for either, though truthfully I still find it hard to judge when it's happening & figure out which side I should be 'fixing'.
anyway, the accident. I'll try to keep it short because I could talk forever & ever about this & the effects it's had on my life. basically what happened is that I was walking back to my work place after my lunch, and a pickup truck - travelling in the same direction as me but on the opposite side of the road - came speeding along, hit a patch of ice on the road, lost control, and hit me. the driver was only 16 & a new driver, so although he was cocky enough to think he could speed on winter roads, he didn't have the driving experience to know how to regain control of the truck after he hit the ice patch. the police officer who inspected the scene said the truck was travelling about 90 to 100 km/hr by the time it hit me. from what I know of how the truck was approaching me (I saw it coming sideways towards me across the road) and where it ended up (wrapped around a tree on the side of the road - totalled), and the damage I sustained, etc., I figure the rear quarter-panel/bumper of the driver's side was what actually made contact with my body. if the truck had hit me head on, I wouldn't be here to tell about it; I'd be road-jam. thankfully, since it hit me the way it did, what happened was it threw me about 50 feet up into the air, and I landed about 25 feet down the road. would've been a home-run if I was a baseball, I'm sure. there was an eyewitness who saw the truck hit me and me flying through the air... apparently I got a bit fancy & did 2-1/2 somersaults while I was sailing along, hehe. he told my lawyer afterwards that he was sure I'd be dead when he got to me, but I was only unconscious for a very short time, I think. the driver of the truck never lost consciousness, but had a cut on his head & bruised ribs. he managed to get himself out of the truck and sat down in the middle of a lawn nearby until the ambulance got there & piled us both in. actually, the first the driver knew that he'd hit anyone at all was when he got in the ambulance & saw me there!
I can feel myself starting to remember too many details, so I'm forcibly trying to edit myself here, hehe. long & the short of it is that I spent about 20 or 30 minutes laying in a puddle of ice-water (thought it was my own blood until the nice nurse who'd stopped to help explained it to me), before the ambulance arrived, examined me & the driver & got us into the ambulance. trip to the hospital, millions of x-rays, yadda yadda yadda, and they were just about ready to send me home (I panicked when I heard that, as I could barely move a finger!!) when they saw on an x-ray that my left humerus had been broken off & was shoved up the side of my neck. they sent me by ambulance to a nearby town for treatment/surgery by a specialist. my town is still so small that most of the more serious injuries & illnesses require trips to other towns to see specialists/have surgeries, at bigger hospitals.
the humerus, for anyone who doesn't know, is the roundish bone at the tip of the shoulder. my surgery involved the doctor - orthopaedic specialist Ian Fyfe, a very lovely person & sweet-looking, very tall man who I developed a major crush for - cutting open my shoulder, pulling the humerus back down into place, and screwing it back onto the shoulder with 2 screws & a washer. I've still got those somewhere, as I asked to keep them when they had to be surgically removed a few months later because they were interfering with me regaining mobility in that shoulder/arm.
aside from the shoulder injury, I ended up having surgery to repair the meniscus (think I've got that right) in my left knee that'd been ripped during the accident, and otherwise I was so swollen up that the fluid-filled tissues disguised many smaller breaks in various areas - some of which weren't actually found until as late as almost two years after the accident. this is the major beef I've got with our present health care system: treatment seems to be so fragmented into different specialists' areas now that often smaller/less insistent symptoms are missed and/or passed over in favour of treating the larger, more obvious ones only. I mentioned that the hospital was going to send me home until they discovered the damage to my left shoulder; well over time it was discovered that I also had a broken tail bone, a broken left hip, a fracture in my right femur (thigh bone), along with severe sprains to both ankles and internal damage - bruised & slightly bleeding kidneys. this says nothing about the other injuries, mostly 'soft-tissue', one of which left me with a dead nerve over my left cheekbone. actually I figure there might even have been a crack in that cheekbone, but nothing ever showed up as fractured or broken on x-rays, even though there was obviously damage to my face... I figure that'd be because I must've done a face-plant when I landed ;).
but anyway, they were going to send me home to fend for myself and my two young children at the same time, somehow... I couldn't even walk for days after the accident, or go to the bathroom! and yes, I had a husband who could've helped - assuming the internal injuries undiscovered didn't finish me off during the first few days - except for the fact that Ray wasn't much help in the first place because he was really busy going through re-training because of his own physical issues at the time, and also considering the fact that we'd split up just 2 weeks before the accident happened so I was actually a single parent. Ray did offer to stay with us - & rather figured the separation was off, since now I needed him - & help take care of me, but I couldn't see how it would work out with him at school full-time through the day & studying full-time through the night. although we got back together for a period of time later on, immediately following my release from hospital it was my other family who mostly cared for me & the children, until I got home care support in. Ray helped out wherever he could though, bless 'im, especially spending time with the kids whenever possible.
well to put this explanation to rest, so to speak, I basically spent about 2-1/2 years in rehab, visiting doctors, going through treatments, more x-rays & scans, getting back whatever strength & such was possible, & etc. etc. etc. I'm left with arthritis and daily pain, and a limitation to what I can do work-wise. on the other hand I AM alive, and functioning so much better than you'd expect after being treated like a swat-toy by a 3/4 ton truck, so who am I to complain? no really... any complaining I do these days is a bit half-hearted, because I realize my blessings, and I've learned a lot through this experience - not least of which has been about myself, and how I'm a survivor. hey, I had a run-in with a 3/4 ton pickup truck and I won... I feel a bit invincible after all that :).
and so - erm, rather long-windedly - that all explains why I'm not a very physically active person but am rather lazy (laziness being one of my general faults too, which makes these things even trickier)... and why stairs and/or even very simple walking/standing for any length of time past about 15 minutes are all a bit challenging for me ;). ironically, of course, if I was in better general shape none of those things would be *quite* so challenging for me. and that explains why I'm on some sort of general mission to get into better shape, now... so the quality of my physical life improves, and perhaps results in less general aches & pains through every day.
there, that brings us to the end... though in the end, the end always seems to be just a new beginning. I rather like that :).
babbled by loz
- 11:57 pm
May 29, 2004 10:34 AM PDT
haha, how true see! I forget that sometimes, so thanks for the reminder ;). xx
(long story, people - which I may tell one day - but she really is right!)