Wednesday, July 4, 2012 (Pt 4)

Posted on July 4, 2012 at 2:30 PM

And life goes on...(Pt 4)



This should be the last part to my tale...I heard that sigh of relief! Don't think I don't know that you're bored by now. Too bad; YOU came here. And so we continue...


Penny had picked me up at the hospital, took me to a Tim's and drove me home. She saw me inside, made sure I'd be okay and left. Exciting, eh? THANKS PENNY FOR ALL YOUR HELP!


Almost immediately I was concerned. I knew I'd be okay using my one good arm, but what if I fell? What if something had to be done and I couldn't do it? Aw shut up, I told myself. You felt the same way when your right hand was in a cast from carpal tunnel surgery and you did just fine! If an issue arises, just find another way to take care of it or let it go. What else can you do? That helped. At least I can say that self pity, in moderate doses, can actually be helpful in that it can make you more aware of your limitations and just what you are capable of doing.

Then I noticed, my arm and shoulder hurt like hell! SHIT! I forgot! I had to get my prescription filled! Well, this was one of those times. Do I go without and start my sitting around in pain? Do I try to get a ride for the 4 block trek to Shoppers? Or do I get my ass in gear, protect my arm best as I can, and start walking? Being cooped up in a hospital, on drugs, for 4 days? I grabbed my keys and purse, and left. I also immediately found out just how painful it was going to be every time I just tried to move my arm. Damn. Mental note: DO NOT USE ARM!


I quickly discovered just why I had to shuffle my walk in the hospital; did you ever notice how every step you take has an effect on your entire body? When I tried to walk normally, with nice even strides, each step gives my shoulder a small jolt. Hmmmm, not smart. Ok, so I take small slow steps and it helps, but shit it hurts.

I get to Shoppers where the pharmacist informs me my prescription is for normal ibuprofen 200mg. Are you fucking kidding me? I tell the pharmacist that I had told the doctor I use Advil LiquiGels for my migraines. He tells me the prescription is the same as the stuff sold over the counter. I think out loud, Why would he give me a prescription for the same thing? --then it hits me, the prescription fee. Dang. But, what if there's something about this particular form? As I have no idea I tell the pharmacist my thoughts and say "might as well fill it. With my luck, something will go wrong, and the first thing he'll ask is Are you taking your prescription?" The pharmacist nods and we take care of it.


Yeah yeah yeah, I know, I've taken pharmacology, I have lots of knowledge about medications, but I also know taxes. Even with the extra fee, I know that in a year's time, because of this, my income is going to be super low. The extra deduction will help at that time. This one by itself won't be much, but combined with the other medical costs, I'm expecting it'll help at that time...just not now.


Here's how bad I was feeling; I didn't even want to look at Tim's. Penny had gone through a drive through at my request on the ride home, but I had left my coffee at home. And I was glad I did. I decided to walk west on 1st street; I was pretty sure I wouldn't run into anyone I knew, and I could get home as fast as possible, if you call walking damn slow and careful "fast".

I was wearing one of my tanks with slim straps (which are now my best friends!), my arm was in a sling strapped to my torso, and a thin shirt was thrown over my shoulders. Safety pins became very important for the next little while. My shoulder was so sensitive I could feel the seam of the shirt rubbing the bandage, and I swear I felt each staple it touched, move, so I slipped the right shoulder of the shirt off, exposing the bandage.

About three blocks from my home, I ran into Bob.


I'm stopping here to explain something. Bob is an elderly man in full control of his mental faculties. He is an old world traditional gentleman. Never a kinder person will you ever meet. He recently lost his wife Kathleen, also a person whom should be respected. These types of folks wouldn't hurt a fly. So I wonder, why in hell did what happen next, happen?


Of course, Bob noticed the sling, bandages, my slow gait and, I found out later, my pale skin (pain caused, I guess). His face became lined with concern. He wanted details. I gave him details. I told him all about the accident, the ER, the surgery, the post surgery. I told him everything, and with each sentence, I noticed the ache in my shoulder becoming worse. I told him I had to get home; that I was exhausted and I just wanted to take my medication and go to sleep for a while. He wanted to give me a hug, so I told him, only the left side please, and gently. He reassured me he would be careful. I love this guy, so I stepped in, left side only, and received his right arm reaching for my back, or so I thought. I saw his right hand go right for my right shoulder, but before I could say anything or move, he did it. He grabbed the shoulder and squeezed. Dear God the pain! It was like the accident all over again! I screamed; loudly! I felt my knees give out. I threw out my left hand to keep myself from hitting the ground. "YOU FUCKING IDIOT!" I screamed. "HOW COULD YOU? I JUST TOLD YOU WHAT HAPPENED! I TOLD YOU DON'T TOUCH THAT SHOULDER!" I was crying. The pain wasn't going away. It was getting worse. I could hear Bob saying "I'm sorry", but I really didn't fucking care!

