V-day, legs, eyes, and…the rest of my life

>>>V-day, legs, eyes, and…the rest of my life

Something I’ve not seen before: What a busted femur looks like when the bone starts growing back.

Uhm…wow. Everything tumbles into my head like a firehose; the problem isn’t finding something to write about. It’s figuring out which stuff to write about first.

So…let’s start with V-day: The Leg is finally Finally FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY!!!! healing. All the pain, expense, time, and (let’s face it) terror have finally paid off and I’m getting OUT of this wheelchair.

I guess this means that we did, indeed, Save Elmo. How’s that for good news? Victory Day indeed.

Here’s the odd thing: It’s just been so long–nearly 16 months–that I have a hard time believing it. You’d think I’d be breaking out the champagne and doing a wild happydance, a la Maksim Sedakov:

Instead, I don’t really feel much of anything. Every so often I start crying for no good reason. It seems I’m having a hard time believing that I finally reached the beginning of the end.

When I left Dr. Dan, my surgeon in Walnut Creek, he was “happy with your progress so far.” At only a month post-op, nobody expected much bone growth and there was no way to tell if his surgeries actually worked.

The proof of success, he said, would come at EIGHT weeks, the second week in January.

…which was this last Wednesday. I usually go crazy with anxiety the three days or so before monthly x-rays, but this time was extra-jittery: If the bone didn’t grow, we were out of options. When I took Lyft to my new trauma surgeon, Doc Rich here in Portland, I was literally shaking.

But the doc came in with a mile-wide grin on his face, followed by two smiling orthopedic residents and a hand-clapping assistant.

“This looks just about perfect,” he said, gesturing to The Leg’s latest x-ray, “Your surgeon did a great job. Just LOOK at that alignment. Perfection! Thank god you’re persistent; it paid off.”

“Great,” I said with a shade of trepidation, “But is the bone actually GROWING?”

He took a closer look, while I held my breath, and pointed at the bonehole. “It is exactly–EXACTLY–where I would expect a healing break to be, two months post-op. So yes, the bone is really, really growing.”

“In fact,” he said, “If you’ll give me your surgeon’s email address, I’ll send these films to him right now. This is going to make his day. His week.”

Right then, I went numb. I tried to smile, but all I could really manage was a thank you.

“It’s still a long, hard road ahead,” warned Doc Rich, “The healing bone is really fragile. You need to put weight on it, because load-bearing straight down on the fracture will force the bone to strengthen, grow dense. HOWEVER…be careful NOT to bend the knee when you do–do not do anything that might cause the new bone to bend. I know you need to increase flexion in that knee, but for now just concentrate on making a strong, healthy bone.”

Gotcha, Doc. Ease back on the bending and stretching, start walking straight-legged.

I have a new healthclub membership which sports a terrific onsite physical therapy group, salt-water walking pools and all sorts of rehabilitative exercise equipment. Doc Rich wrote out careful instructions for them, I met with them the next day, and I love my new therapist. We start poolwork on Tuesday.

I guess my life is going to get back to normal, slowly but surely. I can now drive, I’m allowed to put as much as 75 pounds of weight-bearing on The Leg which makes all kinds of things easier, and they want me OUT of the wheelchair and practicing walking more and more. It’ll be at least six months before the bone heals fully, and possibly a year before I’m walking without a cane.

Oddly, all that is a bit scary. What do I do with the rest of my life, without the protective fortress of Tyrone Spiffy the Wheelchair?

Live, that’s what. I dug out my “when I’m walking again I’m gonna…” list, started at the top, and propose to work my way down.

First up? I got my eyes tattooed.

When I was a teenager, it seemed that my eyebrows were the only reliable spot for hairgrowth; my best friend used to merrily call me Unibrow. I was so embarrassed I plucked my brows half to death. They’ve been sparse ever since; if I use makeup, I pencil them back in.

Life in a wheelchair has taught me efficiencies I never thought I’d need; saving five minutes of brow-penciling and eyelining because those things were permanently tattooed on seemed like a great idea. I did some research, talked to a few cosmeticians, and wound up with Curt.

Curt works at the top of a tall staircase I wouldn’t have been able to mount before Wednesday. Getting across the parking lot (many speedbumps) and up those stairs was a problem…but I did it. And he was wonderfully sweet and competent at this tattooing stuff…but it still hurt.

Three hours later, I can definitively state that tattooing your eyes is damn painful and gives you a close resemblance to a red-eyed raccoon. I’m told the swollen and OMG-she-dipped-her-head-in-india-ink areas will fade in a couple of days and I’ll love the result.

