Friday, June 29, 2012

centipedes with crutches

Yesterday was my appointment at the orthopedic clinic. The receptionist remembered me, and commented on how quickly the five weeks had gone past. She's very cheerful, so it wasn't hard being cheerful back.

First I was sent over to Imaging with a yellow chit for an x-ray. There was only one person in that waiting room when I arrived, and his number (#12) was called before I'd manoeuvred myself into a chair. I read a couple of previews on my e-reader before I was called (#13). The x-rays were done pretty quickly - one from the front, one from the side - and as I left I saw that the waiting room had filled up with half-a-dozen patients and their family members.

Had to wait longer to be seen by the surgeon, what with the x-rays having to be developed and sent over, and the other patients. One nasty moment when my Kobo reader for some reason told me I needed to recharge it right away, even though I'd fully charged it that morning because I knew I'd be waiting. Cursed myself for not bringing an actual book, but then the Kobo went to Update and realised it was fully charged after all.
Read several chapters in sheer relief. 
I apologise for not having taken a photo of my new x-rays, but I didn't want to take up time, and there wasn't much to see. The little chipped bit may not have reattached, it was hard to tell, but the area beneath it, at risk for more cracking, was mending well.
He said again that he didn't think the ligaments were damaged because it's usually either ligament or bone, not both. He examined the knee but didn't do that thing of seeing whether the shin moved forward of the knee (which I'm kind of glad not to have experienced, actually) so I don't have absolute assurance about the ligaments. We did discuss ACL damage, and when surgery might be necessary and when not. He assured me that if my knee doubled under me the way it did right after the injury I could come back.
Otherwise I could put away the immobilizer and the crutches, start physiotherapy to the point of pain but not agony (good to have those distinctions) and work up from a stationary bike to a road bike. And he'd see me again in six weeks (unless my knee folded before then).
Oh, and the numbness and pins-and-needles were (unless they didn't get better) not nerve damage but nerves reacting to the swelling and to the swelling going down.

So I have the go-ahead to put weight on both legs and to walk without crutches. What I don't have is the nerve. That memory of my knee bending sideways when I tried to stand (with Mark supporting me, even) is very present, and keeps me clinging to the crutches.
I'm in a very odd state of simultaneous Woohoo! to have the immobilizer off and be able to stand on both feet, and Yikes! to be unsupported and possibly about to topple over.
Mark is being wonderfully patient with me and reminding me that I don't have to be all recovered right away, that it really is one step at a time, and that it's okay for me to be nervous (but I should stop apologising for it).

 A centipede was happy quite
Until a frog, in fun,
Asked 'Pray, which leg comes after which?"
This raised her mind to such a pitch,
She lay distracted in a ditch
Considering how to run.

Like that centipede, I find myself uncertain how to proceed with this walking business, but also in a state of random cold terror about the part of walking that involves putting my whole weight onto my injured leg.
What I've done so far is to change my crutch gait (which I was getting pretty good at) to a slower but more like walking gait. I found it on youtube, a source for which I am duly grateful, and which also provided an extensive set of post-ACL leg exercises that can be done lying down.
And today I walked around the garden (with crutches) and picked rhubarb for a possible pie. Not raspberry and rhubarb pie because there were only two raspberries and I ate them. Maybe I'll just have stewed rhubarb.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

still on crutches

On Thursday I see the orthopedic surgeon. He will look at my leg and in some way or other (MRI? jiggling the bones?) determine whether or not I have popped the ligaments, and whether or not I'll need surgery.
There is nothing I can do to affect this, so I've decided not to fuss. At least it's good odds that I'll have the immobilizer off and be able to stand on me own two feet, with or without a knee brace. And surgery or not, there will be physiotherapy. Which I'm told hurts--but perhaps from the arthritis I have learned not to mind pain so much when I know it isn't warning pain, just my-body-out-to-get-me pain. Removing the fear of further damage made a huge difference to how I dealt with the arthritis pain.
Ah, this is making me sound all brave and stuff, so I should acknowledge that I have next to no arthritis pain, and that the pain from the knee has been minimal, which are good things because I'm not brave at all about pain.

I was going to brighten this entry up with some pictures of roses, but for some reason the uploader isn't letting me choose any. I'll try again later.

Monday, June 18, 2012

mild excitement

I'm trying out half-days at work, so far going reasonably well. With the aid of a Restricted Area Permit, Mark drops me off at the mailroom door (no long crutch-journey over slippery tile floor, yay!) and I wait for someone to let me into the freight elevator, which takes me to just outside Tech Services. Then I scooch my leg under the desk to rest on a low-as-it-goes wheelie-chair, and I sit on a non-wheelie-chair.
Working only 4 hours, I have not yet had the grand experiment of using the office washroom, and having to decide whether the handicapped or non-handicapped stall is the better choice.

