Sunday, 4 November 2018

Thoughts on Recovery

For the whole of this summer and early autumn I have been out of action, literally so, laid up, in pain and immobile for a long period. And most probably caused by my own stupidity and carelessness.
After the serious fall in early summer, which left me bruised, swollen and hurting all down one side, limping painfully, September came and, I believed, with me ready to pick up where I left off. If only I had asked advice of someone who knows about these things! Like a physiotherapist or, at the very least, my fitness instructor at the gym. Typically bone-headed I threw myself into training, thinking I could catch up on the lack of exercise during the previous six weeks by working a bit harder.

Big mistake. I have since been informed that you have to start more or less at the beginning and work up to your pre-accident fitness state for at least as long as you were laid off. Which means I will be lucky to see the inside of the gym before the end of the year.

What happened this time? I have no idea. Nobody has. The fact of the matter is that somehow I damaged my sacrum, resulting in indescribable pain, two bedridden weeks and a slow return to mobility over the following two weeks, mobility involving crutches, two walkers (upstairs and downstairs, although I couldn't manage the stairs at all), a trolley for transporting items safely from one place to another while holding me upright at the same time. There was a period when just turning over in bed was agony.

I had carers come in to look after me (‘looking after = euphemism for ‘personal care’ =  euphemism for ‘keeping me clean’,  which is euphemism for ‘dealing with bodily functions’), a nurse, a physiotherapist, two physiotherapist technicians, even a useless social worker. Reams of paperwork were filled in. One question was “what is your favourite TV programme”. What? I got cross and said ‘Dr.Who’ which caused much hilarity subsequently. Another one was “what is your favourite kind of day”. “A painfree one without social workers asking me stupid questions”, I snapped back at the unfortunate questioner (after all, she was just doing her job - I don’t think she recorded my answer) Part of the questionnaire was concerned with my mental state, i.e. was I fully compos mentis. “What do you think?” was my reply to that one.

The whole episode was excruciatingly painful, utterly embarrassing and seriously demeaning. And that is what a lot of old people experience not for four weeks but week in, week out. A frightening prospect. But, and this is the big but, what would I have done without professional carers? Put myself into a care home temporarily? Hospitals don’t take you in, spine injuries will heal eventually, without a doctor’s intervention.

It was the devotion of friends which saved my sanity. With family unable and presumably unwilling to assist (actually, I only told one of the children) I can never make it up to them. Plates of hot food arrived several days a week,  piles of sandwiches ditto, soup, grapes, savouries and puddings were lavished on the invalid who was actually not even really hungry; painkillers take away the appetite. Lying in bed, unable to turn over without crying out, exhausted from a slow and laborious shuffle to the loo during the day, bent over a walker, take away the survival instinct itself.  Believe me, there were moments when I could have chucked it all in, down the stairs, for instance. Strong opioid painkillers leave you hallucinating, my long gone Mum and Dad appeared at my bedside, as did Beloved.

One of the strongest feelings I had during the worst time was a feeling of utter helplessness and abandonment, I felt so terribly lonely, in spite of my dear friends. It would have been wonderful if somebody had been there during the small hours or sat and talked after the painkillers kicked in. Being alone and helpless with the front door open day and night is not a good feeling. I might even have welcomed a burglar!







26 comments:

  1. well, I have been thinking about you wondering how you were getting along. what an awful nightmare experience and so lucky to be in a country with national healthcare and so many concerned friends. what a horror it would have been had it happened here in America unless you had been paying out nearly $1000 a month for complete and comprehensive health insurance and even then they would have done everything possible to not give you the care you needed. I am glad you are/have recovered.

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  2. This is heartrending to read. I am so sorry and glad that you are slowly coming out the other side.
    I dread being totally dependent on others. And yes, the small hours can be an awful time.

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  3. We all dread being dependent; losing control remains the chief source of anxiety. Thinking of you.

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  4. The support of friends during this time must have been invaluable. I can't blame you for becoming cross with the carers' questioning. I feel I would have responded similarly.

    May you continue to be on the mend!

