When Thank You Is Not Enough

I am not anymore injured, nor I am disabled. I am back to my old self except I have marks to prove something had happened to me before. The scars (Happy Scar) that reminded me that as a person with no superhuman power I am vulnerable physically, mentally and emotionally (My Road to Recovery Is Bumpy, Now that I Am Thinking of It).

What I experienced in the last 5 months of recovery gave me the opportunity to really dig into the issues people with disabilities have in their lives (not that I don’t do it every day for the last two decades). But most of my experience is not comparable to those I’ve seen in the field where I work. The struggles that I complained and whine about are nothing to the struggles people experience living in camps or even within their own community.

Unlikely allies

I become spiritual when the accident happened, and I thank God more and more for the experience. I learn to appreciate more my life and the people I encounter in it.

When I had the accident The Day I Broke My Leg, I was overwhelmed by the attention I got from my landlord and colleagues – that they are willing to look after me until I am comfortable enough to be on my own.

How many people will do that for you? 

The same when I was at the hospital. That one week in January that I was there was both fun and funny (on hindsight). Although I did not cry, I was like a cry baby always pressing the help button and asking the nurses to do things for me even in the wee hours of the morning. I know I disturbed them because I can see sleep in their eyes when I needed to go to the toilet at 3 in the morning or I needed adjustments in my bed very early because I cannot stay still and all my beddings hanging off it. But I don’t see them angry or annoyed. I like to think, I am fun to be around because while I speak English, they answer me in Arabic or French and when no translation is possible, hand gestures and head movements enough for us to understand each other.

It was enough time to have a routine, I eventually became friends with most of them at that time. But I am sure by now I am just a memory or maybe forgotten, but I will not forget them.  I tried to get their names but in the chaos of checking out I lost my list, and photos are all that I have of them. God knows how thankful I am for them looking after me. Extended to the two ambulance guys that brought me to the airport and back to the hospital and airport again until the airlines finally allowed me to fly home.

 

There is not a day since I left Tunisia that I am not thanking God for sending me those people. For crossing their path and making my experience as a person with injury good despite it happening overseas and life-changing. I felt that God is working in them and I pray every day for them, that they continue to be a blessing to others they encounter in their lives and in their work.

Forever grateful 

If I have a way to get this story to them, I would like for them to know that there is no amount of “thank you” enough to show my gratitude. I can only continue to pray for them and ask God to continue to bless them and to let them continue to give kindness to all the people they care in that hospital.

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From the hospital reception to the ER nurses to my doctors and the floor nurses and aides that kept me company all through my one-week stay at Clinique Amen La Marsa, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Dhidhak Collections / Tunisia 2018
My nurses, nurse aide and ambo nurse from Clinique Amen La Marsa (Dhidhak Collections / Tunisia 2018)

To my family in Tunisia, the couple that adopted me and never left my side, waited for me and being there when I was out of surgery, thank you.  I believe that God brought me to your home for a reason.  When I needed help, you did not hesitate and even offered me a place in your heart to make me feel comfortable being alone in a new country.

(Dhidhak Collections / Tunisia 2018)
The family that took care of me when I was in Tunisia (Dhidhak Collections / Tunisia 2018)

To the friends I met, truly Filipinos are people of the world. Who would have thought that the first meeting we had would be a start of a lifelong friendship? At my lowest time, when I was not allowed to fly the first time, you were there. You took me back and brought me to the hospital safely and there again the next day as if God has planted you on my side until I am up in the air and landed in the Philippines.

(Dhidhak Collections / Tunisia 2018)
Ate Joy (in black beret) angel by my side with her cousin and my ambo nurse @ the check-in counter – Carthage Airport (Dhidhak Collections / Tunisia 2018)

Commitment 

With the 6-month grace period of recovery I give myself coming to an end, it is time to express my gratitude to all the people that helped me through this disability journey from Tunisia to France and here in the Philippines.

It has enriched my life and had opened my eyes to a new perspective on the kind of work I do and made me want to do more. Nobody can tell me now that I cannot advocate for disability because I am not disabled, because, with the little time I was in that shoes, I can say I understood the struggle.  Living with it even for a short time reaffirmed that this is what God wants me to continue doing. So continue I will.

0c2e59493fcefa8e4e4283de876e5934I do not wish for this kind of accident to happen to anyone, but this is a good opportunity for me to pay the kindness and generosity allocated for me forward in anyway possible.

Maraming salamat!

Je vous remercie!

Shukraan!

I went to bed happy.

The last thing I did was publish my last post and turned off the lights. I guess I was tired because most nights I don’t sleep before the witching hour of 3 am the following day so sleeping before midnight was a real treat! But whatever time I went to la la land I always wake up the same time, before the rooster even which tells me I must be getting old 😄. Who cares anyway? Definitely not me!