I remember getting to my feet and grabbing onto the fence I fell next to, to pull myself up. I saw Bob extend his hand to help me, and as I turned towards him, his hand went for my right elbow. I blew! "GET AWAY FROM ME!" I screamed. "LEAVE ME ALONE!" As I started walking he said "I didn't know". Oh you...I turned. "You didn't know?" I asked totally pissed off, cradling my right arm with my left. "So you mean you weren't even fucking listening to me when I told you what happened? When you asked me what was wrong with my shoulder and I answered you, you were ignoring me?" He replied, "no I was listening...." I didn't let him finish. "THEN WHY THE FUCK DID YOU GRAB MY SHOULDER?" And I turned without listening to anymore of what he said.


As I walked, I wiped my face with my left hand, felt gravel scrape my cheek, wiped that off, and kept going, wanting nothing more than to hide away at home.

I got there, got inside, and started to cry even harder. The pain was no worse, but all I could think was "Is this what I'm in for? Do I have to be so damned careful now that when a friend wants to hug me, I have to instruct them?" Yup, that's exactly what I was in for; at least for the next 6-8 weeks while the fracture in the roller ball and the break in my humeris healed.


I had one week to my first follow up with Dr. Corrigan. The first two days were pretty much spent sleeping and forming the opinion that ibuprofen sucks totally for pain associated with muscles, tendons, and bones. I tried but the longest I could stay awake was 3 hours. It seemed that no matter what I did, I was exhausted. A shower left me weak. Warming up soup was "an ordeal". Curious, I of course went on the computer to research this. That's how I found out just how much shoulder movement is required for typing.


I had figured if I raised my forearm; raised my seat; lowered my seat; placed the keyboard a certain way; moved the mouse; whatever, that I would be able to type without pain. LOL damn. I discovered my entire torso would have to be held very straight; straight spine; so that my shoulder wouldn't "droop" forwards. Gravity pulls the shoulder forward and down. And guess what? It hurt. If my arm was held too low, it hurt. Too high, hurt. Just right, hurt. WTF!!!!!!!!!!! (I found out why at my second follow up appointment.)


So by keeping my arm in the sling, fastened snug against my body to limit any shoulder movement, I could type with my left hand. Uh huh. Folks, my last typing test showed I was typing an average of 70 wpm. My job requires I type at 40wpm minimum in order to transcribe what people say over the phone. The average person speaks at 80-100wpm. And even on my absolute best days, I cannot keep up to them. Now, here I was, hoping to return to work ASAP, typing with only my left hand, at about, oh 10 wpm. Ok that plan died pretty damned fast. So I figured maybe, if in addition to the exercises my doc gave me, I used my arm just a little each day, I could heal faster! Why not? That's the whole point isn't it?


Until I saw my doc, all I could manage was the one exercise he gave me. It was very small movement, but when I tried it the first time, it felt like someone ripped off my shoulder. Ok, now I know why he only gave me the one.


I’ve had carpal tunnel surgery on my right wrist, so I have experience with relying on my non-dominant hand for almost everything, but there were two big differences this time; one, the muscles and tendons in my right arm were just fine and two, I could move my shoulder. You have so got to try taking a full shower, shaving included (for women), with your dominant arm duct taped to your waist, just above the elbow. Leave the elbow free so you can bend it, but the entire upper arm must be immobile, held against your body. Now have some psychotic, sadistic son of a bitch stand with you while you bathe/shower, holding a two inch hypodermic. Every time you even think of trying to move that shoulder, instruct the psycho to jam the needle into some part of your upper arm, hold it there for about half a minute, and then take it out. You now have some kind of idea what I felt.

And no, I’m not exaggerating!


In the next few days, I became quite adept at using my left arm and hand for most things. (Good thing I do not currently have a boyfriend, because he would have been extremely disappointed; but I’m sure I would have found the money for an extra box of tissues and some lotion.) I was getting things done, but God they took forever! My first shower took over one hour. Shaving took almost 1 ½ hours. Food preparation wasn’t too bad, but I found I was always eating out of boredom. I didn’t do any housework. I picked up stuff, but that was it. Even bending over to pick up something I had dropped caused pain, til I realized it was because gravity pulled everything down. Not a good idea.


My first follow up appointment with Dr. Corrigan went well. That guy is so busy, he literally just keeps moving, writing, and thinking non-stop. He checked the range of movement in my shoulder, was pleased and told me to make another appointment for 2 weeks time. “Then”, he said, “we’ll talk about physio.” Hindsight is 20/20. I don’t know why, but I never told him that the ibuprofen was ineffective.

