Two hands

I saw the doctor for my 2 month checkup. He said I could start incorporating typing and writing back into my routine. I’m still off work for another month so I can rebuild my stamina. (If the nurse can get her act together with my paperwork.) So hopefully in another month I will be ready to go back to work with all the joys (thick sarcasm here) that will bring.

The last two months have felt like forever. The first night after surgery when the nerve block wore off and the Percocet wouldn’t kick in… Hours of agony. I thought it would never end. My arm swollen beyond its bindings, the wrap cutting into my flesh leaving angry red marks along my skin. Ice only providing the slightest amount of relief from the swelling. Percocet helped with some of the pain, but the swelling and pinching were beyond it. My fingers even went numb and tingling because the circulation was cut off.

After those first eternally long ten days, they took off my wrappings and I was afraid to move my arm. I cradled it like a newborn, complete with a sense of awe and terror. I was in awe that it was still there, and terrified I would never recover my range of motion. I was afraid to look at my scar, an unwelcome reminder of how much I’ve endured over the past two years medically. I have more scars than some people have tatoos. Maybe I should get some of the latter to go along with the scars. They say it won’t hurt nearly as much as the pains that earned all these scars.

So here I sit, just over two months later, and wonder why I’m still having so much difficulty. Maybe I baby my arm too much, wanting to make sure I don’t re-injure it (again), but it does give me a fair amount of grief. For example, PT told me to go ahead and try baking. So I made a batch of cupcakes. By the time I finished making the frosting, I wanted to cry. I could not frost them without help. Even then, it was three days before I recovered. I was writing the other day, just after I got permission to do so. Two days of recovery. How on earth would I have been able to work like this? I am so glad the doctor agreed to another month.

I grow so weary of hearing the doctors say, “it’s just takes time” or “it’s just biology”. Maybe so, but I am frustrated with my recovery process… Both the left and the right. Will I ever be whole again?


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Two Months

It’s been 2 months since the surgery on my elbow. I’ve gotten better but I don’t see myself going back to work. In part, I just don’t want to. But more importantly, I don’t see myself being capable of the physical aspects of my job. The arm still hurts a lot when I try to do things. Still can’t type or write, but those motions are getting a bit easier. Stress on the arm is causing pain. Small things like getting soap out of a pump dispenser. But they’ve got me up to 2lb weights in PT so that’s something. I’ve only got 3 more sessions of PT left before I “graduate” to a home program. Seriously? No more PT?

Talked with my (psych) therapist today. She had some suggestions as to how to approach the doctor. Just tell him about my pain problems and that my employer (co-workers mostly) don’t respect work restrictions. I don’t know if it will make any difference. I just don’t want to damage this arm again. It has cost me too much in time, money, stress, and happiness for it not to be fixed properly.

My worker’s comp injury has been giving me grief again over the past few days. I don’t know why. Doing too much? Will I ever get back to normal???

On the mental side of things, I seem to be stable at a mild depression. My doc & I decided to change the Celexa back to Paxil. I’m taking it at night with my Klonopin and that seems to help with the side effects, but it’s only been a week so I can’t say with complete certainty that it will fix the problem. It’s only a matter of time with the Paxil. It will start to help after about 2 weeks and will slowly ramp into mania if it’s not controlled. So this will be a good test for the Geodon. We are also decreasing my Lamictal to see if it improves my memory and estrogen levels. I’ve been on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) since my hysterectomy. Lamictal and HRT interfere and each makes the other weaker. Since my current dose of Lamictal is far above therapeutic levels, we are going to lower it and see what happens. Wish me luck.

I guess that’s all for now. I have PT tomorrow so we’ll see what that brings.


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New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is always melancholy for me. It’s the arbitrary end of the year, which can be a mixed blessing. More importantly, it’s the anniversary of my car accident – 24 years ago tonight. Sometimes it feels like yesterday.

The facts are simple: we exited the Brooklyn Bridge, the exit ramp is sharp and short, and we slipped on a patch of ice. The car slid and we ran head-first into the concrete bridge footing. The emotional memory is far more complex. I had gone to NYC to spend New Year’s with my boyfriend. Being young, in college, and possibly a little hypomanic, this seemed like a good idea at the time. So did the idea of hopping into a SUV with four boys to see the ball come down in Times Square. “Bad weather” doesn’t mean much to a teenager. Life is a cruel teacher.

