Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What it's like to have a Disclocated Elbow

It's it really October. Is it really autumn? 
Don't insult me and state the obvious. I can take it. 

It is October, nearly November, and it feels like someone's sucked up two months of my life, and I have no idea where those months went.

     The seasons have changed so much since I wrote here last, I wonder what season it will when next I stop by here again. Winter? In the zombie apocalypse?
Just to be on the up and up with you, the reason I'm writing so late in the season is because I fell. I had a fall, and now it is fall.  Sorry. I had to throw in a bit of snarky humor. You'll understand my pun shortly.

With such a long period between writing blog posts, one might assume that I died or that I was eaten by a large amphibious creature, then was spit out on a desert island with no way to communicate with the outside world.

                 I might as well have been for the time I've been way. I've felt like I've been stranded on a uninhabited island for many moons. I feel like Tom hanks in the movie, "The Castaway," after returning home. I feel little bit crazy, a little bit more somber, and frankly, bit lost now that I'm starting to live again. Now that I can do some things I couldn't do before.

            I had no volleyball "Wilson" to keep me company during my convalescence. But I did have my trusty ipod, Bob, and we made friends over the duration of my stay at the island of healing. I never bothered figuring out how to use my ipod, Bob, until recently, and we spent a lot of time together, especially in the wee hours of morning when I couldn't sleep, and neither could he.

            During my stay at the "island," like Tom hanks, I built a raft to try to get off, but the ocean is a dangerous place.
Smooth waters often change to turbulent waves. Unexpected storms came out of nowhere, and tried to sink me. Waves, towering far bigger myself hammered me, and my little raft, trying to drag me under. 
At times I felt ready to let the waves take me. After all, holding on is awfully hard when you only have one hand to hold onto the raft with  Waves. They come when you least expect it.

            When those waves come and you're tossed off your raft, you learn to tread water. Those "treading water moments" is when you find out what you're made of, how much you can take before you sink or swim.

            You wouldn't think that losing your ability to use your left arm for a time would be that big a deal. But it was big to me. 

            Now that I'm regaining some of the mobility in my arm, now that I can actually type, I feel at a loss for words. After weeks of thinking of things I wanted to say, things I wanted to write down, I feel a stuckness in my soul---that stems from a constipated mind out of practice putting my feelings into words.


            How I've missed you. How I've missed so many things.

            Before now, I did not fully appreciate the luxury of putting one's hair into a pony tail or flossing one's teeth, or the wonderful comfort it is to sleep on one's side. The joy of tossing and turning in bed. Nor did understand the gravity of what it means to dislocate a joint, until that's what I did.

            I completely dislocated both bones in my arm, the Radius and Unla from my Humerus bone, which is a fancy way of saying I dislocated my elbow. 
This is an X-ray of my arm, pretty ain't it?

            It's been over six weeks since the accident, and I'm still trying to regain full motion of my arm. Scar tissue is painful, and not easy to move through. I'm shell-shocked because I had no idea that it would take me this long to recover. I thought that will power alone would make me heal faster. Yeah, well it helps, but sometimes patience, is and constant small perseverance doing the little things, day in and day out, are overlooked virtues that need dusting off in our world
      It's strange how things happen. It's bizarre how we humans forget that we are just (--) this close from disaster, that we are (--) just inches away from life and death, tragedy and happiness. We forget, until something makes us remember. And we are reminded that something infinitesimal can set in motion a string of events that you never planned for, and change the course of your life. Never underestimate little, because little is just a masquerade for big. 

              I dislocated my elbow on the sixth of September, the exact day I told myself I'd stop in here and write about my adventures of being in a play over the summer, and my trip to Idaho. It was the day I regretted not taking the time to write, because after that day I couldn't write because it was physically impossible for me to do so.   
            Now on the 27th of October I'm back, and determined to write something--anything. Even if I write down a bunch of rambling notes, at least I'm writing words. I've been plodding away on this post over the past week, wondering if I'm ever going to finish it. I have to prop a pillow under my arm to keep it from aching and to give it support.  I'll try to get through this. But just thinking about writing about what happened to my arm makes feel like I'm going to vomit. My throat gets tight, and I can feel my body tense up. 
             I know, that's sounds overly dramatic. But maybe you'd think differently if you had your bones jerked out of socket, and considered repeating the memories of said experience in writing. 

             Phew. I can do this.

            Okay, now that I've got my bearings here goes. 
The day I dislocated my elbow, like I said before, was the sixth of September. It was just like any ordinary Sunday. I was feeling good. I was rereading my Unsame Ones book, underlining things I needed to edit and fix. After a few hours I grew tired of reading so I went downstairs, and went frolicking outside. The sun felt delicious on my skin, and I felt in the mood for a walk. I noticed some crows flying behind the chicken coop, and wondered what they were after.    So I bounded out of the yard, and through the weeds towards the coop. To get to the coop, I had to walk through the weeds over a long, white log in the middle of the pathway. 

This is the tree we harvested---the log that rolled on me.
I had balanced across that particular log a million times to get where I needed to go. It was a beautiful silver log that we'd harvested last year when we went chopping wood from a tree that had died in a forest fire. It was a heavy log, hence the reason why it had been left in the pathway. But I didn't mind, because I liked walking across it.

            While I was balancing across the log, I glanced up at the sky at the crows that were flying over the coop. That same moment, I felt the log roll beneath my feet. I had walked across that log a thousand times before, and it had never rolled or shifted until now. The movement was so unexpected, I lost my balance and began to fall. 

            There are some moments in life where you feel like it's happening in slow motion, you can remember everything about it. This was one of those moments. I remember feeling the log roll. I remember thinking, CRAP, I'm going down. I tried to bend back in order to regain my balance. This only made me fall harder because the log rolled more. Gravity pulled me down in one hard smack! I stretched out my left hand to trying to break the impact of my fall, so I wouldn't hit my face against the hard rocks. The second my outstretched hand made contact with the ground, I heard a sickening pop!

              It happened so fast it took me a second to register what had just happened. I felt startled that I'd fallen at all. Weird. I rolled over, instantly struck with the worst pain I have felt in my life. It was pain that was sharp, unrelenting, inescapable, and all encompassing, like hot knives digging into my bones, and climbing into my shoulder, causing every muscle to contract and vibrate with pain.

            I gripped my left arm with my other hand, like it was a flapping fish gasping for air, trying to hold the pain from flopping around and heightening. The skin below where my elbow should have been was bulging, and protruding well beyond where the bones should have been. I'd thought I'd snapped the bones in my arm in two. Images of the gory survival movies where the victim breaks their arm and the bones are sticking out of their skin flashed through my mind. Except I hadn't severed my skin. 

            It's amazing what kind of things flash through your mind when you are in pain, and how many rude names you can call yourself for being klutzy. Believe me, the second I registered that I'd hurt myself, I was chiding myself over and over. I held my arm with my right hand, squeezing it so tightly trying to cut off the pain, trying to keep from jarring it. I made myself stumble to the house, and began to yelp out exclamations of pain, trying to get someone in the house to let me in.

            The instant my mom saw my arm she knew that I'd done something bad to it. My mom and sister urged me to the van, and we took off towards town to the emergency room. Normally it takes us about fifteen minutes to get the hospital, but because things never happen as planned, it seemed like it took years, eons, centuries to get there.

            It was like one of those rude nightmares where you're running, but you don't get anywhere, or one of those campfire stories where someone says, "And then, flaming pizza started raining down on the windshield, and then a crack in the road opened, incinerating the entire vehicle, and everyone in it,"  hindering the story from going further.

            A bit dramatic, but it felt that way. Instead of raining flaming pizza, a very long train decided to get in our way. All the while I was moaning, and yelping like a baby. Then after the train, there was a slow farmer sent from hell itself, to drive as slow as possible and block our way, that I was beaming pain-filled curses at, then there were and large gaping bumps planted in the in on purpose that jarred my arm even more. I never knew our road had so many dips, and pot holes until now.

            Then when we got to the emergency room, I wasn't sure what to expect, because to be honest, I've never ever been to the emergency room in my entire life. When you don't have medical insurance you do pretty much anything to keep yourself "duck taped" together as long as possible---that is unless "duck tape" doesn't work.

        We walked through the hospital doors. The desk was vacant. Everything seemed strangely quiet. It was not what I had expected. Being in so much pain I felt like I might pass out on the hospital floor, and then someone might scrape me up the next day.

            After walking further down the hall, a nurse finally spied us, and had me sit on a white bed in a large open room. There was nobody else. After all, it was Sunday afternoon, and nobody was on staff.  She left the room, then came back and made some phone calls so as to summon a doctors help, and I sat there holding my arm as tightly as I could, just trying to keep from crying.

            While waiting for a doctor, the nurse was very sweet and eventually got me an ice pack, but it did no good. It didn't feel cold at all, If anything it made me feel worse. Then she decided because I was in so much pain she'd give me some morphine, but she couldn't get the needle to go into my arm. I'm not sure why. I like to think it was because my arm was so toned and muscly.
            In any case, I was not happy.

            Needles are not my friend, in any form shape or size.

            Finally another nurse showed up to help the other nurse give me an IV of morphine. Before she inserted the needle she asked me if I was up to date on all my shots, and so forth.

            Unsure what that had to do with my injury, I replied that I was not up to date on all my shots, and I tried to stay way from Doctors and needles as much as possible.  Don't ask me why I said that. But I did.

            She then proceeded to try to get the IV into my arm. Still, the needle did not want to go in. After poking me a few more times, they got the job done. I closed my eyes during most of the poking, but the writer in me was torn. I wanted to watch just out of curiosity, but my fear of needles one out. By the time it was in my arm, I had some nice bloody splotches on my hand and arm, and blood had dripped onto the white bed.

            I was feeling horrible. I just wanted to shrivel up and blow away. All the while I kept calling myself names for slipping and being stupid, and klutzy.

            Then the nausea set in, and dizziness. The nurse said that the morphine would cause that. Even after all that, I didn't feel any relief from the pain. Finally the doctor showed up---a guy in my high school graduating class, now doctor, and two another guys, who asked me a bunch of questions. It seemed I had summoned nearly six people out of their peaceful Sunday afternoon to my aid.

            It was embarrassing! So very embarrassing, especially seeing my old high school classmate made me want to shrivel up even more. I couldn't remember when I felt so embarrassed and vulnerable.  Here was someone I'd gone to high-school with, being my doctor. He was cute, accomplished, a class president, prom king, now married with kids. An important person.

