Screaming for help: Part Seven

Two week deadline, Reiki, and verdict!

Continued from Part 6

The week following the surgeon appointment I caught a cold that hit me pretty hard. I cancelled my scheduled physio appointment so I could rest, drink hot lemon and honey, and relieve myself of the cold.

Let me tell you that blowing your nose with one hand while you have a cold is not only difficult but disgustingly messy! I did not want to be in public for that!

Actually, during this week with the cold, and being able to only blow my nose one handed, I thought about all of those kids whose mom’s make them blow their nose into a tissue held one-handed by the parent. The kids always hate doing this, and I wonder if it’s because of how messy and slimy it is on the face! There is no control and it is extremely unpleasant. I will keep this in mind when I have younger children of my own to ensure I take the time to consider a way of having them blow without the slime!

As the week progressed and I started to feel less like death on the inside, I had my first Epsom salt bath.

The first bath since the accident felt amazing. Though I felt nervous getting in and out of the bath in case I slipped and fell, I took my time and moved cautiously. Once in though, that hot salty water felt incredible around my aching body.

Submerging my arm I did feel more ease at doing some of the exercises while my arm was surrounded by the hot buoyancy provided by the water.

I moved my arm almost constantly for around 20 minutes and at the end of that time was able to touch my right shoulder! Amazing! Then I stretched out and relaxed for a while to let the tension melt away.

Later that evening as I was sitting on the couch reading with my arm propped on a pillow just below shoulder height and I reached over and scratched the top of my head!

Then realising I scratched my head (!!), I purposely touched my face!

It was just the very tip of my fingers that could reach, and my wrist was all the way bent toward my face so I could reach, but still… I touched my face and head!!!

The previous day I had been miles away!

The relief bubbled up inside of me to break into a smile that burst into a laugh.

This had been a week of worry.

As much as I had tried to let it go and trust that things will work out, I’d been scared out of my wits about more surgery and the two week improvement deadline.

I’d been pushing at my arm daily in ways that hurt a lot but with no visible progress.

Then one hour in the hot salty water I was able to touch my shoulder, scratch the top of my head and forehead with my fingertips and then touch my nose with the tip of my thumb. (That movement looked like the “ner-ner” finger waggle of a child, and I loved it!)

Sigh of relief.

Pushing myself had not been helping because I resist the movement, even when I’m willing myself to relax and allow it – I resist it, instinctively.  I could not seem to get past it. With each passing day, and no progress, I felt more and more frightened and frustrated.

With one simple bath, I started to feel hope. And with hope anything is possible!

Feeling better and getting over the cold, I rebooked my physio appointment for the following Monday.

The first session was excruciating. She worked my arm hard, and did some strong massage on the scar tissue to try to break up the hardness that had formed around the wound. This, she believed, was hampering some of the movement.

I was so swollen and sore after that first session that I did not do all of the exercises the following day.

The next appointment was supposed to be Wednesday, but I rescheduled it for Thursday to give me another day of recovery between sessions.

I did, however, continue to soak in an Epsom salt bath each day and do gentle movements in the water, where I found greater ease than outside of the water.

Even with the movement in the bath, and the ability to now touch my head and parts of my face, the bend in my arm was not improving by much.

I found that I was still unable to stop myself fighting against force. Any force created by myself (or my physio) to push my left arm to bend more was fought by my left arm stubbornly pushing against the movement.

Over a week had passed since seeing the surgeon last and I started to feel despair, even the hope I’d felt at touching my head and face after a bath was gone. There was no way I would be able to get this. Surgery seemed inevitable and I was scared.

The second appointment with the physio she suggested using an elastic band to create tension that I could pull against. Doing an arm curl with resistance, rather than pushing at my arm with force.

This felt like a great idea, and hope was once again buoyed.

arm-curl

She worked hard on the scar tissue again, and at bending the arm using force and motion as much as possible during this session. She also worked on the stiffness in my shoulder believing that the tendons were damaged and stuck.

I booked another appointment for the following Monday telling myself I would give it until that week to call the surgeon to report, even though that would be beyond his “two week” improvement limit.

Over the next four days I took a bath every day, and did the exercises at least twice a day with the exercise band.

Still I didn’t feel that I was making enormous progress on the bend. Sure, I was able to now touch my opposite shoulder even without the bath, I could touch the top of my head without force, and I’d managed to shave my right armpit (!!), but as far as bend goes I was still around the 90 degree mark.

Note: it had been several months since I’d been able to shave that right armpit! That was one large victory to be sure…!

That weekend I made peace with the idea of more surgery. I had a few more days before I had to call and report.

I would have one more physio appointment and see where we were at, and then if surgery was required, it was required.

I had made it through this far, I could do it again.

And this time I’d be more prepared.

I’d freeze my own meals and make sure I had all that I needed before the surgery. I knew how to use ice for swelling and pain. I knew how to do all the things I needed to do one-handed. I could do it again if need be and the bonus would be more time away from work.

However, during the weekend I had noticed that when using the elastic band I got more bend in my elbow than when I was trying to use force.

At my physio session on the Monday, I told her that when I use the exercise elastic I get a greater bend in my arm than when I don’t.  She thought that was really strange because most people struggle with this more. She made me do one and she measured and I was right – I gained 11 extra degrees. She was blown away.

I told her it’s because I’m not fighting against the movement as I do when I’m forcefully pushing my arm with my other hand. With this arm curl using the elastic band the resistance is in the pulling of my arm and my arm wants to win.

We all know our bodies best!

I was at 102 degrees with the elastic, and only 91 without. She measured without one more time to be sure and sure enough I couldn’t bend past 91 without the elastic.

Strange but Eureka! We have some progress!

Having hovered around the 90 degree mark for weeks and weeks, I suddenly felt that maybe I could make it. We broke the 100 degree mark!

She asked me if I’d be OK not getting full range of motion back…

Um… no! No. I would not be OK with not gaining full range of motion… who would say yes to that?

Personally, I believed it was going to get there…it just might not be in someone else’s timeline, but it surprised me she would ask. We’d just made a huge breakthrough after weeks of trying and she was now asking if I’d be OK with less-than?

When I fell at curling a few years ago and fractured my elbow, a slight hairline fracture, it took nearly a year to get full motion without stiffness or pain. This was WAY more intense than that, and it might take that long too. I am OK with that.

At the end of this session, she asked me not to call the doctor just yet. She felt we’d made some good progress and wanted to see how I was on the Thursday before I called with an update. Her feeling was that we could avoid surgery.

Sounded good to me!

I worked at the elastic band exercise, and the shoulder exercises she gave me, and soaked in a bath every day.

That Thursday’s appointment yielded even better results. So much so that she suggested not calling the surgeon with an update at all, and just see him at my next appointment.

We reached 110 degrees with the bend after her work and manipulation of the arm, and I started at 103 cold. There was still around 20 degrees to return to normal.

She suspects he told me the “more surgery” as a “motivator” and fear tactic.

It worked! He scared me for sure.

My shoulder was still an issue and “sticky” so she worked on it again and this was so painful I compared her to a sadistic dentist! She laughed, but was “horribly offended” too! Similar jobs though in my opinion!

Coming away from that session though, shoulder excluded, I felt light and happy. No surgery and so many improvements over the past week.

At this point I was able to touch my whole face, though I looked a little gimpy doing it.

And…I blew my nose using both hands! That was a delight I can tell you.

It is interesting what we take for granted!

I had also started to be able to weight bear, so my wrist was finally also healing (that was the problem with weight bearing). I began to be able to carry heavier weights, like full cups of water, or a bowl of food.

Progress! I wanted more!

Enter Reiki…

Until the soak in the bath, the healing process had been mostly “clinical” with the use of external force. Though I meditated daily, I wanted to do something more to channel healing energy to myself and even to others.

During my time in the hospital on that night I’d stayed prior to surgery, I’d been in intense pain waiting for more drugs and knowing I had hours before the next does, and as I was being wheeled through the hospital to the ward where I would stay for the night, I had this sensation that my right hand was exploding with healing energy.

Internally I heard myself say, I am healing energy, I am filled with healing love energy.

Though I couldn’t see the light, I’d felt as though I had an Iron Man suit hand on and if I opened my palm in front of me a beam of light would have emanated. Instead I put my hand on my elbow and the pain relieved significantly. Perhaps it was a moment of desperation, I was hurting so badly and nothing the nurses had given me were helping, I needed relief more than I needed life at that point.

Still it is in those moments that we let go and connect isn’t it? When we’ve reached the end of the line, the bottom of the chasm, we let go and with no other options, we “give up” and reconnect.

