Friday, November 30, 2012

A Gimp Year in Review

A lot of really good things happened in 2012--Meryl won her third Oscar, I got to see Kelly twice in concert, Barack won the re-election, Kevin visited San Francisco for the first time since I moved here, my novel-in-progress has been consistently moving forward, I made new friends, I got to reunite with Serban and meet his lovely girlfriend, Manuela...

But, to no surprise, 2012 will always be the Year of the Achilles (unless the Mayans steal my thunder and the world really does end in 13 days). Exactly a year ago today, I performed a tumbling pass I shouldn't have, and when I came down on the "trampoline," I heard a pop that led me to believe I broke the trampoline itself.

11/30/11: More or less what I did, except I landed where the arrow shows.
Not so.

It's only a matter of time before my memory of all the events that followed dull into a general "it took a long fucking time" mentality, and since I have an obsessive personality, this is a timeline I want recorded. It was first suggested I do so to map my progress, but I found myself recording things that weren't directly related to the recovery but still affected by it, like the graduation ceremony from my graduate program on December 16, 2011, that I couldn't attend, the way skin fell off my foot even a week after my cast was removed. But even my long-winded posts can't support such a detailed picture of what this year has been like, so I'll stick with the basics.

In order to preserve this year in all its gimpy glory, I've come up with a photo timeline. In a year where progress has felt so incredibly slow, it provides some kind of comfort to see that I've actually come pretty far.

12/2/11: Put in super-cool shorts in case I needed to be put in a cast. Instead, I was told I needed surgery.
12/6/11: Surgery day. L: torn tendon, R: repaired tendon. (Pictures here--warning, they are graphic.)

12/13/11: My very first cast!
12/22/11: Cast sawed off, all 23 staples removed, cleared to go to New York for Christmas.
12/27/11: I wouldn't have traveled to New York--in a wheelchair--for anyone else. At least it got us to the top of the Empire State Building in a record 10 minutes!

1/11/12: Cast removed by new SF doctors. Foot insanely swollen. Foot flexed and put in walking boot. Lots o' pain.
2/2/12: My second-favorite handicap perk, after skipping airport security lines. The day was made all that more fun by having Nikki accompany me to the wretched SF DMV.
2/20/12: What my leg looked like when they told me to start putting weight on my foot while in the walking boot. It took me a week longer to even start. Signs of fucked-up ankle becoming quite evident.
2/23/12: First physical therapy appointment. Going twice a week.

3/20/12: No more walking boot, back to using one crutch like a cane. Doesn't stop me from drunk brunch and meeting famous drag queens, but does stop random passersby from inquiring as to how I hurt myself (i.e., they think I'm perma-disabled).
3/25/12: Boot clearly taken off too soon. After waiting on foot for Latrice Royale for hours, I came home to see this. Back in the boot I go.
4/12/12: Physical therapist hypothesizes that I fractured my ankle at the time of injury, given persistent problems with my distal tibia joint. Also: I take my first shower without a shower chair or cast in four months and 12 days. 

5/20/12: Bay to Breakers 2012, and my very last day on crutches.

6/25/12: Post-Pride swelling puts me in a special ankle brace.
7/10/12: I learned how to tape my foot in order to pull my ankle joint into the right place for easier mobility.
7/31/12: Return of the Boot. An MRI reveals bone bruising in my ankle and a small, lateral tear in my tendon. Back in the boot for three weeks.

8/15/12: Walking. On my own. No wheelchair, crutches, boot, brace, tape, heel lifts...freedom.

10/1/12: New physical therapist, new strengthening exercises--muscle getting stronger.
11/22/12: First time driving since the accident. 

11/30/12: One-year anniversary! From the back things look good, but not quite there on the front. Not sure what anatomical failure is the source of this, but I'll get there.
When I decided to go through with the surgery, I was told it would be a year before I was back to 100%. Unforeseen ankle problems and real life has prolonged things, but for the most part my daily life is back to normal--minus the eight exercises I have to do daily or every other day. 

There have been a lot of lessons learned about this--some of which I touch on in an article I just wrote for Snap magazine, a beautiful photography magazine, and it's an article I'm really proud of--but the clearest one has been the depth and patience and encouragement of my personal support system. The doctors and physical therapists have been, mercifully, great, but my family, friends, and boyfriend were oh-so wonderful throughout this entire process, helping with my physical and mental recovery from this rather unexpected event.

But now I'm getting better, and I suppose it's time to stop being so self-indulgent and reflective. 


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