21 June 2016
It has been just over 6 weeks now since the little fall that saw my everyday life be tipped on its head and me off the boat. I’ve learned a great deal in that time about myself, about what my kids can do and about the process of recovery from a significant injury as a boatie.
I must say, at the outset, that the boating community has been fantastic throughout this whole ordeal, from helping me get off the boat and to the hospital, through supporting the children to manage everything, and to assisting me with somewhere to stay while I am recovering. I really couldn’t have done all this without that community of givers, carers and kind-hearts.
It’s been 5 weeks today since the surgery on my leg. I had thought for a while that it was my delaying getting help that had resulted in the delay to surgery, but the more I understand about this process, the more I understand that the delay is fairly standard and that the inflammation we had to wait to subside was more about the injury and less about how long it took me to get seen to. I found that a great relief in many ways as I tended to hold myself responsible for that first painful 10 days before I could even have it repaired.
That’s all behind me now and I am happy to say that I am healing well. My wounds are all going great, the staples have all been removed (all 23 of them) and no, it was not exactly pain free! There has been no sign of infection or anything amiss, and because it was an open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) rather than having an external cast on the leg, I have a pretty good range of movement in my knee and ankle and can comfortably straighten my leg. Each day I work on two things – rest and movement. Rest to ensure my bone has the best possible support to knit away inside, growing, building and doing all it needs to, and movement to ensure that I am developing and strengthening my capacity to return to a full range of motion in the affected joints.
In just over one more week I go back to the hospital for my next orthopaedic appointment. At that point there will be x-rays and examinations and possibly I will hear that I can begin some partial weight bearing which puts me closer to being able to return to the boat! It’s still some ways off but I can see the light of it glowing just a little further ahead.
Meanwhile the children have been fabulous. I mean that. They have done the MOST amazing things. Grown in the most amazing ways. I could not be prouder of how they have managed this very difficult situation.
It’s funny because I kind of delayed going to hospital in part because I was worried about how the kids would manage if I had to wait a while at casualty. Being off the boat for six weeks already and some still to come, was the furthest thing from my imagination and not something I ever thought manageable.
Each week while I have been off the boat, Gail, the sailor who so kindly invited me to recover in her home, has taken me to the various gatherings of the boating community. This has been awesome for me, so I have been able to stay connected with the kids and my friends but it has also been great for Gail who has struggled to get back to her boat since the tragic death of her husband. Now she too has become part of this little group and has even taken the first steps towards getting her own boat back in shape.
And the best thing of all is that it is now only a week until we are free to return to anchoring in the Marine Stadium area which means that finally we will be able to return to something that resembles normal! The children will be safer, they will be able to access their bikes again and ride to work, and be closer to the awesome supportive boaties who have made this experience so bearable.
Falling and breaking my leg so badly has also been an amazing eye-opener for how people with a mobility disability are treated these days. At ‘home’ I hop around using a frame to assist me to keep the broken leg safe, but out and about I use a wheelchair. Before this, if you had asked me, I would have said most places I go to are pretty wheel-chair friendly. I knew there were parking spots, ramps and accessible bathrooms. What I didn’t realise is how rarely these things all match up. Yes, there are parking spots, and ramps but often the ramps are nowhere near the shop you actually need, or not near the disabled spot, and you have to walk twice as far to get to every shop. Yes, there are disabled bathrooms everywhere but I cannot tell you how amazed I am at how many abled-bodied people that emerge from them, or the times mums tell me they ‘prefer’ the disabled loo because it’s easier with the kids, and they will only be a minute, little realising that this is currently my ONLY option, not my preference!
The other thing I have noticed is how people often don’t see me when I am in the wheelchair. I might be at the counter waiting to be served, but people look at Gail and not me, as if I don’t exist!
We have come a long way in our attitudes towards disabled people, but what I have learned is that we still have quite a long way to go and once I am back on my feet again there are definitely things I will be doing differently!