Monthly Archives: November 2019

Peer Support Groups Are Great!

Yes, I truly believe this, that Peer support groups are great! Unless they’re not, in which case they’re not really ‘support’ groups at all, are they?

When you find, or start a peer support group, and begin to connect with others, who are dealing with the same thing/issue/illness or whatever it is, that is troubling your life, it can be the very thing you’ve been looking for in life, to make things flow, and go better for you.

I’m involved in a peer support group close to my home, for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The group is one I began, back when I was doing a work placement with the MS Society SA & NT, having seen a need for such a group in Gawler, which is the nearest biggish town to my home.

A happy little rhyme I wrote ‘ad hoc’ that was posted to a notice board for others to read and be encouraged by, and me, holding my two walking sticks, Jane the Cane and Mick the Stick.

 

At the peer support group, members could talk about symptoms, medications, thing that have helped them, and just life, as it can be, when MS slows you down, and people without MS just don’t understand what it’s like. Talking with people who truly know what it’s like, when you say you’re fatigued from having a big day, the previous day, and you just need to sit and rest today, to get over it. Oh, what a marvelous caring thing that is!

There’s a saying – “MS, if you don’t get it, you don’t ‘get’ it”. And it’s true, if you don’t have MS, you won’t truly know the deep and intense fatigue that fills you body, when it comes. And you won’t realise the absolute truth of it when a person says, “Just because I could do it this morning, doesn’t mean I can do it again tonight.”

Your peer support group members will understand though, and they will be there for you, understanding you and how things are for you, when other people, family and friends can’t understand. The same things can hold true for other illnesses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, 

Cancer Survivors, Bushfire Survivors, there are many groups, peer support groups, with people who understand what you’re going through, because they’re living the same life, in some ways, if not all.

Knowing people who’ve been through what you’re now saving, but have come through it, and are doing ok, or even going well in life, can be inspiring, and give you hope to keep in going in your life. Having hope for better times can be the thing that encourages you through the hard times, lifting you up, and keeping you going. And hearing from the inpiring people who have gone from victim, to survivor, and are now thriving, what an inspiration that can be, to know them and hear their stories!

Ordinary people, doing extraordinary things, and showing you how you can do extraordinary things too, that’s what a good peer support group can, and should be. If your peer support group isn’t like this, step up and make it so, you, and the other group members, will be thankful for it!

Peers are your people who understand, and support is help to take you higher, to a better life, a better version of who you can be. Ever peer supplier group should be like this, as an overarching principle. A peer support group that is only a weep and wail pity party isn’t actually a peer support group. Sure there are tears that will happen, but there should be cheering up and moving upward and onward too, and hugs, if and when appropriate! Peers should help, not hinder, uplift, not cast you downward.

Shoes Will Maketh This Woman!

So, the road to recovery is here! I saw the surgeon who operated on my broken ankle again yesterday, after having another x ray taken of my ankle for the surgeon to look at, and tell me about. And the good news is that my ankle is healing very well, and I no longer have to wear a moon boot. Hooray to that, for sure. And even better

The other news is that I have to buy a new pair of shoes, ones with laces, because that is what I’m to wear, shoes with laces, but I don’t have any. Not yet. So, when I got home from the appointment with the doctor, I took off the moon boot and put it away out of site, never to be worn again (I sincerely hope not anyway!)

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The slight problem is that I don’t actually have any shoes with laces, so I’m making do with my old lawn bowls shoes, with have elastic parts to keep them on, rather than laces, and my poor foot and ankle really need laces, because of the swelling that’s happening there still (and will go on happening for some time, by the sound of it)

But being ‘allowed’ to walk again is great, and the news that I’m OK to drive was awesome! So when my husband gets home from playing bowls today (we’re very much a Lawn Bowls kind of family, our son plays too, on Saturdays, during the season), when he gets home, I’m hoping and expecting he and I will head off in search of a pair of lace up shoes for me.

