What I learned from a broken femur
You know how when you come across someone with a cast, or on crutches, etc. you always ask "How did you do that???" There's usually an expectation of a good story, right? Well, this is not that tale.
October 15th was a Thursday like any other. I was upstairs getting my daughter's clothes out for school. I came out of her room, arms full, and then something happened that would change the next several months of my life.
We live in a house that is more than 100 years old. Because of that, it definitely has its quirks. One of those quirks is uneven floors. Those uneven floors often result in raised nails. (I am sure you can see where this is going). As I was stepping over the threshold of the door, my slipper got caught on one of those nails and when I went to move forward, my body went forward but my leg did not, and I went down. CRRRRAAAACK!!!! I instantly knew something was wrong.
My husband and daughter were downstairs at the time, and I called out to my husband in a way that I was hoping would not alarm my daughter. I failed. She came running upstairs along with him, and when he saw how I was on the floor he told her to go back downstairs for a minute, which scared her even more, it turns out. I could hear her sitting in the playroom, whimpering. This was just the first of many very difficult emotional moments to come. Sigh.
Here's where i learned the first lesson in this whole experience: I am stronger than I thought. I was able to put my "I'm fine" face on long enough to do my daughter's hair (it was picture day at school) and get her out the door with a kiss, all while feeling as though I was going to pass out from the pain. It was only after she had left that I would let hubby call the ambulance. (Yes, I am also stubborn, but I already knew that. That stubbornness would come in handy on the road to recovery).
3 hours in the ER later, I was finally taken for an x-ray. Yup, I had in fact badly broken my femur and would require surgery. Surgery that our local hospital was not confident they could do, given some other complications, so I was sent to the larger city near us, about 25 minutes away. Another ambulance ride with a broken leg. No fun.
After surgery (which wasn't until 2 days after I broke my leg) I settled in for a hospital stay. Here's where I learned the next lesson: My kid really loves me. This was the first time I'd been in the hospital since having her, and although I know on an intellectual level that she loves me (I'm her mom, after all) it wasn't until this experience that I really understood just how much she loved and needed me. Upon that first visit after she got home from school and found out that I had to stay in the hospital, she was heartbroken to see me in that hospital bed, hooked up to tubes and machines she didn't understand, obviously in pain (I guess my "I"m fine" face had worn off by this point). When it was time to leave, she was absolutely distraught. Normally, mama does bedtime. I do the snuggles, the story, the connecting about our days -- it's all me. For the next little bit, it was going to have to be daddy or grandma. Apparently, there is just no substitute for mama. My heart broke that day, and would break many more times in the coming months.
I tried my best to keep things as normal as possible even when I was in the hospital. We went over spelling words together, we snuggled as best we could. We laughed and watched videos on my tablet. But I wasn't under an illusions that any of that was good enough. It wasn't for me, and I knew it wasn't for her, either. But we had to do what we had to do.
Fast forward to my discharge day. By the time we got home and I got settled in a comfortable position on the couch, my daughter was home from school. She was elated to see me home (I surprised her) but she was also apprehensive. Very apprehensive. She was terrified of hurting me. She would not sit next to me. She would hug me with arms outstretched as far as they would go. I had to have my incision uncovered because of an allergic reaction I had had to the dressings, so my staples -- all 89 of them! -- were exposed. This was very scary to her, and she would not even come into the room unless I was completely covered up. Next lesson: What is normal to me (I have had quite a few surgeries in my life) was absolutely terrifying to her. This was so hard for us both to deal with. The fact that my very affectionate, snuggly kid wouldn't come near me was the was the source of more than a few tears on my part -- and hers.
Now comes another lesson: When things go wrong, you find out who your true friends are. I am very fortunate to have a pretty decent circle of friends, but when this happened I really found who my ride-or-die homeys are. I had my posse of girlfriends waiting by the phone to hear updates from surgery, and then when I came home they all stopped in, more than once, with gifts and cards and, most importantly, company. They were unfailing. It was awesome.
It's now about 5 months later, and i am still recovering. I am very lucky and blessed to have a hubby and daughter who are more than willing to help out and do what needs to be done around here, but there is one final thing I have learned from this experience: I need to feel useful and I hate having to ask for help. It has been a very hard few months with having to rely so heavily on others for virtually everything, from personal care in the beginning to housework and getting around. I am glad (very glad) that things are back to normal with my daughter, but I am looking forward to the day that I can get up and walk around like I used to.
Incidentally, if you'd like to see what a broken femur looks like, check out my x-ray: