Less of Me: Week Four

Gimpy the Foot.

Less of Me is going to be a little unusual for a while.

There may be a blessing in this unusualness, since I’m being forced to search for ways to live healthy in a wheelchair. I know I’m not the only person who needs this information and if I figure out anything useful, I’m going to share. 

If you’ve followed this series, you know that I resolved to do more exercise and get healthy and promptly fell down and broke my foot and cracked my hip.

The first week was kind of lousy. But this week the pain backed off and I began to feel golden. I hefted myself up, kicked the wheelchair aside with my good foot and reached for the walker.

Now there are probably those among you who associate walkers with feeble, slow-pokey type locomoting. But you’ve got it all wrong. If you doubt that, I challenge you to spend a week or so trapped in the bottom floor of a two-story house in a wheelchair. Kicking that wheelchair aside was powerful.

I clomped around the house with the walker. I even went into the kitchen, whose entry is too narrow for the wheel chair. I was like a step-clomp-step-clomp bird let out of her cage. When my husband came home from work, I persuaded him to take me for a drive and I step-clomped my way to the car.

There is no Olympic Gold Medalist who is any happier with their athletic achievements than I was with that step-clomp walk to the car. I came home and started planning my new life of freedom.

The next day, I got up and noticed that the hardware in Gimpy the Foot was sticking up. It made an ugly bulge through the bandages. Didn’t hurt. Or at least not much. (I quit taking pain meds so I would know if I was hurting Gimpy when I used the walker.) But it wasn’t where it had been.

I called the doc and he said go to the er. Said they had my old x-rays, could take new ones and see what I’d done to myself. I didn’t do that. I just didn’t want to spend another half-day in the er. I think I also didn’t want to hear any bad news. I’ve got Gimpy propped up and am waiting for my doc’s appointment Tuesday. And I’m back in the wheelchair.

If I moved that hardware and they have to do anything over, I’m …. well, I’m gonna do it over. But, boy, I don’t want to.

The question remains: How does anybody get healthy in a wheelchair? Frankly, if I was going to do this permanently, the first thing I would do is get rid of this house. No more two-story. No more narrow doorways. No more high cabinets and steps up the front porch. (You haven’t lived until you’ve had your son and husband lift your overweight self, in your wheel chair, up the front steps just a few hours after surgery. It’s the scariest ride in town.)

I can tell you that the men I live with don’t cook. They also don’t like healthy take-out. They like junk food. I am scared to think how much weight I’m gaining, sitting here with Gimpy propped up and swilling down the junk.

I’ve started doing some upper body workouts that a reader (Thank you Theresa!) linked for me. They work great in a wheelchair. I’m also going to peruse Amazon for a wheelchair workout cd.

I’m going to send one of my girlfriends out with a list of things that I can eat that aren’t junk food. I’m sending a girlfriend because, if I sent my husband, I wouldn’t get any food. It wouldn’t matter how meticulously I wrote the list. It wouldn’t matter if I sat down and went over it with him before he left. He’d still come back with ice cream, chocolate bars, dip, chips, four liters of soda, and a fire starter for the charcoaler.

After thirty years of marriage, I know these things.

Whatever I ask my friend to buy for me, it’s got to be something I can prepare without going into the kitchen. That’s where you come in.

I’m not much of a domestic goddess, even when I have both my feet. How do I do this with a microwave and a refrigerator?

I’m calling on all you cooks out there for ideas. Send me good ones. If the doc says I’m stuck in this wheelchair for the duration, I’ve got to figure out how to do the wheelchair thing in health.

Less of Me: The Diet, Week Three

Gimpy the Foot

I skipped posting about The Diet last week. The only thing I could’ve said was “Ouch!”

I took a fall about a week ago. Broke my foot. Had surgery. Now, I’m wheelchair-bound for 8 or 9 weeks and then back to surgery. After that, it’s rehab for me and my gimpy foot. The doc says it will be about 5 months before my battered foot and I are healed and fully well again.

Nothing I had planned in terms of bettering my health — except, possibly, getting 8 hours sleep — seems do-able right now.

I never knew how much I liked my feet until I lost the use of one of them. They were just sort of there, at the end of my legs, doing their job. I didn’t think they were beautiful, but now I know that two uncomplaining feet are among the most beautiful things in the world.  I am a newly minted feet fan. Two of them. In working order. That’s better than chocolate.

I honestly think that if I wasn’t so overweight I might not have injured myself so badly. That’s my theory at least. My husband said, “How did you smash it like that?” and I told him, “I guess I dropped my whole weight on it.”

The nurse at the hospital told me to stop doing that to myself, that things just happen. Said it as they were wheeling me into surgery, “Honey you stop doin’ that to yourself. Things just happen. Don’t tell yourself stuff like that.”

That was nice of her, but I still think that the amount of weight your bring down on your bones is bound to affect how much torque you put them through. Just guessing. But it does seem logical.

I’m not talking about beating myself up here. If my love affair with junk food and the resulting heft I brought to the fall made the injury worse, then I’m the one who’s paying the price. My overeating. My injury. My payment.

But I have come to the conclusion that this is a price I don’t want to pay again. There’s no doubt that my weight has made things tougher on my husband and kids as they’ve had to shove my wheelchair around. I also know that it makes it harder for me to paddle along with the wheelchair myself.

