“What? Disabled. You? No way! I don’t think you even know what it means!” That’s what I heard in someone’s voice when I was speaking to them about being what happened to me on Wednesday 14th September.
I get it. There are so many opinions about what ‘counts’ as a disability and what doesn’t. Some don’t accept the definition that’s used by the medical profession. Others, don’t know of this definition, but have created their own, which appears non-negotiable. There are some who won’t accept labels like disabled, and they have multiple reasons for this.
We are complex beings, so something which could be simple, often isn’t.
I don’t think understanding disability is simple, so if this post ruffles any feathers, that truly isn’t my intention. I just want to talk about what happened to me and explore it with you.
A physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.
What caused the disability?
I was about to pour some ‘Indian’ tea into a mug, when I dropped the sieve. No big deal. I went to pick it up and before I got to the floor, I felt an excruciating pain. It all happened so fast, I couldn’t even figure out where the pain was. All I remember is grabbing the worktop on my left, to try and stop myself from falling over.
I suddenly couldn’t move. No joke. I had to hold on to something to get from where I was to the closest chair, and even though it helped, it was still mega painful.
I soon discovered that I couldn’t put any weight on any part my right leg, so walking was out of the question
My local surgery and the NHS are amazing
I called the GP. I could sense that he really wanted to help but he was stuck himself. It was 1pm and he had two patients due in the next half an hour, after which he began another shift at 2pm. All the other GPs had gone, and he just couldn’t fit me in.
He asked me a few questions and booked me in for a home visit for the next day. He also said that taking Paracetamol wasn’t strong enough and he’d get some Cocodamol delivered to me. Amazing!
Well…this may not be music to your ears, but for me, it was amazing that the NHS, even in its current state, could offer all of this at such short notice. I hadn’t realised that pharmacists would deliver medication to me in this situation either. For some reason I’d obviously assumed that it would be for something worse, a long term condition, for the elderly, or perhaps only possible after filling out lots of paperwork, as opposed to, being arranged so quickly.
Thank goodness for neighbours who happen to be medics
Luckily for me, one of my neighbours is a GP. I sent her a message on the off chance that she was home. My message happened to reach her while she was home for a short while. Now my biggest challenge was working out how I’d let her in. How would I get to the door? I used a dining chair to help me get from the living room to the door and although it was painful, I was really grateful for the chair and the fact that I was able to move, with the its help.
I felt reassured to be physically seen by someone in the medical profession. She asked me where our medicines were, after which she got our Ibuprofen and some water, and helped me get to a chair. This was mainly because I didn’t know when the prescription would be delivered and she felt I needed to take something between now and then. She also put things like my phone and tablet within easy reach, so that I could use them if I wanted to.
It’s very strange. I found myself calling a friend, who wasn’t a medic, because I wanted to share what had happened, along with how I felt. I was taken aback because I wanted to cry. Normal, you might think, so why was I surprised? It was because, the pain wasn’t making me want to cry. It was a feeling of shock. The realisation that things could, or rather have, changed drastically within a few moments. I was suddenly disabled. Whether it be temporary or permanent, or better or worse than someone else’s condition, didn’t matter at that point. What mattered was that I could barely move and when I did, I was pulling all sorts of faces and cringing in pain. Talking that through only took a minute or so, but it meant more than I realised. It helped me work out what I was feeling, accept it, be heard and then move on. It was empowering and helped me feel calmer.
Hubby to the rescue
I called Suraj and he came home soon after. He collected the prescription for me, so that I had stronger pain relief sooner. After that we both worked together to figure out how to do things that we normally wouldn’t give a second thought to. It felt good to have his support, logic and creativity around finding solutions or tools to help me rest whilst staying mobile. I’d been advised to rest but avoid ‘just sitting’ because that would cause stiffness and make it worse.
Sciatica. I’d had this once before, but I don’t remember it being this painful. I’d been told that Sciatica can pass quickly or take weeks, and we wouldn’t be able to guess which category I would fall in to!
The simple yet effective support from the dining chair made me have an appreciation for zimmer frames, and for those who need them. I’m not sure what was going on in the back of my mind, but I felt positive and I wasn’t going to let this situation get the better of me. If it was going to last a number of weeks, I had no intention of being cooped up at home, feeling helpless, and depending on Suraj to do everything for me.
I knew the chair worked, but that would be a bit tricky to help me mobilise outside our home, so I thought about buying something that would enable me to go out! I thought of a zimmer frame and then decided to get as walking stick, because I only needed help with one side.
It arrived the next day and was invaluable when we went to the GP. We live across the road from the surgery, and Suraj worked from home so that he could help me. For these reasons, we cancelled the home visit that the GP had booked, and made an appointment to go in.
I don’t know if my mindset has helped, if it was going to be like this anyway, or if it’s all an illusion caused by the medication; but the pain reduced within 24 hours!
Today is Friday and although it’s only been two and a half days since it began, the pain is affecting less of my leg, I’m reducing the medication, and therefore feeling less groggy, I’m more mobile, feeling in less pain and looking forward to returning to work next week. I’m so so pleased!
It’s not the same for everyone
I understand that these experiences are different for everyone. This time, I’ve been lucky and it’s passed pretty quickly. However, I feel better knowing that if it happens again and lasts longer, or if something else ‘disabling’ happens, there are people, tools and strategies that can make things better. Some of the things that these aids can do is, prevent isolation and loneliness, reduce the amount of pain, and give some level of independence. It’s got to be worth a try hasn’t it?