Temporary disability changes outlook

By Helena Rodriguez: Freedom Newspapers

Life came to a standstill this past week as I went under the knife and had surgery as far down as you can go, on my foot.

It didn’t matter what pressing matters I needed to attend to or not. I wasn’t going to be going anywhere, at least not very fast, and certainly not on my own for awhile.

The most humbling part of this experience has been adapting to crutches, a simple pair of walking devices that I’ve never had to use in my life; devices I had no problem making harder to use than was necessary. But I finally did get the mark-your-spot-first-and-then-hop routine down and I am starting to get kind of good on the crutches, which, nonetheless, I hope to retire pretty soon.

It is a humbling experience because I’m used to being on my feet and jumping into my car at a moment’s notice. Some mornings, I spring out of bed and immediately proceed to make my bed. It’s a habit that I’ve forced into my routine to show that I’m ready to conquer the world, or at least my bed.

It was a humbling, yet nice experience having my mom stay with me for an afternoon to attend to my every need while my daughter, Laura, was at work that first day. It has also been humbling having my teenager cook dinner and wash dishes by herself. Perhaps it has been more humbling and a bit more trying for Laura, especially when I scream: “Laura, can you bring me some water?” “Can you get the newspaper?” “Can you bring me my medication?” “How about some popcorn?”

Yes, it has been rather humbling, having my teenager wait on me. It was nice for a little bit, but when you’re used to being independent, you just want to get up and do things for yourself. Not that I minded the eye-rolling.

This experience has made me think about how my life would change if I ever became disabled permanently and had to rely on others. It has also made me think about what my life would be like if I suddenly became responsible for a disabled person. So many little things we take for granted.

This was a relatively small, outpatient surgery, so in the long run, being off my feet for a week or two isn’t a big deal in the big scheme of things. It has given me a chance to catch up on some reading. I’d have to say though, that even for a seemingly insignificant procedure, my physician, Dr. Richard Stamm was very good and very comforting, as was the surgery room staff at Plains Regional, especially the really nice nurse, Cindi. I later told my mom, “You really have to be a good people person to work in a surgery room.”

I’m sorry to say that I don’t remember my anesthesiologist’s name, but you know, something you just don’t see at Wal-Mart is people shouting, “Hey, there’s my anesthesiologist!” and then rushing to give him, or her, a big hug, which I’m sure they very much deserve. If you’re like me, their name tends to slip out of your mind just as quickly as they knock you out, which probably means they are that good at what they do for a living.

The latest procedure also made me realize that my medical file of surgeries is starting to grow. I usually answer proudly when doctors ask for my medical history. No allergies. No diabetes. No heart disease. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t go with guys that do. But then they get to the part about previous surgeries, and that’s where it is starting to add up:

C-sect when my daughter was born, ear surgery, partial hysterectomy and now add foot surgery to the list. I’m still a few months shy of 40 and I feel like I’m already starting to fall apart. Need to start taking better care of myself.

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: