Behind the curtain!
Continued from Part 5…
The next appointment with the surgeon was four weeks away.
During that time, I managed to cut physio down to twice a week, and then once a week. I did the exercises every day, and I started to be able to do small things with my left arm.
These small things felt like huge victories!
The little things like: picking up light items, an empty carry bag, or a sweater, and eventually an empty plate, or cup, or bottle. These things were huge to me.
Over the month I gradually became stronger, and was able to hold onto a bottle while I twisted the top off, or open a can by myself, cut up apples using my left hand as the anchor.
The turn of my hand was much better, almost completely normal, but the bend in my elbow was still far off. I had not really gained much there during the month.
Still, I personally was happy with the progress and felt much more capable in my day-to-day life.
The fear started to subside too. Though I still had moments where I flashed to the terror of falling again, of being helpless and broken alone on the ground, they were now only moments. I’d stepped up the pace when walking to the store or physio appointments, and was no longer watching my every next step with an eagle eye. I was now able to look around as I walked, and enjoy the day.
This was huge progress as far as I was concerned.
At the next surgeon appointment in the Cast Clinic, I had another round of x-rays.
These were most painful in my shoulder, which had over the month developed some serious stiffness and pain – perhaps from over use while protecting my arm, or from the original injury.
At the time of injury, my elbow hurt the most – and was obviously damaged the most (!), but my shoulder and wrist were both a close second in the pain department.
I’d been x-rayed on the day of injury to determine what was broken, both shoulder and wrist were shown as not broken and basically forgotten as far as treatment goes from that point.
Just as the large gash on my hand was ignored until I mentioned it minutes before being checked out of hospital. Three days of nurses and doctors, and no one had attended it, or even noticed it.
As my elbow started to heal, and the swelling reduced, and I was no longer spending the bulk of my day icing it but was able to move around more, my wrist and shoulder started to show themselves as contenders in the pain department.
I’d spoken with the physio about both injuries and the two physiotherapists I’d had so far agreed that my wrist was likely sprained in the injury and my shoulder ligaments and tendons likely torn.
My current physio had given me some exercises to help the shoulder, but they were not helping at all.
It is interesting though to note that these two injuries were not attended. And I wonder if I should have gone to my local GP to have them seen to after the surgery of the elbow was complete? It never occurred to me at the time, but if I’d fallen and hurt either my wrist or shoulder without breaking them, my GP would have been where I’d gone for treatment. Y’know? Perhaps this was an error on my part for not having them attended.
After the x-ray I headed back to the Cast Clinic to see the surgeon.
He was happy with the rotation of my wrist, but disappointed in the bend in my elbow.
He told me if it didn’t improve drastically in two weeks I was to call him immediately and get an appointment. He would have to put me under to manipulate the joint and force it to move. And if that didn’t work…
Yes. I was terrified.
He stressed this several times. “Make sure you call me immediately if there is no improvement. Don’t. Wait!” he punctuated the last part. Don’t wait!
I blocked the fear that gripped me at his words, and I didn’t process the enormity until later that evening at home when I went over the conversation again in my mind.
He also gave me another six weeks off work and the joy of that was so overpowering I almost forgot the potential for more surgery part.
Six more weeks. That would take me to almost the end of November. I was planning to tack on two weeks of vacation time I had owing to me, taking me into December! Oh my goodness. So, so, so happy!
I would be happy never to go back to this place of work, ever. Ever. (And yes, I know, I should be looking at different options…and I am!)
So another six week reprieve was amazing news. At the time, I could have kissed him for saying so.
There was some other good news too; he gave me the go ahead to soak in a bath. A bath! Oh the joy! I had been feeling that an Epsom salt bath would help me relax the arm enough to allow movement gently, rather than through force. And he gave me the go ahead!
As he was making up another doctors note for my work, and a note for my physio on the progress needed, I asked him if I could see an x-ray.
I had yet to see behind the curtain.
He printed one out for me.
Once again, shock and horror!
It was way more intense than I had imagined. The screws are heavy duty screws. They look like regular grade house building screws! And it covers more ground that I’d imagined too.
The tip of my elbow that had been sensitive to touch was not bone at all. The tip of my elbow is now a screw head. I’m not certain what happened to the former bone that was the tip of my elbow…I guess it was crushed, or removed?
There are nine screws in my arm holding a 6-7″ plate along my Ulna and to the head of my elbow.
To hide the horror that I felt at the enormous screws and plate in my arm, I joked with friends that “I could MacGyver a small plane with the hardware in my arm!”
No wonder this had been quite the journey, and so painful.
Yet, the visual reality of this x-ray was a comfort too.
I no longer felt like I’d been overreacting to the pain from physio, from movement, from the surgery, from the weird aches and pains I’d been dealing with since the accident.
Justified was how I now felt. And that was a relief.
When anyone said something like “wow, you’re still not driving/working” I could show them this picture and say, “nope, not yet!”
Once the relief that feeling justified brought, and the elation at a potential 8 more weeks away from work, the words “more surgery” came back to haunt me.
While the additional time off following “more surgery” would be welcomed, I was making such headway with my arm in the everyday living of life even without the bend in my elbow, that I could not imagine going back to the beginning again.
I cried at the thought.
I couldn’t go back again, not even for more time off an unfulfilling job.
When I called his office the following morning to book in for the next appointment, four weeks from the last, the secretary read his notes and then reiterated that I was to call IMMEDIATELY if there was not a drastic improvement in two weeks.
“How will I know what a drastic improvement is? Can you give me an idea what I’m aiming for?” I asked her.
She told me the physio would know what he meant.
My physio did not! LOL. Gah!
However, the letter that he’d given me to give to her did give her an idea of what more we could start doing.
Two weeks, that’s what he gave me. I would not fail.
More next time with part seven… the two week deadline.
Warm smiles and Love,