Saturday, October 24, 2015

I Cleaned the Toilet

Today I cleaned the toilet. Not only that, I also wiped down the bathroom counter and scrubbed the sink. I also did the laundry. I baked a cake. I went shopping. I cooked supper. These things feel like a huge accomplishment. 

You see, six weeks ago today, I broke a bone in my foot. To be exact, it was a Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone. My left foot is in an air cast. I have been getting around on crutches for six weeks. 

As anyone who has ever been on crutches can attest, it is not all that fun. For the first three weeks or so, I could not put any weight on the foot at all, even to balance myself. I quickly discovered that I don't have very good upper body strength. My shoulders, arms, and wrists became very sore from hoisting my weight around on my arms. My right leg, although quite strong, and my right foot ached from bearing all my weight. I was quite unsteady on the crutches. Going between buildings at work, usually a short walk and sometimes a longer walk of up to a kilometer, became next to impossible even for nearby buildings, especially if there were stairs involved.  I could manage only one trek a day of up to two blocks each way and that took lots of time and sweat. 

I discovered that there were so many little ordinary things that I could not do for myself. For example, because both hands were on my crutches, I could not carry a file folder or a cup of coffee. I had to leave a light on at night because I did not feel safe moving around on my crutches in the dark. 

I discovered lots of strategies to cope with my lack of mobility. I rescheduled meetings to my office whenever possible. I obtained a disabled plaquard so that I could park close to buildings. I had Rob move a chair into the bedroom so that I could sit to dress myself, and I learned to lay out all my clothing within easy reach. Similarly, Rob put a plastic stool into the shower so I could sit to shower. Getting ready for work in the morning took so much longer. Wherever possible, I simplified things - no hair products, no scarves, little or no jewellry. 

I have spent a great deal of time this last six weeks either at my desk at work or on the couch at home with my foot up. I have missed a beautiful autumn, unable to go out and walk, cycle, or garden. I have stopped painting (except once). I have stopped shopping, except once with Rob's help. Initially I couldn't cook, then I began some limited cooking with Rob and Alex helping (although with a team effort, we did have a full turkey dinner on Thanksgiving). Initially, I could only do the laundry with someone to help by carrying the laundry baskets, and then I mastered pushing the basket along the floor with a crutch.

Finally, this week I have been able to put significant weight on the left foot in the cast. I am putting most of my weight on my heel, not on the whole foot. I can get around in the house with only one crutch. I can even take several steps without a crutch. It is so wonderful to have one or both hands free! I can pick up the laundry basket and carry it. I can cook a whole dinner without help, including bending down to lift hot things out of the oven. Today, for the first time, I was able to carry a cup of tea from the kitchen to the living room, which involves going down three steps. Today I also went shopping by myself. 

Probably I overdid it a bit today, as my foot is quite sore tonight and swollen.  But it is so wonderful to be recovering, and to be able to to do even mundane things again, like cleaning the toilet. It has helped me appreciate the little ordinary things of life and see them not just as unwanted chores but as the elements of life that make up my existence in the world. 

My therapy cat.

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