It has been a little over two months since Alex injured his ankle playing volleyball. He went to the doctor on Monday and received the "all clear" to finally go back to work. When he called me at work and told me, I immediately teared up It was like music to our ears! Today is his first day back. It's amazing how much we have grown as a couple in the past two months. Even after two years of marriage and 7 years together, we are still learning about each other. Going through this situation has not been easy in the least. It was sort of a slap in the face and completely caught us off guard. Of course with how much he played volleyball, we knew something like this could really happen at any time, but were not prepared in the least. (And really, this could have happened any day in any situation).
I can't really decide which period was the hardest. The first month of his injury was pretty hard: lots of questions and not many answers, wondering how long he may be out of work for, how we will survive financially, and trying to figure out what our next move was. Alex became stir-crazy almost immediately and it wore on him mentally so much. He couldn't walk, go down the stairs (of course, now that we're in a second-floor apartment), and mutually could do nothing on his own. He is such an independent person and does most of the cooking and picking up around the house. (He really takes care of me and the bunnies so much and we realized this greatly while he was injured). My morning routines switched up alot too. I really enjoy drinking my coffee and reading blog posts in the morning. It's definitely my "me time." Now my mornings included putting up the toilet seat before I left, dragging buckets of water over to the couch, getting his pillows all set up, and making sure he had everything he needed within arms' reach. Thanks to some money in savings and a few lingering paychecks of Alex's, we were able to make it through June without skipping any bills. I was lucky enough not to have to take too much time off of work thanks in large amounts to my mother-in-law, who took him to every doctor's appointment (as he couldn't drive) and to fill his prescriptions, etc. She often brought over dinner or groceries so I wouldn't have to stop after work. I don't know how we would have survived without her.
July brought some even more hope. Alex had four visits with a podiatrist, who checked the progress of his recovery and wrapped his ankle tightly each week. We discovered at the end of June that Alex blew out two ligaments in his ankle. The podiatrist joked that it would have been better had he broken it. (Personally, I thought that seeing the podiatrist was a waste of time, but when you have HMO insurance and have to get referrals for everything, there's no complaining allowed). The hardest part about Alex continually visiting the podiatrist was that, again, we weren't really getting any answers. Four weeks in a row of just going into the doctor and getting your ankle wrapped seems like a waste of time when you could really be doing that at home. Alex's patience was wearing thin. To add to the stress, at this time, we were exploring our options for short term financial help. Alex doesn't have short term disability through work. Unfortunately, due to certain requirements, we didn't qualify for government aid. Alex's parents were so gracious and helped us financially to get through July.
We welcomed August with hope. After all the podiatrist visits, Alex went back to our main physician and received a referral to receive physical therapy. Finally! After a quick appointment with an orthopedist for assessment, we found out that Alex also had severe bone bruising. That explained what was prolonging his recovery. Alex went through two full weeks of physical therapy. During that time, he also adamantly performed home physical therapy and really took care to take it easy on his ankle. During August, he learned to drive again, and slowly downgraded from two crutches to one then to a cane (thanks Dad!). It was such an improvement and so exciting to see. Unfortunately, it didn't improve Alex's mood much, who was getting antsier as each day passed and was so ready to go back to work. He rarely smiled anymore and walked around grumpy alot. I had almost given up trying to cheer him up. It rarely worked anyways and often just caused bickering because he would get easily annoyed with me. But there was still hope and that got us through. The glorious news!!! The orthopedist even said he won't need any more physical therapy because of how well he progressed in the two weeks. When I got home from work on Monday, Alex picked me up in the air and hugged me so tight. We made it!! A true Alex smile!!!
This really was one of the hardest periods of our marriage. Marriages go through so many tests, and I know we will be in situations so much worse than this. But this was so much a test of our strength and mental stability. Without even realizing it, we both held animosity: me for feeling the pressure of being the one sole income and Alex for being the one staying at home, and (as he felt) helpless. It was like a big elephant in the room. He always felt guilt for the situation we were in and there was nothing I could do to make that go away. Alex is such an independent and amazing guy. Being in this situation made him feel so helpless, like he couldn't take care of us. But in our own ways, we managed to stick it out together, be there for each other in our most vulnerable moments, and make each other laugh at stupid jokes. We did it together.
My heart goes out to those that are unemployed or searching for employment. Those that have to deal with this far longer than two months and have kids to take care of also. And those that deal with this always, always living on one salary. It is such a scary feeling not knowing what bills you will pay or how much food you can afford. We're not out of the clear yet. August is going to be a really tough month for us. We won't really see Alex's income kick back in until the beginning of September. But knowing that he is back at work, and healthy, just makes us smile. I tell ya. Situations like this just really make you stop and realize how phenomenal your life really is.