Monday, August 13, 2012

Overcoming my Fears

     While I was on the rehab floor at the hospital I was supposed to learn all sorts of things.  Things like getting myself dressed again or getting myself into or out of the tub.  I had to learn how to get into and out of the bath and all sorts of things like that.  One day as I struggled to learn to stand on one leg and swivel myself out of the bed and into my wheelchair the therapist commented that by biggest holdup was my fear of falling.  I said yeah because I think it would really hurt to fall.  I had imagined falling on my already broken body and feared what that might feel like.  I don't have any memory of the time during and after the accident.  Even though I was awake and aware enough to talk to those surrounding me and things like that I can't remember it.  I would imagine however that much of that time before surgery was quite painful.  Before the accident I had never broken a bone and thought of what that might feel like - I don't like pain.  I don't like hurting.  I don't want to cause myself pain.  So yes falling was a fear.  The therapists told me this was something I needed to overcome.  They said in all likely hood I would indeed fall at some point and I needed to know that I could take care of things if it happened.  In fact one day we spent over an hour working on that very thing.  They decided it would help if I knew what to do after I fell so they decided to let me learn to get myself up off the floor.  My therapist lowered me carefully to the floor - even carefully it was pretty painful. And then said figure out how to get up.  Keep in mind that my left leg was broken - 3 places in the pelvis, broken knee, broken tibia and fibula, and a broken ankle.  I had pins and plates and screws throughout my entire leg, including 8 screws in my knee alone.  I had a large brace holding my leg in position that went from my thigh to my ankle.  I had also broken my right femur and although it was supposed to be my strong leg I had recently learned that the reason I was unable to bear weight on it was because all the bones in my knee were very bruised and actually as painful as anything else - in fact I still have quite a bit of pain in that right knee.  Anyway to say the least attempting to get up off that floor was intimidating and painful.  We were out in the sitting area of the rehab floor.  So many people walked by and most stopped to watch for a few minutes and comment on what might or might not help.  Even the pain team came up (like 6 people) and talked to me about what I should try next.  It was a little bit unnerving to feel like you had to perform and live up to the expectations of all these people.
     At the risk of disappointing any of those people who may read this blog I was unable after more then an hour to get myself up off the floor.  I tried - and believe me I tried but was simply incapable of getting myself up.  I did figure out how to get across the floor - albeit slowly. I put my right leg over my left and used the plastic brace to slide across the floor.  The therapist commented that he had never seen anyone do that.  We tried and retried pulling myself up on the couch, the chair, the wheelchair, and even the end tables but to no avail.  I was so tired.  Eventually they sort of laughed and suggested that I keep my cellphone with me for if I fell at home.  Because of the nerve damage to my left leg and foot it is difficult to lift my foot correctly.  Which is actually better then it was when I first came home - at that point it might as well have been nailed to the floor. I can now lift it about 11/2 - 2 inches off the floor but don't have a whole lot of strength in that leg.  And really no strength at all in that foot.  I have a brace that I am supposed to wear which helps keep me from scuffing and tripping over my toes.  It slows me down though and I'm sure there is even some pride involved in not wearing it.  I have tripped over my toes on countless occasions - but haven't fallen.  Not long after we got out of our wheelchairs - that first week I think.  I was walking across the living room floor and tripped either on something left on the floor or my own foot I'm not sure.  You know that feeling when you trip and you do sort of a hoppy dance trying to to fall?  Well I was there and it scared me so so bad.  My heart was beating so hard.  A few hours later when Barry came home I started crying as I told him about it and my heart felt as if I was reliving that fear of falling.  I was surprised to realize how truly afraid of falling I really was.  Well like I said I have tripped numerous times and have learned to pay attention to walking - to be aware of my feet and what they are doing.  This is not generally a part of a persons day.  I think once we learn to walk its sort of like learning to drive a stick shift and at some point the movements become automatic and you just don't think about them anymore.  I have gotten pretty good at multi tasking and can pay attention to my walking while still carrying on as if I wasn't.
     Until today apparently.  I was in a hurry at work and was talking to my manager when I turned around to scurry down the hall and quickly found myself on my hands and knees on the floor.  It happened so fast I didn't even have time to think about it or stop myself.  It hurt my knees but mostly it scared me so much.  My heart was beating full speed and I could feel my eyes welling up with tears.  Like I said it did hurt, quite a bit actually and I could feel the inflammation and swelling all day but more then the physical pain was the fear.  I had actually fallen.  I'm not sure why I was so embarrassed everyone was so nice and my manager was super quick to help me up.  Everyone was asking if I was ok but I really just wanted to be by myself and not think about it.  After a while i was glad that that first time was over.  Now I don't have to be afraid.  Although I did have help getting up I have learned to get myself up off the floor.  I usually need to be close to something and use it to pull myself up and it is super awkward and way harder then I think it should be but I can do it.  So maybe I won't have to worry about it so much now.  I have fallen and I got up and I survived.  I was thinking that I have lots of fears that I need to overcome.  I have overcome other fears in my life.  Fear of divorce and being on my own, fear of returning to school, fear of getting remarried.  Fear of not doing well at my job fear at not being good enough - at anything.  But there are still so many. I have always been afraid.  Barry has helped me overcome many of my fears and taught me that a little bit of fear sometimes makes things more fun.  I love white water rafting but it scares the daylights out of me and I love it.  Maybe this will help me continue to learn to overcome my fears and be willing to try new things because so far I have survived everything I've tried!


Rachael Mulder said...

you are so amazing and strong. i am so proud of you and the progress you have made! there is no better feeling than looking back at your past five years, ten years, or your life and seeing everything you have accomplished. i love you!!!

Heather said...

Beautiful and inspiring.

(We aren't in the 5th ward anymore, we moved 3 years ago but our # is in the phone book...I'm leary of putting it out there :)...I would love to talk to you though!)