Monday, March 30, 2009

Back at home

I am back at my own house after 3 weeks of staying at my friend Michelle's house. It is great to be home! I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for everything Michelle did for me while I was laid up. Not only did she have to look after her 3 year old, she had to look after a cranky gimp as well. Once again, a big thank you to Michelle for all her help over the last 3 weeks. I hope that someday I can do something to repay her.

At the condo where my family were staying the day they left to go back to Canada

After two weeks, I had to go back to the orthopedic specialist for an assessment and was able to have the hard splint removed. Let me tell you, it was not pretty when I looked down at my leg and foot! I am sure you can imagine after two weeks of not being able to put any weight on my foot, wash or even shave, my leg was in quite the state. It was a black and blue, stinky, hairy, little chicken leg with little to no muscle left. The specialist assured me this was normal since muscles start to atrophy in a matter of days.

I have started rehabilitation exercises and have been off crutches for several days now. I think the best part was saying goodbye to those damn crutches. It has been a slow and incredibly frustrating process but it feels really good to be moving again. Apparently, it takes about 6 weeks for a ligament tear to heal. After that, I will have to work very hard to get back to the mobility and strength I had before the fall.

My friend Shelley has generously offered to come by and walk the dogs for me until I am stronger and can do it on my own. I feel so lucky to have such wonderful, generous friends in my life.

The 4th annual PATA Manzanillo spay/neuter clinic started on Friday. It is a 5 day clinic where local families can bring in their pets and/or stray animals in their neighborhood to be spayed/neutered at no cost. Local veterinarians and vet students, along with vets from other parts of Mexico come to volunteer their time. The clinic is run entirely by volunteers in an effort to reduce the over population problem. The local people of Manzanillo volunteer in many ways from day to day activities at the clinic - checking in the animals, post operation recovery, administering vaccinations and medicines, to feeding the volunteers, housing the vets from other cities, lending and/or donating supplies, animal crates, etc. It is amazing to see what can be accomplished in a matter of several days. Since this is a cause near and hear to my heart, I have been helping out. As I am not that mobile, one of the veterinarians suggested that I could learn how to tattoo the animals (as I can do this sitting down with little to no walking). This year, an organization has generously donated the tattoo identification system which is similar to tattoo and microchip identification systems in Canada and the US. After being trained by one of the veterinarians, I started tattooing. After the animals come out of surgery, while they are still anesthetized, I use a tattoo machine to give them their ID number. After that, they immediately go to post operation recovery where they are cared for by volunteers until they wake up.

We've reached the half-way point of the spay/neuter clinic to GREAT (and record-breaking) success thanks to all of the volunteers. A record breaking number of surgeries have been completed thus far: 48 on Friday, 67 on Saturday and 60 on Sunday-- 175 in total and with still two days to go. Local press is even taking notice: we made El Noticiero newspaper on Thursday and the Correo de Manzanillo newspaper two days in a row with a full-page photo spread. Click on the link if you want to check it out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Life as a gimp incredibly dull and boring. I am trying not to go insane from the inactivity and having to constantly keep my foot elevated. Since my accident, I have been staying at my friend Michelle's which is a beautiful, grand house with a large patio that has the most beautiful view of the bay. All things considered, I cannot imagine a better place to be laid up. My days consists of studying Spanish, reading books, writing, watching tv and trying to check e-mails/blog when the internet connection so permits.

I have been very lucky to have Michelle looking after meals, getting me glasses of water, taking my dogs out, etc. It is a regular zoo here - there is Michelle, her 3 year old son, myself, my two dogs, her two dogs and a cat. Fortunately, Michelle found someone to walk my dogs 6 out of 7 days a week. The gardener from across the street comes by to pick up the dogs after he has finished his normal day job. He takes them for an hour walk each day and afterwards, both Jade and Jackson like to cool off in the pool.