Over the next two weeks, I would practice moving my arm; opening doors, personal grooming, using utensils, anything “light”. But everytime I tried, my arm ached like a son of a bitch, with little or no improvement. Oh I was able to regain a little movement, but not much. I told myself to be patient about a million times. During those next two weeks, if anyone asked, I told them I was fine. Nobody wants to hear about how bored I am, how much it hurts, my problems with medication that doesn’t help, etc, so I kept it to myself, for the most part. There were a couple of people whom I know care, so those few I told the truth to.

(During this time, I've actually come across a couple of people who are, let's say, pricks. One thought my accident was hilarious. Another thinks I'm "faking" to get out of work. WTF??? And there were a few who believe that wearing a bicycle helmet would have protected my shoulder. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???)

For pain relief, I gave up on the ibuprofen, trying acetaminophen. Nope. Then acetaminophen with 8mg codeine, (you can get these by asking at the pharmacy in any drug store; they’re sold upon request and you have to sign for it). They didn’t work either. I talked to my pharmacist. He suggested Naproxen Sodium. (You may recognize the brand name Aleve.) I bought the generic. Yeah. 12 HOURS OF RELIEF FROM ONE TABLET MY ASS! Nothing helped! On one day in particular, the pain was really bad; I was actually nauseous. I couldn’t sleep, no appetite and I had tried everything in my cupboard within 12 hours. I didn’t care about interactions. It was that bad. In desperation I decided to try a bath; a nice long soak in warm water. That should help. It did help….too much.


I had filled the tub and immersed my entire body. To my total surprise, all pain disappeared. All tightness, pinching, aching, everything. My arm and shoulder felt totally normal; like nothing had ever happened. I sighed with relief and then it hit me; the second I get out, I'll feel it again. I wanted to stay there. Never leave. That’s a very dangerous sign. I stood up immediately and dried off. (Any of you who have an addiction; smoking, alcohol, drugs, whatever, you know what I’m talking about. First, the absence of pain was dangerous. It misleads you into believing everything is ok. Wrong. The pain guides me. It tells me when I’m doing something wrong, how the healing is going, and so on. Second, if a simple bath and the use of “floating” relieves my body that much, then it’s very likely I’m going to continue looking for other remedies, no matter what they are, such as drugs. Not a safe area.Way, way too tempting.)


Ok, the two weeks did not fly by, but they did move; crawled actually. I was able to mow my lawn with one hand; the front lawn. My neighbour Kevin took care of the back. What a sweetie. I spent most of my time wandering my house looking for something I could try to do; something that would allow me to use my right arm gently. Not a hell of a lot.


My second follow up appointment arrived, and I went in feeling cocky. “I did good”, I told myself. “My arm is moving alright. I got a little bit of muscle control going, and I’m ready for more.” Dr. Corrigan didn’t think so. During the appointment, he tested my range of motion. He didn’t say anything. I didn’t really expect a pat on the back, but a kind word would have been nice, until we chatted about my physio. He told me to make another appointment with him for four weeks later and gave me instructions to get started with a physio clinic ASAP for 4 weeks of gentle ROM physio (range of movement). “Then”, he said, “we’ll move on to aggressive physio”. I didn’t like the sound of that one! (And I hate it when people use ‘we’ instead of ‘you’. I don’t recall my doc saying he’d come along…;)

I expressed my concern with “What do you mean by aggressive? Cause I won’t let anyone pull, push, pry or force my arm into positions that hurt.” That was when I realized just how well he knew me. He explained what is meant by gentle physio. “It’s to help and maintain the range of motion. It should not hurt.” He looked directly into my eyes. “If it hurts then you’ve done too much. Remember that.” Oh shit. He knew. He knew what I had been doing and I hadn’t even told him! “I thought I was doing good. Really. I did.” He explained to me that I wasn’t. He told me that my bones have to heal before I try anything other than the exercises he gave me. The plate in there is for support. It doesn’t replace the bones. I now need another 4 weeks for them to heal, increasing my expected bone healing time from 6 to 7 weeks. At least that was my understanding. From a little research I discovered I had been "stressing the fractures/breaks". The pain I was feeling was all bone related; not muscular as I had thought. There's always pain associated with bones healing, but apparently not as much as I was experiencing, or something like that. (I didn’t have the balls to tell him I had stopped using the sling that was supporting my shoulder and that it was after my long walks when my arm ached the most. I kept my mouth shut, vowing to use the sling anytime I could.)