I used to have a pair of running shoes (not that I ever actually run), but those shoes got old and I had to throw them away. So new shoes it is! Graham has just come home, his team won at the lawn bowls, so he is happy, and once he’s changed into proper clothes again, off we’ll go, to get those shoes!

I’m using one of my walking sticks to assist me, but I expect that will be over with soon, and I’ll be totally mobility aid free in the near future, hooray!

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OK, I’m back again, I went with my husband to look at shoes, and I found these ones, they are just what I need, and I will wear them and wear them until the surgeon tells me I don’t need to wear them any more!
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A New Stage of My Infirmity

Well today, yesterday really, I’ve moved onto a new stage ‘getting over’ my fractured ankle. I saw a physio for the first time, and we talked about exercises to both work on my ankle range of movement (ROM), and also to increase the strength in my right calf muscle.

My right ankle is the one that was fractured, and after using a moon boot, for nearly two months after it happened, my calf muscle is barely there, because I hadn’t been using that leg, no weight bearing at all, lots of sitting or lying around. Now though, things have changed!

Instead of zooming around the place on the Knee Walker, with my right leg resting, today I am only using the Walking Frame to walk, using my hands and arms to take most of the weight when I step with my right foot. It feels good to be walking again, if not actually walking ‘normally’.

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The physio agreed with the exercises I’d been given by both the surgeon who did the operation on my right ankle, and also my podiatrists, who have been assisting with this too. So the physio wrote up a routine for me to do for now, and after I’ve seen my surgeon again (Wednesday next week), the physio will get a proper thing going, based on what the surgeon says I need.

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The physio also gave me exercises for my calf muscles. Did you know there are two muscles in your calf? I didn’t know it until yesterday, when the physio told me about it. It’s always good to talk to different experts about there subject, because they know lots of things about their chosen subject!

So, now, instead of just doing some exercises when I think of it, and feel like doing it, I am doing the routine the physio wrote down and gave me yesterday, with number of reps for each exercise and the number of times to do the exercise, and then how many times a day I have to do the sessions.

So around meal time, either before or after breakfast, lunch or dinner, I did my exercises. I’m enjoying it, it’s not something I’m that into, exercising, but if it leads to being able to get around better, and to be stronger, I’m all for it! I’ve spent enough time not being able to get up and get moving, I want to keep on going, and getting better!

I can easily get out of the house now, and I hope that tomorrow I’ll be able to go outside, and look at the garden, and pick some herbs for a cup of herbal tea!

 

Current Infirmity

I’ve been thinking about the incongruity of my current health-related problem, and further, about the various ways our bodies can help or hinder us. Yes, I have a chronic illness, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which is what I first began this blog to look further into, but right now I am suffering far more from an acute health problem a broken ankle.

I have been in hospital to have it treated – put in a cast first, then operated on, and encased in bandaging of sorts. Now, a month and a half (approximately) later I am finally able to walk again, in a lame way, using a walking frame … It is a far from elegant way to get about, but it works, more or less.

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I can get from place to place inside the house, carrying empty cups and plates, and other small enough items, as wished. If those cups and things have anything inside of them though, the process is a much more tedious system of moving them slowly from place to place, but picking them up and reaching further, to put them down again, move along, pick up, reach, put down, ans so on. I am so grateful to my husband/carer, who is now my deliverer of food and drink, in a much more efficient way!

But this time has certainly enabled me to think about things, and I have been writing about my thoughts, many of which, not surprisingly, have tended to be about my broken ankle. The poem I am going to put here is yet another poem regarding my fractured ankle, and I make no apology for that, because this is the most important thing in my life right now …

If you have ever suffered from such a thing, you will certainly understand how it is, when even if you want to get out and about, doing things, you will need assistance, in different ways. I can’t walk very far, nor can I drive. My walking, and my ankle are getting better and better, and while there might be some slight discomfort, there is no actual pain, not now.