Well, today, only a few minutes after I'd got settled, the fire alarm went.
A brief pause while everyone waits to hear whether it's 'someone went out the wrong door' type of alarm, or 'someone hit the wrong button' alarm. The first kind has a far more annoying noise but is usually shut off faster. This time it was a steady BRRRRINNNG BRRRRINNNG, so we must evacuate for safety's sake.
Evacuation, of course, is done down the fire exit, a wide concrete staircase.
Have I mentioned that I still require a spotter to go up or down the three steps to the garden?
So I opt for the Refuge Area, designated by a blue sign on the wall with a the Handicapped wheelchair logo. Kathy kindly has someone haul up the chair from the landing below so I don't have to prop myself against the wall. Kathy and Sherry promise to inform responsible people of my location and to send me a couple of hunky firemen. I sit down and fire up the Kobo ereader so I can ignore the brrrrinnng brrrrinnng.
Note: If I had believed this to be a real fire, I would have grabbed someone and had them spot me down the two flights of stairs. But I was betting this to be another accidental alarm, which we have rather often.
I am still reading an Agatha Christie short story when, yes, a handsome young fireman pops his head in and asks if I'm okay, and would I rather wait where I am. On being told yes, he goes back out and reports that he has located 'the girl with crutches' (I'm a girl? I feel so young!).
Shortly after that, he and another fireman, both sufficiently hunky for my requirements, let me know that I can be the first one back inside, and we chat briefly about sports injuries and crutches and the concept of 'Stupid Time' (credit: Mark Shier).

The rest of the day was uneventful. I had a nap from about 2 pm to about 5 pm, but I can't blame that on the excitement, since I had a similar nap on Sunday (11 am to 3 pm?) when nothing at all had happened. I was a bit disappointed, since I'd gone most of a week without an afternoon nap and thought I was past that stage.

Social Life:  Besides our regular Thursday night dinners, I've had visits from Peter and Laura, with all the younger kids; from Michael and Susan Walsh; from Kellii; from Stephen and Judy; and dinners with Joan with Rowan and Tess and with MC. So I'm not pining away in solitude, even though I can't really get out to see anyone.

Writing:  It's a bit of a relief to be rearranging and revising instead of writing from outline.  I'm mucking about with Storyline One of Cost of Silver, making it less episodic by bringing some of the later story threads in earlier.
The trouble with this, though, is that I've worked hard to show the passage of seasons and to root scenes in the ongoing rural tasks. So you might have the constable trying to recruit soldiers while the harvest is going on and farmers desperately need reapers, for instance.
Which means that when I have to move a scene to another part of the year, I have to change all those clever little seasonal touches. Which is a grand pain. Right now I'm agonising over moving a scene which has to take place in the spring to the year before. Which means rewriting a nice little bit of scene-setting in another sequence which would clearly take place in the summer. Which one to change? Argh.

Garden:  I'm sad that I can't get out and do any weeding or planting or digging or anything. Mark has been wonderful about taking photos (they're up on my Facebook page) of the roses as they come out, but it's still frustrating. We've been trying to figure out where to plant my new Abraham Darby rose so that it will get sun (damn you, city tree!), and it will probably involve moving a big stack of bricks, which I feel rather guilty about foisting on Mark.
Here's one of the flowers, cut and scenting the kitchen table.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

and so on

No great changes. I'm still sleeping downstairs, the upstairs windows haven't come back yet, my leg is still in an immobilizer and I'm still crutching to and from the bathroom. The cat still thinks this is the best thing ever, unless the sun is out and she'd rather sleep in the straw-bedded garden.

I managed, by cunning use of gravity, to bend my leg nearly 90 degrees--hanging it over the edge of the bed. No further than that, though I've been gently bending and straightening each day. I've continued with weights and leg-lifts, but haven't increased my reps or anything. Calf is still flabby but the swelling around the knee has gone down a fair bit.

And after a lot of angsting about crutches and fear of falling, I'm going to try a half-day at work tomorrow morning. My supervisor has been great, finding me a non-wheeled chair so I can get up and down safely, and a footrest, and arranging for me to get in through the mailroom and service elevator so I don't have to crutch all over heck and gone. She also said I shouldn't fixate on doing a half-day but just see how I hold up with crutches and stop as soon as I'm tired.

So we'll see how tired I am tomorrow. My energy levels are still unpredictable.

Writing:  The best thing about getting started with the interweaving of Storyline Two and Storyline One is that I get to revise Storyline One. I like revising, in part because it means working with something that's already written and just needs fixing.
Whether I'll still feel happy about this when I hit the Great Big Revision parts (like peeling out the reusable bits of one war and filling them in with the appropriate historical detail of another war altogether? Not sure.
However, I am telling myself to Not Worry whether the two storylines resonate or echo each other yet. That can wait. For now, just get them sliced and interleaved in rough proportion.

Oh, and I sent my application in for the 3-Day Novel Contest. Somewhat later than usual, because I dithered about whether I should go to WorldCon instead. But that would be expensive travel, hotel, and so on, and the 3-Day is only $50 plus some measure of sanity. And sanity is overrated, right?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

TMI about bruising

Leg latest: I am now permitted to unvelcro the immobilizer briefly and gently bend my knee. The first thing I did was wash my leg. Mmmm, warm water, soap. Mmmm. Not that the leg was grubby or itchy or anything, since the immobilizer breathes quite well, nothing like a cast. But it was good to be clean. It will be some weeks before immersion is possible, or showers, so I'm making the most of the pleasures of the sponge bath. (Wash down as far as possible, then wash up as far as possible, then wash possible.)

