Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Crutch Chronicles - Meet Me Halfway (no, really, can you get that for me?)

At the end of February, MFD had an accident and berserkered his leg, requiring his ankle to be relocated after it was dislocated, surgery to install a plate, steel rods and screws, a hospital stay, the works. You can read about it here. The first doctor told us that he'd be able to bear weight after six to eight weeks, but our second (better, realistic) doctor said 12.

Yes, things are fine. Thanks for asking. That's what we say to the majority of people all the time, but that's not how we are all of the time. That's what this is about. This is a long, therapeutic letting it all hang out for me, and if you get to the end of this shit show, congratulations in advance.

Yesterday was six weeks. Six weeks of not bearing any weight at all. Six weeks of crutches. Six weeks of restricted movement. Six weeks of not being able to carry anything that doesn't fit in a pocket or a backpack. Six weeks of not sleeping in the same bed. Six weeks of no air on his foot. Six weeks of lost business opportunities. Six weeks of one of us having it hard because they can't do anything, and one of us having it hard because they have to do everything. Six weeks of learning how to make things as easy as possible on each other in foreign territory.

Yesterday, the cast came off, more Xrays were done, and there are...still six more weeks of winter. I mean crutches. The bone is not healing quickly.

This is the midway point between Crutch Life and Life Without Crutches. A good time to catch you up. A good time to get real. 

We've approached this situation with humor, because that's who we are and that's what we do. We take photos of him on jazzies, we laugh about chasing down Mister Softee with crutches, we rename our basement The Invalid's Lair, we joke about things we would normally do but can't like walk the dogs together and take them running in the fields, or skydive on my birthday as planned this year.

But the reality and frustration of the situation forces us to acknowledge that sometimes, this is just not fucking funny. Yesterday was one of those days. It's like celebrating because you're halfway across the desert, meanwhile you still have halfway to go and you're dying of thirst.

I'm sure it appears things are swell to the outside world because he's more mobile and we're taking it in stride and doing the best we can. His friends have taken him out, he's been working. He can go places, it just takes longer and is harder on him physically. We know this will end eventually and so we keep going and doing what we do. We keep up appearances.

The reality is this: the pain is still there, especially at night. When he's out for a few hours he's so tired that he has to come home and sit immobile for a long time, and often is down for the next day too. The frustration at not being able to do things at the drop of a hat is ever-present. The reluctance of a man who never wants to say no to anything or anyone having to tell people actually no, he's not feeling up to something on that day or he simply can't do something because he can't walk is infuriating to him, and to me when they don't grasp that this is not a joke or something that's all better or should be all better by now. This requires significant recovery time. It cracks me up when people are like, "He still can't do anything?" Nope. Still can't. He has not developed the ability to carry a 10 pound grocery bag in his teeth while on maneuvering himself on crutches. He cannot stand on his own without crutches.

And me...when I get the urge to complain, my brain yells at me: shut up! He's not permanently disabled, this is not forever, people have cancer, there are starving people in some third world country, Kim Jong Un is terrorizing Asia and everyone else with his misplaced short man rage. 

All of those things are true. I know someone always has it worse than me. I know that. But still...

I hate to see my husband struggle. I hate to see him miss out on things. I hate to see him tire so easily. I hate being a sub-par friend/daughter/sister/whatever because when I get a moment to myself I just want a fucking moment to myself. I'm short on patience. I'm exhausted at the end of most days. I have less time for my hobbies. I find myself less than thrilled at the prospect of outings that I'd normally be excited about. I have limited attention span for the things other people are dealing with because I've been so focused on what I need to do to keep my own house running. I worry about how this will impact us financially a few months down the line - real estate is a few months in advance type of business. I worry about him re-injuring this leg in another freak accident before this heals. I have panic attacks on bad days. Sometimes I just feel like screaming. My hair has significantly more gray in it than it did in the early hours of February 23. And the people at my gym probably think I died because I haven't been there since this happened. Wah wah fucking wah, right? If you think this is whiny, I don't give a rat's ass. This is my current reality and I feel like using the halftime of this game to bitch about it. 

A round of applause for the light at the end of the tunnel, somewhere in the distance after six more weeks of crutches followed by surgery and physical therapy. This is a long road. I didn't fully comprehend how long it would be when it happened. I don't think either of us did. Now I'm looking at the summer wondering how much he'll be doing. 

I should not be saying this, but it's actually probably a good thing that it's him and his happy disposition in this position and not me and my truculent disposition. If it was me, this blog post would be called Tales from the Bitch's Crypt instead of The Crutch Chronicles. He would've been forced to kill me to put us both out of our misery.