In my defense, HOW THE HELL WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW? I broke my right leg when I was 2, but don’t remember much of that. I broke a toe in my twenties. I’ve broken glasses, teeth, nails, dishware, technological devices, vacuums, but nothing that would require physio.


I knew he was damned serious, especially when he said he was giving me a prescription for “something stronger for the pain”. He handed me a script for Tylenol 3’s (half acetaminophen/half codeine), with the instructions TWO at a time every 4-6 hours for pain. (I only take one at a time. Two would have me naked, on some rooftop, doing my Lady Gaga imitation!


I suppose I could tell you about the asshole in Harv’s Diner who shoved my right side so he could get his fat ass to his cholesterol-laden breakfast. Or about how excited I was to see the SnowBirds on July 1, and how those 2 fucking seconds just flew by, (pun intended), or about how I’ve been VERY careful with my arm, following Doc Corrigan’s instructions to the latter, which has helped a lot, but I’ll just move on to the physio research story….


Dr. Corrigan had given me a list of 10 physio clinics here in Cornwall, and told me to call them all to make my decision. He also warned me that only one used OHIP coverage, and that was only partial coverage. Now I got worried. How in hell was I supposed to be able to afford coverage, but how could I not do physio? I have an RSP with $1500 in it, but that’s being used to cover my bills until sick leave kicks in, and after that to cover any shortages. I remember my sister Anne offering me a loan. I knew I would have to call her.


I walked to the pharmacy, and then home, formulating a plan of action. First, I warded off the panic. “Come on Barb! You’ve been in worst places….oh wait, no you haven’t.” Geeze, even my alternate self wasn’t helping this time! I got home and set about making a few phone calls.


First, I called my sister and left a message that I had to talk to her and her husband. I was not going to have only one of them make the decision to loan me money. I wanted both involved. As of the time I'm writing this entry, that was 10 days ago, and I'm still waiting for their call!

Then, I went to the website for OHIP. The information I had researched weeks before was the same; apparently I was covered for 50 sessions but liable only for the assessment fee. Then I called the OHIP information line and spoke to a live person. She confirmed it. Yup I’m covered. I meet the eligibility requirements. However, it was possible that the clinic could handle things differently. Hmmmm. Ok. I called the Cornwall Physiotherapy Clinic, which is the one that uses OHIP. Within the first minute I found out my friend and neighbour Jean works at this clinic and was the person on the phone I was talking to. I knew she’d be straight with me.

She reassured me I would have FULL coverage for up to 50 sessions of physio, and I probably wouldn’t need all of them. There is a $50 assessment fee, but I expected that. Here’s the kicker; their location. They’re pretty much on the corner of South Branch Road and Pitt. (For anyone reading this who isn’t familiar with Cornwall, let me clue you in; I live between 3rd and 4th Streets on Cumberland. That means by bicycle, it would take approximately 25 minutes. And I’ve biked it enough to know. By car, is about 15 minutes. By foot, maybe an hour or a bit more. They moved to this location in the past two years. Care to guess where they were located before this? Try this on for size; they were located near Water Street on Cumberland – less than a 5 minute walk from my home! How’s that for ironic? I don’t have to shell out a fortune for physio, but my feet are going to be sore! I’ll probably take the bus one way, and walk the other. At least that way I won’t go broke paying bus fares!

And don’t forget, they are the ONLY clinic in town that use OHIP.


When all is said and done, I have to say, I’m quite excited with this learning experience. I love learning. New experiences excite me…well, once the pain and initial trauma are over, I should say.


My assessment is tomorrow, and that’s when I’ll find out the details. I won’t get my four weeks of gentle ROM done before I see the doc again on the 24th, but at least I’ll be well into it.


I’ve been writing this entry over the past 4 days, a bit at a time, saving it on my computer. I knew I would remember things that I wanted to post about, and I’m certain things/situations/occurrences will come to mind after I’ve posted this entry, so don’t be surprised if, in the near future, you notice things like, “Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you…..”


My heartfelt thanks to Steve and Chad and Marc (driver). They know why.


Aching is growing so I'm signing off for now.


Thought for the day; there are times when some of us will push ourselves to our limits, and then past those limits, extending ourselves, maybe even expanding those limits. Although you may trust a professional’s words, remember, they’re only human. They could be mistaken, but maybe they’re not. The choice is, and always will be yours. When testing your limits, please remember, what is beyond those limits may not be good for you. The consequences may be more than you’re willing to pay. There may not even be anything past those limits. Those limits you’re testing may be as far as you can ever go. So I say to you…. “FUCK IT! How are you supposed to grow, learn, develop without testing your limits? GO FOR IT, BUT BE CAREFUL!” You can’t bake a cake without breaking a few eggs, just keep in mind, eggs are difficult to clean up!

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