The bruises are now yellow and purple, with a particularly vivid saffron and deep rich purple on the back of the thigh, really quite beautiful. (I wonder if it could be tattooed?) The outside of my knee is more drab, with a speckled stripe of brown-purple and green-yellow.
The thigh and calf look almost normal, though the calf is flabby (uck!) and I'm looking for some isometric exercises for it. There's a band of swelling across the knee, so the kneecap is utterly without knobbiness. And the knee is very stiff. I managed a slight bend on Monday, and about a degree more today. I'm hoping it progresses through the week. I tried a cold pack while bending, and that seemed to help.
 Taken the next day - a bit faded, but look at that yellow.

Recent big achievements include figuring out how to lie down on my other side, and going up and down our front and back steps with Mark acting as spotter instead of hoister. 

Other than that, I keep thinking I've got my energy back (after all, I'm not in actual pain), then having to nap for 3 or 4 hours. It's difficult to judge, because I feel quite lively until I fall asleep. Mark has been a hero, bringing me washing water and tea, changing the bed, and nagging me to write. Plus keeping up with his orders, casting more pieces, cooking, washing dishes, and defrosting the fridge (a job both of us put off until the glacier knocks in the cupboard.)

Last week men came and took away two of our upstairs windows to be disassembled, repaired, and returned in about two weeks. So my writing room and Mark's office are without natural light, and much of the furniture has been moved into our bedroom, which was already crowded with my books that have overflowed the available shelving. On the whole, this is probably a good time for me to be confined to downstairs.

Writing is slow but steady. I'm near the point where I should start integrating Storyline Two into Storyline One, which means also majorly revising the timeline of Storyline One. On the one hand, that's going to be a lot of to-and-froing, and on the other hand it will be reworking stuff I've already written, which will be a nice change from actual writing.

Problems one doesn't think of ahead of time: Having (realistically for a modern setting) created an ethnically diverse cast, how do I kill anyone off without falling into 'Black Guy Dies First' or similar? I may have to write in a disposable default character. Sigh.
Oh, yeah - TV Tropes warning for above link!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Ray Bradbury dreams

I dreamt of walking through a small old house, one-storey, with a narrow veranda on the front, and a narrow porch (stoop?) on the back. When one walked out onto the porch, the outdoors were of another world, an empty small town on a hillside, the distance fading to grey mist. I explored some of the buildings and houses, which were all empty of people and mostly of furniture. No signs of hasty departure, more as if everyone had moved away. The houses were wood-frame, one or two storeys, with scruffy lawns and neglected gardens. Garages held rowboats and ladders and bicycles, no cars.
Other people could pass through to this world in the same way, and various people I knew began to move in to this empty town and world. They set up artist's studios in the houses and garages. One woman's elderly cat took on new energy and kittenishness and would dance back and forth on the cushion it had only slept on before. No clue was found of why the town was empty, or whether there were any people anywhere else.
Enough people moved into the town that it became necessary to hold townhall meetings and make decisions. One was whether to keep up contact with the original world, perhaps even recruit more to move, or just lock the door. Another was whether a substantial religious minority could leave and set up their own settlement in another town (assuming such existed). The minority group was mostly young single people, while the others were older women or young mothers and children, who were worried that spreading out might draw attention or bring calamity.
The debate was getting heated when I drifted into yet another dream about walking without the immobilizer and messing up my knee. Damn.

Recent big achievements:  with Mark as my spotter, went up and down the front and back steps on crutches instead of being hoisted. One nasty teetery moment. Important things to remember are 1) foot up first, crutch down first, and 2) step not swing.
Also, was able to  lie on my other side. Yay!

I'm getting better with the crutches, but it is frustrating that I can't carry anything while walking, and that I can't stand up reliably. Those are not skills I'm going to acquire, either, they're factors of not being able to put weight on both feet.
The upside is that my foot isn't confined in a cast, and I can move it freely and keep it clean. So I can't really gripe that much.
I can do 3 sets of 15 leg-lifts (good leg only), chest flies and curls with the 10 lb weights. My crunches are slipping, perhaps because it's difficult to do them on a soft sagging bed. I managed two sets of 30 in the first week, but now can't get past 20 for the first set, then down to 10s. Still, even that keeps me from the muscle twitches at night, which is the main thing.

Also able to sit up and write for over an hour now. I'm going back and forth in Storyline Two, adding in folkloric uneasiness, to make up for the vampires not appearing fully until the last part. I want to suggest that the restoration of the fenlands is strengthening the supernatural side as well as the natural. 
And that aerial photo from the Cambridge Quaternary Group is going to feature with symbolic value.  Look! All the old tangled waterways are still there, under the orderly gridmarks of fields.