Monday, January 24, 2011

It's my pity party and I'll cry if I want to

Exactly seven days ago, I was complaining about how difficult it was to get around with what I'm assuming is going to be a 32-pound newborn and a pulled groin muscle.

Then I fell down the stairs.

The overwhelming first response that everyone has is "Oh my gosh, is the baby alright?" I know I've been a vessel for the past 35 weeks, but never is it more apparent than after an injury. When I respond positively, the matter is seemingly resolved. Nevermind that I required an emergency room visit for myself and am completely unable to care for my daughter, get up a flight of stairs or even shower.

Growing frustrations aside, that, of course, was my first concern, too. In hindsight, it may have been what caused my primary injury. My overwhelming instinct to protect my midsection led me to fall in such a way that contorted my leg. I felt my right heel graze and miss the step, and as I fell, I used all of my strength to grab onto the handrail and wall to prevent myself from going down belly-first.

My right leg ended up bent behind me, and I landed with all of my weight on my ankle over and over again as I bumped down the remaining steps until my other foot hit the floor and stopped the momentum.

It's amazing how much clarity you have after an injury like that -- even at 3 a.m. on only a few hours of very uncomfortable sleep. I'm sure it's the body's natural surge of adrenalin, but I had enough coherence to mentally assess myself and know that the baby was fine before the pain took over.

Fortunately Jerry heard the fall. In any other circumstance, he could without exaggeration sleep through a parade marching through our bedroom. But, as he put it, "The thump woke me up."

Normally I resist seeking medical attention at all cost. My skin could be melting off my face and I'd be holding my lips together long enough to get out the words, "Lets give it a day or two and see if it improves."

But after Jerry helped me limp to the couch in tears and I saw the shape of my ankle, I immediately agreed to go to the hospital with a secondary ulterior motive of demanding an ultrasound if nothing more than for peace of mind.

After my mother-in-law arrived to be there for Allison when she woke up, we made our way to the emergency room in the dark. It wasn't exactly the trip to the hospital that we had been planning on. Strangely, I found myself wishing I was in a completely different type of pain.

The difficulty that my pregnancy posed was immediately obvious. The receptionist didn't know whether to send me to the maternity ward upstairs or admit me into emergency. Ultimiately the maternity staff said they weren't capable of dealing with an ankle injury and agreed to send someone down to run some tests once I was in a room.

Next came the X-ray talk, which left me in tears. Again. Normally it wouldn't be a question. Ankle injuries are apparently very tricky and almost impossible to diagnose without them. But they're also a risk to the fetus because it could lead to increased risk of cancer later in life, which immediately had me shaking my head and refusing to cooperate.

The physician's assistant didn't seemed to be surprised by my response and added that I could always give it a few days and call an orthopedic surgeon if things regressed.

When I asked for a rundown of the worst-case scenario, she said a very bad sprain or break would require surgery in which they would induce labor because I'm almost full-term, allow me to deliver then immediately move me into an operating room to cut open my ankle.

Lets just say I wish I hadn't asked that question.

Nurses came and went with ice packs and orange juice in hopes of getting the baby moving. Another woman wheeled in a computer to record all of my medical coverage information. And eventually a nurse from maternity found a strong fetal heart rate after struggling amidst a wildly warping belly.

When the doctor arrived, she took the ice pack off, gasped and said, "You're getting an X-ray" all in the matter of seconds. When I started to protest, she added, "I have two kids, I completely understand your hesitation, but if your baby was born prematurely right now they'd do an X-ray directly on its chest to see how developed the lungs are."

She continued to explain that the low dose of radiation used for an ankle isn't likely to even be an issue, especially considering it's on the part of my body that's furthest away from my torso.

I conceeded. And requested five of those heavy protective aprons but was happy when I was given two.

The diagnosis was a bad sprain, and at the time I felt a great sense of relief. But after a week of complete inability to put any weight on my right foot at all, zero progress and being confined to a couch when I have about a million things I should be doing ... I'm having second thoughts.

All of the research I've done online leads me to the conclusion that clean breaks heal much more quickly. Stage-three sprains can take up to six weeks to moderately heal (which takes me exactly to my due date) and up to a year or more to fully heal.

