Monday, January 20, 2014

Adventures in Healing: Therapy, Physical and Mental

Since this past Thursday, my life has been filled with therapy. On the physical side, I saw a physical therapist for the first time on Thursday afternoon. I really like my physical therapist and I'm looking forward to spending afternoons with her trying to get my foot to move. She's funny, interesting (she's climbed Mt. Rainier), and she knows how to challenge me to move. All of this after one hour-and-a-half session. They're not supposed to be that long, but she wanted to see what I am currently capable of. She put me on a stationary bike and I rode for 10 minutes, going one full mile. It felt so good to get my right leg moving again. This progress is promising, but there are things that I can't do and it frustrates the shit out of me.

I would like all of you to try an experiment with me. Sit on a chair, or bed, or Delorean, with your knees at a 90 degree angle. Place an old towel under your feet and try to scrunch the towel with your toes. Don't move your feet. Just using your toes, try to gather the towel. Pretty simple right? I mean, it's a little difficult, but it's the same type of movement you would use to pick up a pencil that you may have dropped when your skirt is just a little to short to actually allow you to bend over and pick it up, so you have to use your toes.

That movement, the act of wiggling your toes... I can't do that. My left toes can, no problem. But my right toes don't want to move. I can stare at them and I can yell at them and I can use The Force, but they still don't move. They can't. They have forgotten how. It is as if the tendons have fallen asleep and stiffened and need woken up and massaged again. When I do move my toe, my big toe in particular, a searing pain shoots up the back of my leg from my Achilles tendon. The first time it happened at my physical therapy session, I yelled so loud that I scared both myself and my therapist. All we could do was laugh for three minutes straight. It hurt, but it was funny. My brain wanted so badly to move that damn toe, but it couldn't. And when it finally did it shocked my entire body from toe to head.

It's kind of like this...

That's the physical side of my therapy. I am going once a week for the month of January, then when I get more movement in my foot, I will go more often. My goal is to be walking by my birthday, March 27th. I can do this.

The mental and emotional side of my therapy:

As I've written before, I am using my down time to write. I put aside my novel for a couple of weeks to work on a screenplay that I've been writing and re-drafting and re-writing since 2011. It has gone through numerous small rewrites, and four large ones, where I did an entire overhaul and replaced everything with new scenarios, dialog, and even characters. I had planned on rewriting this baby this year, but not until late winter/early spring. AFTER I had finished my novel. But along came a screenwriting competition and after a week of thinking about it, I decided to just go for it. So, for two weeks I have been working on the fourth draft of my screenplay. And tonight, after allowing Husband and two friends to read it, I submitted it to the competition.

As soon as I hit the submit button I started to cry. This story is something that is very dear to my heart and I have had an incredibly difficult time writing it the way that it needs written. I was afraid of the story and afraid to see the depths that it could take me. But with the help of my characters, my husband, and my friends urging me forward, I finally completed my script. It's not perfect - nothing can ever be perfect. But it is done.

I have never submitted a feature length screenplay to any sort of competition. We've submitted numerous film projects to competitions, but those are COMPLETED FILMS. Not just the written words on a page. The emotional roller coaster that came with the subject content and the fact that I did something more with this script than I've ever done with any other feature length script has thrown my entire mind into a frenzy. I am so grateful that it is done, because now I can get back to my novel; the story that is writing itself. I no longer have to think about the lives of these very real people whom I have just given the opportunity to shine in front of academy award nominated judges. Yeah. I'm not nervous or anything. My characters can carry this script, I have no doubt about it.

It's not about winning, although that would be nice, it is about completing something and challenging myself to do something with that completed project. Too many days and hours go by that I work on things only to see them slip into oblivion unread and unwatched by anyone, but myself. If you don't plan on doing something with your art, why even start working on it? Even if that something is to hang it in your bedroom, at least that is something. I completed a feature length screenplay. I submitted it to a competition. Tomorrow, I get back to my novel. And on Thursday? I attempt to move my toe again for my physical therapist, hoping that the work I've been doing twice a day will have paid off.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Adventures in Healing: Still Healing

The callus that I worked so hard to create has finally fallen off of my bum foot. I was drying my foot after my shower tonight and the sucker just fell right off. I guess a little over a month of inactivity and the callus decided that it wasn't going to be needed any longer. I prided myself on my running calluses. At the beginning of summer every year, a friend and I get pedicures. Last year, the guy tried to remove my calluses and I had to tell him "no! I need those for running!" Also, his scrubbing was hurting something awful.

My stitches were removed on December 24th, and in their place, the nurses put stitch-stickers across my stitch sites. I'm not sure the medical term for them, but they were similar to bandages, or butterfly bandaids, that were made to help keep my leg from busting open. I finally removed those earlier this week and am now touching my bare stitch sites when I shower. There is nothing between my fingers and my stitch sites except some long leg hair that I am unable to shave. The sites feel weird. There is still some puckering in some areas and they feel a bit numb to the touch. But my scars are turning a nice shade of red and the dry skin around it is finally getting some moisture. Wow, does it feel good to lather vitamin E oil and lotion on my leg and foot. I already have incredibly dry skin, so not being able to put anything on those stitch sites and the areas around them for that long was really rubbing me raw. Now, I can find comfort in a nice after-shower oil and lotion massage brought to myself by myself truly.

