Archive | March 2022

Another PT Metaphor

Since I broke my wrist and had surgery to put it back correctly, I have had physical therapy (PT).

I want to bear weight with my right hand. The PT lady explained that that is not a great idea yet. She made a fist and moved it back and forth a little bit and said that there was a world of difference between bearing weight with that tiny range of motion versus, and, she showed a normal range of motion, being able to bear weight with a full range of motion. First, you need that range of motion, and then you can start bearing weight, such as pushing yourself off the floor with your hands.

I can see that is true emotionally as well. First, you get the tools to label emotions and build a support network. Then, with the pieces in place, you can start to excavate the emotional toxic stuff from within. It is not a great idea to plumb the depths without the requisite resources at your disposal. I have always thought that meditation was not a great idea for people with vast quantities of unknown issues that will instantly rise to the surface demanding resolution. That is re-traumatization. Been there, done that. Without the pieces in place for recovery, healing is impossible.

This is why intellect is not necessarily useful for healing. The intellect has to be in support of the emotions, not a substitute for them. Sometimes. people with lower IQs do better emotionally because they have less intellectual interference in their heads justifying the dysfunctional garbage they have been subjected to. The more intellect one has, the greater the cognitive dissonance may be. You know that what you are doing is self-destructive, but still have no emotional self-control to prevent it. It is like watching a one-man train wreck. Once again, been there, done that.

Fingers of Intellect, Bones of Emotions

Weird title, right? Everything somehow becomes a metaphor to me.

I broke my wrist on February 2, but thought I only sprained it. My wrist was very broken, but my fingers still worked perfectly. I still had coordination. What I had lost was my weight-bearing ability. I couldn’t hold a coffee mug. But I could almost braid my hair. I would come so close that I would get really frustrated, but I just could not bend my arm that way. I felt like if I simply tried harder, it would not be a problem. Now that I am getting that range of motion back, braiding my hair is a no-brainer.

Shame is like my broken wrist. Trying harder has never helped. My intellect is just fine, probably better than most people’s, but I feel like I am living a “loser life.” I work a minimum-wage job where unreliable employees are treated much better than I am. It is not that I think I am unappreciated; I actually am. It is not a mis-perception on my part.

Understanding things intellectually accomplishes little. There are plenty of brilliant alcoholics in this world. Some of them live on the street. You would be shocked at the intelligence level of some street people. Intelligence alone accomplishes nothing.

This is the arena of Gabor Mate, the Hungarian/Canadian physician specializing in addiction and childhood trauma. He gets it, both personally and professionally.

Physical Recovery is Amazing!

I had wrist surgery almost two weeks ago. I thought about not having it, but I would have been very wrong.

Here is how bad it actually was. When I landed on my right wrist in my pratfall, I did not simply jam one bone up into the other bone. That would have been bad enough. But noooooooo….I jammed it over to one side. I lost some serious range of motion. As the swelling subsided, it just did not look right. My forearm was shortened. It turns out, according to my physical therapist, that there was zero chance of my wrist ever healing, even of healing badly. My fear was that it had started to heal misaligned and that the surgeon would have to undo the healing (re-break it), put the pieces in the proper place, and then screw the plate in so that the healing could continue correctly. No re-breaking needed to occur because there could never be any healing. It would have just been broken forever. I now have a plate put in. I feel like the Bionic woman. The bone is still broken, but it can heal rightly. My arm looks normal now, which is huge because I remember exactly how it looked broken.

Progress started small. I was very excited when I could put on my bra and fully dress myself a few days after the surgery. Woohoo! Today I braided my hair for probably the first time in a month. My fingers always worked with full coordination, but not being able to turn my wrist made it just not worth the time and trouble. This morning it was easy! Do I still have some pain? Oh yeah, but I am making great strides in terms of the different motions I can make. And the pain now is much less than before the surgery when it was broken with no hope of healing.

And I am back at work! Holy crap. I had surgery barely two weeks ago and I start tomorrow a normal schedule. Working Friday a few hours was not a problem. My only restriction is that I can’t bear weight more than two pounds. But that is so much better than being forbidden to use my right hand at all. The surgeon is acknowledging that my fingers are fully functional, which I have been saying all along. I just need to heal the tendons and all that stuff. There really is not much that I can’t do, especially with the brace on my wrist for support.

If you want to be healthy, do what the doctor says! Listen to the PT lady. Look at those x-rays for yourself. Being functional beats the heck out of being non-functional. I was non-functional for a relatively brief period of time, but, wow, the difference is night and day.

I’ve Got Better Friends Now

I should be getting the cast off this week. In the past week, I have gone almost nowhere and done almost nothing. I want to make sure that I do not aggravate the surgery. But I have talked to friends almost every day. That has been huge.

Today, a friend from work came over and gave me food. She even prepared apples and oranges for me so that I don’t have to do anything. I can scoop the fruit into a bowl and be done with it. She went to a lot of trouble and seemed to enjoy helping me and enjoy basic human contact. Between Covid making people not want to see others and my injury, I haven’t seen hardly anyone, so face-to-face contact is truly a blessing.

But other friends have called to check in on me. Part of what has made this difficult has been my lack of experience or role modeling of self-care. I even asked one of the managers before surgery what an adult would do in this situation, not just someone OCD enough to want to work myself into further injury. My friends have been amazing. I feel so cared for, a feeling I never felt with the family.

All of this has made me want to be able to be there for my friends when they need me. And I have to take care of myself to have anything to offer them. When people care for themselves and each other, good things happen. Who’d a thunk it?

Trying to be Good

I had the surgery. And now I am trying not to aggravate the stitches, but it’s hard because I now have more functionality than I did during the month I wrongly assumed I had only sprained my wrist. It is exceptionally hard not to use my dominant hand.

I want to relate something really weird. I was given a nerve-blocker before surgery. They had to ultrasound me to properly find the nerve going all the way down my right arm. I went to bed Monday night with no feeling in my right arm whatsoever. It was like having 30 pounds of dead weight hanging off my right shoulder. I had no control over it. But it felt like I did. My brain was still sending out signals to my hand. Those signals, however, did not go that far down.. It was like having a “phantom” hand. I could totally feel this imaginary hand–and it was not in the position of my real right hand! I could even flex my imaginary fingers and watch my real hand do nothing. So I was lying in bed with three hands: left, real right, and imaginary right. It felt like I was not keeping my hand elevated, but my left hand was clasping my right hand, my warm and useless right hand. And then I would look over and see my right hand had flopped somewhere and I would place it where I wanted it with my left hand. A couple of times I even slapped myself in the face accidentally! Think about childhood bullies hitting you in the face with your own fist. Twisted.

By the end of Tuesday, I watched the feeling come back over my entire right hand: first the thumb and index finger, gradually going all the way across until my pinkie finally regained full feeling.

I cannot go back to work until the surgeon’s office faxes the FMLA paperwork to HR in Battle Creek. That probably will not be until after I see him for the follow-up on Thursday. So I am likely looking at another week off. I should be happy and excited, but I need to be good and not re-injure my hand. This is my chance to get my act together, but I need to take care of myself. I don’t have a lot of experience doing that.