What complicated my recovery and my ability to cope was living in a split level house, and it was winter. Beginning the day I sprained my ankle, we started getting snow every day for a month. Heavy, wet snow that turned to slush and ice, that coated my driveway and made it treacherous for even the able-bodied. The landscape of my front yard made it impossible for anyone, except perhaps someone with training in proper medical lifting, as well as great strength, to help me into a vehicle. The day I sprained my ankle, we had over a foot of snow in 24 hours, and it took 4 EMTs to carry me out of the house, 3 to bring me back in, and even they slipped on the steep slope of my driveway. So I was housebound until the snow stopped, unable to get out to buy groceries, not even able to get crutches. And in my house, crutches would have been an unwise choice. I could get from my bed to the bathroom on one floor; otherwise, everything I did in the course of a day involved stairs. I developed systems for getting around, using a desk chair on wheels on one level, bouncing down the stairs on my rear end, lifting myself to a walker to move around in my kitchen, scootching down the next flight of stairs to feed the cats and do the laundry. Thank goodness my father had installed a very strong set of handrails in the house, capable of taking my full weight! Thank goodness a friend suggested a backpack!
When an ankle is sprained, there's swelling, which needs to be iced, the foot needs to be elevated as much as possible to prevent tissue damage, you can't put weight on the foot until the swelling stops, and you can't walk without support until you stop limping. A bad sprain makes you wish you'd broken a bone instead, because the recovery would be simpler and faster. I wasn't able to put on any type of shoe for weeks, not even slippers; yet another reason why venturing out in wintertime was not an option.
Falling can be life-changing, and in my case, it certainly was.
I had nothing but time while I was house-bound. I read a lot (Lord of the Rings in 4 days, several entire series of books), watched Netflix and DVDs, ordered books from Amazon. And I came to realize how deeply unhappy I was, living in my parents' house, in the town where I'd gone to high school and art school, but hadn't chosen to live. I'd moved back to my hometown to help my parents when my father fell ill, then my father died and my mother needed help living on her own. My mother died last year, less than 2 years after my father passed away. I decided then not to rush my decision about whether to sell the house and move away. I'm an only child, so my parents' house was my only direct physical link to my past.
With my life confined to my bedroom, primarily, I had lots of time to scrape the bottom of the emotional barrel, I had lots of time to contemplate how much time I spent with no social interaction at all, except for email, Facebook and a few phonecalls, and virtually no offers of help. I didn't ask for help either, so this was a two-way street. But the fact that I didn't ask points to part of my dilemma. I had a couple of close friends in town, but asking close friends to help you with everything from buying food to housework, can put too much strain on a relationship. A person has to have a community, a whole network of overlapping connections of people they can call on for different needs. I'd had that in the town I'd been living in before, that I had left when my parents needed me back in my hometown.
By the end of April, I'd started going out. I even started wearing sandals once the weather warmed up. And I went back to the town where I'd lived for 18 years, where I still have friends and a social life so active, many people didn't even realize I'd left town. I came back so often, they assumed they just hadn't seen me for a while.
I put an offer on a house there. And thus began a 5 month journey of organizing and sorting the accumulation of 55 years of my parents' marriage, over 100 years of family history in Canada, some of my stuff from 30 years living on my own, and the belongings I had acquired in 3 years living in my parents' home. It took two months working with a professional organizer and renting two storage lockers to get the house looking good enough to sell.
It did sell, and I moved over eighteen thousand pounds of stuff to my new home in my old town, which is now my hometown, the town I've chosen to be my home from now on. It was a lot of hard work, and an incredible journey. Which might explain why I haven't updated my blog in quite a while!