Even typing that makes me angry. I'm so mad. I'm mad at myself for not staying in bed. I'm mad at myself for not being able to care for my daughter. I'm mad at myself for causing such an inconvenience to the rest of my family.

I've been on the couch for seven days. Seven entire days. I use crutches to get to the bathroom and back, which even this morning left me in tears from the pain that shoots up my leg and stops mid-calf. And that's from doing nothing. Just holding my foot in the air behind me and lightly resting it on the floor for a few seconds so I can go to the bathroom and hobble my way back to the couch.

The swelling is still pretty ugly even though it has improved a little. The brusing is yellowing, which is about the only positive sign I have at this point. Everything else has me down today. I tried pouring myself a glass of orange juice while Jerry was getting ready for work and ended up sobbing because I couldn't find a way to carry it in my teeth back to the couch.

I hate that I've had to cancel all of my portrait sessions. I hate that I can't get Toby food when he's looking at me and whining to eat. I hate that I have to "take it easy." I hate relying on everyone else for everything.

I just want to go back to waddling around. Desperately.


The Plainsman said...

Dear Desperately,

Yikes! This certainly puts my 3 week "double mother of all colds" and a visit to the docs with a 103.5 temp last week into perspective.

First, obviously glad that "Steeler" Bubba you are carrying is fine and also happy that you were not more seriously injured than you were, bad enough as it was/is!

I agree with you about your reticence about the x-ray, but the later doc's analysis was sound and the distance of the ankle from Bubba also a highly positive factor. Those heavy blankets are indeed a comfort, too. They work.

I can really sense your frustration with the inability to function as you would like to, but the healing simply takes time, just ask some of Bubba's future teammates!

No one really likes having to depend on others so, especially those do so much for themselves and others. But for now, it is the route to getting better, and six, or five weeks to moderate mobility isn't really that long away...

Besides, the first and toughest week is past. Really it is!


Kristy said...

I'm sorry. I've been that pregnant and I've had that kind of sprain before (not while pregnant) and I'm sure it's absolutely miserable. I hope you find you heal more quickly than you anticipate. Best wishes!

Chelsea said...

I just had the same thing happen to me (minus the pregnant part) in my dorm. I got to get carried out by EMTs in front of everyone ha ha.

Anyways, mine only lasted 10-15 days. I'm sure you already know to elevate and ice. They add the 6 weeks because every once in a while you'll get a slight discomfort but you can still walk. This happened to me in November and if I move my ankle weird I quickly remember what happened but nothing like that earlier pain!

ACE bandages also do magic since they compress the area!

Good luck and feel better!! <3

Erica said...

I will echo The Plainsman's thoughts in that I'm glad your okay and really sorry to hear that your not okay (If that makes sense?) I sprained my ankle pretty nasty when I was younger and had to wear an air cast for 6 weeks. However I didn't have anyone depending on me at the time so I can't even imagine how frustrating this whole situation might be. While it may feel awful, the better you take care of yourself now the quicker you'll be able to get back to doing what you love and doing what you want to do for your family. That's probably not helpful in that I'm sure you know this, so I guess all I should really leave you with is that I hope you heal quickly, and you'll be in all of our thoughts as you try to heal up and get closer to meeting your new child!

Kristin said...

Ahh, man :/
There are always obstacles in life, though. I know it's frustrating now, but your ankle will get better and everything will be fine(:

Nikki said...

Oh no! That is so horrible! One of my biggest fears with the pregnancy was having to go on bedrest. The idea of leaving my husband to fend for himself gave me hives. It's very silly really because he is completely capable of surviving without me there to feed him. I cannot even imagine what it's like having "bedrest" while in severe pain with a daughter.

I can only begin to understand the frustration you are feeling. I hope that you heal well and this doesn't add to your labor pains!!!

Anonymous said...

I think all your feelings are what any of us would feel. That totally stinks-wish there was something I could do for you. Just think though in a few weeks you'll be holding your little bundle of joy and all this pain will seem not so bad. Take care!


Catriona said...

Oh no Kelly! I hope you and "Bubba" are up and in fighting shape in no time!