How do people who take care of someone who is permanently disabled do it? Or people with injured spouses who also have kids to tend to? Or single parents, for that matter? How do they run a large house by themselves while caring for the basically helpless people in it? I nominate anyone doing this on a long-term basis for a seat in Heaven, and accept if they laugh off our short-term trials, which I'm sure are insignificant to them. These past six weeks made me long for our small one bedroom apartment. Keeping up with three floors, the man, the medicine, the laundry, the yard, the doctor's appointments, the errands, the insurance paperwork, the regular bills, the jaw dropping medical bills, the meals, and the dogs have not been easy for me; just like being on the sidelines and out of the loop have not been easy for him. 

It's been overwhelming and difficult and simply not funny some days. Why is it so hard for me to say that things are hard? I hate admitting that I can't do it all or handle it all. Does anyone know if Mr. Belvedere is available? I'm being serious. Mr. Belvedere? Anyone?

This has been a test of who we are as people, and of our marriage. Everyone gets an A. 

And I'm giving myself an A for putting this out there, for publicly acknowledging that it's been hard. It's not something I typically do. I'd usually rather chew off my own arm. I feel so much better just getting this out of my head.

I'm thankful that his accident wasn't worse. I'm thankful that he'll get better soon. I'm thankful that doing everything has become sort of automatic. I'm thankful that some days are easier than others, and that I have easy days at all when other people don't have that luxury. I'm thankful for best friends and family and cookies and funny ecards and lovey dogs on days that are hard. I'm thankful that we have a great network of friends and family (FRAMILY) around us. I'm thankful for everyone who's made it a little easier along the way by doing something around the house, sending a card or food, getting MFD out for the night, giving him a ride somewhere when he needed one, anything. I'm thankful I got this off my chest, and if you read it all, I'm thankful for that too. And as always, I'm thankful that we can laugh about things. Ninety five percent of the time.

p.s. suck it, Tuesday. You always do anyway.

Linking up for Just Because and Real Talk Tuesday.

Simple Bliss


  1. First of all, the 2 of you are amazing! Regardless of how hard other people have it, what you are dealing with is hard... no getting around it!
    When this happened to me I simply put my head in the sand and acted like everything was hunky dorey, and consequently did more damage to my already semi-destroyed ankle.
    Plus, apparently you are able to dump your feelings in an appropriate manner, according to the article I just read 5 minutes ago... (I am all about appropriate)
    Here it is -> http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-0407-silk-ring-theory-20130407,0,2074046.story

    In the meantime, good job; you are managing this like a trooper!

  2. you just go ahead and whine away woman! this is your blog afterall so fill it with whatever the hell you want to.
    second. freakin huge kudos and good juju and excellent karma and all that jazzy stuff to you. cuz thats hard. i bitch about taking care of kirk when hes got a damn cold, i cant even imagine what it would be like to have to care for him on crutches! and yes, it could be worse, and there are people with suffering far worse than yours, but seriously, this is new territory for you both, obviously its going to be hard.
    like my post yesterday (i mean seriously? i was pretty much whining about hair for christsakes, youre allowed to bitch about broken ankles) but anyway, i said my hair was 9 in my world. well with is a 10 (maybe a 12?) in your world.

    keep on keepin' on! you've made it this far- here's to hoping the next 6 weeks fly by!

  3. SMD I am so impressed with how well you have been handling this, and even more so I am impressed that you are admitting how hard it is and letting yourself get overwhelmed for a hot minute. It is HARD to care for someone else, it is HARD to do the brunt of the labor, it is HARD to see your loved one suffer. I know it is discouraging that you still have 6 more weeks, but it will fly by, I promise!

  4. @ Mare, I am very pleased to be LA Times appropriate! Thanks for your kind words.

    @Shauni, this was the hardest post to write because I was admitting it is hard. It feels whiny to me, and I hate whining.

  5. I'm so glad you put this down here, Snots McGee. Confused a care package on its way.

  6. Sometimes we all need to whine a little. It feels good to get it all out there.

    At least he will be off crutches before summer REALLY starts. Does that make you feel a little bit better? Probably not. That is totally something that I would be pissed about someone saying to me.

    Also, I firmly believe that if you own your whining/complaining/venting and recognize that many other people have it worse, but your situation still sucks, it is totally acceptable.

  7. People that take care of other people with disabilities etc... take time for themselves! I know you have a lot to do but sometimes you have to put things off to just breathe. Maybe you need to go to the gym and get out some frustration!!

  8. OH girl, the reality of that is just stressful! I have the hardest time letting others know when I'm stressed, too. I'm one of those, "we're great," people even when it feels like our life is crumbling around us. It is a true test of your marriage. Cnogratulations...you do get an A, no, an A+!!
    Lulu and Daisy

  9. ughhh i am so sorry. but i can say... i feel his pain.

  10. You had me at 'short man rage.'

    So here's the thing. There's always going to be someone that 'has it worse.' Unfortunately, there are starving kids in Africa, people dying of cancer, etc... but that doesn't make what you and MFD are going through any less painful/stressful. Your complaining is valid, and it probably soooo very needed after holding it in for 6 weeks. It's admirable that you've waited this long.

