The morning I signed off the ship, four of my closest friends waited outside to make sure I was taken care of. They helped me get settled on the crew airport shuttle (one even fought for me when a man refused to vacate a front row seat), and then said farewell. As soon as they left, I was filled with emotions. Prevalent among these was fear. I am a worrier by nature, and concerns about how long I’d take to heal, whether I’d still be able to visit my boyfriend next month, what I would do with so much time off, and how I would save and make money rushed through me.
As I was becoming completely overwhelmed, the man behind me, Sean, struck up a conversation. He was the medical assistant on the ship, and I had spoken with him a few times before. He asked me about home and my boyfriend, got me talking about my experiences on ships, my favorite ports, and other places I’d like to visit, and before I knew it, my worries had faded away. He told me about his home, various jobs he’d held, and his future aspirations.
When we reached the airport, Sean came to my rescue again. I was told that the driver would find a representative from the airline to help me carry my luggage and check in, but the driver just shrugged and went back to his bus. Sean left me watching our luggage, and went to find a cart. He helped me inside, found a ticket agent to answer some questions for me, and made sure they sent a wheelchair to help me get to my gate. Unfortunately, he was checking in for his own flight at the same time, and I lost him when my wheelchair arrived. I’m sorry that I was unable to thank him and say goodbye. He was my guardian angel that day!
I was forced to walk through the security scanner, putting weight on my injured foot, despite the wheelchair assistance. My wheelchair driver was very nice, but seemed new. She also didn’t speak English, so most of our communication was in Spanish. I’ve never been so glad my mother made me take Spanish in school! By the time we reached my gate, I was tired, hungry, and emotional again. I crutched straight to the nearest restaurant, ordered some food, and called my sister.
In the remaining time before my flight, I spoke with both sisters and my parents, and messaged with a number of friends from the ship. I was able to board the plane first, but had to squeeze through the small aisle to row 28. A nice, off duty flight attendant helped me put my crutches in the overhead bin, brought me a bottle of water, and amused me with a few personal anecdotes (most about his affinity for redheads). I fell asleep before we took off, and rested the entire flight. My flight attendant friend helped me off the plane, where another wheelchair was waiting.My parents were out of town, so my roommate’s parents had offered to pick me up. I was surprised when I reached the baggage claim to see not just the two of them, but also their other two daughters, and a “Welcome Home” sign. I smiled with tears in my eyes as I was wheeled over to them. The helped me find and carry my luggage, and took me to dinner on the way to my house. I had met the parents before, but I loved meeting the sisters. Their mannerisms were so like my roommate’s that I felt completely at ease. It was a wonderful homecoming! A family friend and my crazy beagle were waiting for me at the house. Bella attacked me with kisses, and kept me company during the night. The next morning, my best friend came over with coffee. It was great to see her and catch up on the last six and a half months. I contacted my caseworker and appointment coordinator, and was grateful for my friend’s recommendations when my first choice doctor was unable to see me. One of the doctors she suggested was able to schedule an appointment with me the following afternoon! Later that day, a neighbor stopped by with a tasty salad for me, and a few hours later, my parents returned. Seeing them made it really feel like I was home.
My mom accompanied me to my appointment with the orthopedist. I felt like I was a kid again, but appreciated having company when I was waiting and having another set of ears when the doctor was speaking. After looking at more x-rays and feeling around my ankle for a bit, the doctor determined that I had a high ankle sprain. High sprains are less common and take longer to heal than normal low ankle sprains, but fortunately, it didn’t appear that I had torn anything, since my tibia and fibula were still in place.The doctor suggested getting a walking boot to keep my ankle supported when it was strong enough to start walking. He diagnosed physical therapy 1-3 times a week for 6-8 weeks, and scheduled a follow up appointment in three weeks. He was a gymnast in his younger days, so he understood that “normal” for me is more complicated than the average person. Many of his predictions were prefaced with “As a dancer…”. I appreciated his understanding and knowledge of what is required of me in my profession. Two days later, I was able to see the physical therapist. He is my best friend’s husband, and has helped my friend and a few other dancers recover from injuries. He took some measurements so he can track my progress, had me do a few mobilization exercises, massaged the ankle, put me on ice, and checked the fit of my crutches. I appreciated his attention to detail! The next morning I saw him again. He had me do more mobilization exercises, and challenged me to start putting weight on my injured left side. He taught me how to walk using my crutches to support some of the weight when I step on the left foot, and had me pedal on a bike. I was tired by the end of the session, but was happy to see so much improvement in just one day! Friday afternoon brought two nice surprises. First, I received a cute, personalized card from two of my favorite people on the ship. Earlier in the week they had sent me “Get Well” brownie pops. Their gifts and messages made me so happy I cried! Second, the doctor called with news that my walking boot was ready! I quickly hurried to the office to pick it up. It was an eventful week, but I’m happy with the progress I’ve made. As hard as it was to leave the ship, I know it was the best thing for me to recover properly. With three PT sessions already lined up, I can’t wait to see what improvements next week will bring!