I don’t remember everything. They thought I might have hit my head. My two front teeth were never found. But I remember the last few moments before impact. They say that in situations like this that your life flashes before your eyes. Bullshit. Time slows down. Your brain registers every nanosecond. And you think really stupid things. One minute you are laughing and talking, the next your brain is calculating. See bridge footing. Check. Impact imminent. Check. Bridge footing getting closer. Check. Am I supposed to relax my muscles or brace for impact? Time’s up.

My next conscious memory is of the paramedics ripping the door open. Strong arms beneath my armpits dragging me across the frozen grass.  I couldn’t feel anything. Shock can be a blessing.  I recall watching my legs bounce along the grass.  My left leg was on the opposite side of my right.  Something didn’t add up, but I couldn’t quite figure out what. I was cold. So cold. They kept asking me how to contact my parents. I recited my brother’s phone number over and over again. Really, I just wanted them to leave me alone and stop asking questions they already knew the answers to. There was a nice lady paramedic who held my hand and talked to me. I don’t remember what she said. I just remember she was nice, I was cold, and I was really sick of repeating my brother’s phone number. I didn’t even like him that much.

Next memory: the ambulance.  Shock started to wear off.  My nerve endings came back to life.  I felt every bump the streets of New York had to offer. I yelled. I cursed.  I asked the driver if he could find anymore fucking potholes to run over. The sound of emergency sirens blazed trails of emotional memory in my brain. Mercifully, the trip finally ended.  They ripped open the back of the ambulance. As the pulled me out, the driver said to me, “Happy New Year.”

The rest of the evening is a blur. (I posted some of this in Donation.) Someone shoved a clipboard under my nose and asked me to sign. It didn’t look like my signature. Was that important?  I was in and out of consciousness. I swore. A lot. Where does it hurt? Fucking everywhere.  Later, it didn’t hurt anywhere.  I couldn’t feel anything below my neck.  That’s when I screamed.

Meanwhile, my parents got a call from the nice paramedic lady.  Five words a parent never wants to hear: “You should go to her.”

I woke up strapped to a board.  One of the most terrifying moments I’ve ever experienced.  You can’t even move your fingers. They couldn’t operate on my leg until the neurologist came to drill holes in my skull for the halo traction. A nurse fed me ice chips while we waited for surgery.  A priest stood by my side all night, ready to give me last rites should I need them.  When my parents arrived, they told them to be prepared.  I only had a 40% chance of surviving surgery and I would never walk again.

Good thing no one ever told me the odds or I might have given up. I don’t know if I would have or not. I am a stubborn S.O.B. And I was hell bent and determined to go back to college.  Eight months and one cane later, I was back in school full time.

Eleven years later, I had my Ph.D.

I never take the easy route.  But you wouldn’t be reading this if I had.

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Driving???

OK, so I’ve been working really hard at PT and I can almost eat by myself. (I’ve got 1-2 inches to go before I can reach my mouth with a fork.) When I asked the doctor about restrictions, he said to ask my PT. Weight restrictions are a can of soup and range of motion only. The doctor and PT say no typing or writing. Certain motions are restricted and others are encouraged, but the biggest things are no weight and no strain that would result in elongation of the tendon. I’m still supposed to wear the sling when I go out in public.

So imagine my surprise when I talked to the doctor’s nurse today about driving and she said I could be driving now. WHAT THE %*^# ?!?!?!!! This strikes me as something that flies in the face of ALL of my other restrictions. So I talked to my PT and she agrees that driving is not a good idea. The way she put it is: do you feel you could steer out of the way in an emergency situation? No. I don’t think I could even turn a corner. I get nervous just thinking about it.

I feel the nurse is giving me different information than the doctor and I don’t know how to approach him about it. DH, who believes that everyone is fundamentally good, calls this nurse a bitch. I think one of you (Lulu?) called her evil. I think she is just incompetent. Why give medical advice that contradicts everyone else? With this nurse’s attitude, how do ANY of his patients get better? Once I’m better, I plan to report her to the facility. In the meantime, I still need her to fill out my damn paperwork.

I am so frustrated right now that I can’t even focus on writing this post. I think every day I get more and more terrified of going back to work. I think I need a Klonopin now.

2.5

It’s been 2.5 weeks (or so) since my surgery and I haven’t written in over a week.  Nothing’s happened.  That’s not true – lots of things have happened:  I got my splint off, I started PT,  I’ve even been out of the house a couple times. I haven’t written about any of this because it doesn’t seem like something worthy of writing. But that’s not fair to you.  It’s not my place to determine whether my blog is a waste of your time or not.  It’s your time to do with as you please. If you wish to read it, then the least I can do is write it.

