As is our usual morning routine, Abby was cycling ahead on the footpath, leading Hugo who was scampering alongside. I was cycling behind so I could take him back home when we all got to school. I steered around a pedestrian, the wheel went into a little ditch, and the rest is history.
A man who was working on the house across the street came and helped get me back home. I could step ever so lightly on my foot and hobbled into the lounge. The phone rang and it was Nancy, wondering if I wasn’t supposed to be at her house sipping a coffee. She came over right away and spent the day she was meaning to spend working on her illustrations taking me to the doctor and then getting seen at the hospital.
The doctors were optimistic that it was only a sprain because I’d been able to step on my injured foot and because the swelling was limited to one side. After the x-rays, the orthopaedic resident came in and said “You’ve tricked us.” Not the kind of trick I’d intended to play.
So, there it is: a break in the fibula. One little moment and a projected six weeks in a cast. No walking, no driving. I’d rung Simon who was in Sydney to let him know what had happened. He offered to come back a day early but at the time I couldn’t see why he should. I rang later to ask him to come home when I realised the extent of my incapacity.
So it’s over to you, Simon. It’s been Simon doing the shopping. Simon doing the cooking. Simon not doing the cleaning instead of me not doing the cleaning, because there’s only so much even Simon can manage, while working every day. Abby has also risen to the occasion. She is cycling herself to school and to b’nei mitzvah class, helps with the cooking and washing up, as well as her usual vacuuming.
Hugo has probably copped the worst deal. I throw the balls for him when I manage to get down the steps to the courtyard, and Abby takes him for walks a few times a week. We take him out when we’re all together on weekends, but he really deserves more. And he lets us know by poking his head into the room with the ball in his mouth.
Two weeks down the track, I’m more confident with my crutches. I can hobble more quickly from the lounge, where I’m set up on the couch with my laptop, to the kitchen. I now navigate steps more easily although I still find it really scary: I understand that the crutches go first when I descend them, and second when I ascend them. I use the metal surround to sit on the toilet. I use the plastic seat to take a shower, and I get Simon to lower the shower head. We move the seat back in front of the sink so I can brush my teeth, put on deodorant, pop my calcium, pluck my wiry chin hairs, and anything else. He wraps my foot in a plastic bag and tapes it securely when I need to take a shower, which, apologies to those around me, I do less than when I’m more able-bodied. Simon fills a thermos with hot water before he leaves for work, and makes sure the stool is on the side of the counter near the sink and the stove. I’m so grateful I have them both to help me.
But, wow. It takes such a lot of work to do anything. I plan every move: Anytime I get up, I make sure there’s nothing on the floor to trip me up. If I’m going to the kitchen to make a coffee, I make sure to bring my little backpack that holds my phone so I don’t have to rush with my crutches to answer it, or miss the call (I’m isolated enough). I make sure I have my cup with a lid. I’ve also found our wine bottle carrier perfect for carrying the cup to the lounge because it has enough structure to hold it upright. I’ve read that the point of learning things well enough that they become habits is so that we don’t have to think about every single thing we’re doing. Because having to do that is exhausting. How much I take for granted, and how I long to do that again!
It’s back to the hospital tomorrow for new x-rays and a review, perhaps a new cast.
I said to my lifelong friend Abby today “Another setback.” She said, “Set back? Where are you going?” That’s my mate, Abby.