After a medical leave of over two months I am back working full-time and I am finding it a challenge.
Every person has challenges one way or another. Dealing with a daily routine while holding down a job and having a personal life is normally a juggling act; add a physical illness or injury to that mix and coping becomes more complicated.
I never quite realized just how tired I would get from the simplest things, such as making sure I have enough clean clothes, allowing enough time to get to work and making sure I do the absolute basics of eating and drinking regularly.
My ankle rehab is going really well and yet it is very frustrating how slowly I get around and how gimpy I still feel. Yes, I am walking but I am walking like a drunk sailor on shore leave. It takes an extra 10 minutes to get to my bus stop and it is so frustrating to see the bus zoom down the hill and know that even though I am halfway there, there is no way I can catch that bus.
I am learning that I cannot rush and that I must be patient with myself. Most of the time, however, I feel like screaming. Even though I can work on a cooking project that has 27 steps or an art project that may have to be redone nine times over, my patience with trying to get from Point A to Point B or doing any task that was simple pre-injury seems to have evaporated.
Getting to work is problematic. Taxis are prohibitively expensive and hard to find. I try to take the bus when I can but I have to sit in the senior and handicapped seats . So far everyone has been really nice most of the time about giving me a seat during the busy commute time. I live in dread fear that someone is going to kick my foot at they stagger around and scramble for balance as the busses lurch around, like yesterday. It was really painful and the woman who kicked me did not apologize even though I yelled out. Some passengers rush around me as I am getting on or exiting the busses and I worry about someone knocking me over as I have very limited balance. It is very scary.
I also worry about being mugged or knocked over on the street. Yesterday a homeless man wearing a pink sleeping bag crossed the street and ran a circle around me, literally, and then ran away. It was bizarre, typical for the city, and it heighted my anxiety about feeling vulnerable physically as I heal. I run various scenarios through my head as I am out of my apartment or the office, like a waking nightmare, what if someone does this, or what if that happens. Basically I worry a lot, which is not really good but completely understandable, I don’t like this way of feeling though and want this to change.
It is wonderful to be mobile again, despite the temporary limitations. Upping my level of activity from zero (not being allowed to put any weight on my foot or move it at all for 6 weeks) to being more mobile (limping around the office all day and commuting) has mandated that I be vigilant in my habits.
It takes work to remember the basic self care. I must:
- Be in bed no later than 10 pm
- Allow an extra 45 minutes each morning to get ready for work, this includes the 10 minutes I spend doing ankle Olympics to get ready to get out of bed
- Eat breakfast first thing while at work, as there is no time for this at home
- Take frequent breaks to move my ankle during the day, every hour at the minimum
- Eat a hearty lunch to fuel me for the day’s exertion
- Keep my foot elevated and ice as much as possible while at work, and as soon as I get home
- Drink enough water throughout the day
- Remember to comb my hair and put on lipstick! I am a visible figure at work and must always look polished
- Remember to S M I L E (for those who know, remember the PTA smile?)
- Keep in mind that forward progress can be small, almost imperceptible at times, but still there is progress
- Not feel discouraged about how tired and sore I am
- Be brave – next year at this time it will all be a distant memory
Just reading this lists of “musts” and “should do’s” makes me tired. How do you cope when you are tired of coping? What do you do to refuel your energy?