Feeling Fragile

Most days, I have sufficient energy to keep up with the boys, to attend my doctor’s appointments and to do the things that need to get done, to do the laundry and organize homework. Most days. I’m not at my former level of energy, but with judicious rest and a LOT of help, including the pharmaceutical and natural kinds, what needs to get done each day, gets done. Adjusting my expectations to what I can actually do without having to recover in bed for a day or two is something that is still an ongoing project. There are days that I forget where we are and why. Other days, it’s all I think about.

It’s hard to describe how odd it feels to get used to a routine, a “normal” that isn’t really all that normal. I’m thankful that my boys don’t seem to remember much about what our lives looked like before my diagnosis. They aren’t comparing, they just want their mama. Or “mom” as my youngest is now calling me.

I compare.

I compare myself now to myself before. Some days the former seems better, some days the latter.

Recently, after a pretty amazing Spring Break with my kiddos and some of my siblings and nieces, we came home. While Elliot and I were unpacking, I fell down. I’ve fallen a few times in my adult life (once while pregnant) and before cancer, I’d just gotten up and back into the routine of my day. This time, it was entirely different.

I was scared. Really freaking scared.

I scraped and banged up my left ankle and jarred my left knee. My left leg is generally and overall a complete mess. The amount of pain I was feeling made me think that perhaps I’d broken something or at least pulled or stretched something. After the fall, I called my doctor’s office and they told me to come, no need for an appointment.

This is who I am now. The person who calls her doctor and they say come now. The person who falls down at the age of 40 and actually thinks that a bone might have cracked because of the amount of pain said fall creates.

WHAT?!?

Part of my brain was halfway convinced that there was a mistake, that I should just ignore the pain and swelling and bruising. The rest of my brain knew that it was serious enough to call the doctor.

So, we went. Since it was still Spring Break, I showed up with both boys in tow until Elliot could join us. The nurses and doctors joked that I’d brought the whole team to help. Neither of the boys are freaked out by doctors or hospitals any longer since they come with me at times and they know I go regularly. A silver lining, maybe?

After an examination and xrays to be sure, my doctors told me that I had not broken anything (thank God) but that I had sprained ligaments in both my left knee and my left ankle. Since ligaments don’t have blood supply like muscles, they heal much slower. Since my tendons are already swollen all the time, thanks to the Letrozole I take daily to suppress any remaining estrogen in my body, I have more than the usual inflammation in my joints all the time.

The remedy–RICE. RICE stands for Rest Ice Compression and Elevation. Likely, for months.

MONTHS

Ligaments apparently heal very very very very slowly.

The good thing is that only specific movements tend to cause pain. Walking is actually not so bad, it’s stairs or sideways movements that cause me to see stars, to consider blacking out or throwing up. So very thankful for the chair lifts in our three story condo that, while moving a bit slowly, allow me to avoid walking up or down the flights of stairs at home.

This is my life now. I fall down and face adjustments to my daily routine for months.

I’ve been that fragile for probably years now.

Yet, the feeling of fragility hitting me squarely in the face is disconcerting. No, that’s not big enough, it’s overwhelming. Actually, it’s freaking awful. It’s a slap in the face and an unexpected bucket of water upended over my head. No one likes to have their mortality, their fragility to smack them in the face or their left leg, to be more precise.

Don’t mind me, just resting, icing, elevating and compressing my left leg today and feeling fragile.

Author: Abigail Johnston

I'm a daughter, a wife, a mother, and I've been living with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer since March, 2017. All of the words I publish are my own.

7 thoughts on “Feeling Fragile”

  1. Sorry you are in pain. Humour always helps me through my new reality . I am no doctor but I recommend PRICE. Punchlines, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. You are strong. You will overcome this! Sending you positive thoughts, smiles and prayers!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love this!! Humor is a great stress reliever and a dark sense of humor can be really helpful to provide some perspective. Thank you for reading, commenting and for your input! Love and light to you.

      Like

  2. Thanks for sharing, Abigail. You hit the nail on the head! I have been stage 4 MBC since 2014. Last summer I fell and broke my foot in 6 places. I was laid up for almost 3 months. I felt like I had completely lost my independence. I hope you recover more quickly than expected.

    Liked by 2 people

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