            And here I was feeling ugly as heck, like a hobo dragged off the street. I was wearing a yellow shirt that I had thrown on because it was such a hot that day.  It was a bit see through and showed my striped bra underneath.

            How could this be happening?  Here he was, an accomplished important doctor, and here I was a uninsured, free spirit, artist, living in the same town as I grew up in, ordinary, and so very Stephanie like, and needing his help.

            Ah, things couldn't get any worse.

          Whilst all this self-deriding dialogue coursed through my mind, a nice looking red headed guy had me go get off the bed and walk down the hall into the X-ray room. That was a long painful walk. I did not feel like the morphine was doing any good.

            In the X-ray room they had me lift my arm up so very painfully high so they could scan it. Then I went back to the emergency room and sat on a bed. Once there, the nurse came in and fiddled with my IV thing and said something about it not working right.

            Yeah. I thought. It sure doesn't feel like it's working. Then the doctor came in and showed me the Xray, and told me that I had completely dislocated my elbow. But I had lucky not broken the bone like a lot of people do when they dislocate the elbow. Hence I was very lucky because if that was the case, I would have to go up north to get treated.

            That was one good thought. They could fix me here. He also said that they would have to put me out so they could put my elbow back in joint.

           After that, my mom and sister left the room, because they didn't want to be in the way. Somehow them leaving made me feel really forsaken. I sat there thinking, how in the heck did I get in this room? It felt so dreamlike. And now they were going to put me out. 
            I naively asked if they could put my bones back in place while I was awake. The doctor's answer was a resounding no, there was no way I would be able to stand the pain. So I reluctantly settled down on the hospital stretcher and answered a bunch more questions before they put me asleep, and briefed me about the risks of anesthesia. When did I eat? How much, and if so, did I know that when I woke up I could throw up and possibly inhale junk into my lungs and get terrible phenomena.     

           Crap. I thought. I ate not that long ago and quite a lot. Dang those grilled cheese, bacon, tomato sandwiches. I knew they'd be the death of me.

  After attaching me to a bunch of monitors, and checking my blood pressure, the nurse put something in my IV, and the anesthesiologist began chatting with me, telling me that he'd monitor me while I slept.  I lay there trying to take it all in, I'd never been put to sleep before. I'd imagined what might be like, and wanted to remember it.

            I waited. I knew there would be a definite time when I'd feel myself drifting off.



            I never remember falling asleep.

   I only remember waking up and feeling very confused. I looked down, supremely surprised to see that my arm was wrapped up in a cast, supported by a blue sling. My mom and sister, the nurses, and the doctor and anesthesiologist, were all just looking at me.

            I couldn't shake the confusion.


      "It's over?" I asked?

            "Yes," the doctor replied, "you're bones now are back where they should be. It was pretty hard to put them back in. I had to push with all my strength to get them to go back in."

            I was even more confused. I hadn't felt a thing. I'd fallen asleep and didn't remember a thing. How odd.

            I felt very thankful that I hadn't felt any pain, and that my arm didn't hurt any more. I felt a great sense urgency to tell everyone in the room, the doctor, the nurses, the anesthesiologist thank you for what they did. They had all been so kind, so patient, so wonderful. I couldn't shake the feeling of any poor soul who had to endure dislocating their arm, and having no one to treat them. 
I was so lucky to have doctors and nurses to fix me.  
I wanted to thank them.

            So I did. Over and over.

            Anesthesia sometimes does weird things to peoples brains. I was worried about what I might say when I woke up. But no worries. In this case, my mom said I kept on repeated how disappointed I was that I didn't remember falling asleep, and then I  would ask the doctor the same questions over and over again, and then go from person to person thanking them profusely. I also remember telling the doctor that I thought he had a lot of charisma in High school.
               Hey he did. Really. 

            After my grogginess wore off,  the doctor told me I would have to keep my cast on for ten days, and then go to physical therapy to get my arm moving again. He also told me to take some high powered pain killers every eight hours. After that, he asked if I had any questions.  Nope. I was feeling a bit loopy, and couldn't think of a single question.

          They made me ride in wheelchair to the car, and then my mom drove me home.
             End of story. Yeah right.
    It took me a while for everything to sink in.  I had no idea what the next two months would entail. That I'd have to retrain my arm to move again. I was pretty naive, I never thought that dislocated elbows required a cast. I thought very simply, I thought once they popped the bone in, I'd be fixed---like a popping a Barby arm in, I was sure after the next day, I'd be doing tai bo. I had no idea that I'd need a cast, or physical therapy.

            I didn't think about the soft tissue damaged, the bruising, the major nerves that run through your arm and down into your hands.

            To put it simply, it took a while to sink in. And when it finally did sink in, I felt like my was a tragic sad place. I know it doesn't sound major, that other people have far more extensive injuries everyday, and far more worse things happen to them.

            Yeah I know. But this happened to me. And everybody's pain is their own, and they have to learn to deal with it in their own time. You can't compare pains. They are unique to you, as with the way you deal with them.

            For me it was a huge blow. I had grand plans of releasing my book within the month.

Me and my arm the day after the accident.  This may not be the best shot of me, but believe me, I looked ten times worse after I got the flu.
       Then poof! That plan was completely obliterated.

