Reflections on the Broken Leg Experience

I’m now PWB (partial weight bearing)! That means that I can kind-of stand on it, and will likely be walking in a week or two, and hiking in six. Jen and I are headed to San Francisco tomorrow for a bit of fun and then a week in the office.

Before returning to normal life I wanted to capture at least a few of the experiences.

The most striking was the day after the ER visit. Realizing that this wasn’t going to pass, I canceled all my plans and trips for the next six weeks. That was tough. But the next feeling that this was an incredible opportunity. Those vast stretches of open calendar. Having no plans in the evenings, or weekends. What would I do with all that time?

My first thought was to do something incredible. Emerge six weeks later with not only a good leg, but playing guitar, speaking another language, something… Maybe meditation. With this much down time I could at the very least master this. And working out. I couldn’t use my leg, but maybe do 10,000 sit ups a day and have incredible abs. Or biceps! I scheduled a poker party for three weeks out when I was confident I’d be feeling much better.

I didn’t achieve that. Life went on – guitar ok, abs ok, biceps ok. No new languages – human or computer. It did end up being a very productive time at work. And a useful period of introspection.

My progression for the first few days was dramatic. I felt much better. Friends came over and I felt ok. No painkillers, just a little Advil. Then I had surgery to put in the plate. Surgery sucks. More than broken bones (of which I’ve had many). Actually, the first 12 hours after I thought it was amazing. No pain, all fixed! Then the serious meds wore off. One Vicodin every three hours like clockwork for about a week. And generally just feeling a significant amount of pain and very low-energy. The second week was about keeping the pain level the same while tapering off the Vicodin. And the third was tapering off the Advil.

I was unbelievably fortunate that I can work from home (bed). I haven’t missed a day of work. Far from it, I haven’t not worked for a day since the accident. Fortunate first to not have my career collapse because I can’t be there for six weeks. And fortunate again to have something interesting to keep me occupied!

I was also incredibly fortunate to have Jen to take care of me. I have no idea what people do if they don’t have someone. Coffee in the morning, water, moving laptops around, breakfast, lunch, dinner… Carrying the crutches down the stairs. Driving me to appointments. Getting food! Countless helps each day.

After surgery I quickly adjusted expectations. The new goal became to keep work going while maintaining sanity and trying to enjoy what I can. Watching a few seasons of “House of Cards”, “Vikings”, and “Marco Polo” were just fine. Lots of Ted talks. And Physics lectures on quantum mechanics and string theory.

Friends were great – stopping by to visit. Party and movies at the Henry’s. With Jen and Rick’s help I managed to pull off the poker party. Dinner and a few minutes of a movie at Ricks!

One of the most memorable things was conversations with Jasper and Scout. We have great relationships but life is busy and we often have little time to talk. I generally attribute that to them. I was wrong. I was surprised by what happened when I was confined to one spot. They came and talked. For a long time. Great conversations! More than once I asked “are you waiting for <friend to arrive>, <dinner>?” But no, they just wanted to hang out. I realized that I have an equal role here. Too often I cut things off, going back to work or off to do something. Slowing down is good!

Physically, P90x has been great. Especially ab-ripper. It’s not just abs, but also gets the legs going without any weight bearing. I highly recommend it if you have arm, leg, shoulder issues. That said, I was surprised how much I didn’t feel like working out. I’m sure part of it was physical. Recovery takes energy. And some mental – limited workouts inside just aren’t as fun.

So in the end. No profound changes, But I would call it a positive experience. I’m appreciating each step back into the normal world, and excited to get back on the bike!

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