The driving will have to wait on the OK from my medical team, GP or surgeon, I’m not sure which. Certainly, driving won’t be allowed while I am still wearing this moon boot, I put on every morning and take off every evening. And until my ankle is strong enough that I would be able to use my foot to jam on the brakes in an emergence, I doubt I’ll be allowed to drive …

Anyway, here is my most recent poem I have written about my ankle. I suspect I will probably put all of these short poems together in a chapbook, and either submit it for publication, or self-publish it. I don’t know how much interest there might be in such a volume, but it interests some others, for sure. Those who have suffered in similar fashion, or cared for someone so affected.

And so the poem, which may bear the name of that poetry collection, if it happens …

 

Angles on ankles …

The ankle, a simple thing –

a movable hinge, where

foot and leg meet, moving

us, as wanted – forward, 

backward, or sideways,

until, suddenly, crash!

You fall, and the angle 

of the ankle, and the pain,

indicate something gone

terribly wrong. Fractured

a word, never wanted

in terms of ankles, but 

happening nonetheless.

Angle fixed, ankle in cast –

under the skin, attached

to bone, a post and screws.

Bad news, or not? Fixed

but still moveable, painless,

mending, trending toward

healed, my soul rejoices

even though my leg looks

less than lovely, a new boot

encasing and enhancing 

my leg, strengthening

what I have, so walking,

though slow and halting,

can occur, and I can stir,

arise from seated on sofa,

move from here to there,

and am glad to do so – free

up to a point, but reliant

and grateful, that the angle

family and friends have taken

is to step in, step up, go 

the distance, and so help 

to keep me on track!

 

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If you’ve had to wear a moon boot too, feel free to leave a message here about it! I’m glad to have my moon boot It helps me a lot, but I wish I didn’t have to wear it!

These Testing Times

I’m feeling very happy today, I’ve finally been able to ‘walk’ after fracturing my ankle about five or so weeks ago. I had the ankle operated on, and have been doing lots and lots of zero weight-bearing … This is what the surgeon has advised, but the last time I saw her, she indicated I could begin bearing some weight on that foot, in the week before I see her next.

So, that is what I’ve begun today. Using the walking frame I have at the moment, and actually putting my damaged foot on the ground, (while taking most of the weight on my hands). It feels good to be ‘walking’ in this scaled down way. I also have my moon boot on, which takes a lot of the weight off too.

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I’m paying maximum attention to how my ankle feels, and so far, no problems at all so far. Now I have to do a bit more of this moving around, to go and get my dog Missy some food, and to go to the other room where my other mobility aid is, the Knee Walker.

All of this rehab, after fracturing my ankle is quite different to the various rehab things that my chronic illness, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) entails. Acute illnesses, such as fractured ankles, involve different things, because my MS is more or less controlled with medication, and is going quite well. The ankle though, that requires time, and rest, and not pushing myself too much.

Anyway, today feels like an empowering day for sure, and I’ve done what I often do, and written a poem about it all! Please read the poem, and let me know what you think of it!

 

Testing Times

 

Testing my ankle, trying it out

Scared but not scared, a little doubt

Using some aids, moon boot and frame

It’s sort of walking, but not the same

 

Moving around though, meter by metre

Brought forward advice, I want to be fleeter

I won’t regret this partial weight bearing

I’m feeling good, no pain, being daring!

 

Back to other aid now, I need to use hands,

Lunchtime brings other demands,

Carrying skills, coffee, and such

I won’t overdo things, won’t do too much.

 

But Missy and I both need our food,

And feeling in a ourageous but careful mood

So I’m off to get my Knee Walker again,

Walking frame to Knee Walker, turn around then,

 

Off to the kitchen, start coffee, my lunch,

Grab container for Missy’s dry food to munch

Then get Missy’s food, coffee’ll be ready

Taking it easy, I’ll make sure I’m steady.

 

So coffee is calling, and my tummy is too

So up I get to do what I have to do.

I’m tending to needs, minding how I feel

The girls of the house having our meal!