We were able to make it to the gym three days in a row this week! It feels so wonderful to get out of the house for a couple hours at night and vent all frustrations on the track and on those machines. A lot of the gym rats give me dirty looks because I'm using a machine that they would like to use, but I have to remind myself that they did that even when I wasn't in a wheelchair. I'm sure the people running on the track also find my presence a bit infuriating, but my question to them is: Would you be out here if you broke your leg? I think not. Most people ignore me, but there are some who think they can walk faster than I can roll and try to beat me around a corner until they find themselves getting cut off and looking like a fool. I have every right to be there - I pay too.

I'm becoming a bit more mobile, but I'm still on my crutches or in my wheelchair. Pressure is not allowed on my foot yet, so I'm finding creative ways to get around. Such as crab walking myself down the stairs so I can stare at the rooms I hardly see. I've also gone outside and stood on the back deck in the afternoon for the last two days. It snowed on Tuesday night, so Husband and I went out back to throw the ball for Frodo the dog. We stand on the deck and throw the ball down to him and watch him run, and run, and run circles around the yard. Laughter is had by all. Tonight, when I let him out to potty, he didn't come back so I had to call him. I looked into the yard and there he was standing under the deck looking at me expectantly. Ball throwing and running knows no time.

My next appointment will be on Tuesday where I'll get more x-rays and hopefully find out when I can start putting pressure on my foot. This healing process is a long one and sitting has become incredibly boring, but I keep myself busy with writing (and of course work, 40 hours a week), playing with the animals, and visiting with friends who bring me beer and/or chocolate. I have good friends.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Adventures in Healing: One Month Later

It has been a month since I made the decision to go running and subsequently fell and broke my leg and ankle. I'm not counting the days, or anything, but I kind of am. When you're stuck in a chair, my Delorean if you will, for the majority of the day moving only to relieve yourself, or let the dog out to relieve himself, you form the urge to scratch lines in the wall. This last week has been tough on me. I'm having a difficult time sleeping and every time I lay my head down thoughts of the moment I fell and the following three days, including surgery, bombard my brain. I see myself sitting on the pavement in the middle of the street looking at my foot dangling from my leg. I see myself lying in the hospital getting pumped with drugs and a block in my leg so I can't feel pain. I've been asking Husband about the ER visit and how horrifying it really was. He said that it was simultaneously the most scary and awesome thing he'd ever seen. If he wasn't so convinced that I was going to die right there in the ER, he would have taken video because shit was crazy. I don't remember any of it.

I can't tell if the pain in my ankle is getting worse, or I'm just feeling it more because I'm weening myself off of my pain medication. I need to stay on top of the pain, and sometimes I just don't do a very good job at it. I used to say I liked pain. I do not know where the hell that idea came from, and now, I take it back. Pain is the pits and every part of my body hurts with this injury.

On my one month anniversary, we took the Delorean out for a spin on the Boise River Greenbelt. We walked, I rolled, the equivalent of a 5k with our friends and their two dogs - Frodo's DFFs (Dog Friends Forever). Some good conversation was had today and the pups wore themselves out.

I have been working more on my "novel," and things are going swimmingly. I put quotes around the word novel because I don't really know what it is yet, nor do I really know what constitutes a work of writing as a novel. It's already quite long, 27 pages, 10,114 words, but as I continue I realize that I've only begun my story. I am writing in a voice that I never even realized I had. My characters are like none I've ever envisioned, and the story-line is from something other than me. I can honestly say that this book, or novel, is out of this world.

In the past I've outlined books that I want to write, and I've started stories that I think I want to tell. But they never get very far. It is not for lack of trying, but it is for the fact that I just lose interest. My life moves so quickly that I don't have the patience to spend writing something that I don't really believe in. I might believe in what I'm writing for the first few weeks, even the first few months, but after a while I just don't believe in what I'm trying to say, so I stop. I don't want to waste my precious time on a story that I don't feel needs to be told.

This particular writing, however, is very different. There is no outline, no thought to what I'm writing about or where I'm going, I just sit down and let the words pour out of my fingertips. My words and my thoughts are coming easily - I've never been able to write this quickly. This story has depth and meaning to me and I am get carried away by the details of this world. The genre I'm writing could be considered sci-fi, which I didn't realize I had such an affinity for until now. I can thank my dad for starting me down the path of enjoying sci-fi and my husband for keeping me on that path. My dad introduced me to the Alien series and Star Wars, and Husband kept me going with Firefly and Battlestar Galactica. My writing makes me feel like singing and that is a rare gift indeed.

I'm unsure as to where this book will lead me (in life) and right now, I really don't care. I get excited about sitting down to work on it and I'd rather write than do much else with my day. With my new found love for this book without a title, I could never curse the night I fell. Although it is difficult to watch my friends hit the slopes (I haven't even had the desire to snowboard since I was 18 - that's over 15 years ago), I'm thankful that I have something to distract me and help me fill my time. Doesn't it always seem that what you can't have, you want more even though you never wanted it in the first place? I'm talking about missing snowboarding.

Life is an adventure and I hope that someday I can share my new adventure with the world. Until then, I will continue to write and see where these words take me.