    I can preach about silver linings, and tell you to enjoy the fun photo ops, but the thing is, things suck for you guys right now. And it's ok to admit that. It's also OK to ask for help when need be. From what I've seen, there are plenty of people that love you both and are willing to come to your aid.

    Stay strong and keep doing what you're doing. You're halfway there (I'm totally staying on top of Groupon and lookin out for a Mr Belvedere offer!)

  11. I was thinking about what you wrote about how there are others worse off than you ... and it is true, and it puts things into perspective, but we all still feel how we feel. It's human nature. Frustration and sadness comes in many forms, but they are all real. I hate that y'all are dealing with this, but hopefully it is making y'all closer. I'm sure his eyes have been opened to how lucky he is to have a wife like you ... and just think how awesome all those "little things" will be when y'all can do them together again! Glad he is on the road to recovery, even if it's not going very quickly. :/ Here's to the silver lining. :) hugs!

  12. thats exactly why i keep asking. I was a single parent and looking back i have no clue HOW I did it, one foot in front of the other. Scream at me anytime. :-) also teach me how to do the pinterest thing please!

  13. Hey Steph - As I read your blog today I could totally identify with how you feel. Tom is very much a "yes man" - he is always active and when he broke his ankle I felt the same way for him.
    I agree with you that it is hard and as much as you don't want to admit it sometimes it's better to get it off your chest. Whining is ok sometimes!
    You still have a rough road ahead of you but you are in together and you will get through it. Years from now you will look back and think wow - I can't believe we went through that crap. I know I feel that way now. Hang in there! My thoughts and prayers are with you guys!

  14. I think you have it harder than someone caring for a handicapped person. They resign them self to it, whereas you know yours is only temporary. No one faults you for getting frustrated, and I think you are doing a fabulous job!! {{ HUGS}}

  15. Perfect! Writing it all down is so therapeutic. I am absolutely THRILLED you could not do that Sky-diving bday adventure. It is very unneccessary. Yesterday, Mike Doyle said to me "I just want to walk- like that lady" who was walking down the street. The fact that this is short-term is the BEST, & makes us all very grateful for the fact that we can easily and quickly walk around.
    Being grateful when setbacks occur is a gift from the universe. AND- every blessed thing happens for a reason!!!

    love always, your momma

  16. I'm so glad you put this out there. I know that getting that news yesterday was a crushing blow. Continue to lean on your framily and let them help, so you can be sure to take care of YOU.

    The part about light at the end of the tunnel was so appropriate, too, because I had just finished reading Candy's latest post talking about that, although due to different circumstances.

    Love you.

  17. @ Shelb, you are too kind. xoxo.

    @ Mom, I knew you would be very pleased there was no skydiving.

    @ Carly, it felt good to let it all hang out!

    @ Laurie - me too. Yes yes I'm fine even as I'm theoretically bleeding out. hahaha

  18. Sure, there lots of people who have it worse than you, but it doesn't mean you're not going through a difficult time also. Don't feel bad about feeling bad...guilt is a wasted emotion. I hope writing about your feelings has been cathartic. One day in the not-too-distant future, you and a fully healed MFD will look at each other and say, "Glad that's over!" Hang in there.

  19. @Al, it seems that Tom and MFD are similar in many aspects, so I know you've been here! Thanks for listening and for sympathizing.

  20. Admitting that its a struggle is never easy so kudos to you for being able to say it. Yes there are people out there with way worse situations than a broken ankle/foot, but that doesn't make what you are dealing with any less valid or challenging. This has got to be the hardest thing MFD has ever dealt with being a man on the go! I watch patients deal with this on a daily basis and it just plain sucks! Sorry you are going through all of this! Here's hoping the next 6 weeks go quickly for both of you!

  21. Oh wow. That's hard. You're really right is seeing this as a test--a test of your marriage and character, and while it sucks, it will be very happy to have completed it and have come through to the other side okay! You're doing a good job!

  22. I think it is perfectly okay to get it all out. And you shouldn't apologize for your feelings. I was on crutches for 8 weeks, and it was awful. I lived in a second floor apartment. My roommates boyfriend carried me up the stairs more than once.

  23. It is tough! I can't imagine having an completely immobile husband. At least you know it's half over. Almost there. AND - you have a yellow door. He couldn't stop you. And now you have eternal sunshine on your front door! :)

  24. #1 Why the eff is my damn google reader hiding you. Now might be the time to make the switch that I've been dreading...

    #2 "I hate admitting that I can't do it all or handle it all." - YES. I feel you. And I would like to dedicate a bottle of wine to you. Please whine all you want. We will tolerate it for 6 more weeks!

  25. I love this post. Things aren't happy and perfect all the time, especially when you're dealing with something so life-altering. I love that you know it's not the end of the world and that there are worse things out there, but sometimes you just gotta vent! I talk myself out of complaining, saying that it's not that bad, or as bad as other people, and then it builds up and I shut down. You have to let off a little steam! I'm sad that he's not healing as quickly as they thought he might. You are amazing though!


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