Monday, March 18, 2013

I Can Walk!

I don't know exactly how to describe how good it feels to walk again. On Friday my orthopedic surgeon said my ankle is healing well and that I could start weight bearing as tolerated as long as I wear  my protective brace. Weight bearing as tolerated means I can put weight on my left foot and ankle as long as it doesn't hurt. My surgeon suggested starting with two crutches for support, and when that felt easy use one crutch in my right hand. She said eventually I would suddenly find myself half way across the room without crutches and then I would realize I don't need them anymore. I'm not sure I really believed her at the time.

On Friday I had to use crutches and it was pretty hard and painful. I felt clumsy and the bottom of my foot felt tingly. Not numb, just pins and needles sensation when I stepped down. I was able to go to the park with my family and sit on a bench in the sunshine while they played. I hadn't been to the park since January, since it is not a wheelchair or scooter accessible area. On Saturday I had to use crutches but I was getting the hang of it and it was easier. I was able to do laps around the house. On Sunday it was much easier. The pins and needles feeling was pretty much gone. We went out to lunch with a friend and I was able to walk around National Harbor in Maryland with my family for a little while in the afternoon. I was even able to do stairs! Walking up stairs is tiring but pretty easy. To go up stairs using crutches you step up with your good foot then bring the crutches and bad foot up to meet it. Walking down stairs is less tiring but a little scarier. I learned that to go down stairs on crutches you actually step down with the bad foot and crutches first then bring your good foot down. One step at a time, no alternating feet.

Today I was able to drive myself to work for the first time in seven weeks. I did miss the company of my husband and daughter in the morning but it was also nice to listen to music and get back to my audiobook. I was pretty slow getting around the hospital on crutches but not in pain. I've learned that doors can be quite challenging on crutches, particularly the large heavy kind that close automatically. Oddly, most of the doors in the hospital don't have a button to open them automatically, at least not on my floor. It seems to be best to give the door a strong push and then try to scoot through quickly before it closes on you. That seems pretty minor though compared to what I've been dealing with. The crutches are actually less tiring than the scooter now that I can actually put weight down on my foot.

And then it happened! I found myself halfway across a room without my crutches! I can really walk! I have to go very slowly and take small steps, but I can walk. I've been walking around at home all evening without the crutches. I can pick things up and hang up coats and get napkins for the dinner table. I know it sounds stupid, but try not being able to do these things for 7 weeks and having to constantly ask people to get you things. I was able to pick my daughter up this evening. I'm not going to overdo it. I will still bring the crutches to work for a few days at least. I am slow with them but even slower without them. It is also more tiring without them and I have a lot of walking to do on my job. But this is so exciting.

I can only imagine that this is something like what it feels for a toddler when she first learns to walk. All of a sudden you can get places AND use your hands at the same time. All of a sudden you can reach things. It's just this incredible, joyful feeling. I can walk!