I spent the first week after I broke my leg at Joy’s house. I had a lot of pain. I was worried about over-stepping. I was worried about exhausting her. I was embarrassed because of all the help I needed. I was hungry, and it was hard for me to get to the kitchen. I was dirty. I was poor. I had to move, and I wasn’t allowed to walk for another 6-8 weeks.
As my doctor explained it, I had blown out the back half of my left ankle. And they had to use screws, plates and wire to put all the tiny chips of bone back together. But it wasn’t just that. My good leg was now my bad leg.
My leg had been opened up, and the bones mended. It was in a cast. And the doctor told me under no circumstances was I to walk on it, or even rest it on the ground. He didn’t have to tell me that. After surgery your leg swells up if you lower it beneath your heart. I couldn’t lie flat in bed for more than ten minutes before the pain would start cascading down. I had to keep it elevated at all times.
As a cripple: once you realize you have to go to the bathroom, you lie in bed for 10 minutes, (because sitting up is too exhausting and painful, you will lie down for the first month after surgery) you’re gaging your pain, trying to figure out if you need to take a pain pill before you go, or if you should wait. How long will it take? Will the painkiller make you dizzier? Will it knock you out before you get back to bed? Eventually you decide.
Hopping from your bed to the bathroom takes concentration. You’re using a walker, and one leg, trying to keep your broken leg above the floor, looking out for things that may trip you. In the 5 minutes it takes for you to hop from your bed, to the bathroom, your leg has swollen painfully inside your cast. By the time you’re sitting on the toilet, it’s throbbing. So, it takes more concentration than normal to pee. And if you have to poo? Pushing sends blood flow downwards. So, a good shit will make your broken bone swell even more. The longer your pee takes, the harder it is to hop back to your bed, because your mind is kinda full of pain. But, you’ve been in bed for a while now. And so you always take a few extra minutes to enjoy the bathroom. Because it’s not your bed. And you miss not being in bed.
So the hop back is harder, and you have to concentrate, to make sure you don’t fall, or trip on something. If you have to sit down between the bathroom and the bedroom, your leg swells up even more. You may need the rest, because your unbroken leg is holding all of your weight, and the strain is making that half of your ass twitch in a scary way. But the longer you sit, the more it hurts too. You’re sweating and panting by the time you actually lay down again. Each bathroom trip means 2 hours of laying down, with your foot elevated above your head, in order to get the swelling down to a manageable level.
Three bathroom trips a day were about all I could manage. I couldn’t get myself water, or make myself food. So before Joy left in the morning, she would put as much food next to me as she could. Like leaving a food dish next to the sleeping form of an old dog. So he didn’t have to walk across the room.
For the first few days, I cursed myself for not making more friends. I had just moved to Seattle, 3 months before. But I’d been visiting all summer, and before that, for years. Why hadn’t I made more friends? Why hadn’t I put more effort into relationships? I obsessed over being dependent on Joy. And she obsessed over it too.
But by the end of the first week, my fears had dissolved. I may not have made a lot of friends, but the friends I’d made were kind and went out of their way to help me. During the day, enough people would stop by, that I was fed and watered, and almost never bored. Sparkle Pussy, Joy’s boyfriend, Prince Eric, my friends Colin, Carly, Trevor, Timmy and Pia all chipped in to help me get through the day.
Seattle has given me the gift of friends who will hang out with me even when I’m crippled It’s like that Alanis Morisette song “That I would Be Good”.
Which is another aspect of this broken leg thing that’s kind of bullshit. I’m so fucking emotional. Between the pain and the painkillers, my complete vulnerability and having to ask people for stuff EVERY DAY. “Can you get me some water? Can you get my pants? Can you help me shower? Can you bring me some food?” And all of my new relationships were tested, and I was so fucking grateful when they came through. All of which left me scared, nervous, embarrassed, grateful, hopeful, sentimental, loving, and a little horrified at my condition, at the same time, all the time. Feeling all of those goddamn feelings has made me do insane things, like finding an Alanis Morisette song which completely describes my relationship. And then saying that. On the Internets. Where everyone can read it and laugh.
Added to all this was me and Joy. Living together. One of us completely dependent on the other. Like a lot of sisters we fight constantly. But even when we’re not fighting, even when we are laughing together, some silent tension keeps us at odds.
Our forced time together helped me untangle some of this. I realized that I wish she were an entirely different person. And she thinks that I do stupid things. The other person I wish she was used to exist. But it was 20 years ago. Back then I liked her, but I wished our lives were different, our parents less abusive, or at least richer, so we could be comforted with money when their damage got to be too much. So I’ve been trying to wish things different all along. Back then, Joy still thought I did stupid things.