In my mind, that was an absolute release and connection with who and what I really am.

Pure love energy.

I wasn’t able to recreate that feeling as intensely over the months that followed, but the sensation of the experience of it never left me and I wanted to explore this more.

As I thought about that, as happens, an advertisement popped up on the internet page I was on for Udemy.com courses in Reiki.

Accepting the sign, I clicked the link.

The course cost felt outside of my budget at that point in time, but I did watch all of the free introduction videos (about 40 minutes worth!). During one of them it mentioned the supporting website for the course, so I went to that site and soaked in the information too. There was a link back to the Udemy.com course and when I clicked it, the price was reduced significantly.

Accepting this as another sign, I signed up immediately and commenced the course that day.

The course-work felt much like the warm salty bath: something that I’d wanted to sink into for a while.

All of the information resonated with me and I felt grateful to have started this new journey.

More connection…

That weekend I had also been invited to attend a three hour yoga workshop. I decided to go. There were things I wouldn’t be able to do, like a down-dog, but I wanted to be in the space of relaxation, breathing, chanting, positive energy, and being open to exploring my limits.

During the session I was able to do some hands and knees work without too much pain in my wrist. My elbow was fine, no pain at all with this motion.

Again, my shoulder became my tripping point for some of the things that we did. Even with my arms overhead during a half sun salutation I had to bring up my left arm in a strange way to get it there, and even when “there” it hung at a strange angle.

But the feeling of moving for a few hours, of meditating, of chanting, and just be-ing in a room of like-minded souls was amazing.

Over the weekend I continued through the Reiki course and scheduled my Reiki attunement for the next week, on a date and time that added to 9.

Monday’s physio session proved I’d made huge strides. Still soaking in a bath each day, and doing all of the exercises given, along with the yoga, meditation, and exploration, I was at 115 degrees before we started. This was incredible.

Only 15 degrees to normal.

Because of this, she worked mostly on shoulder. She gave me more exercises to do for the shoulder with the hope that these will help my shoulder heal.

At this time, I was able to put my whole hand on my face without any weird angles. And my arm was measured at completely straight now. Though I used to have additional flexibility with my elbows and they would back bend just slightly. Straight is great!

After the Reiki attunement ceremony on the Wednesday (more on this in another post), I started each day with a self-Reiki session.

At first I didn’t notice any changes other than emotional ones. I was definitely calmer and more prone to contentment and joy. But after a few days I realised I’d been doing more and more natural normal things than I’d been doing before, completely pain free. Touching the back of my head, carrying pots of water, opening doors, light weight bearing without thinking about it.

These realisations felt miraculous.

Over the next week I did the exercises daily, had a bath almost daily, and started my day and ended my day with 15-30 minutes of Reiki and meditation.

I also had two more physio sessions. Each time I’d gained a greater bend and by the final one before the surgeon appointment I was at 125 degrees. Only 5 degrees away from normal.

My physio was blown away. She told me that the changes in the past two weeks had been mind boggling to her and that I was now her most improved patient!

Surgeon’s Verdict…

When I saw the surgeon at the scheduled appointment the following Monday, he was full of praises. He told me he was also blown away at the progress. He had not expected me to be quite so far along and was really happy with how I was doing.

Because of this, I didn’t need to see him again unless I wanted the hardware out of my arm, and that I would just continue to make progress back to “normal” from this point forward.

He did tell me that the shoulder, which he called “frozen shoulder”, was normal following elbow surgery and that it too would eventually settle down with exercise and time.

Because of the shoulder and the severity of the break I’m recovering from, he did recommend a graduated return to work program over four weeks. And gave me a doctors note for that.

His recommendation was: 4 hours per day for the first two weeks, 5 hours per day for the third week, 6 hours per day for the fourth week, and then a return to my regular 7 hours per day after the four week graduation.

This was another relief for me. It meant I would not have to jump back into full time work after three months off.

Again, I felt the desire to kiss this handsome surgeon! But refrained.

The restrictions on driving were also lifted at this time. And I have to admit that I have not yet put myself behind the wheel even though it’s been two weeks since the verdict.

Partly from fear, and partly because I’ve become quite sufficient at getting what I need within walking distance and I’m not ready to give that up.

My goal this week is to get behind the wheel though and show myself I can, even if I continue to walk for the time being.

More next time with the final words on screaming for help and healing…

Warm smiles and Love,

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