The place where my sister lives once housed a rather notorious psychiatric hospital. It was a huge state hospital and some things that are still used today were developed there. Some really bad things happened there too, of course, and the overcrowding in the middle part of the 20th century was horrible.
I lived actually on the edge of what had been another notorious hospital when I was in grad school, so I'm very aware of the stories that people come up with about this. They can be very odd. And people of course have plenty of misconceptions about mental illness.
So today I was talking about my sister's baby and the patient asked what hospital she'd use (not really understanding home birth). I told her the local hospital and her son said "oh, that's near the psych place". At first I thought he meant the old hospital, but he was referring to a newer place nearby and seemed kind of like "I was near there, I'm so brave". Then he started talking about the nearby apartments that are probably a halfway house type of thing and how he's not sure "they" should get to live unsupervised like that. Funny thing? The reason he observed all this? Work crew from county jail..........So somehow criminal activity makes you better than illness??????????? It's something to ponder. I had no idea how to react.
Second, today I realized that I feel really weird about my new ankle brace. I'll have in the next week or so. It feels weird to progress to this brace. I know I need to; I was the one who asked for something more substantial because I've worn out 3 of the current brace in 6 months and this last one is showing wear after only 3 weeks. And I'm serious about delaying surgery as long as possible. I have spent enough of my life on disability; 12 weeks of it when emotionally I'll be well enough to be bored sounds awful. I'll do it when I need to and won't complain; I am well aware I will eventually need to. But for the time being I'd rather brace it well and be careful.
My current brace shows when I wear it, but with long pants it looks more like a black sock than anything. It looks like this:
Today I became aware that it does show pretty clearly when wearing shorts, which I knew because I see my own reflection in doors and the like and it's emphasiszed by my slight limp, but today I saw one on someone else and thought "hm, she must have sprained her ankle. I hope it feels better".
The new brace? Well it is not a support. It is a BRACE. There are 3 levels of support in this design and I'm not sure which I'm getting, although based on the price I'm thinking probably the highest level, which is what I'm going to picture here (the next lower level just doesn't have the bottom strap and I know I need at least that much; the lower level wouldn't be enough):
I don't know how to resize and am too tired to figure that out right now, but as you can see, this is a BRACE. Under the cloth it looks like this:
So from the day I get this on, there will be no question: I wear an ankle BRACE. I've had to help people adjust to needing braces or splints so many times, I never though I'd need to listen to myself. Because ti is a really weird thing to accept. I know I need it. Like I said, I even pointed that out to the dr. who agreed so readily I suspect he wanted to suggest it but knew it would probably cost me a good bit of money. (It's not that bad really, about $110 with deductible etc. and I still have some money for deductible reimbursement through part of my benefits). But it's just odd to know that part of my body truly doesn't work, and is impaired enough to need plastic and hinges rather that just plain old strapping. I'm struggling somewhat with my new arthritis as well; I didn't expect that really until I found out how severe the injury actually was in March and that I'd had that old fracture (100% of untreated fibula fractures develop arthritis and apparently this was the trigger I needed to start that), and even then, well, I'm not quite 35. I'm not supposed to need to worry about arthritis and when the arthritic pain will be too bothersome to deal with and putting on a brace every day.
After I get the brace I will need to go get new shoes. The ones I have now have stretched and are heavy and aren't working all that well. I have to go to an athletic specialty store that will carry the specific things I need and have staff trained to fit braces around orthotics that have a lot of stuff involved as well as a brace, and I feel weird doing that too.
I guess I got so used to my disability being hidden unless I lost control for a moment, or I chose to share, that I forgot totally that I could still have to deal with something that looks "different". I know all about that, I grew up with a very visible birthmark and I suppose that's part of this; I feel I've paid my dues in the looking different department. With what I've had I've had a few patients ask about it but never anyone I didn't know or anyone in a social situation. This will lead to questions due to its' obvious permanence. The ankle thing isn't a disability, and truthfully if the brace stops my limp then probably it will be less obvious than the current one, but I think I fear a return to the days of the walker boot:
and the repeated questions that went with the duck foot. In some ways having to wear that thing again is one of the things I dread most about the far off surgery; I really hated it. Although I know now to request not aircast because the air pockets never were right. If I stood they were loose. If I got them comfortable standing they cut off circulation in sitting. That was a LONG month.
And now I'm going to start getting ready to sleep. I don't know that I've made sense here, I am sooooooooo tired, the kind of tired that made getting up today painful. But at least you get to see what my foot is about to look like, plus it's past 6 months of attire. Lucky you.