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  5. I have been checking your blog regularly, always disappointed that you did not post, How wrong I was in thinking maybe you were busy going to plays, etc!! I am so sorry about what was REALLY keeping you "busy"!
    No doubt that pain was excruciating. So glad your friends did show that they care. That must have helped a little.
    Your exasperation with senseless questions is certainly understandable. I am so sorry you felt lonely and abandoned. The fact that you have posted now lets us know that you must be somewhat improved, . I hope that every day is a little better for you,

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  6. You have been enduring a terrible ordeal. Living on your own, as I do now, complicates recovery. Thank goodness for professional carers and for friends who helped you. I hope you are feeling better every day.

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  7. This is something that we are never prepared for in life. It just takes a second, and everything changes. I am so glad that your friends were there for you and tried to give you comfort with food and visits. You are strong and have gotten through so much. Please stay that way, Friko. You will get better.

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  8. Helplessness, pain, and loss of control are devastating to the human spirit. I'm so sorry for your pain. I'm glad you've had friends to help you through this, and hope that healing will continue.

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  9. I'm sorry you've gone through yet another tough time. Though I don't do painkillers, I do understand many of the frustrations of which you write. I hope you will heal well and thank goodness for friends who care.

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  10. Poor you! Although I have rarely been quite so helpless myself (and when that was the case, it only lasted a few hours each time), I was and am rather annoyed with myself for the loss of fitness and strength this year, and I am still nowhere near as fit as I was after the two enforced breaks from all sports, due to my eye operation in April and a cervix operation in July. Like you, I need to take things slow, and now that it is dark so early, when I come home from work, I honestly don't feel like going out again, to the gym or for a run.
    I am glad you have good friends and of course I hope your condition keeps improving.

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  11. Poor Friko. It is a bit sad that your family was not there for you, but as a long time reader, I have a little understanding. Really good that local people were there for you. Exercise for the elderly........walking and pool aerobics. Older people don't have the bodies for heavy exercise, not matter what the tv and radio says about muscle strength building for the elderly at gyms. Just keep on moving and walking. And when it feels hard to walk, just keep walking.

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  12. So sorry to hear what you’ve gone through. Glad you’ve had such caring neighbors and friends. Does give thought to considerations about Living In Place, especially if living alone. Can be challenging to have support systems in place in the event of as many eventualities as possible, but as we get older can be wise — if possible, but easier said than done. I need to focus more on such plans myself as the health care help available here in the U.S. different than what you have. Patience becomes important — our older bodies don’t have the residuals for healing as much as when we were younger. Also, we don’t bounce back as quickly as we once did. Be good to yourself, not too demanding.

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  13. Oh my. I was in your lovely country for several weeks and how I wish I'd known. I would have found you and brought you -- well, whatever you needed. Given Millie a walk and let you talk. It sounds just awful. Every little action these days that slows us down is frustrating, as though it is taking away one day of productivity from what time we have left. I won't go all "September Song" on you, but I'm feeling it to. What a gift to have wonderful friends and neighbors to help provide food, companionship and a listening ear. Please take good care as you recuperate. I suspect you will after all this; a hard lesson. I am so very sorry (but hoping that this blog post is a good sign that you are slowly on the mend.)

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  14. This is the horror that haunts me -- being incapacitated, with no one to help. There aren't neighbors to depend on in an apartment complex; by the time I learn the name of the youngsters around me, they've moved on to another job, another town, a house. And my best friends, the ones I absolutely could depend on, are either out of town, incapacitated themselves, or dead. So, there we are. Without the funds to pay for care, I can't even imagine what I might have to deal with in your situation.

    I watched my mother trying to deal with pain when she broke her ankle in two places, and so I have some idea of what that's like. It wasn't pretty, and it was as awful for her as it surely was for you. Thank goodness the worst seems to be behind you now; I hope that it is, and that every day is just a little better. I've missed your posts, and like others assumed that you were simply being busy re-engaging with life. How different the reality was! I'm so hopeful that all goes well for you now, for a good long time.