All this gives seeing Less of Me a whole other level of incentive.

There are real limits to what I can do now. My first job is to take care of my sore baby and get well enough to be more active. But I’m already thinking ahead to the days when I’m quasi mobile and can at least do some things.

We have a women’s health spa/workout place not far from our house called Mademoiselle Ladies Fitness. They have the full set up of weight machines, ellipticals, bikes and pool. But what I’m aiming for at first are the passive work-out tables. I have a friend who used these a few years ago because her condition wouldn’t allow her to do the more strenuous things and she says they actually do work.

The set up looks like this:

The exercises you can do with them look like this:

 

Whaddaya think? Would this work with Gimpy the Foot?

I also cracked my hip bone. Even though it is going to heal on its own with no intervention, it’s still sore. Maybe I should say, Gimpy the Leg. I dunno. All I know is that this little event has made me realize what a wonderful thing a healthy, pain-free body is. It’s also brought home how very fortunate I am that I don’t have diabetes to complicate all this, and how much I don’t want to spend any more days at the hospital being a patient.

How do I work toward the goal of a healthier me from this wheelchair? 

Ideas? Thoughts? And a little encouragement, please. Tell me what you think. 

 

First Day of the Year of Faith and I’ve Swiped My Mother’s Wheel Chair

Today is the first day of the Year of Faith.

I began this auspicious year by swiping my 87-year-old mother’s wheel chair.

It all started when I ran out of Diet Coke. I was eating lunch. I drained my glass of Diet Coke. So, I picked up the empty Coke can and a bag of chips I wanted to put away and a glass I wanted to fill with more ice and a couple of other things I can’t remember now. I planned to get another can of Coke and come back to finish my lunch.

I stepped out onto the perilous carpet of my house. And my foot slid. I turned one ankle, tried to right myself, turned the other ankle and went down. Hard. I went down hard.

Chips were everywhere. It looked like a chip snowfall. But my major problem was my left foot. The top of it was all dented in and looking weird … and it hurt. It hurt enough that for the first time I kind of understood those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials.

I crawled — literally — to the refrigerator, opened the freezer door (we have a side-by-side fridge) and pulled out some of those freezer dealies you put in your lunch bag to keep your food cold. I put those on the foot and the pain moved back a bit.

Then, I called my husband. “I broke my foot,” I said. “You’ve got to come home and drive me to the hospital.”

And that is how I came to swipe my mother’s wheel chair.

I have two broken bones in my foot that are split and moved all over from where they should be. The hospital put me in a sort of cast and scheduled me for surgery for next Monday. Then they sent me home with pain pills and a dire warning not to stand on, bang or even jar my foot for fear of moving the bones further out of place and making my injuries worse.

Neato.

I’m sleeping on the sofa (Two-story house; can’t get upstairs) and paddling around with my mother’s wheelchair. It’s not all that bad, unless I move the foot the wrong way, which I’ve learned NOT to do. Me and the ice pack? We’re best buds.

So what does this have to do with the Year of Faith?

Just this: I went to a Catholic hospital built by nuns in the last century to provide health care for anyone who needed it. This hospital has the distinction of not turning people away because they can’t pay for care. I’ve counseled women who were abortion-minded, and part of the reason was a fear of the costs of the medical care involved in having the baby. This hospital provided them with free care.

I remember a few years ago, doing an intake for a woman who had come in, wanting free medical care for her pregnancy. This woman had a rough past and was a confirmed, out-spoken, Catholic hater. The whole time I was filling out the forms and setting her up for free medical care from a Catholic hospital, she was railing at me about the Church. She threw off insults with every breath.

I didn’t rail back at her. I just filled out the forms and sent her along to have her baby with the care and love of a Church that she despises.

I’m talking about my Church; the Catholic Church. The Church that has built hospitals, schools, runs charities and helps people all over the world. In my work as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, I help a lot of desperate people. Oftentimes, the government has no agency or program that can help them. They just fall through the cracks. These are often the most needy people I see.

My first call when that happens is to the Catholic Church, to one of the many programs, agencies, charities the Church runs for people like these.

If I need shelter for a homeless woman, the Church will take her in. If I need to find medical care for the working poor, the Church is there. If some destitute soul needs free legal help, the Church can help. Counseling? Go to the Church.

That, my friends, is faith with legs. (No pun intended.)  It is faith that talks louder than words, that means more than good wishes. Look around you. Look at the universities, hospitals, charities; all built by the hands of Catholics, living their faith.

This is the first day of the Year of Faith. I got a good lesson in living faith yesterday by way of excellent medical care that was given to me by people who also took the time to explain, be gentle and go the extra mile to make things easier for me.

For that I thank them and the many generations of Catholics who went before them and made these things possible.

I am sitting here in my living room, propped up like the Lady of the Manor on my recliner with my ice packs, my laptop, ipad, cell phone, Kindle, pain pills and a thermos of ice water.  I have a remote on the chair arm and a big screen tv awaits my signal to start entertaining me. If you’ve gotta have a broken foot, this is how to do it.

I’m also relaxed. I know I have good doctors. But more importantly, I know that I am, as always, in God’s hands. There’s nothing to fear when you’re on the Jesus, Joseph and Mary team. Whatever happens, be it good or bad, I am safe in His plan.

Make the most of this Year of Faith, my friends. Grow in grace.


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