Thursday, October 14, 2010

19 Steps

I've made great progress since my hospital stair-climbing meltdown. Thanks to the help of a top-notch physical therapist, I'm now going up and down the staircase with confidence and ease. Here's a video of the technique.

And, of course, I had real motivation to make the climb: my own bed and a hot shower. Gives new meaning to bed, bath and beyond.

Monday, October 11, 2010

She's Got the Look

I love a line from the trailer of "She's Got the Look," a reality show in which long-in-the-tooth and lean-in-the-leg women over age 35 compete for a modeling contract. One 40-something runway-worthy woman gushes in the ad, "The great thing about getting older is that you no longer have fears."

Oh, really? I just want to take her aside and slap the curvy booty on her skinny body (how does she do that?) and say, "Oh, honey, the fears don't go away. You just learn to confront them."

And let me tell you, the show is designed to make the leggy lovelies crack under the pressure of extreme fear, whether it's heights or depths (under water) or something in between. These women quickly learn how to produce a cover-girl shot even though they want to pee their pants.

I have to admit, I haven't felt that kind of head-spinning, stomach-churning fear in a long time. That is, until my physical therapist tried to teach me to climb the stairs. As I watched him demonstrate how to lead with my strong left foot, I felt sick to my stomach. I could feel the fight-or-flight adrenalin surging through my body. My pulse raced and my sweat glands went into overdrive.

I remembered my unsolicited advice to the potential supermodel: ". . . just learn to confront them." I put aside my fears and attempted the left-foot-lead technique, but felt my head spin. "Can we go now? I feel dizzy" I whimpered.

As I used my walker to navigate back to the room, I still felt dizzy and requested a wheelchair.

It's a good thing I'm not a contestant on She's Got the Look. For sure I would have gotten the axe.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Flop on the Floor and a Flop in the Kitchen

Just a day before my flop on the hardwood floor, I had a flop in the kitchen. My gourgeres, intended to be lighter-than-air cheese puffs, were as flat and dense as buttons.

Read about the cheese flops at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fear of Falling

Most cancer survivors live with a low-grade fear. It's not something we talk about or dwell on, but it's there. Will I relapse? Will I ever return to the person I was before treatment? Will Meg Whitman become governor?

This broken hip is tapping into a whole new set of fears. The out-of-control feeling of falling is a recurring theme of my nightmares. And now the nightmare has come true.

I fear pain, but I also fear pain meds. Part of that is about fear of losing control (as I did after my one experience with morphine) and part is about fear of addiction. (It didn't help to read Broken Hip Chronicle, which describes the patient's addiction and 3-time withdrawal from pain meds.) I requested meds the first night I was here (emphasizing "the lowest dose possible"), but haven't experienced pain since surgery last evening. But, don't worry. I think my dread of pain will trump my fear of meds.

And now I must admit that I have a fear of wheelchairs. It's not so much a fear of the vehicle as a fear of how others might view me in one. If you've been reading for a while, you may recall the shame I felt at the City of Hope when I had to be pushed around campus. (I even hid my face when I saw my doctor on the grounds.) And you might remember my irrational panic attack when the wheelchair was pushed into the exam room.

My wheelchair-phobia came to light recently when I sat next to a man and his wheelchair-bound wife at a dinner event. When I learned that she was in the wheelchair temporarily as the result of a falling accident, I was surprised and ashamed at my reaction - relief. I'm even more ashamed to admit that a reluctance to talk with her evaporated when I learned that her condition was temporary.

Temporary. Just like my current immobile condition. Just like my hospital stay. And, hopefully, just like my fears.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Slip, Boom, WAAAH!

Breaking a hip is no laughing matter, but at least I was able to entertain Baby Joseph with a recounting of my slip and fall. "Aachan fell down and went BOOM. And then she went WAAH!" He giggled with delight each time I told the tale and then did his own WAAH imitation.

Yesterday morning I fell victim to a slippery hardwood floor. I went down faster than a slapstick comedian slipping on a banana peel and hit the floor with full force. I cried out in pain and then cried out for help because I couldn't put any weight on my right leg.

Lucky for me, two friends were on hand to hoist me up and escort me to my bed. I assumed that I'd just bruised the hip, but, an hour later, I was still in excruciating pain. A trip to urgent care and an x-ray revealed that I'd broken the bone. Now I'm at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, waiting for a 5:30 pm surgery to put pins in the hip.

I'll be here for four or five days and then will work on rehabilitation. I'm considered young for a broken hip, so the surgeon thinks that will work in my favor. Nonetheless, it will take at least six weeks to recover. Six weeks of maneuvering the stairs in our two-story house. Six weeks of depending on others to drive me. Six weeks of work in physical therapy.

All together now: WAAH!