Category Archives: Injury
One of my favourite bloggers, Heather, wrote a post not that long ago titled “How To Visit A New Mom.” I loved it because I’m now of the age where friends are having babies, but I’m still young enough that I don’t have that much experience with newborns. Or moreover, the mothers of newborns.
I thought it might be useful to write a post in a similar vein about my experience dealing with a serious injury. In other words, how to deal with an injured friend.
Keep in mind, everyone’s injury experience is unique and we all deal with it differently. These tips are based on how I deal with things.
1. Don’t say “you’ll be better soon!”
I’ve gone over this before, but it’s worth noting again. For many people, injury means they will never technically be “better.” There will always be nagging pain, risk of re-injury, loss of mobility, etc. Some people may also see it as someone minimizing the seriousness of their injury by just assuming it will heal quickly.
2. Don’t ask if you can help, just do it automatically.
You know when you ask your mom if you can help with supper even when you have no intention of getting your butt off the couch? I get offers like that all the time. Chances are, if you ask me if I need help doing something, I’ll turn down the offer out of pride. What I appreciate more is when someone is attentive enough to notice I’m struggling, or could struggle with something, and automatically does it for me. There’s no verbal put-down, and the action is appreciated more than the offer.
3. Don’t assume I’m not in pain.
I experience pain so frequently now, it’s not even worth mentioning it when I do. So just because I haven’t mentioned feeling pain in a while, doesn’t mean I haven’t. This happens a lot when I am moving my arm around. It may look seamless to an outside eye, but typically any mobility I’ve gained recently comes with shooting pain each time it’s moved that far.
4. DO share your stories.
A lot of people are scared to share their own accounts of injury in fear of belittling the situation at hand. I however revel in hearing about the misery of other people’s injuries and pain. Even if it’s a sprained toe or broken finger, connecting with people who have also been injured makes me feel less alone in the whole thing.
5. Physiotherapy is not a spa.
It’s torture. If you know someone who is doing physio, do not take it lightly. It’s typically very painful and not enjoyable in the least. Physio is the only time I’ve felt 10/10 pain since first coming out of surgery. It’s not uncommon for me to scream or cry during a session. Not to mention, pain makes me feel really nauseous, so I leave feeling sick too.
6. Injury talk is not small talk.
Someone commented a while back saying it got irritating when people would immediately ask about her injury when they saw her. This happens to me all the time too. People I don’t see every day go “How is your arm doing?” as soon as they see me as a way of making easy conversation. Unfortunately, my arm is not doing well, so saying this is a total conversation killer and makes for an awkward moment. It also makes the injured person feel like they are the injury, instead of asking how they’re doing as a whole.
7. An injury isn’t just about losing the ability to do the things I used to.
It’s also about losing the ability to do things I could have done. My injury isn’t just about not being able to do yoga or play guitar anymore. It’s also mourning the loss of the things I wanted to do but now can’t: rock climb, join a rowing team, learn how to play violin. Never say, “Oh, it’s not like you were into kayaking anyway,” because you don’t know if it’s something I’m bitter about not being able to try.
How about you? Do you have anything to add to the list?
I spoke to the doctor who operated on my arm over the phone yesterday. The original surgeon in Ottawa who took five hours to piece my shattered elbow back together with screws. He took a look at my most recent x-rays and agreed with the surgeon I’ve been seeing in Moncton:
My bones just aren’t healing.
Mind you, there was very little cartilage left to heal, so this isn’t a surprising development. It was expected from the beginning. The surgeon I spoke to yesterday said the bones he could piece together were probably cut off from oxygen for too long and never had much of a chance.
He agrees the screws should come out. Having three screws sticking in all directions in a joint that’s constantly moving isn’t exactly comfortable. However, he also agrees that my bones will likely fall apart without the screws holding them together.
Which brings us to the big question at hand – should I get that piece of my elbow, the radial head, completely removed?
