Twist my arm

Self-portrait with brace. This is a pretty common pose for me lately, so it amused me to do a senior-portrait parody.

It’s been just over three weeks now since I broke my wrist, and I’m happy to say that I’m doing much better–I don’t have much pain, and the bruising all over my elbow and arm is mostly gone. It’s going to take a few months for the stretched and compressed nerve to heal enough to get back all the feeling in my palm and thumb, which is annoying, but at least will have an end. And I lost almost all the mobility in my wrist, and will have to work hard to get it back. I haven’t started physical therapy yet, but I’m supposed to start moving my wrist gently-but-firmly forward, backward, and twisting it. Twisting is the hardest; I can’t quite imagine ever again being able to easily do simple things like sweeping crumbs into my left palm. (I do believe I’ll be able to, but it’s hard to picture.) Today I did squats and lunges and jumping jacks (stepping-jacks, actually; I don’t jump) to get my muscles warm, then worked on moving my wrist, pushing gently into the pain to increase my range of motion. I was breathing deeply and slowly, in and out, shaking just a little from the pain, and realized that although I always breathe deeply during stretching, the breathing was also helping me manage the pain. I thought, “Huh, I didn’t know deep breathing could help manage pain–I wonder how I knew to do that?” And then I virtually slapped myself on the forehead as I remembered the very obvious reason I knew to do that. I guess it’s nice that a skill learned for giving birth has other applications.

This was my first-ever broken bone or surgery, and the whole experience was strangely not too dissimilar from my babies’ births–especially Hazel’s early induction because of gestational hypertension, which was a very “medicalized” birth experience. The biggest difference between the two experiences, of course, is that I don’t have a cute Hazel to show for this one–just some interesting sonograms, and a lot of physical therapy ahead of me. I just realized that since I usually give myself six weeks off from housework and other commitments after I have a baby, even the time frames are similar, since that’s how long I’ll wear a splint/brace. (I wore the splint for two weeks, and now I’m in a brace that I can remove to shower and stretch.) (When I was given the brace, which has elastic lacing on the sides that you can’t see in the above photo, I said, “Oh, it’s kind of steampunk.” The nurse smiled, but I suspect she was just being polite.)

Here are front and side views of my repaired radius, taken immediately after surgery. The base of my hand is at the top of the images. I was showing these to my brother Spen and he said that, in a way, they were beautiful–and I do feel it’s a miracle to be put back together so neatly. But between you and me, as someone who does a lot of fine handwork, I kind of wished the stitches on my incision were a little more even and neat. But I’m sure it’s a whole different art to stitch in flesh–plus, the pain would have probably gotten in the way of my sewing the incision back up by myself. And the scar will fade eventually.

(I actually had a couple of non-wrist-related anecdotes I was going to write, but I’ve already used up my blogging time for now, so I’ll have to see if I can find more time later.)

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7 Responses to Twist my arm

  1. elkmeadow says:

    What a wonderful post! We will leave knowing that you have it all handled. It’s so nice to see the details and your upbeat attitude summarized here in one place. Our wishes for continued healing with less difficulty.

  2. RachelJL says:

    “I kind of wished the stitches on my incision were a little more even and neat.”
    lol.
    Hang in there! I’m sure the nurse appreciated the steam punk reference more than you think. 😉

  3. Trina says:

    After my appendectomy, I remember sitting (in the stupid wheel chair) waiting for Guy to bring the car around, and it just felt wrong (and a little sad and anti-climactic) not to be going home with a newborn. I mentioned that to someone else and she looked at me incredulously and said, “would you WANT a new baby right now?” E was 10 months old so, no not really, but it was my first hospital experience outside of having babies and it was strange for me. I think you’re wise to think about the recovery in new-baby terms, though, and give yourself plenty of time.

    Those are some pretty incredible pictures. I got some really gross ones of them removing the appendix :-).

  4. Heather Kartchner says:

    After spending 6 weeks in a wheelchair last year, I can appreciate your recent posts. I too struggled with acceptance that time was needed to allow my body to heal. I learned that productivity has many facets; puzzles were my preferred activity. And I found amazing healing at the hands of an incredible physical therapist. I hope you will as well. Hang in there!

  5. NotMolly says:

    Years ago, when my brother was having a surgery, my eldest (who was then about seven) was *very concerned* about the stitches… “Mom, are they going to use a running stitch, or a whip stitch? Because I don’t think a running stitch would work very well. Is the doctor GOOD at ‘broidery??”

    (And the x-rays, printed up in sepia and framed, *would* be a way-cool Steampunkish home accessory….)

    I hope it feels better each day! When I had surgery to repair a tendon in my wrist, working my way up to flamenco hand/wrist motions really helped with mobility.

    • zstitches says:

      Wow, bless her (his?) heart! That’s a smart 7-year-old.

      My 7-year-old and 5-year-old get upset when I take off my brace. They say, “Don’t show us your zombie arm!”

      • NotMolly says:

        Eldest is a girlie. 🙂 The zombie arm thing is great! I smashed a finger in a kitchen drawer once, and when that fingernail eventually grew out, I joked about my zombie finger, and freaked the oldest girl right out. I love having kids. 🙂

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