Rehab has taught me that I really don’t like pain! I wish I could report that I am a tough guy; that I can happily take a beating and then ask for more. Alas, that’s not me. I’ve always considered the downside of stupid stunts and, with a few notable lapses of judgement, managed to avoid the self-inflicted injuries of my peers.
I’ve been more of, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” than a, “no pain no gain,” guy. Most of the time this is sensible but when you are going through rehab the opposite holds. When your torturers, (therapists), insist on bending your broken body this way and that way, over and over again, I can assure you it’s not pain-free.
Of course there is an upside. You do improve and things get better. Today I “walked” twenty-five meters in my braces using a walker. It was a post accident record. Every day the distance and time will increase and in no time I hope to be hiking again. Walking: it’s not overrated.
It’s coming up on three weeks since I fell and ripped my quadriceps. I am now cleared for passive, gravity assisted, flexing of my knees. This morning I managed a seventy-five degree bend. I would like to reach a full ninety degrees before the end of the week. I suspect my days of greater than ninety degrees are done. The next step is to get up in a walker. I hope this is sooner rather than later. Moving my butt from bed to wheelchair and back is wearing thin. I honestly don’t know how some of the elderly residents here stand it. Unlike myself many of them will be in wheelchairs until they die. Getting old isn’t for pussies!
I’m not the only one “suffering” from my freaky fall. My poor wife is working hard bringing me meals, (hospital food did not impress her) and pitching in with everyday invalid care. She really is the best wife in the world.
I wish I could say the same about my insurance companies. Today we mailed my application for short-term disability. I will qualify; mine is a classic total temporary disability. They cannot deny coverage without facing a slam-dunk lawsuit but they will be able to impose inflexible rules.
For example, when I am on disability I cannot work and if I work, even a few hours per day, I cannot collect disability. If I had Wi-Fi and my office laptop I could put in a few remote hours even now but I cannot manage a full schedule. I expect I will end up putting in unpaid remote hours unless that is also forbidden. I cannot be out of circulation for long or my little walk in the park might end in unemployment.
I have been in the rehab/old-folks home for eight days: long enough to adjust to the routine. It’s amazing how quickly we get on with a new normal. This doesn’t mean I am comfortable or thrilled with my circumstances. I have a list of invalid annoyances.
Let’s do this from least to most annoying.
- Call bells that ring for hours on end.
- Marginal cable package: cripples don’t need HBO.
- Late night nurse chats; I had forgotten about noisy hospitals.
- Butt-plugging food. They have been trying to give me stool softeners since my arrival. If my wife wasn’t bringing food I would need them.
- Locked courtyards. It’s winter and the courtyards are locked to protect the elderly. This should be a weather dependent rather than seasonal policy.
- Inability to put on my socks.
- Unable to get in or out of my wheelchair without assistance.
- Cannot shower or bathe until my cuts heal
- Peeing into a plastic bottle.
- And the number one annoyance: cannot wipe my ass. I suspect my nurses concur.
Last week I fell in Faust park and tore the quadriceps muscles above both knees. Right now I am in a skilled nursing home waiting for a change in my “weight-bearing” status. For the time being I cannot stand or even bend my knees. An outing consists of being helped into a wheelchair and rolling around the halls.
The nursing home lacks Internet access so my wife, to cheer me up, got me an iPhone with a good data plan. The iPhone is an awesome little gadget but it’s not easy to type on it. I am pecking this blog entry in bed one little character at a time. I know I won’t have the energy to revise my iPhone blog entries so you get what I peck.
At noon on February 23, 2011 I decided to get out of the office and take a little walk in nearby Faust Park. What could go wrong? Lots apparently. Faust park is in western St. Louis. It’s distinguished by an absolutely charming butterfly conservatory. The conservatory is a greenhouse that’s maintained at 85F year round. Inside the greenhouse thousands of large iridescent butterflies are flying about, alighting on bowls of fruit, visiting feeders and gently touching blooming flowers. I had never seen so many butterflies in one place. Unlike most bugs butterflies are not annoying. As they flitted about they raised the spirits of everyone in the greenhouse. It was delightful; I could have spent my entire lunch break with the butterflies but I wanted to see the rest of the park.
Leaving the conservatory I walked east to check out some historical buildings on the far eastern side of the park. On the way I looked in the carousel building. It was closed so I proceeded to a small white wooden one room school-house. I stayed on the gravel path as I approached the school. When I arrived I could see the building was locked and it looked like all the adjacent buildings were also locked.
My lunch break was coming to an end so I decided to walk across the park lawn back to the parking lot. I stepped on the grass. It gently sloped away from the path. Nothing seemed dangerous and the footing appeared firm.
It wasn’t. The grass gave way and I fell. I fell straight down on my heels and then pitched forward. As I went down I heard two soft pops in both knees. I ended up facedown with my hands in muddy grass and both of my legs literally bent out of shape. The pain in my thighs was excruciating. I moaned and cursed and then tried to get up. I couldn’t get up! I couldn’t even straighten my legs. I was beginning to feel I was screwed!
Faust Park fall location: 38.666526, -90.540996
I yelled for help but the school building blocked the view of the parking lot and a children’s play area about 100 meters away. I started crawling on what was left of my knees toward the parking lot yelling help, help, help. The ground was cold and muddy and I wasn’t making great headway. Fortunately a fellow named Dennis spotted me from the parking lot. He scooted over and phoned 911. He stayed with me until the 911 ambulance arrived. I didn’t catch Dennis’s last name so if by some remote chance you read this Dennis thanks again. You may have saved my life.
The 911 crew had trouble straightening my legs and dragging me on a wheeled stretcher over the lawn back towards the ambulance. They managed to get me in the ambulance and then drove me to St. Luke’s hospital.
I was triaged, x-rayed and MRI’ed. Around 4:00pm the emergency room doctor told me I had completely severed both quadriceps above my knees. He also said it was extremely rare to injure both legs. Hey I’ve always been an outlier. They admitted me and scheduled surgery early next morning. I’ve had the surgery and I am now sitting in a wheelchair with both legs up. I’m writing this on my wife’s Mac. I am looking at six or more weeks of painful rehab. I will bore you all with more cripple blogs because it takes my mind off the pain.