01 February 2004

Continued Improvement

My mobility continued to improve slowly and I carried on walking with my wheeled frame, although I have to say that since I started using the frame I had always found it alien. What I mean by that is when you walk with a frame you have to lift or push it forward and then step through, and I have always thought this to be odd. I can remember telling my physio this on a few occasions and although we worked together on improving my walking and balance it still felt odd, but on the other side of the coin I thought oh well at least I’m walking again so it didn’t matter too much.When I went for my treatment I used to love walking in the bars in the gym because that felt more normal, I used to spend time on a wobble board to help improve my balance.

After 4 months I was allowed to go back to work and although I had got used to having my leg straight I had to adapt again once I was back in the workplace getting myself around the office etc it took me a while but I soon got back on track. I soon started to feel stronger and getting about was improving, although I still didn't feel mobile 100% and still found myself using my wheelchair quite a lot both at work and at home. The frame still felt alien to me but I still walked as much as I could.Then in 2006 my life suddenly started to change for the better and as the title of my story says I started to walk on cloud nine and this next part of the story I am going to tell you about the amazing things that have started to happen to me and still happening.

Learning to walk with a straight leg

I remember sitting in my wheelchair in the front room and had only been home about 20 minutes and I all I wanted was a cup of tea. Then I thought oh better not drink too much at first till I had negotiated the bathroom, so that was my first trek and let me let you it felt that I was climbing Mount Everest and I struggled let me tell you.

I then got frustrated with myself that I couldn't do it but that was because of the pain and the effort on my arms with the frame it was way too tiring. I then rang my Occupational Therapist and they organised a commode for me, it was a bit embarrassing but at least I could go to the bathroom without having the big trek.

For the first night I slept in my riser recliner armchair until I got used to being back home and adapting to my new mobility restrictions. The next morning I felt a little better although I was still in a lot of pain but during the day I would walk around a little and then sitting in my chair. Then I decided to try my through floor lift out to see if I could fit in it so that I could go to bed but unfortunately I didn't quite fit in because of the angle of my leg at the time, so I stayed down stairs for the majority of the 3 months.

After being home 2 weeks we then had the builders in to install a walk in shower for me because with my leg being permanently straight now I was unable to get into the bath. The building work lasted a few weeks but it was well worth it. I also started to be able to cope more with walking and I had managed to get into our car so that meant that I could go out with mum now and then although I found it very tiring.Six weeks had passed and I had my first appointment with my Consultant following the operation and I couldn't wait to see if the bones had fused because it had been so painful.

When we got to the hospital I was taken to the X-ray and then the treatment room. My consultant said right lets take this plaster off and have a look at things. The plaster was the easy bit but then I had to remove the fixator from my leg. This was the painful part I was sat up slightly but had to be laid down so that I didn't pass out. It took a while to remove but I was so pleased when it was and I could sit back up again, it was a bit funny seeing my leg completely straight. I then had to have another full length plaster put back on but it didn't worry me too much because hopefully it wouldn't be so painful for the next 6 weeks.

When I got home I was shattered well and truly so I slept in my chair again although the following night I managed to get into my lift and back into my bed which was like heaven. The next day I felt so much better because I didn't have the pain anymore so I gradually started to build up the amount of walking I did and day by day managed to get further and further and this plaster was a little bit lighter than the first. I seemed to recover quite quickly on the days that followed and was not as tired.

Then my next appointment came and I couldn't wait the thought of maybe getting the plaster off for good was quite an exciting prospect mind you it was a bit worrying all the same and the reason being was because I had had my plaster on for quite some time I felt kind of safe if you know what I mean and the thought of having my safety blanket so to speak removed was a bit nerve racking to say the least. Anyway we got to the hospital and went down to the treatment room again it was like going home again I knew the routine that was coming and sure enough the plaster was removed and there was my leg fully recovered. I was then given a leg brace to wear for 4 weeks, which I have got to say was a relief to me because I was still able to have the support for a bit longer.

I jumped off the bed quite literally and walked back to the reception while mum pushed my chair and it was a good feeling I suddenly felt as if I was walking on air I was no longer carrying that huge weight and it felt good.I then went from strength to strength walking more and more and slow working out how to sit down and get back up because I found that quite hard at first but I got there. The only thing I struggled with and still did up until recently was putting on my socks and shoes purely because I was unable to stretch forward and reach due to my back and my leg.Four weeks later I went back to see the Consultant and they were so pleased that I was back walking he shock my hand and smiled "I think we have cracked it well done" he was so pleased in fact, that he removed the brace and said "you don't need that anymore now but you can keep it as a present"

Having my knee fused straight

When I got home from the hospital that night I sat and thought about it and wondered how long it would be that I would have to wait and then I thought what if it's a long time and I'm not strong enough to have it done or my knee becomes more unstable while I'm waiting. I then talked to my family about the possibility of going private to have it done.

They agreed to help out financially if that was what I wanted which it was. I quickly rang the hospital to enquire about going private and although it took a few days to sort out it was done and dusted and I was given the date as the 14th January 2004 for the operation.The day finally came and I had to be on the ward really early in the morning there I was waiting in the room and the nurses came into help me get ready and sort all the paperwork out, then my Consultant came in to see me and go through everything on the consent form and then he drew a smiley face on the leg he was operating on.

He explained that I would have a metal fixator frame on my knee and be in a full length plaster. I said "would I be able to walk on it" "Yes I will make it light as possible" then I was wheeled down to the theatre Mum walking down with me as far as she was allowed. I woke up back in my room and boy did I have some pain it was more than I expected but I was given painkillers regularly I slept most of the rest of the day and I remember Mum coming on the night and looked a bit worried when she saw the plaster.

More Surgery

Following a very successful recovery I was back to work within 5 months I suppressed all the hospital staff with my recovery. Although after a few months I started having problems with my knee it was so painful that I was unable to weight bare on it and therefore was unable to walk which I found frustrating I can tell you I made and appointment with my Consultant as in the back of my mind I knew I would have to have surgery on it sooner or later. Initially I had a few weeks of treatment to see if it would improve things but no, in the end I had to go in to hospital to have a camera put in to investigate what was happening.

I had to wait a few weeks before I got the results but then I went back to see my Consultant for the verdict. Well your knee doesn’t look very good it’s very unstable hence why you are having pain. We have two options:

1 You can wear a full length calliper all the time
2 We can arthodese your knee (fuse it straight)

Well I said I don’t want to wear a calliper all the time because I can't put it on myself now that I had the metal in my back as I wasn't able to reach forward that far now, and I don't want to rely on people to do it for me because that would hinder my independence.

It therefore looks as if the operation is the only way I can see to make things better for me and give me back my mobility in time and remove the constant pain I have.Ok surgery is the way we will go I will add you to the waiting list