I’ve been diligently doing my research and even though getting a piece of my skeleton removed gives me the heebeejeebees, I think it’s probably the best choice for me right now.
My Ottawa surgeon said I could wait several more weeks to see where my progress in physiotherapy goes. Unfortunately, it has slowed significantly recently and I’m being cut from three sessions a week to just one. Any more significant progress at this point, four months out of surgery, isn’t that likely.
I’ve read that getting your radial head removed can cause more pain in the long-term, and my Ottawa surgeon couldn’t guarantee that wouldn’t happen. He did say it could give me more wrist rotation back, which is something I’m dying for. But he also said it wouldn’t make weight bearing activities any easier.
Specifically, push-ups are officially out of the picture. Like, officially. Forever.
I can’t say I’m that upset, because who likes push-ups? But that also means no more chaturangas. And more importantly, no more ashtanga yoga, my love.
It’s sad news to hear. I secretly want to defy all odds, but I also don’t want to set myself up for failure, because failure at this point is too depressing to deal with. This is the first time in my life a physical limitation will keep me from ever doing something, no matter how hard I train or try.
It goes beyond fitness too. What about carrying groceries? Moving boxes? Lifting my own children someday?
It’s really strange to feel like a “sick” person all the time. Spending so much time at the hospital for physiotherapy and x-rays doesn’t help. Even though I’m otherwise healthy, spending a large chunk of each week surrounded by sick people makes me feel like one too. After all the time and effort I put into being healthy, it feels so strange to have something so wrong with me. To know that no matter how hard I try, my body just won’t work.
I feel like I’ve gotten pretty good at hiding my “disability” from other people. I do it on purpose, because not having full use of one arm isn’t something common enough that others can understand right away. Just the other day I stuck my left hand out to accept change from a cashier, only to remember too late that I can no longer turn my palm up to get the coins. It’s surprisingly embarrassing for me. With my anxiety, I hate the idea of having people wondering what is wrong with me.
Anyways, I’ve consulted with one more surgeon from Halifax who I will hear from today. But it seems as if this next surgery will happen in the coming weeks. I’ll be losing a piece of my body, but hopefully gaining something in the end.
A lot of people say they do races for the t-shirt.
But did you know volunteering will get you a t-shirt too? And you don’t even have to train for months or get sweaty! You just have to be willing to get up early on a Sunday.
I’ve always wanted to do a duathlon, especially after doing my first and only triathlon a few years ago. But I’ve been forbidden from biking by my doctors because of my broken arm. That doesn’t mean I can’t be involved in the event somehow!
I have this weird relationship with races. I’ve done a tri and several running races, but haven’t done one in a while. I love the adrenaline and excitement that comes with racing. I hate the stress leading up to one and the rising cost of race fees.
I would still like to do another race in the not-so-distant future. I’d actually been thinking of a half marathon in the fall.
But then I realized my fitness is coming back very slowly after the accident. I foolishly thought I’d have maintained my 10k base while recovering from surgery. But it took me almost two months to get up to a 5k again, and right now I’m only doing 4-mile runs with walking breaks.
Part of it is because I’m not pushing myself as hard as I used to. The other part of it is that I can’t push myself as hard as I use to.
Remember when I mentioned working up to using 10lb dumbbells in a post not that long ago?
I was proud of myself at the time. I was not proud in the days that followed, where I experienced awful pain in my broken left elbow. Ten pounds may seem like nothing, but it was enough to keep me in bed with pain for the majority of the long weekend. Enough to have me reach for my painkillers again. Enough to remind me that while I may sometimes feel my body is ready to be challenged again, it’s actually still putting a lot of energy into healing itself. And I have to allow it to do that.
So in the meantime, I will still do my short runs with walking breaks, and get my free t-shirts by volunteering.
Plus, I found a new running trail this weekend. It’s in the middle of the woods. I came out smelling like dirt and grass. It was awesome.
Walking breaks are totally justifiable when you have to stop to climb over log bridges.