The outpatients appointment was depressing. I can’t explain how important these milestones are ~ you count the days to them. I am at home alone all day literally counting down to the next outpatients. Today I had an x ray, saw the Lovely Mr F and had physio.
The guy in x-ray told me that Mr F had asked him to help during the operation because he was unsure how it was going to go it was such a severe injury. As it happened he couldn’t help as his wife, in his words, ‘inconveniently gave birth’! I have very little movement in my shoulder and he told me it’s 12 months rehabilitation.
Four months until I can ride a bike or go swimming and at least six months before I can contemplate getting on a horse. The Lovely Mr F. has signed me off sick completely for another month. He said that physically and psychologically I have no capacity to work yet as I was assaulted twice; once on the slopes and once by him. He said I will feel tired ratty emotional and he was exactly right. I cried in the hospital, I cried when I got home. I saw the physio and she very gently moved my arm for about 15 minutes to try and get some movement into it. It is very stiff and I have to return next week. Following the physio the pain got worse. I think the worst of it is that he said I have to have another operation later this year to remove the pins.
1 calendar month since the accident and three weeks post op. Here is the list ( not complete) of things I can’t do.
Wear a bra
Wash under my left arm pit
Do my hair
Sleep through the night
Hug my family
Change my earrings
I went for spiritual healing in desperation and prepared to try anything – I cried at the healing because I actually felt pain free for a few moments, first time since the accident. I am still taking maximum dose paracetemol but don’t think it is working.
I feel like my independence has completely gone this morning I had to ask George to get money out the cashpoint for me and buy me paracetamol. For someone who has been so fiercely independent as I have this is just desperate. I got up showered using the tights method, put on my make up, Lucy did the back of my hair for me before she went to school but ran out of time so I struggled to do the front. I stripped the children’s beds with one hand and then sort of reversed down the stairs dragging the washing basket down with one hand got one load of washing in – its exhausting. And I feel completely isolated. When you can’t get out and you can’t work you realise how much you take these things for granted.
Hooray! Clips out today. Piece of cake, doesn’t hurt at all and feels like a milestone. George had to come home from work early to take me to the doctors as I didn’t feel like I could walk the two miles there and back.
This brings me to the lessons in humility. Learn to accept help. Of course you can butter toast with one hand, but cutting meat is more tricky – ask for help or accept it if offered.
I am trying not to snap at my family if they offer help too early, or don’t offer help in time. I know they are not mind readers even though I wish they were.
I accept every single offer of a trip out, or lunch and ask to tag on a lift to the GP, local store or Post Office. I would never normally want to put anyone to any trouble but without asking for help I would not get by. People seem genuinely delighted to be able to do something to help so I have learnt to accept all help offered and given.
I have to rely on my children to do my hair for me, I can shower without getting my shoulder wet and I am getting through wet wipes at a rate of knots as it is the only way of keeping my armpit fresh. My tip for showering is when you take the sling off have a pair of tights knotted together that you can use as a makeshift sling in the shower. If like me you are terrified of falling over as you walk the house in pain at night get some night lights and plug them into sockets over the house. Invest in clothes that you can get on and off easily, and put your bad arm into the tops first, then lifting over your head so finally you can wiggle your good arm in. Ask someone to wash your hair for you – it makes you feel so much better. I am slowly accepting that I just can’t do what I used to do – and it could be a while before I can again.
One week post op. The pain is awful. I feel like there is a gnawing in my bone and I swear I can feel every bolt in my bone. My arm is so bruised and tender that it hurts to have it in the sling. I took two tablets of tramdol and have never been so ill – a crashing headache, sweating and a bit doolally and the codeine gives me such a dry mouth that I just can’t take it. The consequence? I am trying to cope with the pain on paracetamol – I can only have 8 a day, 4-6 hours apart. I am trying to last for 6 hours but it is hard. If I don’t I know that it is longer until I can have the next lot.
I have downloaded an app on my phone – RxmindMe – there are others – to make sure that I keep up with all the tablets I have to take and don’t overdose on paracetamol. It is really useful and I would recommend using it as it is hard to keep track when you are in so much pain it is difficult to think straight.
I can’t sleep. I literally can’t sleep. I have got all my pillows as high as possible so that I am sitting up in bed which is the most comfortable but I just can’t sleep. Mr F did warn me of this – his tip? Netflix. I have downloaded a load of books on my kindle and spend most of the night reading them.
The pain and the lack of sleep means that I am really, really grumpy. I am normally such an active person, literally never in the house as I am up with the horse or out with the kids and now I am stuck here, in pain and with no sleep.
