Fracturing my right ankle had a huge effect on the way I lived my everyday life. Here is a diary of the way my recovery unfolded:
I was walking down our stairs at home when I slipped on the last stair and crashed to the ground. I couldn’t put any weight on my right foot without excruciating pain. With the help of my husband I hobbled to his car and we went to our local minor injury clinic. X-rays revealed a clean break which would require six to seven weeks in plaster. Once in the plaster cast, I was given a pair of crutches and sent home.
At home, I panicked. I’ve got my own business, 2 kids and my husband works away 2 days a week. How would I cope?
I couldn’t drive to the shops, drop the kids off to school and activities, could get to my physio appointments, do housework; kneel down; change a light-bulb; get things down from a high shelf; hang washing out; carry plates or food or drinks the list was endless. I couldn’t do anything spontaneously, everything would involve forethought. I had lost my independence!
I settled myself on the sofa, with my pain relief, water, TV remote, phone and notepad. I remember thinking: ‘How much could I rely on friends and relatives? They had their own busy lives to lead….
And how could I run my business? I’m a self-employed interior designer. I needed to be out each day visiting clients and suppliers. No day was the same as another, and I needed to be able to adjust my schedule to make the most of opportunities that arise. I worried that I could not keep promises made to clients prior to my injury and could not follow up new clients. In fact, I was seriously concerned that my business and livelihood were threatened.
Driving my own car was out of the question. Having a temporary disability was really life limiting. It was difficult to remain optimistic.
Luckily, my ACC co-ordinator suggested I use a hand control car which would be rented, for the duration of my rehab, from Freedom Mobility. The next day, their kind and patient driving instructor, Ange, appeared with the vehicle. She took me to some quiet streets near my home and gently taught me the skills I would need to drive with my hands. My left hand was holding the spinner on the steering wheel, and my right hand pushed down on the accelerator lever, to the right of the steering wheel. To brake you push the leaver forward toward the dashboard. After about an hour I realised I was happily driving myself, without any worries. What a feeling, I had my freedom back!
From that point on, life improved for me. Being able to be more spontaneous stopped me from feeling down about my situation. I could react to fine weather and go down to the beach for a coffee, I could get out and meet up with friends. I gradually got back to my normal daily routines and felt much more myself.
For me, getting a hand control car was the turning point in my recovery. Thanks Freedom!