 My cast was so heavy, it would make my back ache so badly that standing, and moving very much caused extreme pain and discomfort. And my arm was so sensitive to movement that I couldn't stand sitting at my computer for more than a few minutes.

            I hadn't realized that when you dislocate your elbow your hand is likewise effected. My fingers swelled up and went numb and tingly, I couldn't bend them at all, nor could I use them for weeks afterwards.

This is after I got the cast off, as you can see my fingers were still sausages
Oh, and sleep, no one told me that my sleep would also be something taken from me. I couldn't sleep in my normal bed, heck I couldn't sleep in any bed. I slept propped up on a recliner with tons of pillows behind my back, and a pillow beneath my arm to keep my cast from digging into my ribs, and to keep the pressure even on my elbow. For those weeks, and even now, ice, has been my constant companion.

            This was the same position in which I slept in (slept is not the word) for may moons, face up, back propped up, pillow under the arm.

            From effecting my sleep, to the small details you don't think about, like trying to pull your hair into a pony tail, flossing, using girl pads, to figuring out how to press the water jug to get water in my cup, my life became very complicated.

In one instant, my very active lifestyle was put at an standstill, my morning walks, my hoop dancing, Zumba, and my new found love  of tai bo all evaporated.

            It was a major adjustment for me because it effected pretty much everything I did, even down to the way I dressed.

            I had one hand in which to dress myself. I couldn't wash my hair or do much of anything in the same manner as before. 

            The first day of trying to dress myself was horrible. I eventually called for sister's help after giving it my best shot. And believe me, me asking for my sister's help to dress me, was a big blow to my pride. I'm not one for letting people see me ungarbed, even my siblings.  But there are times when you have to suck up your pride, and feel vulnerable. In order to get my bra on, I had to lace the bra strap over and under my cast, and gently lift the my casted arm with my right hand, while my sister scooted the strap over my shoulder, and then buckled it up for me. And the entire time I was hiding my boobs trying to be modest.
           Sheesh, who knew bras could be such a dang bother. The entire time I had my arm tied up, I conjured up a theory that  boys who dislocate their elbow have it far more easier than girls who have to deal with bras, hair, makeup, and shaving under their pits. It's no wonder that the bulk of people who dislocate their elbow are boys---who play football or rugby. I guess it takes quite a deal of force to knock ones elbow out of socket.
             I however had no such epic story. Pooh.

            Then getting my shirt on was another story, in order to get it on, I had to prop my arm on a pillow on the edge of the sink, then take off my arm sling, then, lace the arm first, through the left arm hole, but that is way easier said than done. I had to shimmy the cloth carefully to get it to pass over the cast, and then pull it over my head and lace my other arm through.
              By the time I was dressed in the morning, it felt like the day was half way over.  And after all the bother my sister went through helping me get dressed, I determined that I was not going to take my bra off, unless I had to. I'd have someone unbuckle it. But that thing was just going to hang there.

            And I wasn't going to change my shirt unless it got very ripe! And I was pretty much true to that statement because it was the one shirt I owned that had large enough arm holes to accommodate my cast.

             At the beginning of getting used to being one armed, I had grandiose plans of maintaining my cardio, and keeping fit. But a dead weight painful arm, and a back that has to heft the weight of a cast, do things to you. The doctor hadn't told me how itchy the cast was going to be, how numb and unusable my hand was going to be. Pain does things to you. Lack of sleep does things to you. Motivation evaporates. Rigor mortis of the spirit and body sets in. 

         I had to learn to do things in chunks. It made me insanely frustrated. I'm not a chunks sort of person. I like to focus in and beam my energy down on a thing until I finish it. Until poof, it's there! And my goal is accomplished.

My beaming bolts of energy became more like, a dripping tap.  Slow and steady. Sometimes with very long intervals between drips. Drip, drip, drip. I had to pace myself and learn that if I wanted to accomplish anything, it had to be in bite sized, small pieces because that's all I could do. Especially after I got the nasty cough bug on top of everything. I was double whammied and my energy stores dried up fast.

Everything became harder. Everything took longer, and made me especially tired.

It was hard having patience with myself. Going from fast, to granny slow.

This blog post included. It's taken me several days to get this far. Me just typing a bit. Leaving it for the next day, then coming back and typing some more. Maybe by the time I'm through it'll be so lengthy it will resemble a novel.  I'm sorry. You need not wade through it. It's probably in need of several edits. But who cares right now? I'm writing. Tomorrow I might not be here to edit. You never know. Mostly I'm typing for me. Typing through my mind, walking through it, sampling my thoughts, smelling a rose here, plucking a dandelion, and just thinking on paper. It makes my mind feel as if it has air, and might breathe again.

Bite sizes. Tiny, itsy bitsy little baby steps to progress.

My leaps and bounds, were reduced mini.

I've had to learn to let the weeds grow.


To let the grass die.


And let go of control.


To let other people lift the heavy stuff.


My pride was another thing to shrivel.


I was reminded  that it's much easier to feel motivated when you're up top.


I was reminded of what it's like to feel in the way when trying to be helpful.

Things you thought were easy before are now hugely impossible tasks.

