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Ground Rules

Listen. If I’m going to be out of commission for several weeks with an injury, I need to set some ground rules. Things to keep me sane. Things to get me through.

I’ve been off the pain meds now for three days and am suddenly seeing my situation with a new set of eyes. My mind is saying “go go go.” But my body just isn’t there yet. So here is my swift kick in the behind. I can’t promise to follow them all. But I know I’ll need the reminder.

1. Don’t get depressed

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My mom says depression is common in people recovering from injuries preventing the use of a limb. I can totally see why. It’s a fine line between frustration of not being able to do the things I want to do, and totally giving up. I am not a recluse. I have people to talk to who love me. My life can still be awesome. Just with a minor inconvenience. Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da.

2. Take it easy

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Guilt is a deeply embedded emotion. I feel a lot of guilt about not being able to do certain things now. Especially because I can still do them mentally, just not physically. I am healing. My body is working overtime to heal itself. I’m not crazy for not working, turning down party invites or not even walking to the corner store.

3. Do my exercises

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With that said, I can’t let my health get away from me. I still need to get up and move around, even if only puttering around the house. I need to keep stretching everyday, my flexibility is something I can maintain in a cast and don’t want to lose. But this is especially for when I start physiotherapy. I MUST DO THE EXERCISES. As a personal trainer I know how important the “lame” physio exercises are to recovery.

4. Fend for myself

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I am my own best advocate. My sister has done an amazing job taking care of me, but I need to take a little more responsibility. I need to learn how to operate on my own with this injury. But I also need to learn to ask for help when I need it. I especially need to learn how to tell people on the crowded Toronto subway to back the fuck off from my casted arm. (I’ll drop an f-bomb if I need to!)

5. Don’t use food for comfort

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I’m lonely. I’m by myself all day. I’m bored. Food can’t, and shouldn’t, be used to cure all these emotions. I’m not exercising, I can’t use one arm, I don’t need to gain an extra 10 lbs too. But I also can’t obsess about this!! Eat nutritious food, only when hungry. It’s amazing how often I eat when not hungry.

6. Challenge myself

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Okayokay. I am definitely not skating again anytime soon after my accident. But I also don’t want to let this be an excuse to let fear hold me back. Even on a smaller day-to-day basis, I need to challenge myself to do things I haven’t done since my surgery. Like go out or make a new dish. I cut a bagel with one hand the other day. That was amazing.

7. Remember the big picture

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In the grand scheme of life, this is but a minor blip. Not being able to use my arm for 3-6 months won’t mean much 40 years from now (unless it gives me arthritis). It just seems like a lot because my life currently revolves around my being able to be physical. But it doesn’t have to. Maybe it’s not supposed to!

 

I must say the timing of this accident has turned out to be rather serendipitous. I had big plans for the end of March that are now being accelerated. I have mixed emotions about this and still have a lot of logistics to figure out on my end. Mostly “What am I going to do?? When?? HOW!??”

I think this is why this injury has had such a big impact on me. It didn’t just screw up my arm. But it screwed up plans that were months in the making. But like I said before, who am I to argue with the path the universe has laid out for me? So these are my rules to get me through healthy and with my head on straight :)

Injury Update

Wow. I am completely blown away by the response to my accident post. Confession: I didn’t delete any of the comment notification e-mails and I still read through them from time to time when I need a pick-me-up. I wish I could respond to every single one of them. But one-handed typing is a slow process. Just know that your support and well wishes mean SO much to me, and I can’t believe I have so many amazing people on my side.

If you’re catching up, I sustained a serious injury skating on Friday. The details are in this post. Right now I’m recovering from surgery in Ottawa and limited to the use of only one arm.