The days are long and the nights are longer. Once I have got myself up ( which is a drama in itself) I move from sitting on the sofa, to sitting in the kitchen, to sitting in the garden – you get the picture. I am making myself walk a mile a day so at least I am getting some exercise and I am lucky because the kids are still on Easter holiday and the sun is shining brightly on us.
I am completely overwhelmed by how kind people have been. I have had 16 bouquets of flowers so the house looks like a florists. I have been sent books, DVDs, magazines, toiletries and chocolates. One of the Mum’s from the stables who herself has had a fractured scapula brought round a lasagne for the night I got home from the hospital. Max was absolutely thrilled – especially as another lady from the stables had brought round deserts to go with it!
George had to go abroad on business so my Mum, who hates driving, bravely drove the 160 miles down here to help out. She has been cooking and washing like a mad thing and has even made chocolate muffins with Guiness for extra iron! Apparently they will help the healing. Not sure if that is true or not but they certainly taste good. The kids are delighted that my Mum is here – for them it is time off cooking and she always spoils them.
Despite all this kindness and help I am just miserable. The lack of sleep and pain is wearing and it is really hard to be positive when you have only one arm that is any use and no idea how much movement you will get back in your right arm.
Mum left after two nights and when she had gone I went to bed and cried. This is so not me. I read something written by an Australian lady who had a similar operation saying her ‘soul literally broke’. I know how she feels and if you have had the same I expect you do to.
So yesterday I had the operation – an ORIF – Open Reduction Internal Fixation of my shoulder. Having never had a general anaesthetic before I was amazed how the time seemed to go in a nano second – in fact the operation took over two hours. I am now the proud owner of a plate and ten pins in my shoulder and the lovely Mr F says he is pleased with how the op went. There are a couple of bits of stray bones but he managed to pin the majority back in. I have had IVantibiotics and as I bled after the operation I have got a lot of padding on my arm. My arm is in a sling where I have to keep it for six weeks. Apparently I bled a lot after the original accident which explains all the bruising – my arm is black and swollen and so I have been put on iron tablets as well as codeine and paracetamol. If the pain is unbearable I have been given some tramadol but I am not allowed any NSAIDs as they, along with smoking, are the two things which are proven to impact on bone healing. In addition I have been given lactulose – to counteract the side effects of the codeine and iron! I am allowed to go home and have an appointment in 12 days to have the clips out. So here’s my x ray now! You can just about see the small piece of bone at the top which he could not get in, but the rest looks pretty good I think?
I feel incredibly lucky that hopefully this is only temporary. My left arm is getting stronger and I am making myself write every day with it to try and get better. I figure if five year olds can learn to write neatly I certainly can. It is paying off as my writing is at last legible – in fact my daughter, Lucy, tells me that it is better than before!
I feel quite incapacitated and cack handed at everything. Having been so independent I hate having to ask for help. I watch as the children and George cook and wash up and it drives me mad not being able to help.
Naturally I can’t drive and have been told that I can’t drive for two to three months. I have worked out how to shower and get dressed but can only wear shirts that button up at the front which go over the sling.
You tube is amazing – there are some fantastic clips on there, mostly from people who have had a stroke on how to live with one arm. Everything from hanging out washing ( which I can now do, using my teeth on the pegs) to tying hair up ( which I find impossible).
Sleeping is virtually impossible but I love it when I do sleep as I am in no pain! Consequently I cat nap all day and night. I am losing weight – every cloud has a sliver lining!!
Finally I have seen two orthopaedic surgeons in the UK. Two, because they thought it was best to discuss the options for surgery. It transpires that I have a four part fracture of the head of humerus and the reason that they were so worried to operate in France is that the head is displaced meaning that there is concern about the blood supply to the head. Unfortunately, until they operate, it won’t be apparent how good the blood supply is to the head and whether it can be saved or not. My Surgeon ( the lovely Mr F) took the time to draw out a picture for me describing exactly what I have done and what to expect during and after the operation. I have signed a consent form for malunion, non – union, infection and most worryingly AVC – Avascular Necrosis. Mr F. promises me that there will be bad language during the operation and has put me on at the end of the list as it is unknown how long the op will take. This is a great website which gives some basic info on this type of injury. http://patient.info/doctor/fractured-humerus And here is the MRI scan – you can see just how smashed and displaced the head of the humerus is. I can’t have the operation until next Wednesday which gives me time to adjust to life with one arm and recover from the initial trauma. Mr F says it is a high impact injury and basically I was ‘ assaulted ‘ on the slopes. It is certainly how I feel.