Things like pulling up your pants. In fact you can't wear pants, not the jeans anyway. For two months I pretty much wore stretchy shorts, or stretchy pants. That is.

Then there's the impossible task of putting on a bra. For the longest time I had to go beg my mom or sister to strap me up----that was so humiliating. 
Putting on socks. Hah!

Oh, and have you ever tried blowing your nose with one hand. It's just not the same.

Putting in earrings. Especially putting the little backs on them. Hah. Really?

Lifting a cup.


Sweeping the floor is only possible with two hands. Try it. I dare you.

Cooking is really interesting. Try running a sifter with one hand. Hah.

Pulling your hair into a pony tail. Nope. Still can't do that.

Putting on deodorant. You end up getting it everywhere but your pit!

I've learned over the weeks is that if you are one armed, its best to keep passwords simple, and preferably in the English language in case of one handedness. Somehow stuff evaporates when each hand is involved in muscle memory.

(While I'm thinking about it though it seems random) One thing I believe that has helped my arm is a electric massager I bought off of Amazon, it's very similar to the therapists, inferential massage machine, but mine is not nearly as expensive and thorough, but I believe it does help, and it is very powerful, too powerful if anything. I also like to put it on my knee because it helps with pain. It's pretty awesome because I can use it anytime I want. I like to use it with my heated rice bean bag. And at night I like to wrap my arm with comfrey cream---it's supposed to help with the healing possess. Just make sure you don't use the electric massager if you have oil on your arm because it can burn you---found out the hard. way.
Sorry that was random.

Oh, and shaving. Holy cow. I didn't realize how much my armpit hairs had grown until one day I lifted up my casted arm, and peered underneath. It looked like the amazon jungle under there.

Yikes! That day, because I couldn't bath like a normal person because of my cast, I went outside, with a nice razor, propped my arm up with a pillow, and painstakingly shaved.
That was a very good day.

After which I  felt very accomplished.

And then there are the new fears you acquire after having your bones pulled out of socket, and then learning to bend those bones again. It's terrifying. The fear of seeing the log you fell of.
Yes. I look at it and it gives me this prickly-goosbumy feeling. 
I avoid it every time I see it.

            Oh, and the fears of corners once you take off your cast. The fear of knocking your elbow on a doorknob.  
The fear of falling again. 

The fear of freezing your arm till it goes black and falls off after you fall asleep with ice on on it---and you wake up wondering if your arm is now classified as a frozen frostbitten slab of steak.

The fears you glean from hours of reading posts on the internet of people who had the same kind of injury as you, who can't ever fully bend their arm after their accident.

The sleepless nights you spend on your back in the same position  with a pillow under your arm, wishing for the good old days when you could toss and turn.


            I'm a very emotionally intense person. I have really high highs, and really low lows, I struggle with depression even on good days, and one thing that keeps my spirit happy and strong, is to move, dance, and give myself a tough cardio workout.

            Thus deprived of the blessing of movement, and practically no sleep, I began to feel my spirit plummet.

             I tried to keep positive, busy, and my mind active as possible. And when I couldn't sleep at nights, I'd turn on my Ipod, and play an app that helped teach me the top hand of the piano.

            Things were going okay, my am wasn't hurting too bad as long as I remembered to take my pain pills. I invented new ways in which I could wash my hair without getting my cast wet.    

            But when I got a phone call from the hospital, asking me financial questions, that's when I cracked.

            I can take a lot. I can deal with pain. I can deal with immobility. But finances really stress me out. They kind of jab you under the belt. After I got off the phone I cried, and felt very sorry for myself. It wasn't so much what she'd said. But when I'm faced with paperwork, that's when I really fall to pieces. I'm not a paper fillerouter at all.  I felt the whole spectrum of feelings one feels when one feels like poo.

            That's what I felt.

            I wondered what the point was. I didn't think things could get any worse, But they did. I got very sick with a nasty bug my sister was just getting over. I think I lowered my immune system from crying, which completed my misery.

That weekend, I started running a high fever that lasted for five days. Then after the fever, came the terrible hacking cough that tormented what little sleep I tried to get. Every time I'd cough it would jar my arm, and send my muscles in my arm into spasms.

            That was the longest week of my life.
 I as one miserable puppy.  I coughed so hard I lost my voice. It was nasty, nasty bug, made me cough so hard I'd pee my pants. My sister and I called it the pee your pants cough bug.  How I wished that I was just back to my arm being hurt. I surmised that my arm being in a cast, compiled with coughing my lungs out, was inhuman.

            On the plus side, I was so sick it didn't mater that I couldn't move, because I didn't have the strength to. Then my brother and mom came down with the same bug. It was a happy time at our house, believe me. It took nearly three weeks for the cough to go away, and I still don't have my singing voice fully back yet.

            During that time I went through many stages, of ups and downs of being so sick I just wanted to evaporate. Yes, I was feeling that crappy. One of the tortures that made me feel especially deprived was to have a chills and a fever but not be able to take a bath.  You cannot believe the ways I fudged just to feel a bit of warm water on my body.

            It's kind of weird about reaching low points. You have to find find shafts of light---because if you don't you just don't survive. In those dark moments I learned stuff about myself, good stuff, and bad stuff. At times like those you come to a point where you reach a dynamic moment where you find a reason for it all, and you hold onto that reason, even if it's a reason you created, even if you make up a reason, and it's that reason that keeps you holding on.       

