What a week!

I went back to work this week after nearly 3 weeks’ absence with a broken ankle. This was only possible because my work is a short bus ride away and my colleagues are supportive and willing to fetch and carry for me. So I hauled myself down to the bus stop on crutches and got myself home again. I was offered lifts but it’s important to me to be independent despite the hampering of my injury.

Some bad news was waiting for me at the office: the company is restructuring and I was given notice on my current contract.  I’ve been in the job a long time and enjoy it very much, but although I was offered a new contract I am not sure if I want it.  Everyone knows what the job market is like at the moment, so I need to think carefully about what my options are.

This dilemma has given me a few sleepless nights, but I am encouraged by some interest in my cat baskets. I am working hard to make the most of these opportunities.

basket Monty

On Thursday night the OH asked if I could walk without crutches. I had removed my leg brace, but with his encouragement I  tried a few steps and managed quite well. I limped across the landing unaided, and it was wonderful. Feeling confident, I walked downstairs to the kitchen and  back again. I realised I didn’t need crutches any more, three weeks to the day after my operation. It was quite a liberation, and a big step towards independence.

Some very dear friends were back in town for the weekend and invited us over for a party. I squeezed my favourite trousers on over the leg brace and left the crutches at home. I had a glass of wine for the first time since the injury. Now that I can walk on my own two feet I’m less worried about losing my balance. I even joined in the singing and dancing – on the bad foot. It felt great to let my hair down and forget my troubles.

Till next time,

L x

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Heatwave

Here in Sheffield, UK, we have had an unbroken spell of baking hot summer sun for the last 2 weeks. This is most unusual for this country and particularly for the northern regions. Temperatures have nudged 30 degrees, which is almost unheard of.

Friends have said it must be awful to have a leg in plaster in this heat. But actually it’s OK. I don’t have to worry about cold toes, slippery conditions or getting the plaster wet. Getting dressed is ever so simple as I don’t have to put lots of layers on. Most of my trousers are not wearable over my ‘pot’, so I am living in summer skirts.

I am signed off sick until I am more mobile, but I have been doing some work from home via my laptop. It’s mostly repetitive, data-entry-type work so I can happily sit in the garden, in the shade of the tall trees, and play some music as I go. My phone is beside me at all times in case the office needs to call me. I like to think that they are struggling without me.

At the weekend some friends kindly took me to their house which was lovely. We sat on the deck and had a go in the kids’ paddling pool. Then we went to the pub and I got signed, including ‘Get Well Soon’ in Chinese! It was wonderful to have a change of scene and to be surrounded by cheery people.

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I had a lovely visitor yesterday who happens to be a trained homeopath, and she brought me some arnica tablets. This is meant to reduce swelling and bruising, and aid the healing process. I have never tried homeopathy before, and I am completely befuddled as to how it can possibly work, but I am willing to try it. My friend is very aware of the controversy surrounding homeopathy, so she discretely handed the tiny bottle of pills to me and I hid it away, in case we attracted attention and started a debate. It felt terribly risqué, like she was my drug dealer.

The cats are finding it far too hot to move. They are more sleepy and snuggly than ever.

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Till next time,

L x

A Bit of a Shock

Not much knitting has been achieved this week. Sometimes the unexpected happens, and not always in a good way.  On Monday I managed to break my ankle by falling awkwardly in a dead faint. I thought it was a nasty sprain, having sprained my ankle before. By the end of Tuesday it was so painful, despite plenty of rest and icepacks, that next morning I went to the local hospital and got it x-rayed. The radiographer took one look at it and said ‘I think you’ve broken it, love’. As soon as he took the picture, he said, ‘Yes, it’s gone’. It was a spiral fracture of the fibula.

I’ve never fainted in my life, so the faint was the first shock. On top of that, it never occurred to me that I might have broken my ankle. That was shock no 2. How could it be broken when I walked on it, albeit painfully, for 2 days? Right after I fainted, I went to my doctor who was more concerned about the faint than the sprain. He didn’t even look at my ankle. If he had, he probably would have sent me straight to A&E.

Shock no 3 was Thursday morning at the Fracture Clinic in the main hospital, where the consultant looked at my x-rays. ‘This fracture needs pinning’, he said, ‘or you will get arthritis in the joint. We’ll do it today. When did you last eat?’ I couldn’t believe it. I had seen the x-ray and the bone wasn’t displaced, so I thought they would just re-plaster it and send me on my way.

Because I had eaten a banana at 9 o’clock, they would not operate until at least 3pm, so I was taken to a bed in a ward to wait my turn. I’m usually fit and well, so a hospital is an unfamiliar environment to me. Still reeling from the shock of my situation, I was a brave girl and waited patiently, trying to read the paper and swapping text messages with the OH. I had already seen 4 different doctors and 3 nurses, who were all terribly careful about taking my history and explaining the procedure. The anaesthetist marked a big black arrow on my knee pointing towards my ankle, which I found rather comical, since they could hardly do the wrong leg – as if the plaster and the black and blue swollen ankle underneath it wasn’t enough of a clue.  The battery on my phone was very low and 3 o’clock came and went and I was still waiting. My leg started to throb and I was suddenly very tired. I lay down on the bed and the tears came.

