The Foot Diaries no 6 Identity Crisis June 9th 2016



n psychology, sociology, anthropology and philosophy, identity is the conception, qualities, beliefs, and expressions that make a person (self-identity) or group (particular social category or social group).

A psychological identity relates to self-image (one's mental model of oneself), self-esteem, and individuality.

Five weeks since surgery and next Monday I hope to get my 'footy cast " off. Myself and "footy cast " have been hanging around for almost 6 weeks, his smiley face greeting me at the end of the bed each day (and regularly at 4 am 5am etc ) and  he has looked back at me pretty much 24/7 from the couch, garden chair, knee scooter, everywhere,  I won't be sorry to see him dissected and thrown in the bin . He is hot, heavy, sweaty, smelly, clunky and restrictive. I feel like I've been wearing a ski boot for 5 weeks.  Yes, we've made some cool videos and photos together which have been fun, but I will not be sorry to see him sawn open and discarded with the rubbish. After he goes off to be incinerated ( good riddance )  I've been told I'll be  meeting my new FOOTY BOOT and will be looking at this new friend  for 4 weeks but can discard him when not weight bearing so no more ski boot in bed or on the sofa and maybe I can start move a bit more. A new phase into this rehab journey.

The thought of putting this (still very painful ) foot down is scary although exciting at the same time. The nerve pains are pretty horrible and sometimes it feels like my big toe is on  fire even though my hubby assures me it is not.  He has got pretty good at inspections with the iphone torch . I still need to elevate my foot cast as much as possible or it's very uncomfortable. Actually, comfort does not really exist  much at the moment . Pillows still move from upstairs to downstairs and I shift from seat to seat, position to position. It ain't got any easier.  I avoid the stairs as much as before , going down is easier but the ascent is still Dalkey Quarry .On some nights I have given in and done the knee shuffle up to bed . Too fatigued, too annoyed, too pi**** off  (don't give me 2 Hendricks and  fevertree tonic, I get too emotional  ) to do the crutch hop .The knee shuffle up the stairs is not a pretty sight.  Then there is the sit hop shuffle around the bed and lurch to the wardrobe, the search for the abandoned single shoe uner the bed, the attempt to pack or unpack the dishwasher, on my knee scooter ( still my best friend, sort of), the  reversing and re-reversing as the door won't open fully because my wheels are in the way , the scoot into the utility room to try and unload the washing machine where the door bangs off me and my scooter and the hangers are  too high to put the clothes on , too risky to go tippy toe ( Left foot only ) . It ain’t got any easier.  Escaping or getting out and about and feeling somewhat normal only lasts about an hour or two after which my foot hurts and throbs and I long to get back to the comfort of my sofa .

Yep, I'm fed up and I'd  ike MY  life back now... my identity.  Who is this person who lolls on the couch and shuffles around on a knee scooter from A to B and C to D and E to F . Who is this person who relies on everyone for help, up the stairs, down the stairs, move the scooter, fold it ,lift it ( reckon most of my friends will sue me for damage after all this) put it in your boot, drive me here, collect me there, shuffle and more shuffle. Who am I ? Yes, this is the WALL folks.  I’ve hit it, bounced off it a bit but none the less hit that wall. Proud that I have been doing brilliantly (keep telling yourself that ) for 4 weeks or so, the "cave" and the wall sort of melled into one. Maybe the wall is the cave or maybe the Cave is the wall. Hello wall, I want to be Shirley Valentine. I want to escape, drive my car to...well Seapoint will do..Sandycove even . I want to swim in the sea, submerge myself under the waves, hear that sea sound in my ears, float. Be me. I want to dance. I want to take my bike and cycle to Enniskerry and have a big sugary scone in Brambles. I want to give the biggest Pilates class ever, the bestset ever. I want to feel like Billy Elliot. Alive. I want to roll on the grass with my Grandson, play on the beach and splash in the surf. Be Me .

I’ll even be happy with egg and Chip.

I’ll get there. Get the mat out, put the music on ...move. Do what you can, leave what you cannot. Its okay.There will be days like this.

Reading back over my previous blogs and contemplating this journey that has been 5 weeks since surgery and the changes in not only my physical self but also in my emotional self, certain words and sentences now strike a few chords.  From Blog no 1 "....feeling calm but also terrified of the long haul rehab but mostly at not being able to do the things that ARE me, that make me tick, keep me going and make me feel ALIVE. Swimming, PILATES, tennis, hill walking , Cycling "

From Blog no 2 " That 4 am fear... that the surgery might not be successful, fear of infection, fear of not being able to stand on my toes, fear of losing a toe, fear of not being able to walk, play tennis, teach Pilates, run after my grandson...5 am fear of getting really low, fear of pain, fear of massive change, fear of losing control."

I re read those words and almost felt weepy ...again . Identity. That’s what we loose when our mobility is  limited or taken away, our Independence curtailed. Identity. My limitations are not permanent ( hopefully ) and I have bounced off that wall  already, content that I will get back to being ME and back to all my activities and aware that it will take time and remembering my Consultant warning me there would be the word of Van the Man again, "days like this "

A friend of mine is a wheelchair user and after having multiple frustrating experiences recently while trying to use the Dart, has become very active in making us and our local politicians more aware of what life is like as a wheelchair user and the obstacles that are part of  everyday life  for disabled people. Perhaps we all should spend a day in a wheelchair to  experience what its REALLY like. This is exactly what my friend has suggested we do and I'm hoping to do just that with him in a few weeks time and record our time together. I've had a taste of what its like to be somewhat limited , to search out the disabled toilet only to find its locked, try and not close the heavy door on your foot on the way out, be limited as to which restaurants or cafes you can go to . Is there steps ? is there a loo that will take me and my scooter ? lets walk / scoot the pier...steps up to the higher level at the end , No can do, feel frustrated as you always breathe in that sea air out into Dublin Bay from the top level. Not today , not this week. 

Maybe soon. I’m lucky . This is temporary. Be positive. Be thankful.