            This quote found me the day after I injured my arm, and it gave me great comfort. "A pearl is a beautiful thing that is produced by an injured life. It is the tear [that results] from the injury of the oyster. The treasure of our being in this world is also produced by an injured life. If we had not been wounded, if we had not been injured, then we will not produce the pearl." Stephan Hoelle

That was the quote that gave me a shaft of light. I held onto that light, and it kept me going. All those bits of sand, the pain, the fall, the aches, the frustrations, they are just beautiful pearls in disguise.  
 Then I found other bits of bits of wisdom things that just gave me some peace. "Surrender is a place of power. When we surrender that which we can't control, we're then free to control that what we can---which is ourselves, our own intention, our own reality." Dr. Margaret Paul

And then this quote. It's a good one to remember when life happens. 

"Anything that annoys you is for teaching you patience. Anyone who abandons you is for teaching you how to stand up on your own two feet. Anything that angers you is for teaching you forgiveness, and compassion. Anything that has power over you is for teaching you how to take power back. Anything you hate is for teaching you unconditional love. Anything you fear is for teaching you courage to overcome your fear. Anything you can't control is for teaching you how to let go and trust the Universe." Jackson Kiddard.

"Allow yourself to trust the journey just like the falling leaves trust the wind."--- Daniela  Nikolova

And then this last quote I thought was very nice. 
"You must let life flow naturally, for life's secret is patience; you must stop pushing for change and allow things to unfold." Leon Brown

            And this music video was one I watched over and over that spoke to me. These are just some of the small rays of lights that got me through this.

Rays like my mom and sister.

Rays that helped me to feel at peace. To not fight it, or try and control the situation. I tried. But didn't work. Release. Surrender. These are the things I was being taught.

            My reason was that I needed to learn something. That I needed to grow. Dark moments define us, they help us to see things we might not see during daylight. Like the moon, the stars, and the silhouettes and patterns of life that go undetected when the sun is shining.

        I also made myself listen to motivational speeches like thise one, while doing my exercises. And believe me it helps.

            I had to learn to let go. Besides, I couldn't keep holding on so tightly with one hand anyway. I had to embrace what I could not change. I had let other people help me, and love them for it, instead of hating that they had to help me. I had to be humble. I had to ask for help.

            I had to let go and let God do his thing with me. Trust in his power, his timing, that he could mold this unpleasant experience for my good.

            Surrender. It's a tough lesson to learn, especially when you have other plans. If you're not flexible enough to bend to God's will for you, then you might break. It's funny because when I'm at my dark moments its easier for me to surrender to depression, self pity, and the darkness, than it is to look up, and surrender to God's will and plan for my life, and stop fighting it, but learn from it, grow from it.


            That is my challenge.

On Wednesday the sixteenth of September the doc took off my cast. Felt so good to get it off. It felt like this little happy bird. 
  My fingers were super swollen still. And my arm was frozen in place. He also gave me the pictures of my X rays. I was too out of it at the time to remember what the pictures looked like, so I was happy to get a second look. It was a full dislocation. The doctor told me to show the x rays to the physical therapist. The desk clerk and the therapist were pretty funny/expressive when they saw them. Made me feel validated in my pain to show someone the pictures for the first time.

            Then the next day, Thursday, I went to once again physical therapist to my first appointment. Once there he helped me use my fingers for the first time in a long while. They had been numb and swollen for so long that it was pretty hard to move them. Had me move my arm too. I was terrified my arm might pop out. He cautioned me to only use my sling when I was around crowds of people, and only when my arm got tired so my elbow wouldn't get further frozen in place.
He also said it will probably will take six weeks for my arm to regain strength in my arm. And three years to fully heal to get it as strong as it was before my accident. I guess there's a lot of soft tissue that gets damaged that needs to heal. I mentioned to him that a lot of people keep on telling me that at least I didn't break my arm, that I'm so lucky. He said that he begged to differ, that dislocations take a lot more work to rehabilitate because of all the scar tissue.

A week after my cast was off, my hand started peeling like lizard skin.

            What was funny was when the desk clerk asked me how I dislocated my elbow, I told her that I was walking across a log looking at the sky, when I fell.

            She looked really confused, and said, "Ah well you would be looking at guys."

            I didn't quite understand what she meant until I went back into the car and repeated what I had said to my mom, and then the clerk's reaction.

            Looking at the sky. Oh, she thought I said, looking at this guy.

            I feel embarrassed every time I see that desk clurk.
After I came home from the therapist, I took a bath---the most luxurious wonderful bath of my life.  I was able to submerse my arm in warm, wonderful water for the first time in a long while.  That day I actually bent my fingers and see my knuckles. 

            It was funny because after one of my visits to the therapists, I dreamed I went to the physical therapist, and he told me that in order for me to make progress I needed to thank my arm every time I did some tough exercises. He told me that I needed to make sure to tell my arm good job so it didn't get discouraged. I woke up very amused. So ya'll need to remember to tell yourself good job. Tell your legs good job if you go running. Tell your eyes good job for studying. And whatever part of you that's working hard good job because it needs to feel appreciated. lol

            Seems like pretty solid advice.