I think the true cause of this attitude is because the depression is returning.  It’s not a train barreling down the tracks at me like before.  It’s slowly creeping up behind me, carrying a cloak of darkness.  It’s a silent stalker, waiting for me to pause in my step, so it can work its dark magic.  Tendrils of familiar sadness flowing over me, binding my arms, slowly dragging me to the ground.  I’m fighting to keep moving but it’s not easy.

The physical is taking a toll on me as well. I can’t use my right hand for much of anything.  My arm doesn’t straighten all the way.  I can’t lift it to my mouth because it won’t go past my chest.  If I try to make a fist, I can get the tips of my (long) nails to just touch my palm.  Last night I was in a lot of pain.  I took a Percocet but it didn’t do any good.  It didn’t even make me tired.

My electronic communication is limited to left-handed typing and dictation because I can’t type or write with my right hand.  It’s taken me an hour to get this far in my post.  I have to ask for help with almost everything.  No wonder I’m depressed.  Maybe it’s situational, but it still feels the same.  Wisps of darkness enveloping me, beginning to drag me into its murky depths.  I feel like I am living in a cocoon, cut off from the rest of the world.

We increased my antidepressant but I have a hunch Celexa just isn’t going to work for me.  Sure wish I could go back to Paxil, but it will render the Percocet useless so it’s no good until after this surgery recovery is over.  I hate being so limited and dependent.  I am trying to stay upbeat but it is hard.  I am trying to be thankful for the small things but that gets hard too.  I am thankful that I have a good surgeon.  I am thankful for good doctors. I am thankful that my Dad is doing OK.  I am really thankful to have a good husband.  It’s the little things that help.  Like knowing someone will read this – so I don’t feel quite so alone.

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

One Week After Surgery

It’s been one week since my surgery it’s been an eventful and yet very very slow week. okay it’s just been a slow week. Healing is an extremely boring process. First there’s the sleeping. Sleeping is good. But when you aren’t sleeping, then what? There are limited number of things you can do with only one hand. And you would be surprised how many things that you both can and cannot do with just one hand.

For example, I am quite impressed with anyone who breaks their arm and then is able to wear jeans or some other zippered pair of pants. At all. Trust me, even wearing pants that are a size too big is a challenge. Working a zipper with one hand is harder than you think.

Second, when your “working” hand is most disagreeable, you’re limited even further. This means I end up watching a lot of TV. And lots and lots of TV is very boring. I can stream stuff, but again, that’s TV. I’m only talking to you now through Dragon dictation and my iPad. My iPhone lets me read your blog, but the WordPress app for the iPad doesn’t allow for reading. (Unless this function is hidden where I cannot find it.) Otherwise you would not be hearing from for a long time.

Okay, now you know the sad state of my recovery, that is my boredom, let’s talk about the surgery. The surgery – well I don’t really know yet because I don’t see the doctor till Monday when have my first follow up appointment from surgery. The doctor told DH that there was a lot of scar tissue that had to be cleaned up, and they reattached the tendon. The doctor told him the surgery went as planned so there were no complications unforeseen circumstances which is good.

I am very fortunate that I have friends who were willing to come sit with me last Friday night and Saturday. (My cover may be blown, but that’s another post.) My hairdresser washed & styled my hair today for nothing. She said that she wouldn’t charge me for doing something that I cannot do for myself.

My husband has been very supportive helping me to take care of myself: food, medications, personal grooming, and other stuff. Today was a real day on the town. After I had my bath and got my hair done then we went to lunch and did some other errands and stopped at Starbucks and talked. So I bought him lunch and coffee for all the wonderful things he’s done for me this week. It’s not about paying him back, it’s about love & helping someone who has been an integral part of your life for 15 years.

It’s almost Thanksgiving and I am thankful for all of the wonderful people in my life. I can’t pay any of them back, but I will do what I can to Pay It Forward.
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On the Other Hand

Thank you all for the support and well wishes! I made it through the process pretty well with the least amount of PTSD yet. Either this facility is just better or it really helped that I told them in advance that I suffer from past medical trauma. The panic level was much lower and I was able to keep it under control. Had some problems but no worse than my last MRI. Close your eyes and think of some thing else. (Common advice for brides until the 1960s. 😉 – ok that be some of my husband’s sense of humor rubbing off – he gave me the title for this post. )

This nerve block on my arm is doing wonders for the pain but I can’t move my fingers. I can move my thumb just a bit but only in one direction. (Don’t worry, it’s not stuck there. It falls back to neutral.) But I expect the pain to start coming through the block soon – actually it’s already started.

I’m signing off now. I expect I’ll be lurking more than posting , but who knows? I’ve never had Percocet before. It’s supposed to be stronger than Lortab. 😉