The first week here, I was on alot of medication and was not quite lucid enough for studying so my days mostly consisted of sleeping and laying with my foot elevated. I also had a few friends come by for a visit which was a huge treat. They have all come up with entertaining nicknames for me - peg leg, club foot, gimp, etc. After almost a week, I finally left the house for the first time and went to one of our favorite restaurants/bars Frida's for live jazz night. It was soooooooo great to get out of the house and visit with my friends. Then on Monday, Michelle had a barbecue where alot of our friends came by for an afternoon fiesta.

On the weekend, I actually went out for dinner one night and took another giant fall on the slippery tiles in the restaurant bathroom. Fortunately, my shoulder and knee took the brunt of it and I am just a little more black and blue than before. My friend had to come into the bathroom to collect me.....very humbling as I am sure you can imagine.

Between the cobblestone streets, the potholes and the slippery tiles, it will be a miracle if I make it through my time on crutches without any more falls! Here's hoping!

You are going to have to wait for photos and blog posts from my visit with my family as the internet connection is too slow here to upload any pictures.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I have fallen and I can't get up...

Well, at least that was the case on Friday evening. I caught a taxi home after playing cards with my brother and some friends. As I got out of the taxi, I slipped and fell and I heard something snap in my foot. I have fallen on my street in the past as it is a crazy cobblestone street with about a 45 degree incline. And yes, I tend to be on the accident prone side. However, this time, I was not able to stand up and was in so much pain, I nearly vomited. The taxi driver picked me up and carried me to the bottom of the stairs leading up to my apartment. I phoned my friends Mike and Rob who were with me playing cards and they came to pick me up and brought me to the hospital right away.

I arrived at the hospital and within a matter of minutes was taken for X-ray's. While this was happening, they paged the orthopedic specialist and he was there by the time the x-rays were finished! They reviewed the x-rays with my friend Mike (who went to med school) and it appeared that there were no fractures. After a full assessment, they told me I had torn a ligament in my ankle and would be in a splint and on crutches for the next several weeks. Apparently, this takes much longer to heal than a bone fracture and I am looking at approximately 6 weeks of recovery time. For the first few weeks, I am not allowed to put any weight on my foot and must keep it elevated at all times. After the assessment, they gave me a pain injection through the IV and put a splint on my leg/foot. From start to finish, my hospital stay was just under one hour. The orthopedic specialist even gave me his cell number to call him anytime with questions or concerns. Wow, very impressive considering that if I were in Canada, I would be still sitting in the waiting room trying not to kill someone as I sat there for the typical 10-12 hour waiting period.

Overall, I was so impressed with the level of care in the hospital. I also could not believe how fast they took care of everything. And on top of that, to have an orthopedic specialist arrive within 10 minutes is unbelievable.

I want to give a big shout out to Mike and Rob for looking after me that night. I love you guys and I do not know what I would have done without you! You are my knights in shining armor!

Before this happened, my friend Michelle had asked me to come stay with her in their house for 3 weeks while her parents were away. After the accident happened, she graciously let me come to her house one day earlier and has been looking after my dogs and I ever since. She has been cooking for me, bringing me water and basically doing everything for me since I am not allowed to put any weight on my foot and getting around with crutches is quite the ordeal. It is incredibly humbling not being able to do anything for yourself and having to rely on others for simple things like a glass of water. I have not been adjusting to my reality so well and am going a little stir crazy not being able to do my daily walks and exercise. Fortunately however, Michelle has been a godsend and words cannot express how grateful I am for all that she is doing. I am not sure what I would have done without her. So, a big thank you to Michelle. Someday, I hope I can repay her for all she has done for me.

I have not been able to do too much since Friday. I am supposed to keep my foot elevated at all times so I have been in bed most of the time or on the deck under the palapa. I am on alot of pain medication so I have been pretty dopey and sleepy the last few days but that should improve once the inflammation in my foot has gone down and I can go off the pain pills. I am able to access the internet from the deck some of the time but not consistently. Once I am doing better, I will be able to negotiate my way up the stairs to the room where the modem is and post some photos and a few more blog posts on my visit with my family. I have also had a few visitors come by which has been great. Thanks for the treats everyone!