I think that living in her house, utterly depending on her made me realize that while she has fundamentally changed since we were small, some of those changes are good. And after meeting my friends, and packing and moving all of my stuff, and making decisions with me for the last month, I think Joy has decided that not EVERYTHING I do is stupid.
I think, for the first time, we started to see ourselves in each other. She fed me, bathed me, started moving all of my stuff out of Homoasis, worked 40 hours a week at her job, spent time with her boyfriend and worked on her side projects (She organizes charity events in her spare time, for spare cash). After two weeks of all of that, she started to fall apart. But falling apart didn’t slow her down. It was the first time I’ve ever seen anyone besides me do that. I found it endearing. And alarming. Because while she charged full speed ahead, I knew she was crashing into a wall of her own limitations. Soon.
I hate medicine. And I have a deep and abiding fear of becoming addicted to opiates. This fear translates into amnesia. I forget about painkillers, because I never really consider them an option. I don’t have any Tylenol in my house because I never remember to take it. When my leg isn’t broken, if I’m in pain, then I ignore it. If the pain gets really bad, I slow down; taking longer and longer to accomplish tasks. Which annoys me. So, I call myself a pussy, and try to make myself speed up. Eventually, my body gives up, and there’s nothing my mind can do to get it going again. This usually results in me crying and yelling at myself. Eventually, I smoke a little weed, which calms me down enough to help me realize “Oh. I’m in pain. That’s why I’m going slow. I think I need to quit for now, and rest.” and then I go to sleep.
Did you notice how at NO POINT, I took any kind of medicine? Yeah. That’s literally my process. While my leg was broken, it went a little differently. Usually Joy or someone else was there by the time I’d get to crying. And they’d say “Take a pain pill, you idiot.” And then I would, and things would get better. For about 15 minutes, until I fell asleep. After a while she would say really annoying things like “Do you know how upset it makes me when you don’t take your pain medication?”
Apparently, Joy pulls that kind of shit too. On her own body. Which is kind of impressive, because she has Fibromyalga. So, it takes a little more than a “Don’t be a pussy” pep-talk to get her moving when she’s in pain. After a while I reminded her of herself so much that she called an old boyfriend. And apologized. “I’m taking care of Alisa. And she’s acting exactly like me. And I’m starting to realize how difficult I was.”
Luckily, when Joy broke, Carly and Trevor and I were all hanging out, talking shit about people we know. We all looked at each other, with wide worried eyes. She had tried to make a joke out of her chiropractor bill; not realizing that it wasn’t even remotely funny. Joy is as charismatic as I am. She can tell a joke. That was when I realized she’d hit the wall.
She left the room and I said “I’m literally breaking her!” Trevor nodded “Yes. We can’t let this continue. Why don’t you come stay with me at my house?” I was really surprised. Who invites a cripple to crash on their couch? It’s crazy. Trevor is a wonderful person, but we were casual friends. Not “I’ll help you shower when you are filthy, smelly and incapable of doing it alone.” or “I will feed you every meal you need, and let you watch tv all day, every day on my couch for as long as you need.” friends. Carly was nodding. “Yeah, I’ll drive you and your stuff over.” She agreed. I was stunned. And hopeful. And excited.
It was the break we needed, in order to survive. I was starting to freak out about Joy breaking down. And Joy was starting to break down. I didn’t even tell her until I needed to start packing, I didn’t think she (or I) would be able to take it if it fell through.
Trevor made me yummy food, and his dog and I fell in love. I slept. And watched awesome television. And took drugs. And had a steady stream of friends come over to keep me company.
Joy spent the next three days sleeping.
And then we started to get ready to move all of my shit, my cats and my crippled ass into a new place.
I’m trying to be as honest, while telling you this story, dear Internets, as I can. Which means it takes me a while to craft the story. In between saga’s, I’m trying to make new cards, and post them on my etsy shop. And call my stores, and pay my bills, but I still can’t walk. And I can’t go out and sell. Which I usually do to pay my bills.
So, this month I need help. My sister is throwing me a fund-raiser on March 30th, from 8:30 pm at Waid’s on Capital Hill. The theme is doctors and nurses. Sex it up, and be ready to dance. Don’t have a costume? Come as patient. I want to see lots of awesome head wounds! Door prizes for best dressed and most creative costume (or costume posse)
Prizes include: Snarky cards, Snarky Paintings and Fuck You panties! The $10 door fee for the night goes to paying my medical and other bills. It will be a great dance party, and it’ll make a huge difference in my life if you can attend.
If you can’t, please look at my etsy site, and find something you need. I’ve been updating it like crazy, so there will be something that cracks you the fuck up. And the sales from my site are all I’ve got, besides the fund-raiser, to help feed and clothe me. You can send a paypal donation to snarky cards at gmail dot com.
Thanks for listening to my tale of woe. I hope that you are well, and that your life is easy and kind.