On one of my more motivated days, I tempted a painting on a pretty large canvas I rescued from a thrift store. The original painting was just just kinda ugly. It was a typical water mountain tree scene. The colors were all blah. I began painting over it. Opening paint tubes was challenge, but I worked at it, and am still working on that painting.

            I also made myself practice the top hand of the piano, over and over. I used an app on my ipod when I was sick, to help me remember the piano keys. I'm not going to say I'm very good at it at all, but I feel proud anyway, especially since it's going to be a while until I can play my flute without it giving me a lot of pain. 

            Bit by bit, day by day, I've been able to do a little more, and go a little farther. Gradually, I took my arm sling off more and more. When I first went on a walk without it, it nearly killed me, my arm hurt so bad. So I compromised and went walking with it on. And took it of the rest of the day.

            Slowly, painful day after day, working through the pain, and doing the exercises the physical therapist has given me, I've made progress. Slow progress, but still progress. I no longer need the sling. And the feeling has come back into my fingers.

This was how far I could bend my arm On October 11th


  It has now been over six weeks. And this picture below, is me holding the yellow armband. It's pretty much how far I can bend my so far. This picture was taken on 21st of October. And I hope to be able to bend my arm further. 

I'm not sure when I'll be able to fully straiten it or bend it.
This is about how far I can straighten my elbow. Hopefully I'll be able to bend it more sooner. This picture was taken after I posted this blog post, probably on the 28th or 29th of October.
But I'm feeling hopeful. The therapist said if I can't get it straight on my own, they might put a strap on my arm to force it open. 

That thought sounds painful, so I'm doing extra work so that won't have to happen. 
          I've been sleeping on the couch for nearly six weeks, and yesterday I slept in my own bed, the second time in all those weeks I've slept in my own bed. But in my mind, it's progress. I've gotten to a point where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can dress myself so much easier. A lot of my shirts now have one arm hole that's bigger than the other, but that's a small price to pay to dress yourself. I can touch the top of my head. I can now sort of scratch my nose. I can lace my arm through a hoodie, put on my own socks without it taking me forever, I can pull up my pants--if they're stretchy, I can lift my own cup, and plate, and various non-heavy objects. I can type for longer periods of time--especially with a pillow under my arm. I can now start trying to get my cardio up, and do sit ups. I made myself do Zumba everyday last week. It's weird, but even the easy dances are challenging for me now.  I can even milk the goats for short periods of time. I still can't put my bra on like a normal person, or put my hair in a ponytail, or lift heavy stuff, or push open heavy doors---but I'm so grateful for what I can do. Thankful for and my mom being patient with me, doing so much for me when I couldn't do it for myself, for my sister Bessie, for her rooting me on, and helping me out through everything. When I do my arm exercises, she comes over and coaches me, repeated back one of my motivational videos I like to listen to. "No, don't give up, you are a champion! Now say it, Steph, you are a champion! No! Say it louder, you are a Champion. Don't quit!"

            I feel pretty lucky to have people in my life that love me enough not to let me quit. For my mom who seriously waited on me hand and foot, and constantly saw to my every need. This video reminds me of how amazing both my mom and sister are. 

           I now have greater appreciation and understanding for those who have to rehabilitate their bodies after accidents. It's really hard starting from the bottom and working up. Last week, when I began doing those first sit ups after weeks of not really moving, I felt like I was carting a load of bricks, it was that hard. Stretching out my arm while doing ab exercises made my arm spasm. But I've been slowly working through it, and arm has gotten stronger. No more spasms.

            I've got a log ways to go.  But for the third time in weeks  I was able to bend my arm enough to floss my teeth. Which marks a huge accomplishment for me. It was no easy task, but I did it. I had to prop my elbow up on the table with a pillow under it to maneuver my hand to my mouth after much straining. But I did it!!!! That is my happy thought for the month!

I know it sounds really lame. Call me OCD, but it's one thing that's been nagging at me this whole time---this feeling that my teeth are going to be rotting out of my head.            
 Oh I tried various other devices in which to floss.
I tried a contraption you use to floss with when you have braces--- that was a joke. Don't waste your money. I tried these evil, and when I say evil green flossers, I mean EVIL!
They may look nice. But they are deceptive little torment devices. At first they work, then when you get to your back teeth, they get stuck. And you have two choices, either to rip out your teeth, or to gasp, and drip saliva as you howl and yelp for someone to help you.

            The only way to get them out of your mouth is to have someone snip them with scissors. This I did about four times, with all the same result.

            So, save yourself time, money, and embarrassment---don't buy them, especially if you're one handed, and you have little space between your teeth.

            The only thing that gave me some piece of mind was a water flosser.  It's noisy, a little evasive, and to be honest it's not without its quirks. If you're not careful you can blast out your gums, and sear your taste-buds. Overall, after getting the hang of it, I liked it, if only to give me some assurance that I was blasting out some of the crud between my teeth. 
Water flosser

Now that the pain in my arm has evened out, and I can bend it more, I've been slowly plodding along with my book edits trying to keep positive about my progress.  I don't last very long. But I try to do a little bit everyday. Last week I was motivated, and feeling good that I was making some headway with my writing. Then while I was in the middle of edits, I decided I to click save. But the evil computer gremlins that gobble up flies decided to test me once again. The book file locked up and wouldn't save. Then the program crashed altogether. I wasn't too worried because I've been saving as I went, so I figured whatever didn't save could be easily fixed. I restarted the program, and went to my original file I'd been working on. Here's the kicker, the file wasn't there. It was gone. Poof! Just like that. Months of work---Vanished!

