Day 14 – Tentative Steps Towards Walking

6 May 2013

This morning I woke up at 1am because my lower burn was bothering me so much.  It was aching and the skin felt irritated and I took a Nurofen and tried to get back to sleep.  By 2am though it was driving me crazy so I had to get up and take the dressing off and I sat in the shower for about half an hour running cold water on it.  Then I cleaned it with a lot of saline and sat around for a while, I didn’t want to put the dressing back on so soon because it still felt so irritated.

Healing from second degree exhaust burns
Lower burn on Karen’s leg feeling irritated early this morning, feeling a lot better later in the day

Eventually I did put the dressing back on and went back to sleep.  When I woke up again I felt good.  After having a shower (which, by the way, at this hotel is exceedingly hard for me to get in and out of because I have to sit on the 40cm high base of the shower and try to get my leg in through a small shower entrance, so tomorrow we are moving into an apartment with easier access) I decided that it was about time I was walking again.

I sent my mum some messages to get a physiotherapist in New Zealand to help me with some exercises and tell me anything I can be doing to strengthen my ankle.  Since then the physiotherapist has emailed me and I’ve replied to a long list of questions about my injury and movement, and so now I’m just waiting for a reply.

Armed with my trusty crutches, I tried to walk by putting my left foot on the ground with the crutches taking my weight.  It still seems impossible to be able to take weight and bend my foot and ankle at the same time, but with touching my foot on the ground with the crutches I was able to take about 5 steps.  I could put a tiny amount of weight on my foot as long as I didn’t have to move my leg or ankle or foot at the same time.  Movement seems to be able to happen only without weight on it, but still, that is huge progress compared to a few days ago when I couldn’t even touch my foot on the ground.

After lunch I did some more ‘walking’, again taking about 5 steps without putting weight on my foot.  A start, at least.

Today when I changed Dre’s dressing I was really impressed by how good his leg is looking now.  The burn is getting visibly smaller by the day now and it looks healthy.

Healing from second degree burns
Dre’s burn healing well

Then it was time for a real adventure – we decided that since we need to stay in Chiang Rai so I can learn to walk again and be near the hospital, we need a house.  So we organised to meet a lovely couple named Trevor and Pat who showed us around their rental and even went to the trouble to get a plastic chair for in the shower for me and a reclining chair for the lounge to put my leg up on, brought from their own home especially to make me more comfortable.  To meet them I had to get on a motorbike for the first time since the accident.  I wasn’t at all worried about this apart from the logisitics of being able to do it.

I never get on a motorbike from the right hand side, because ironically I am always super concious of the exhaust being hot so I always stand on my left leg to get on a bike.  Obviously this isn’t possible, so I had to get Dre to lean the bike over to the right, I had to carefully move as close as I could to the bike with my crutches and position my leg so that it wouldn’t touch the exhaust, and then lift my left leg into the bike.  It worked well apart from not being able to put my left foot on the footrest, so I had to just sort of dangle it there.  I did try to put it on the footrest but it felt sore and it was easier to have it higher up in the air.  We only had to drive a distance of about 300 metres, so it wasn’t so bad.

Anyway we decided to rent the place from Trevor and Pat for the next week, as it’s very accessible for someone who can’t walk and it’s spacious and has lots of room to practice walking.  It also has a gym, which I am hoping I can go to and use the bike to get some strength back in my ankle.  I don’t think I’ll be able to use the treadmill just yet, but hopefully in a week that will be something else I will be able to do.

I really feel like I’ve made some progress today, with being able to put my foot on the floor now and sort of taking steps with my crutches, and being able to go on the motorbike is a big step too because a few days ago my leg was far too sore to even consider doing that.

Nighttime update:  We managed our first dinner out today!  Dre drove us on the motorbike a few hundred metres to one of our favourite restaurants in Chiang Rai and we had a proper dinner out.  Normally when we’re in Chiang Rai we go out for every meal but since we’ve been here Dre has had to get takeaway for every meal or we’ve eaten at the hotel.  So that’s another awesome step of progress.  To get out and about even just a little bit today has been really nice.

Click here for Day 15 when we go on a big adventure
Click here to read the story from the beginning – healing from second degree burns while living in a third world country.
Catch up on the past few days:
Day 13 – Healing Time
Day 12 – Resting up in Thailand
Day 11 – The journey to Thailand

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