It’s kind of amazing how a moment in time can change your life forever. You’re just going about your everyday business and BAM, something happens. A fall, a car accident, earthquake, mudslide or fire. Whatever the issue something will never be the same again. A loss that can never be recovered whether it is a loved one, a lifetime of memories in a lost home, or the full use of a part of your body. Permanent is forever no matter how big or small the loss. While my recent loss is nowhere near that some other people face it will still have an impact on my life.
Going about our everyday lives, we really don’t think about the things we do routinely – until we can no longer do those things. Everything seems to take twice as long to do with half as many hands.
After breaking my arm in my lame adventure last week I’ve come to realize just how much more difficult things become when your body ceases to function as it once did.
Tripping over dogs is not a good thing to do. I’ve never broken a bone before, so of course I can’t just do a normal break that heals with 6 weeks in a cast. No, I break a bone in the elbow joint, the likes of which the orthopedist has seen only 3 in 30 years.
Simple things like making a snack or pouring something in a cup take longer and make a lot more mess when you can’t hold something in each hand. Opening a new gallon of water nearly stumped me. It was the sort that you just twist the cap to break the seal. Only I always open those with my left hand. I just do it with that hand and never thought about why. Not until I tried to twist that cap off with my right hand and found that I don’t have the strength in that wrist to do it.
I changed careers years ago due to carpal tunnel, but haven’t been bothered by anything more than the occasional need to wear wrist supports at work since. My right wrist was the weakest though and apparently there are things it still can’t do. I did eventually get the cap off, but I had to use a knife to get the little strip of plastic seal partially severed and sticking out far enough to finish the job with scissors. (I could have just asked the hubby to open it for me, but that would amount to my being defeated by a gallon of water.)
Taking a shower is not so simple either. No longer can I just strip off my clothes and jump in. Now I’ve got to wrap the arm in saran wrap, put a garbage bag over it, and then seal the end with more saran wrap to keep the splint that runs from well above the elbow to partial fingers sticking out at the end dry. So I got in the shower with only one functioning hand and found only the liquid soap in a pump bottle user friendly. My salon shampoo and conditioner in giant economy sized bottles did not work well one handed. Blindly holding enormous bottles over my head and squeezing in hopes something came out resulted in anywhere from nothing to way too much and my not knowing which until after putting the bottle back and rubbing around whatever’s there.
I’ve never chosen products strictly by their packaging before, but on a trip to the store I found only one brand of shampoo and conditioner in pump style bottles and it is a brand I’ve never tried. Hopefully I will like it as it too is the giant economy size.
I can use whatever brand I randomly find in travel size bottles for a few weeks without issue, and often do when traveling. On a regular basis though some of the cheap stuff turns my hair into the consistency of straw, hence the giant economy sized bottles of salon shampoo for home use. Only time will tell, but hopefully this brand is not the stuff straw hair is made of.
The other major problem with showers is shaving. I don’t know about other people, but I’ve always shaved my left pit with my right hand and my right pit with my left hand. I’m not so sure shaving the right pit with the right hand works all that well and am wondering if I’ll have some sort of long gorilla hair snaking down the right pit in a few weeks if I consistently miss the same spot. Speaking of odd hair, I certainly hope my arm doesn’t grow the weird hair my daughter’s arm grew when she broke her wrist.
Then there’s the wardrobe issue. As the sleeves on most of my shirts would not fit over the bulky splint even if I could get them on and off (which I can’t), I am limited to a few button-up short-sleeved shirts with wide enough sleeves that I dug out of the stuff I never wear at the back of the closet, and a couple way-too-big-for-me shirts I got at the local thrift store because they had big scoop necklines and wide short sleeves so I can get them on and off. I found a sweater there too that actually has fat enough sleeves for the splint. My husband called them ugly clothes, but since my choices were very limited and thrift store clothes are cheap I got them anyway. Now if I could just find some sort of cape or cloak for outdoor use to avoid the loosely dangling empty jacket sleeve on one side.
On the plus side, I am getting better at typing one-handed. Also if I offer to lend anyone a hand in the near future I can be quite literal about it – just the one.
I went back to the orthopedist a week and a half into this injury. The surgery part of the option of surgery or not is getting close to the limit of being an option, but the odds don’t sound any better than they did at my first visit there. Chance of full recovery with or without surgery – 0%.
Surgery costs a lot of money. With better odds and better insurance it might be worth it, but for a 50% chance of having a 30% better range of motion, 10% chance the surgery would actually make it worse, and 40% chance it would make no difference at all, it really does not seem worth it to me. Even the doctor said he would not get the surgery if it were him. Adverse reactions I have to jewelry make me hesitant to have foreign objects implanted, making the no surgery decision that much easier.
While changing the splint and taking more x-rays it was found that I also sprained my wrist. In fact wrist pain and not the elbow caused me dizziness and diaphoresis when the splint first came off and the doctor was trying to explain…..something I missed being barely mentally present at the time.
Later though when left alone in a room with a sink while between splints I managed to wash my hand and arm. That arm had not been washed in over a week and won’t be again until the new splint comes off so I took the opportunity to wash it while I had the chance.
The new splint is much the same as the previous one except I have the whole fingers out now and they are much happier that way as the finger swelling that had not improved since the accident went down some in just a few hours.
Next up – physical therapy, though I have no idea when that will start. Getting the joint moving sooner rather than later seems to be the plan.
More about this story in Not All Therapy is Mental.