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  15. My heart aches for you Friko. How awful an experience. I have experienced mercifully short periods of excruciating pain in my life but never the hopeless longevity of yours. Dear heavens. I hope you are truly on the mend now. I have learned over the years that when I have a bad day of terrible pain (like yesterday) I treat myself with care for a few days afterwards and just rest the body.
    Onward and courage and know your blogworld cares deeply.

    XO
    WWW

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  16. What a horrible experience...and just after that fall.
    Mother has had to accept professional help so I can relate to your experience...damn fool questions which tick boxes but get nowhere coupled with people who sort out the practicalities. In her case too, friends are vital, but, as you say, the nights are long.

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  17. Oh dear Friko ~ my heart aches for you and you will be in my prayers for a complete recovery, sooner rather than later. Being on our own puts us in a vulnerable position. I am so glad you had friends who have been such a wonderful help to you.

    In spite of all of this, I still see your sense of humor.

    Love, hugs and prayers for you dear ((((Friko)))), FlowerLady

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  18. Thanks for posting again, friend Friko … I can see you went through tough times … I am sorry that you felt lonely … I wonder whether you felt happy to see your mumme and dad and your Beloved by your bedside while under the opioid influence? I remember after by baby daughter Jennifer Rose died in 1986, she came to me many times for 7 months, and I was so happy, and we would spend time together, talking not by mouth but via "brain waves" (hard to explain, Friko)… after 7 months she said, she could not come back from now on, and sure enough she never did … that's when i fell apart and no one is never ever gonna put me together again … but that's completely beside the point … I am wishing you well, friend Friko … and know that you are loved, eh? Always, cat. PS: … and, yes, the health care professionals would have likely noted down your unhappy remarks, as every client outburst will be documented … c.

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  19. Oh that infuriating assumption that because you're incapacitated you must be going ga-ga!
    Congratulations on having got past the absolutely worst bit and I hope you're now feeling much better each day.

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  20. Those of us who consider ourselves independent and not suffering fools lightly realize that we do need others, irregardless of their practical thinking skills. Be patient with yourself and others. You will adjust with time, and I so look forward to future posts and I hope all the pain is now gone@

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  21. Hi Friko - gosh this sounds really tough - there's nothing I could do though ... yet I ache for us all who are getting to the age when we will need help. I am pleased to see you've written the post and felt able to tell us about it - as well as have a little rant ...

    ... I remember my uncle who was 10 days away from dying - which we knew ... he was interviewed by a 20 year old ... she'd no idea about rugby his favourite sport ... she thought it would be football ... and couldn't adapt. I was furious and I think upended her from the room - she'd no idea ... but that's the way the world is.

    Well please just get better and don't do anything silly ... and I'm pleased people were rallying round ... I've emailed you too ... take care ... and all the very best - Hilary

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  22. So very sorry to hear this. Echoing what others here have said, I wish you a full recovery and a chance for many, many good days ahead.

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  23. Dear Friko, having been hospitalized 4 times over this worst summer of my life, I understand something --not pretending to understand all-- of what you are going through. What I do understand is you are a courageous woman, a person of value to others, yourself and to me. We're all in this together. You're not alone.

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  24. When I had my mastectomy, my mother-in-law offered to pay for a home healh person to come sit with me. I declined - it felt too invasive. So I get what your saying. Glad you had friends who were helpful to you.

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  25. Hi Friko – I have not been on your blog (or any other blog for that matter) for a very long time and am sorry to find that you injured yourself - sounds super painful. I hope that you are getting better and will take care of yourself. It is difficult when suddenly alone to remember that one has to be prudent, luckily you have some good friends and neighbors to help. It is not the same as having someone with you permanently, but a good dog or cat can help the isolation. I have been clearing out the house in GA now for 10 days and have not spoken to a soul, so I am careful when going up and downs stairs with huge bags for charity, to take it easy (and I carry my cell phone) because if I fell I don’t think anyone would know for …weeks? It does take time to adapt to being single. I do wish you a speedy recovery so you can enjoy the upcoming holidays.

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