I wake up feeling excited, determined and ready to tackle this rehab business head on. Gone are the frustrations of yesterday and I just want to do this.
As I crutch down to the gym there are trail of old guys in the hall crutching their way down the corridor. It is a procession of crutches, a crutch off. They let me zoom past.
Walkers and wheelchairs line the entry to the gym.
Inside the gym is raging with grey hair and slipper wearing folk. I can’t help but laugh, I feel as out of place as a flamingo in a pond of ducks.
My first weight loading session at 20 minutes is tough. It may only be an extra five minutes than I have been doing but afterwards my leg and glute feels so cramped I’m not sure I can sit down.
Next up is a series of balance exercises balancing on something that is akin to half a swiss ball but smaller and squidgier.
I’m told just to stand still and balance. One of the gentlemen next to me at the parallel bars grumbles, “I wish he would tell me to stand still.”
It’s really challenging at first but rewarding to see tangible results of getting better by the next session.
Then my usual weights, leg and core exercises.
It is a rarity that I am the fittest in the gym but here I feel like a star with the others just looking on in disbelief.
Many of the other patients are really struggling with simple exercises, in pain from hip and knee replacements and other aliments that come free with a bad fall. They are grumbling and grunting.
One lady said she was feeling sorry for herself but then she came in here and saw some of the others who are worse off.
“You are so brave,” she says.
She doesn’t know a thing about me, all she sees is an amputee who isn’t curled in the fetal position feeling sorry for themselves, so this feels a little condescending.
It’s funny, I look at her struggling to lift her leg and I feel grateful that I am not her.
I’m told by Chris to take a rest but that’s not how I do things.
“Gee you never tell me to rest,” the gentleman says cheekily to Chris.
For some reason the tip of my stump is on fire during my core exercises. It feels like with each lift of the leg the metal is catching and pulling on the skin with a painful yank. But I push past. No pain no gain right?
After a bit more than an hour Chris pretty much kicks me out and tells me to rest before our next session.
I didn’t quite finish my weights routine so I sneakily finish them off in my room. When a nurse comes in to take my blood pressure I jump up like I have been sprung doing something I shouldn’t. I can feel the guilty look spread across my face.
During my second loading session one of the other patients is chatting to me about my operation, my leg and the whole process. I don’t mind talking about it when people are nice about it.
He tells me since I am young and fit and have such a positive attitude that I will be more than fine. I can feel the excitement building. Bring on the walking, I just want to be walking.
I show the x-ray of my hip to Chris.
“Yep you don’t have a joint.” He seems somewhat surprised.
I have a good chat with him about hip replacements and what’s involved. I’m still quite nervous about how my hip will go walking and am nervous about needing the replacement and more time here and away from work. To my relief it should only take about three weeks all up.
“But we really just have to wait and see how it goes,” he says with a telling look.
Oh yes the great unknown.
Later I can hear Chris and another physio discussing my hip and my range of movement. They seem surprised at its range since there is no actual joint there. I pretend I can’t hear them. It’s weird hearing yourself discussed like a case and not a person.
Later Chris tells me that he has found a few times looking and x-rays and then at patients and thinking ‘it’s not possible.’
“Looking at your hip x-ray you shouldn’t be able to do what you do,” he tells me
By the third session I’m thinking this whole rehab business isn’t too bad. With my door closed my room almost feels like a hotel room. I have my own food and I just duck down to the gym for sessions throughout the day and in-between catch up on the gossip in the trashy mags or watch a DVD.
Chris was meeting with Dr Nario this afternoon to determine the plan for walking and when Stephan would be out to fit the leg.
“So how did it go?” I ask hopefully.
“Good,” is all he says.
He is cagey. My heart sinks.
Then like a sledgehammer he delivers the news I don’t want to hear.
Dr Nario spoke to Dr Al Muderis and together they decided they want to increase my weight loading weight and duration to get to 50kg. This is the first I have heard about this. It seems huge. I’m struggling on 30, how will I go at 50?
Stephen won’t be coming out till next week, in the meantime I will continue to weight load increasing the weight 5kg each day.
I can feel the disappointment heavy on my face.
“I know it’s not what you want to hear,” he says consolingly.
“But what’s a week or a week and a half more in the scheme of the rest of your life. Better to be sure, make sure it’s ready. The last thing we want is for the bone to break.”
It makes sense, this is the most important stage after all, it would be foolish to rush things now. But still, I just want to walk now!
“I know you’re keen but you’ve just got to be patient.”
I’m quickly learning that patience is not my strong point.
I can’t help but wonder if it’s Christmas and the holidays that have delayed this process but he assures me while they may have helped I am a special case.
I am one of the only ones to have had the operation that have lost their leg from birth rather then trauma. And of the small few, I am different again with my hip.
“Has it been harder then you thought,” Chris asks.
I think back to that first appointment and Mitch’s flippant comment about already knowing how to walk, strapping it on and just doing it. He said there was little pain, minimal hospital stay. Simple. It hasn’t been quite like that.
“If you had of known would you still have gone ahead?”
Sure it has been tough, taken longer than I first thought and there have been many obstacles along the way but you know what, I would do it all again in a second. Once I am walking it will all be worth it.
Still the disappointment weighs heavy like a pouch of stones around my neck.
As a consolation prize Chris has organized for someone to supervise me so I am able to have a session on the cross-trainer and bike in the downstairs gym.
They say I should be able to do this at least three times a week. He told her how keen I was to stay active and fit. He is a sweet guy and I am grateful to them both.
Nicole, the exercise physiologist, is a bubbly blonde who is easy to chat to. She seems genuinely excited for me to be walking and the excitement is infectious.
It’s a sweltering hot day and Chris makes some comment about my room being big enough for him to sleep on the floor in the air-con.
Mum would like that, I think to myself.
Sorry Mum, this love story isn’t going to happen. And I don’t think I will be sharing longing looks and falling in love with any of the patients either. Time is running out for the romance part of this tale.
Later that night I get a text from Ali and Daniel. They will be here in two days. This is exciting; since I will be here for more than three weeks it will be great to have some company. We might be walking together. Well at this rate they will probably be walking before me but hopefully I’m not too far behind.
Waiting an extra week is disappointing but like Chris has said, what is one more week for the rest of my life?