The thoughts rolling through my mind early that Sunday morning were not pleasant, cheerful, or light-hearted. In fact, the only word I kept repeating to myself was profanity. I knew that I had just done something terrible.
Hannah is only seven weeks old, but it has been a rough seven weeks. She wasn’t nursing well, which led to a massive case of jaundice which necessitated two days in the hospital and extra feeding (and pumping for me). We assumed we were in the clear when her subsequent doctor’s visit showed bilirubin levels in the safe range. What a scary bump in the road, I thought, glad it was over. Then we took her back for her 1 month check-up only to find that she hadn’t gained any weight. I hadn’t realized that my milk supply had been drying up because, as a remedy for her nursing difficulties, I had been using a silicone nursing shield. Enter another frenzy, some seriously hurtful words from the doctor, and a change in my nursing protocol. It worked and she slowly began gaining weight, but just barely. I was nursing and pumping, though not enough. It was very stressful and I thought about quitting a number of times. But I’ve always hated formula and been a staunch supporter of exclusive breastfeeding my entire life. Things were still difficult, but they were on the upswing on February 8, 2017.
Hannah wasn’t a very good sleeper at night. Which is why I was extremely happy that she had fallen asleep at 2:00am that morning. I hadn’t been to bed yet, partly because of Hannah, and partly because I was researching a new tool for my ongoing sticker creating obsession. I forced myself to take my newborn upstairs and carefully placed her in the bassinet near my bed. No sooner had a laid down, though, did she wake up. I tried very shortly to settle her down, but my husband was needing to work in the morning, and my head was secretly plotting to spend more time playing with the new tool I had discovered.
Which is why, as I was heading down the stairs contemplating feeding Hannah again, but mostly thinking about my phone, I turned my phone on to start looking at the app I had just downloaded. What I didn’t realize when I took the last step is that I wasn’t on the last step. So, baby and phone in my hands, I stepped into thin air and landed on the ground. I didn’t drop the baby, though she did (barely) bump her head, she was startled and began to cry. I knew there was something wrong with my foot, so, despite her screams, I set her down and tried to straighten my leg. This is when I realized that my foot was not moving with my leg as it should.
Enter the profanity. I wasn’t in pain, yet, but I knew I was seriously hurt. Thankfully, the sound of the crying baby woke my husband as I grabbed my phone to call him. He came down the stairs and, ignoring me on the floor, went to the baby. I told him that I was hurt and that she was fine, but that took awhile to sink in. Eventually, he got me the bag of frozen corn I had requested and, long story shortened, we called 911 and I was taken to the hospital.
After some very painful x-rays, it was determined, by the doctor in Hawaii (because they don’t keep an orthopedic doctor on staff at night in Indiana) that I had a trimalleolar fracture of my right leg and needed surgery. This was not what I expected. I had visions of a pink cast that my kids would decorate, but I hadn’t really thought that through either. The rest of my memories are severe pain that the full dose of three different pain medications wasn’t touching by the time they wheeled me into the operating room several hours later.
I’m told that the surgery lasted about 3 hours, but (obviously) I don’t remember that. Thankfully. A trimalleolar fracture is a severe ankle break. Basically the “ankle bones” – the knobby bits that stick out, are the malleolus of the tibia and fibula. What I did was to break the fibula (outside bone) thoroughly, which needed a plate and screws, and then I broke the tibia on both the inside and back; two screws into each of those breaks.
The first day in the hospital was difficult because my pain medication wasn’t working well at first. Once they switched the medicine though, the pain was gone. However, it made me so loopy that I thought I might choke. I was falling asleep in the middle of a bite of food or while talking. Eventually, the doctor checked on me the following morning and lowered my dose, so aside from a few extra doses of morphine, my pain was managed well. I was able to use a walker to get into the shower with the help of my mom and an occupational therapist which was embarrassing, but felt so good. And after a day, they removed the catheter and I was responsible for my own toileting. This was a big deal, since the doctor’s orders were no weight bearing on my leg. I used the walker, and felt fairly comfortable with it. Hannah, without her mother there, took to formula in a bottle wonderfully. I tried pumping (and dumping) but by the time I left the hospital, I had decided it wasn’t worth my trouble.
By Tuesday afternoon, they released me and we were on our own. My husband brought down pillows and a blanket for the couch, I had a rented wheelchair that the insurance was covering and we found a used walker so I could get into the bathroom. However, this rapidly became a problem since I was unable to hoist myself off the toilet. My mom had to run to Walgreens to buy a toilet riser which did the trick.
So, here I sit, bones screwed together, wrapped in a temporary splint and ace bandage, propped on two pillows, realizing that everything has changed. I can’t shower, sleep in my bed, drive, do dishes, or care for my newborn without extensive help. My husband has changed his schedule at work, my mom has rearranged her life to be able to care for me when my husband is at work, and my sisters are coming over when neither can be with me. Because I need constant supervision and help. I feel confident that I won’t have trouble sitting on the couch for the next few weeks, since what I’ve largely been doing is sitting at the computer anyway; my mom thinks I’m going to go stir-crazy quickly. My next doctor’s appointment is in two weeks, where I will have the staples removed. I’ve already been told that my recovery is going to be measured in months, not weeks. Oh goodie.