The nurse came to tell me it was time to get the dreaded gown on and found me a blubbering mess. Far from telling me to pull myself together, she kindly fetched me tissues. The theatre nurses were just as patient with me. ‘Are you feeling anxious sweetheart?’ But I wasn’t anxious about the procedure or the anaesthetic. I just couldn’t believe this was  happening. I didn’t much like the idea of pieces of metal being placed permanently in my leg, all because I had fainted – the very first shock of the week which still needs investigating.

I was processed very efficiently and very well looked after on the ward during the night. It helped that the lady in the next bed was friendly and talkative. She had just had her entire shoulder replaced. I realised that the other 4 women on the ward were also suffering much more than me, including a young mother who had broken both her legs and 3 ribs trying to reach her child. At least I had one fit leg to hobble on.

The surgeon came to see me and told me the operation had gone well. But it was essential that I rest with my leg elevated for 2 weeks. I was still under the impression that I could go to work on Monday, on crutches. He said absolutely not. If I put any weight on my injured ankle, I could undo all his good work. Get a sick note and stay at home. This was another blow. I work in a very small company and my absence for 2 weeks or more would be hugely inconvenient. I started to think about contingencies and how much work I could do from home.

Back at home, our entire routine has changed. I can’t walk very far, or stand for very long. I can’t carry things around as I don’t have free hands. I can’t drive. Getting up and down the stairs is tiring and I’m scared of losing my balance. OH has had to take over all of the shopping and housework. During my first night back at home, the hospital drugs wore off completely and I woke at 5am thinking I was being stabbed in the ankle. The pain was very frightening and I screamed at the OH to fetch my painkillers. No-one had warned me it would be this painful after the operation, but I’m glad they didn’t. Now I understood why they fed me painkillers every 4 hours and gave me a large stock to take home with me.

Writing this has helped me to process the shock. Thank goodness for blogging! Slowly I am getting stronger. The weather is beautiful and I am surrounded by my hot, sleepy, snuggly cats.

Herbie therapy

Herbie therapy

Till next time,

L x

Feline Disharmony

Herbie is a fidget. He has a tendency to overgroom. Sometimes he pulls at the fur on his back so much that thin patches appear. Occasionally he even licks himself raw and nicks his skin with his teeth. On a solid white cat this is very noticeable in vivid red which he then licks across his fur in a pink streak. Although it heals very quickly I am trying to find out why he does this and it is proving tricky.

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My vet suggested I give all 3 cats their flea treatment, in order to rule out the obvious. She also gave him a shot of steroids to stop the itching and possible inflammation. The shot wasn’t really effective, as later on that day, and the day after, there was a new red patch on Herbie’s back. That was a week ago, and there have been no red patches since then, but still plenty of scratching and fidgeting.

It is very difficult to pinpoint a cause, especially as it’s been happening on and off for months. It could be an allergic reaction, so a blood test is an option. Was it a reaction to his first booster vaccination, back in September? Well, he was scratching before this, but in the vet’s surgery he was absolutely rigid with fear, and as soon as he got home he attacked the vaccination site as much as he could and pulled the fur off around it. For weeks afterwards he continued to pick at the fur on his back.

This makes me think it could be stress-related. When Herbie came to us as a kitten, he had to find his feet in our house with 3 other cats (now 2). He did this very well at first but as he matured he seemed unsure of himself and his place in the family. I tried hard to boost his confidence as underneath his bravado he is quite a sensitive soul. His bad experience at the vet last year may have triggered a pattern of behaviour, a neurosis. My vet is very cat-friendly and patient, and I don’t know why Herbie was so freaked out on that occasion.

Then in December my senior cat Barney was put to sleep. This left Top Cat up for grabs. Larry decided he was going for it. Always a confident and friendly lad, he started to throw his weight around a bit too much. Monty took the brunt of it and there was lots of scrapping. Now Larry and Monty, litter mates, who used to be best friends as kittens, can barely be in the same room without friction. Herbie adores both of them and just wants everyone to be happy. He plays delightfully with each of them and he doesn’t like it when they fight – which is nearly every day.

Larry

Larry

Talking all of this over with my vet, she suggested I work on allowing Larry to be top cat, whilst making sure he is not top cat over us. The lads are together a lot, so I should let Larry have more time apart from the others. I could also feed him further away from the other two. He can be quite dominant and I need to come down on him hard when he crosses the line. For example, last Christmas he  lashed out at my hand whilst I was writing a card and drew blood. I was furious and I held him down by the scruff of his neck, shouting ‘NO! NO!’ I chased him upstairs and made him stay there on his own for an hour. I did not allow the OH to go and talk to him. Larry has been a lot better behaved since then…until yesterday when he scratched both my hands for no good reason. This time I was too shocked (and upset) to react. I just didn’t speak to him for the rest of the day. The OH rather unhelpfully says ‘but he doesn’t scratch me’. Well, Larry and the OH have a very close bond, which is lovely. But I feed them, so he has to learn that he can’t ‘bite the hand that feeds’. More to the point, he can’t be a scratch risk to anyone in the house: either myself or any visitors.

Coincidentally, Larry did not like his food yesterday and spent all day howling at me to serve something else. I took to opportunity to show my dominance by refusing to budge.

If anyone has an idea of how to handle this minefield of feline psychology, please pitch in!

Finally, my vet had another suggestion: get another cat. I am not sure if this is wise…

Till next time,

L x