Thursday, September 1, 2011

It Pays to Follow Directions

I'm not always very good at following directions. It's not because I can't read them. It's not because I can't understand them. It's because I think that I already know what they are going to say and that I probably don't need to even bother looking at them or listening to them because I'm intelligent, and therefore I'm surely capable of figuring things out by myself! Over the past 20 years, I have assembled at least a dozen bookcases, shelving units, a couple of entertainment centers, a stereo stand, and a computer desk or two. You know the kind made of some sort of particle board painted to look like something much fancier and more expensive than it really is. I've found that they are all pretty much the same. So when I bought a cabinet with doors to serve as my pantry in my apartment several months ago, I figured it would be a piece of cake and that I'd have the thing assembled in about an hour and a half. I started screwing the shelves in after attaching the top of the cabinet. I then attached the bottom shelf, flipped the thing over, and tacked on the flimsy cardboard backing which miraculously holds the whole unit together. Then came the time to put on the doors. I had the hinges. I had the right screws. But I couldn't seem to make them fit. Somehow, the holes were not where they were supposed to be. I kept trying to make it work out. I tried for half an hour, growing more and more frustrated and shouting expletives at the top of my lungs. So, after reaching my boiling point, I pulled out the instructions only to discover that I had managed to screw the left side of the unit where the right side should have been. They looked the same to me. On closer observation, I discovered that the left and right sides were the same, except  for where the holes for the hinges on the doors were located. I had reversed them. The only way to make it work would be to disassemble the entire unit, which I couldn't do even if I wanted to since I had already tacked on the back. I thought about having my dad drill new holes on the sides so that I could make the hinges work. Wasn't going to happen because with the shelves already in place, the drill could not reach where the new holes needed to be drilled. pantry has no doors. It looks just like a bookshelf. But it cost more than a bookshelf would have. I could have saved myself some time and money by going the cheaper route and just buying a bookshelf. Crap!

I think I have learned my lesson. At least for now. I recently had surgery to fuse my right ankle on June 21, 2011. This was a "follow-up" surgery to having a titanium plate and steel screws put into my right foot and ankle after shattering my heel in an automobile accident in May 1997. After this most recent surgery, I was in a cast. I was instructed to put no weight on my foot whatsoever and to keep my right foot elevated up above the level of my heart, 23 hours a day, for 6 whole weeks! After the first week or so I had had it. It took everything I had in me to strictly adhere to these directions. By the end of the 6 weeks, my x-rays showed that I was ahead of schedule in the healing process and so I got to bypass phase two, which would have been a walking cast and partial weight bearing, and move on to the "boot" and putting my full weight on my foot as tolerated. I was thrilled because this meant that I could take the boot off and shave my leg again. I could bathe it and put lotion on it. I could take it off to wiggle my ankle and my toes several times a day. But, I still had to sleep in that thing. And I was not to even think about trying to walk on that foot without the boot. I tried to sleep in my bed a couple of times but it wasn't working out as I had to lift my entire leg in the air in order to roll over and because my ankle was fixed at a ninety degree angle, I couldn't comfortably sleep on my side or my stomach. I have never been able to sleep on my back. So, it was back to sleeping in the recliner for 4 more weeks. As tempting as it was for me to "cheat" and take the boot off at night to sleep, I didn't do it. I continued to follow the doctor's directions.

Today was my 10 week post surgical checkup. This time, the x-rays showed that the ankle was completely healed and there were no indications of any adhesions or scar tissue. When the doctor moved my ankle around, it had a little more movement than he expected. And there was no pain when he stretched it, bent it, poked it...Great news! No more boot for me! My surgery was a great success and I am now able to wear shoes again, even flip flops! I can go barefoot in the house and on the grass. I can step into and out of the shower. I can sit in a chair without propping my leg up on a stack of 4 pillows. I get to sleep in my own bed tonight! What was anticipated to be a 3 to 4 month recovery period turned out to be a 10 week recovery. And it was in large part due to the fact that I carefully followed all of the doctor's directions to the letter, day in and day out, no matter how badly I wanted to cheat a little. After all, I have a Master's degree in Occupational Therapy so I do know a little something about orthopedic surgery, recovery, pain management, the use of assistive devices for walking and bathing and toileting.  Thank God I didn't assume that what I knew would be enough to get me through the healing process without following the doctor's directions! There is a young teenage girl who had the exact same surgery that I had, on the same day. I would see her at his office every 3 weeks for follow-up visits. She had not followed the directions. Because it didn't hurt "too much", she assumed that it would be OK to go ahead and put some weight on her foot, as long as she was still using the crutches. Her ankle was not healing at all like it should be. She is facing the possibility of having to have the surgery redone and starting the whole process all over again. All because she didn't follow the directions.

Perhaps I have learned something after all. Perhaps because my latest attempt at doing something without looking at the directions had failed, I have become more willing to look and listen to the instructions provided by those who know a little more about assembling a pantry properly or allowing the body to heal after a major surgery. I am so grateful that I followed the directions this time, even though I didn't want to, because it has paid off in the end. Now, I can enjoy what's left of summer, strolling around in my favorite Sketchers flip flops and painting my toenails. I think I'm going to buy a new toe ring to celebrate!

1 comment:

  1. It's a Nellis thing...can't remember the last time I read the instructions. It just shows u that we Nellis's can make a bookcase out of ANYTHING :-)