16 July 2008

The long road to recovery…

I regret that I have been unable to update the blog for quite some time, but my writing has had to take a back seat while my mother is in the hospital for a lengthy stay recovering from a knee replacement. While this is a relatively common procedure, it is significantly more difficult for an amputee. Imagine having one leg, learning to depend on that part of your body for over 30 years and suddenly not being able to use it anymore. Needless to say, the road to recovery has been a long and frustrating one.

What frustrates me about my mother’s particular situation is that it is entirely not her own doing. Her orthopedic problems are not natural or simply brought on by age; they are the unfortunate result of a terrible incident with an impaired driver. The drunk that hit her walked away with no bumps or scrapes and a laughable fine that he could not pay, while Mom spent an entire year in the hospital fighting depression, physical pain and trying to cope with the loss of her left leg - a tragic outcome for a twenty-five year old with a bright future ahead of her. Suddenly the nurse became a patient in her own hospital…one of my mother’s greatest fears.

Despite this new burden, my mother got on with her life as best as possible. However, I have always had to watch her struggle with so many of the regular little tasks that most of us take for granted: trying to physically keep up with her children, being able to climb stairs or ladders, trying to find seating and legroom at concerts, plays on airplanes or in restaurants, not being able to join her family on the beach or to fully enjoy family vacations…often feeling left out. Accessibility and balance have always been big issues and, after many years of overcompensating on one side of her body, pain has become an ever-present demon.

Now that my mother is over the age of sixty, she is beginning to encounter some of the long-term outcomes from her accident. Years of too much stress on the body are taking their toll and “good” limbs now become “bad” limbs. Suddenly the old dependables start to give out…the knee, the hip, the back, the ankle. Once again my mother finds herself stuck in the hospital and trying to relearn how to walk, just like she did when she first had accident over 36 years ago. The only difference this time is that she no longer has a fully functional leg to depend on. It’s a frustrating process, a long road to recovery and a maddening experience for someone who, despite everything she has been though, is very much an independent and proud individual.

I am not writing this post to generate sympathy for my mother or for my family. There are others in similar or far worse situations. However, I do hope that readers may stop to consider and understand just one of the many possible negative outcomes of impaired driving. My mother is doing the time for someone else’s crime….and that is NEVER acceptable.

Get well soon Mom and keep on fighting.

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