Right now, though, I’m staring at the screen through half-lidded, heavily kohled eyes and wondering what the hell I was thinking.

Possibly I need to rethink the bucket list. Or at least cross off that skydiving excursion.



  1. Buttercup January 22, 2018 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    Just read the good news! Congratulatios! (My change of email address doesn’t seem to have registered). Look forward to following your progress in what must be your happiest new year.

  2. CaroleZoom January 15, 2018 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    Great writing!
    I don’t know if you’ve tried Forteo injections? I did the full two years. It made a difference.

    • cynthia January 19, 2018 at 11:47 am - Reply

      Forteo? Hadn’t heard about them until you mentioned it. Sounds interesting–I’ll check with The Doc. Thanks!

  3. Stephen Richard January 14, 2018 at 10:10 am - Reply

    I’m so happy for you. I don’t have to shed any more tears at your struggles, I hope.

  4. Diana tillotson January 13, 2018 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    Wonderful, wonderfuL news. So happy to know you’re on the mend and headed in the right direction.

  5. Teddy Devereux January 13, 2018 at 11:07 am - Reply

    Glad to hear your great news!

  6. Lori Schinelli January 13, 2018 at 9:23 am - Reply

    Cynthia, I am sooo glad you pushed through and are now seeing a light at the end of the tunnel! Congratulations and keep on working hard and telling us about it .
    You are inspiring!

  7. Sandy January 13, 2018 at 8:58 am - Reply

    I can hardly believe it–the dire diagnoses are wrong! You can heal and walk after a break above a knee replacement if you find the right doctor–and you found him. Congratulations on doing just that.

  8. SB January 13, 2018 at 8:16 am - Reply

    Congratulations! It’s great to hear good news from you. Here’s hoping it continues to go well!

  9. Island Fused Glass January 13, 2018 at 8:05 am - Reply

    Everything is looking up I am so happy for you. I loved the wheelchair dance sport video,thanks so much, I sent it to a young friend of mine who has an active 10 yr. old who has always used a wheelchair, maybe it will open up some doors for him. Keep up the good work Cynthia

  10. sunnystrapp January 13, 2018 at 7:31 am - Reply

    here I sit, patiently hand-sanding a ton of things that I have saved up to “finish” some day. Have been at it for a few weeks now. Sit there sanding in time to the tempo of whatever my ipad happens to be serving me, and ALWAYS remember “Hi C! how ya doin?” and all those videos that you waded thru to hand sand your stuff. If you can do it, I’m inspired to be able to do it too. Yeah, you’re an inspiration. Can ya take that?

    By the way, me too….one fine morning I broke my neck (c-4) skiing. Its been a long time since then. This far down the line I have a permanent hearing loss and am now slowly losing the vestibule on the right side, which makes me feel like I’m on the high seas in a storm. Vertigo. Lookin at the bright side, its like a continual free drunken spree. If that is where ya like to be, great. In my case its not so great.

    I have a cane to make it around and about, and I’d not trade it for anything. Hand made it myself, and it a beaut. But,…Even if I am using it, if I don’t pay a lot of attention, I can fall over backwards with no notice. Has startled the hair off my cats when I suddenly come crashing down between them as they watch me water the flowerbeds.

    We all have a cross to bear, and it seems that you have the sense to bear whatever yours may be with grace. Really glad to hear (read) :O) that you are finally healing. Keep up the good work, (and forget the tattoos, how vulgar….:O) The next things on the bucket is…. a mustache! That would be news worthy, huh?

    big hurray for you from North of Africa,

  11. ellen abbott January 13, 2018 at 6:00 am - Reply

    I can understand how it might be fearful to accept, like it might be a big terrible joke. but oh, hooray!

  12. Nicky Mann January 12, 2018 at 11:33 pm - Reply

    Just be aware that the psychological recovery from a serious injury or illness often starts once the treatment process is starting to wind down. Until now, your mind has been focused on what is immediately in front of you, with the pressure off your mind will need time to recover – I was given this advice at the end of stage 3 breast cancer treatment 10 years ago (yay). Be kind to yourself and give your mind time to heal now.

  13. Kathy Engholm January 12, 2018 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    That’s incredibly good news!
    Now, about the bucket list…

  14. carenashfordaren January 12, 2018 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    yahhhh. wonderful, proud of you…lol

  15. Jeri Warhaftig January 12, 2018 at 8:14 pm - Reply


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