It has been a long time since I have tackled writing my blog. So much has happened to me that I couldn’t keep my mind together enough to write. Now most of those things have come to a close and it’s time to continue my story.
In November I began to notice that my left foot was bending more and more inward at the ankle. If I put a shoe on my left foot at the ankle would bend to 90 degrees, and I got worried. I saw my regular foot doctor, but he said I would need to go somewhere else as this probably required an operation that he didn’t do. I became homebound and officially a cripple. I got a walker, a wheelchair and a shower seat as I could no longer stand in the shower. Eventually, I added a knee scooter to the mix and an electronic recliner that takes me up to the standing position. I use all of this stuff.
I went to see a foot surgeon, a guy I’ve known for years and he immediately had x-rays taken of the ankle. The result was that I have Charcot foot. Char Cot foot is a deformity of the foot brought on by neuropathy, a condition I’ve had for years. Neuropathy is a condition where the nerves are damaged. It can happen in different parts of the body. Mine is from the toes to my knees in both legs and I have it slightly in my hands as well. Charcot foot happens when a bone breaks in your foot. It goes unnoticed and fuses to another bone instead of where it belongs. Neuropathy is mostly a diabetic problem as is char cot foot but I am not diabetic and got neuropathy genetically from my father who is also not diabetic. Somehow, it’s in our genes.
There is no cure for charcot foot or neuropathy. I need to wear a device on my leg called a CROW boot. This boot does not promote healing but allows my ankle and foot to remain stable so I can walk. There is an operation for the condition, but it involves breaking most of the bones in the foot and then resetting them. It’s a dangerous operation and usually ends in the foot being amputated. My doctor did not recommend this. Maybe, in time, they will find another way.
With all of this going on, mentally, I have not been doing well.
I challenge anyone who is single to be housebound for six months. It’s not easy on the mind or the body, especially your mind. You wonder where your friends are, and then you wonder who your friends are when so few ask you if they can help. There’s trying to figure out what you can do on your own when you can’t walk. Amazon delivers groceries now, but they don’t always leave them where they should, and before I got the brace for my foot, it was terribly painful to go downstairs and bring the groceries up myself. No one asked if they could go grocery shopping for me.
Preparing meals was also hard. I have to sit to prepare meals because there is too much unsteadiness of my feet. I can only stand for short periods of time but I found ways and ate a lot of Hungry Man meals and other frozen products. Maybe not a good choice but the best I could do.
Then there is the loneliness. Sitting hour after hour praying the phone would ring or making phone calls only to find that no one wanted to answer. Hoping people would come to visit, but they rarely did. I love my apartment, but it did become a cage, and I grew angry.
Anger is a deadly emotion when it has no place to go. It slowly eats at you and shifts to depression. That depression is like walking through the valley of the shadow of death. You begin to believe that very few care about you, and fewer still want to help you. As a Christian, you wonder where the church is and why they didn’t step up to visit you or help. Jesus said that doing things for the sick is like doing things for him. But again, few came to help.
Some did, and these people kept from total despair. Chris came and cleaned what I couldn’t and then stayed, and then our mutual friend Tom came, and we had dinner together. They were and hopefully will continue to be great nights. Tom became my driver for a while and got me to the appts I needed to go to. My friend Rob brought lunch a couple of times. My friends Jess and Dennis also brought meals. My Friend Lorraine and my cousin John helped me get my meds as I couldn’t get those on my own at all. This may seem like I had a lot of help, but it wasn’t enough. There was so much I just couldn’t do and, in some ways, still can’t.
I had to walk through self-blame and self-hatred. I had to accept the fact that I have a permanent disability that cannot be cured, and I must learn to live with it. Getting to acceptance is a very hard thing. I called my brace in the above paragraph a device, but it’s not. It’s a very heavy two-piece boot that I have to strap on first thing in the morning, and I cannot remove it until I go to bed. It is not pain-free but is a tiny fraction of the pain I go through when I don’t wear it.
The brace cannot be worn in the shower, so showering is painful. I have a shower bench now, but that doesn’t help with getting in or out or when you’re drying yourself off. You have to stand to do those things, and it hurts.
Getting my hair cut is an ordeal too or at least it was. My friend Jess is a stylist, and she came to the house to cut my hair a little over a month ago. She’s looking at her schedule to see when she can come back. That’s very kind of her because right now I’m not sure I could get into my barbershop.
I haven’t addressed the loneliness. Too many hours of being alone and not seeing a single person is very hard for me. I keep hoping the doorbell will ring or the phone with go off, but it doesn’t happen as much as I need it to. I am grateful when it does.
These are my challenges. I haven’t written this blog for six months. I lost my voice and didn’t think I’d find it again, but by the grace of God, I have. I thought I would be silent forever, but I’m not. I’m not looking for anything for me, but if you know someone who is alone and sick or disabled don’t leave them like that. Go and ask what you can do. Doing for others is part of the beauty of being human.