For two days this week I wrote leads for this posting that described that, despite Hannah’s cheery disposition and positive outlook on life, rehab is tough. Well, wah, wah, wah. There’s a news flash. Rehab is tough; it’s no walk in the park or day at the beach. Who wants to hear how tedious it is and about all the “takeaways” (i.e., she can’t cut hair, she can’t be active, blah, blah, blah)? So dear Reader I have spared you four paragraphs of such, well, tedium. Clearly, no thanks are necessary, but do consider donating to your favorite charity.
It’s been seven weeks since Hannah fractured her tibia water skiing in July. Since that time, friends have done so much: dinners for us two and the loan of a van so we could drive to Virginia to see our grandson Owen, born the night of her fractured tibia. (You can never have too many gratuitous pictures of Owen.)
This past week Hannah received some good news. Her quite amazing and spirit-boosting Dr. Sutherland came into the examination room after viewing her x-rays and says, “I love the x-rays. You are healing beautifully.” He commented that things look ideal and the fractured bones are getting tacky. He flexed her leg to see that she could straighten it out. It’s now time for physical therapy to strengthen her leg and increase her range of motion. In four more weeks she can add more and more weight to that foot as she walks. By week twelve (mid-October) she should be fully weight bearing, which will be just in time to cut a rug, shake a leg, and other euphemisms for dancing at our nephew Jon’s wedding in Maryland.
With his typical good cheer, Doc Sutherland again lifted our spirits by signaling that we are into the next stage of rehab; the end of the tunnel is in sight. (N.B., note how I use first person plural rather first person singular to describe Hannah’s recovery. There’s no doubt that her healing is a team thing.)
For weeks, friends have stopped by to keep Hannah company. Over the last few weeks she has been getting out for lunch and shopping, going to a girls’ night out, and knitting with her Sunday afternoon friends in town. During the day, Hannah marks time by texting, emailing, making curtains for Molly’s apartment, completing her leg exercises, keeping her foot above her heart for an hour a day. And now she has a live-in masseuse for her once swollen left leg.
That would be me! Though a novice, I have had excellent training. Our friend Corky gave us a thirty minute demonstration on therapeutic massage, which moves the blood and lymph fluids from her toes, past her ankle, and back up her leg to be reintegrated into her body. Corky then coached (i.e., watched, suggested, and encouraged) me as I began to learn the art of massage.
Taking to the masseuse profession like a fish to water, I begin by liberally spreading and warming baby oil in my hands for smooth even pressure from toes to her shin. By the way, lotion is a no no; it absorbs into the skin and does not allow for the smooth sliding of my hands. And anyway, pros use oil.
For 25 minutes twice a day, Hannah lies on our bed with her left foot on four pillows as I do my best to move the fluids from her swollen leg; a leg that she once described as her sausage with sausage toes, now is beginning to have the shape and feel of a normal foot.
I begin by cupping her foot and pressing slowly and steadily from her toes to above her ankle ten times. Then I massage the right, then left sides from toes to just below her incision, including the back of her leg, ten times in long steady motions. Then it’s placing my thumbs parallel, pressing from toes to shin as I lean in with slow, steady pressure. I then craddle her ankle with my right hand and with my left press forward on the tarsus under pad of her foot to return some flexibility to her ankle. Then it’s bending the toes forward, followed by rotating her left ankle from side to side, and finally double thumb pressure rotating on the top of her foot. I repeat this pattern three times during each massage session. (It’s really cool. I had no idea what I had been missing by not being a masseuse to a beautiful woman.)
Hannah’s rehab has begun at York Hospital. She has come home with exercises that require her attention four times a day. Rehab is now her part time job. Now she wears a compression stocking throughout the day to increase circulation in her once swollen left leg.
As you can well imagine, she is looking good.
The Rehab Road by Hannah B
Wow. I have newborn appreciation for and sensitivity to people with a broken anything. May that be forever knit into my mended bones. How do people do this on their own—without a loving partner? How do people do this without loving, attentive, generous friends?
If you have ANY doubt in your mind….get a second opinion. And, if you’re lucky, that second opinion will belong to Dr. William Sutherland. Better yet, see him first.
I’ve met some lovely people in the course of this rehabbing that I might never have. They, “silver” friends—and the faithful, loving friends of “gold”—remind me: “when bad things happen,” it’s the goodness of people who are the REAL rehab.
I remain in awe of the human body’s ability to protect (shock) and repair itself…and of pain meds to do their job. It’s clearly a team effort, and I’m glad my bod and those drugs were/are my team mates.
Speaking of teammates, if I thought I was in love before (with you-know-who), this has only sealed it…no whining, massage on demand, assuming nearly all household responsibilities, and displays of good-naturedness that his mother knew long before I was ever treated to it.
The first one to five weeks were the toughest…I didn’t want to go to bed because I knew I would wake three to four times a night, and, not sleep well in-between. I didn’t want to get up in the morning, because it hurt to get out of bed, and it took so long to do every little thing…all day long.
Visits and calls and e-mails and texts and cards and garden produce and meals delivered to our door (and sometimes shared with us) were our manna. And, leftovers never tasted so good. Keep a “guest book.” Have visitors write a little something when they drop by. Start your next day reading what they wrote. It’s even better than orange juice, Anita Bryant.
The cream always rises…these are the times (yes, that try our souls) but more important, these are the times that one finds out what great kindness and generosity our friends—and family– are capable of. These are the times that Love becomes Flesh.
Wally Lamb: “ Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their Love.”
Hannah/Omi: “There’s no more powerful medicine than a visit with a newborn grandson.”
Check out this G rated massage video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AODZNfIj7q4 – YouTube on ankle swelling massage.