This post is a bit of a follow-up one to update you on my progress. It’s in point form again because that is still how my brain is working at this point. Mostly just updates and random things since being released from hospital. Not all future posts will be like this, don’t worry :P

  • Went in for a CT scan today and met with my surgeon. Looks like the elbow joint is in the right place after the reconstructive surgery. Just a little extra space where scar tissue will grow. That will probably lead to a “cranky elbow” for the rest of my life.
  • One of the screws may be out of place. I’ll know by Friday if they want to go back in and fix it.

the elbow joint

  • The doc said my radial head (seen above, connected to the forearm) was crushed when I hit it. Actually “mush” was the term he used. That’s what the screws are in. There is very little cartilage there left to heal, but the surgeon is hoping my young body will be able to do it and hold on to the screws. If not, they will have to go in and replace it with  piece of prosthetic. I’ll be following up with my surgeon every week and will know in about a month if it’s healing enough to leave it alone.
  • Me and my three screws are now “Susan and the Three Amigos”
  • I’m staying at my sister’s in Ottawa until at least Saturday. We’re taking it one follow-up appointment at a time!
  • Pain management is a tricky issue. The pain is too intense to go without painkillers, and pain can actually hinder the healing process. Right after the surgery I was taking the maximum allowed dosage of percocet. Without it, it’s excruciating. BUT, I think it is getting better with each day, and I’m slowly weaning myself off the drugs.
  • From the moment this happened I said “I don’t care if I’m limited to one hand for months – I just don’t want to be in this kind of pain.” Pain scares me more than anything else surrounding this ordeal. I just don’t want to be in pain.
  • I have suspicions that my family thinks I’m going to get hooked on painkillers.
  • The effects of the anaesthesia lasted for two days. It made me so nauseous that I couldn’t walk. I had to get wheeled out of the hospital.
  • I washed my hair today for the first time in five days.

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  • My sister Sara has been a godsend. I was without the use of both my arms in the hospital because of where they put the IV. She did everything from put chapstick on me to holding the phone up to my ear. She’s helped me to the washroom, has been preparing all my meals, and keeping on top of the logistics when my brain just can’t handle it. She’s an amazing caregiver. Expect a guest post from her soon ;)
  • It will probably be a year or so until I can do any form of light upper-body weight lifting. Even then, it may just be something I always struggle with. I will miss my budding yoga practice the most. The thought of doing wheel pose now makes me cringe.
  • I’m oddly not that upset that my fitness routine or career won’t be the same. I’d planned on becoming a fitness instructor in the coming months. Right now the idea of going back for more surgery is more frightening than not being able to stick with my “old plan.” Everything else just seems so small when put up against the big picture.
  • My sister keeps trying to feed me junk food and I have to explain to her that I’m a sedentary person right now.

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Elgin Street Diner poutine in Ottawa. Crispy shoestring fries, mushroom gravy and squeaky cheese curds. Still the best poutine ever.

  • My hunger signals are way out of whack. I have to time my snacks with my pain meds, otherwise I forget and experience a significant drop in energy. My energy, mood, and ability to deal with pain are hugely improved when there are calories in my body.
  • The anaesthesia made everything taste really  salty. I find myself craving really simple, bland foods. Like peanut butter sandwiches, fried eggs, bagels, and mild tasting fruit.
  • Dawson’s Creek is awesome for recovery. Both mindless and distracting. Joey is more likeable the second time around, but I’m still Team Pacey.

  • Reading has been difficult as I still have a slight inability to retain information.
  • I’m getting pretty good at this one-handed typing thing ;)
  • If you’ve been wondering about blog content now that I have limited cooking and activity skills, you’re not alone. But I do think recovering from an injury will give me some welcomed perspective. And perhaps it will give me the chance to blog about some things that would have otherwise been replaced with yet another cookie recipe. We shall see!

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  • I’ve been up walking around today, feeling more and more like myself. Getting back on my feet has been more difficult than anticipated. Movements are very slow, my body is still in shock.
  • My mom pointed out that since I fell backwards on the ice, I could have landed on my head. My elbow was just “taking one for the team.”
  • I love you all. My arm may be in pieces but my heart feels very full <3
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