Identity Crisis! Am I Mrs Argos or Miss Hoppy?
30 May 2016
It’s been almost 4 weeks now since that fateful day where one little slip put me in hospital with a badly broken leg.
At first I had just thought I might have dislocated my knee, then after the x-rays they told me it was broken but I still thought we were talking about my knee.
Later that night the doctor sat down with me and told me the most unexpected news – that I had a depressed tibial plateau fracture which would require ORIF – open reduction internal fixation – and that I would have surgery first thing in the morning and then need to remain in hospital for 6 full weeks as I would not be able to return to the boat until I was able to bear weight on the leg. I was shocked and devastated to think that I had done so much damage in one small fall.
The following morning, I was again saddened to learn that the surgery couldn’t go ahead as my leg had swollen too much and I would have to wait a week for the repair – the thought of six weeks off the boat was hard enough – now it would be seven – I couldn’t believe it.
It has been an interesting time to say the least. And there has been a lot of learning and processing.
One of the things I have come to appreciate is that being brave and stoic caused me more pain than I had really needed to endure. If I had called an ambulance instead of patiently waiting for friends to help get me there, I would have had pain relief sooner. If I had mentioned at the hospital how much pain I was in, I might have been seen sooner, and if I had been assessed sooner I might have not had to wait a week for the surgery as the swelling would not have been so bad. Lesson learned – speak up! Don’t think it’s nothing, take the pain seriously and don’t worry more about being a bother to others, worry more about getting help faster!
I did survive that first long, slow, painful week before getting to surgery and finally 2 ½ weeks ago was wheeled into theatre.
It was awesome to be awake when I was taken in and I think they had to put the mask over my face just to shut me up so they could get on with the surgery, I had so many questions! But when I woke up it was a different story! Oh my! I’ve had 8 babies, six at home and some horrible miscarriages, but nothing matches the intensity of the kind of deep bone pain I woke up to. It took quite some time before the recovery nurses could get my pain levels under control and I was taken back up to my room but I was treated with such kindness and gentleness in that time and will always be appreciative to Shelly for her soothing presence and her softness.
Once back up on the orthopaedic ward the goal was to begin to recover and I knew it was going to be a long journey.
I could only hop on my good leg. My hurt leg was wrapped in bandages and in a splint still, like before the surgery and apart from the significantly increased pain, things seemed little different to before. But by the second day they had removed the bandages and I could see all my incisions – one long one for all the hardware inserted into my leg, and 5 others - for drains and the arthroscopy that was done at the same time to make sure the rest of my knee was all cleaned up, in addition there was one for where they had to push the bone back up in to place. Nice.
And the next day the splint came off! I was pretty scared at that – no cast, just all the nuts and bolts inside holding it all together – but they assured me it was fine and that the plan was to do as much movement as I could tolerate.
Normally people are encouraged to go home within days of their surgery but with my home being a boat, and being a boat at anchor, I presented the staff with somewhat of a challenge. They could not send me somewhere I couldn’t get to or function on, and so I had to stay until somewhere could be found. But there was nothing. Day by day I was making improvements and quite ready to leave the care of the hospital, but there was no program that could take me – I was too well-managing for rehab hospitals, too young for any kind of care homes and too well to stay on the ward……
And then the awesome sailing family I am part of stepped in. A woman I had met through the network Women Who Sail (a Facebook group) heard of my situation and volunteered her home. How amazing was that? I was speechless and so appreciative of her kindness and so plans were made for me to leave.
There was quite a lot to organise. To go to Gail’s home I would need a number of mobility aids. I cannot put any weight on my repaired leg at all for at least 5 more weeks and so to move around the house I must continue to hop. I needed to hire a ‘hopper frame’, as well as a wheelchair for bigger trips – like out to dinner on Tuesdays at the Fisherman’s Tavern (Marine Mirage) with my other boatie friends, and coffee’s at Diva at Marina Mirage that I regularly shared in. In addition, I needed a shower seat so I could safely shower and a frame to surround the toilet so I could manage that too. Suddenly I have been thrust into a whole new world and see things I never saw before.
Have you ever tried to open the door of a disabled toilet in a public building? I had no idea these could be so heavy. Or that the taps could be so hard to reach……I think we have come a long way in making places wheelchair-friendly but we still have a long way to go. And that’s only to mention two small things I have encountered – I know that by the time I am up and walking around again I will have gained a lot of insight into this area of life and will never again look at disability in the same way. That’s one of the wonderful aspects of this whole ordeal – how I have had this insight into how life is for many people.
And I have learned that hopping is exhausting! I do a workout just getting to the bathroom! It’s amazing how this one limitation has changed the way I function! I have put a bag on the frame so that I can carry things around – because it’s awfully hard to hold things while hopping, but alas I have yet to be able to hop with a cup of tea! Gail has been awesome at looking after me and while I work on independent actions, it will be quite some time before I can manage on my own!
Meanwhile the children have had challenges of their own. With my absence they have suddenly found themselves needing to not just look after themselves, but manage everything on the boat. And that has been far from easy for them.
Erina had a job interview on one of the first days I was in hospital and began working at Turtle Bay Resort in Mermaid Beach the following day. Suddenly I was gone and both the kids would be at work all the time! How life changes!
Early on Erina decided to cook ahead to make sure there were always decent meals available for them after busy days. She never does things by halves and ended up with over 30 meals! The freezer is full now of casseroles, Liam’s beloved Butter Chicken and goodness knows what else, all ready to be thawed and heated as needed.
I worried so much at first about how they would manage alone but after nearly four weeks I can happily say that they really are awesome. They have had so much to contend with – the food was the least of their concerns really! The biggest issues have been with the need to keep moving the boat (6 days in one anchorage and then 24 hours away in another, and then returning to the 6-day anchorage) as per the local rules. We have been so fortunate to have an awesome group of boaties around us who have offered to assist and so each time the boat needs to be moved someone goes with them. Both Erina and Liam are able to do the move on their own now, which is brilliant, but having someone there in case something goes wrong and to be a guiding voice, well that’s an absolutely wonderful thing. Thank you to everyone who has offered to help with this. There have been other challenges with the boat, but more about that next time.
And so I hop and move and rest and write and Liam and Erina manage and work and move the boat and that’s our life right now. Four more weeks and things will start to change again – and hopefully Miss Hoppy will be able to return again to being Mrs Argos.
But Mrs Argos will be changed and her crew – well her crew have undergone the most profound change through all this – a more capable pair of teenagers you will never come across. I’ve been proud of them in so many ways for a long, long time – but my pride in them grows by the day – they have managed a very difficult situation with such maturity and strength. I wish things could have been easier for them but then I think, what awesome things they have learned and managed and what a foundation for things that will come at them in the future. The had things v=become the making of us all.