Anyway, fully awake now I checked my phone and saw the little WordPress, WhatsApp and Facebook icon giving notice that people actually read my post. Well the WhatsApp message was something else but I am pleased with who I saw, and read and I liked them. Especially in Facebook because these are people that I personally know and knows me back.

The first three women who liked my FB post are the three women that I admire myself.

We encountered life and work together and actually a fourth even reached out to me privately when I posted my poem Falling In The Cracks. She offered to listen but all I could reply was “Thanks Amel” because I know even without telling she knows what I am feeling.

Then I saw this quote fitting tribute to the friends I made over the years.

It is not really the number of friend you have that matters its the quality and the bonds you made together.

It doesn’t matter how often you see or talk to each other its the feeling that you know they are there no matter what.

There is always that invisible tie that binds friends together and its truly great to know that the binds are made of gold thread that is priceless like that of families.

Shout out to my friends 🔊 You know who you are!

Lets to friendship! Even virtually

My Road to Recovery Is Bumpy, Now that I Am Thinking of It

“Walk on your own yellow brick road. If you can’t find one, spray paint your way into happiness. If that doesn’t work, buy yellow shoes.”
Sadiqua Hamdan, Happy Am I. Holy Am I. Healthy Am I.

Entering the fourth month of my recovery means that I am almost there. In fact, according to the textbook, I am past the 3-month bone healing process, I should be on my way to walking independently until fully recovered

My last radiographic imaging showed that my bones were healing well. They were aligned perfectly, and my doctor gave me very positive commendation on how much progress I am making. He might just see me once a month instead of two, and that is a good sign, right?

When I say fully recovered means, more flexibility in my left ankle and no more swelling. But I still have both and yesterday when I attended my therapy session it made me appreciate more the small changes I observed in me.

In the last months, I suffered what you will call “psychological breakdown”. Nothing serious where I need to seek professional help, I guess living with my family helps breaks my downward plunge but then if I am alone I am not able to do anything productive except maybe read a lot of books and start this blog.

It happened when I thought I made a mistake in my attempt to recover early. I told you I am my own worst patient and I didn’t follow my own prescription and pushed myself too much. When I was not entirely satisfied with my therapy sessions, not getting good results, I increased my home treatment.

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One day I started to feel pain when stepping on my left foot and attempted walking, I thought I was just tired and iced it. It didn’t improve with ice and rest, even when I put on my aircast, I still felt pain when I put my foot down. Got more worried when I was not able to do proper gait training during my therapy session because of pain. I reported to my doctor, anticipating I made my situation worst and all knowledge and reasons I know are thrown out of the window!

No, it was brought on by me still walking on partial weight bearing, and my forefoot and longitudinal arch are tight. All my doctor did was stretch it, it was painful but it helped as if I didn’t have pain after all.

With that painful episode, it became a trigger for me to be getting down and worried, thinking about how pathetic my life is and replaying how I came to be in this situation. I noticed a trigger … the thought of work, of some name or words related to my life before the accident triggered these melancholic episodes that made me dive in and swim in “self-pity”. I wrote about it in my other blog Bouts of frustrations, boredom and a little bit of self-pity

So what now?

I am trying to crawl back out. To get back into looking at what I needed to do and finish what needs to be done soon.

My spirit actually lifted because of 4 degrees increased in my dorsiflexion. It means that I have 6 more degrees to go to reach the full range of 20. That motivates me to be more positive and do more careful exercises at home not that I also decreased my therapy sessions. I am trying again to be the good patient as I could be.

Additionally, I decided its time to be functionally independent in self-care. It means I am doing it alone overcoming the fear of slipping again and planning on my new shower routine without breaking my bones. That’s for another blog.😉

Being Thankful

How much do you appreciate every day?

We live day in, day out.

We toil, we adapt, we adjust to make the most of our life.

We do what we love, we pour out our passion. We try to be happy. We make others happy.

Does that make your day?

It does for me. With my kind of work, you have to believe me when I say I am thankful every day…

in the morning …

for the peaceful and restful sleep …

for the new day …

and for my daily struggles.

I met people in a far worst situation than me. I’ve been to places where luxury is a dream. I’ve been around love from nothing and love that is waiting for nothing in return.

That is why even in my current circumstances. I am grateful every day.

As you already know I am still in the process of healing. My foot and leg have not fully recovered but I am getting there.

I am waiting for it to take its natural course, it means I still have to keep on going as today reminds me of the accident I had at the beginning of the year.

The Day I Broke My Leg

I am living for six days in my new house in Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia few days after the new year when the accident happened. The house that I fought to get because the people that were supposed to help me settle in my new country didn’t actually help. The moment I saw the house it was for me, I felt at home immediately even if I know I will only stay for two short months working remotely for my work in Turkey.