            I felt my stomach do several somersaults. I felt shock, disbelief. Seriously? What in heck? Why? This couldn't be happening. Hadn't I learned enough these past weeks? Was I cursed?  I couldn't take one more blow. I felt the room shrinking, and wondered if I dared to glance over my shoulder to see what other bad thing was going to stalk me, and perhaps incinerate me if I got up the courage to do anything risky. 

            I have older files of my book that are unedited. The thought of going back to unedited work was not a happy one. I couldn't get back the thoughts that I'd written down. Those moments of inspiration were gone forever, and so was all my work. I tried not to panic. But I couldn't help but feel like I'd been punched in the gut. Why hadn't I made several backup copies of my edited file? At that moment I felt like I might not recover. I thought of the days I had worked with a pillow propped up under my arm, feeling proud even if I got a only a few pages done. After these past two months a girl can handle getting knocked down only so many times. Then came a thought---a beam of light, my computer always makes these little ghost files of everything I save. I'd never tried to open them before. But I was determined to try. I quickly went to work digging into my computer's reassesses. It took several tries of opening up garbled files, until I successfully recovered the lost file. ******Happy dance***I felt like a weight had been lifted from shoulders. The page formatting was a little askew. I only lost about five pages of current edits. No biggy. I'm was one happy person. Thankful! Soooo thankful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            I'm so glad that I was spared from that.  Perhaps the angels in their kindness granted me some grace.

            They know I need every ounce I can get.

Just thinking about these past months, how strange, how unexpected my accident was, I'm reminded once again how quickly life changes. One day you can be on top of your game, physically fit, full of goals plans, ideas, positive about the future, balancing elegantly through life strong and proud.

But you never know when the log is going to roll. You may have traveled the same path over a million times, balanced across the same log, day after day, trusting in your ability, feeling strong and confident. After all the log is solid.

             But you never know when the log is going to roll.

You never know when you might lose your balance, when you might slip.

         When you might fall. 
And when you fall things change. And sometimes you can't go back to the way things were before. You hope that you can. But you change too.

            And when things change, you're forced to look at your life through a different lens.

            It's really sad, but it's true that you really never fully appreciate a thing until you lose it. We forget to live so often, we forget to do what we can do in the moment, to offer a helping hand, to write the words in our heart, until it's too late. To live in joy, and gratitude for the little things.

            Life is like that log. It's risky, it's scary. We don't like to think that the log we're walking across could throw us off balance and send us to the ground.

            We cross the same path every day, acting like our life is fully stable, and then one day, the log rolls, and we think that its over. 

            It's a frightening thought. But everyone's log rolls. Everyone falls down.

            Were all this ___close from logs rolling every day. Some don't some do.

Some people's logs roll when their pants are down, sending them shooting down a hill. Some people's logs roll when they're ready for it, and they're able to balance gracefully across it anyway.

            Most of the time we fall down when we least expect it. But the challenge is, like so many have said before me, getting back up.

The challenge to learn what it is we need to learn after the log rolls, to keep trying. To keep getting back up. To use the falls of life to grind away the sand----to create the pearl that's inside us.  That we use our time to give, live, learn, and truly cherish what we have, the people that we love, and the small moments that make up our lives.

 Life is very unstable. It's always changing, and shifting.

            Logs are going to roll, they roll everyday for someone, somewhere. We never know when or where, how or why.

            They just roll.  Life is so unstable. Everywhere you look, someone has fallen down, someone needs help. Someone's in the ICU of life, and it doesn't look good.

           Offer a hand. Help the up the fallen, and offer a hand to those who may be falling. You may be the only thing keeping someone's log from rolling.

All the time. Logs are rolling around us. Sickness, car crashes, loss of jobs, divorce, depression, accidents, bad grades, natural disasters, unreasonable insane people you have to cope with, life----everywhere you look logs rolling, people falling. It's a sea of people falling, and picking their selves back up again,

            Life. Everything, and anything can happen. You never know.

            But maybe that's the beauty of it.

            We don't know.

            So instead of asking a person why their log rolled, or why they fell, we can pick up each other and help each other through the rolling tide of logs, shifting and turning.

            In falling we learn greater compassion, and in learning compassion we gain greater empathy for the human race.

            I came across this quote and thought it was very beautiful.

"Sometimes when you're in a dark place you think you've been buried, but actually you've been planted." Christine Caine


            So remember that next time you feel like life's face planted you into the ground, and you're buried in mud and dirt, so thick, and sticky that you can't seem to dig your way out--when you can't hardly move.

            Surrender to the soil---and take in the moisture of love offered to those around you. You may be stuck. But don't quit.
            Get back up.

            Send out roots. Regroup and grow.


            Eventually, you will see the light.


  Not every one can balance perfectly. But together we can hold each other up. And when your log rolls, like it will, like mine will, like everyone's will sometime, just remember, you've been planted, and grow!

   Keep steady, and repeat over and over, like my sister did for me, "You are a champion! Keep going. Don't quit! You are a champion!"

            Because you are!

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