It was also not a hard decision to make because the house and its owners speak for itself. The owners are good people, and with my accident, they’ve proven to be angels in disguise.

The entryway to my house

As I settle in that first week, I slowly develop my daily morning routine – waking up at the crack of dawn, take showers and get the coffee running. To be followed by simple breakfast of bread and jam and more coffee. Then I set up my workstation in the smallish dining area, roughly around mid-morning, the time my work country is also starting their day. In the afternoon, I would go out to walk around the small town, get something to eat or simply watch the people as they come back from the city center.

On the 6th day, I woke up earlier than usual and cannot go back to sleep, so I decided to just take a shower and catch up on work earlier than usual.

I didn’t do anything different, including stepping on the rubber mat that was in front of my shower box since day one but for some reason, the mat slipped under my feet, and I found myself sitting on the bathroom floor with my legs in two separate places … the right leg was in front of me while the left leg was inside the shower box. The moment I looked at my feet, I knew something was wrong,  I felt no pain, but I was pretty sure my ankle was dislocated. I saw my left foot slightly off further to the left, away from my leg bones compared to my right leg.

My leg immediately after the accident … propped on the pillow while waiting for my ride to the ER

I was jolted awake because as if I was sleepwalking when it happened. It took me a couple of minutes to get my thoughts in order and my bearing to get dressed again before I called for help. Luckily there’s a grab bar next to the door; it helped me get back up, balancing on my right leg avoiding weight bearing on the left side.

I started hopping to my bedroom, holding on the wall to secure myself until I retrieved my phone. Reaching my room and my bed, I crawled to the other side close to the window. And propped myself on the French window, leaning my back on the wall while I raised my leg – thank God for pillows! Called the only friend I have (at the moment), who happens to be the logistics coordinator of the Libya mission whom I knew would be also up and getting ready for work and said “I need help, I had an accident, bring me to the hospital please,” 

I called my landlord right after, and in short time the couple was in my house fussing around me genuinely concerned making me feel comfortable while we wait for the car.

Premonition

I am not a superstitious person, but I believe that sometimes the world has a way of telling us the future.

Days after I arrived in Tunisia I started inquiring about logistics condition for expatriates, the information that should be readily available to share with anyone visiting the county particular on police and hospitals. As bureaucracy would have it, I didn’t get that information and then the accident happened.

My friend E also doesn’t know where we should go in an emergency situation, the information was provided by my landlord. Fifteen minutes tops we were at the emergency room of the only private hospital in the area known to the diplomatic and expatriate community (but not to my organization – efficient!). It offered quality services, I could attest to it with the services I received the week I stayed there before I was evacuated to the Philippines.

But then, when I think of it now, I may have had a premonition that I will be needing medical services and eventually I did. I don’t know what could have happened had I not asked for that information in the first place. But then again, premonition or not accidents do happen, and I attributed this one to be just that, an accident.

More than dislocation … 

My leg and feet after waiting for over an hour … being moved to proper bed while I wait to be moved to my room and wait for my surgery

Forty-five minutes after the accident, as I scooted down my house and hoped to the car, I waited another hour to get confirmation of my predicament.

While I wait for the results of my x-ray, and my friend and landlord were preparing to find me a room, my ankle starts to swell. It could have been worse if I didn’t apply my knowledge of acute trauma management.

The moment of truth arrived, after waiting for almost an hour since I arrived in the emergency room — my ankle was not only dislocated but by leg bones are broken. It was explained to me with by the nurse in broken English because I neither speak Arabic nor French and them English, but the x-ray plate says it all regardless of my background.

For those who care to know — the fibula which is the smaller non-weight bearing bone of the leg and the tibia which forms part of the ankle joint, the main weight-bearing joint is broken.

I was shaken a bit because I was still hoping until I saw the x-ray that they would just have to reset my ankle, and I will be in a cast and be on my way but no, the breaks are big and I will need surgery to fix it.

My x-ray plate … two broken bones and a dislocated ankle

I had no choice, but to accept my situation. It was not a difficult decision to make, I will need the surgery whether I like it or not but I was worried I was alone in a foreign land. All sorts of thoughts run through my head, but I was assured by my landlord that they will not leave me alone — they officially announced in the hospital that I am their adopted daughter. They assured me too that the doctor that would handle my case is a renowned specialist known in the country (even a little bit of a celebrity).

Late in the afternoon, I was out of the operating room like nothing happened. I was awake during the 2-hour surgery, didn’t feel any pain but was very thirsty.  When they transferred me to my room, ( was happy to see my adoptive patents waiting for me as if I was indeed one of their own children.