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Posts tagged ‘falling’

Healing up, slow and steady


For reasons I likely can’t remember, I decided to only work on one project during my week of spring break. That meant that when I came back to school on Tuesday, I was buried in work. There were invoices to send. I worked four hours with colleagues writing a proposal for funding that would provide some excellent opportunities to our students. Plus, I was running around trying to figure out where a check went.

I got on campus at 7:30 a.m. I didn’t leave until a little after 5 p.m. Then I realized the rest of my week looked just as hectic (according to my antiquated day planner),  with appointments all week. Today that meant a 9:30 a.m. appointment to renew my driver’s license follow by some work at home, then a 1 p.m. appointment with the eye doctor to check out my contacts.

The DMV appointment went quick, if only because I had an appointment. I got in and out, even after they sent me the form with my name wrong (totally missing the hyphen, incredibly necessary for it to be there since my license is the one piece of identification I care about it being right on).

The eye appointment didn’t go as well. I lost one of my contacts last week after I rubbed my eye too hard. It disappeared somewhere in the produce department at Safeway. I wasn’t even going to try and find it. And I couldn’t see well enough out of that eye to bother looking. Know what’s fun? Driving home (less than a mile) with your left eye closed because your right eye is the only one you can see out of.

Tomorrow, I have a day full of work rewriting CSS and adding accessibility features to a website. On Friday, I go back to the sports medicine doctor to see how my arm is doing.

I’m a little iffy on how to really characterize it.

I’m still in pain. But it’s not that bad. The biggest thing is mobility. I’m still having some issues moving the left arm completely.

This is my right arm:


This photo is the best I can do, but you’ll notice a couple things right off. My arm can extend straight. My wrist is aligned with the arm. I can fully extend, essentially 180 degrees.

This is my good arm. This is the arm I’ve been relying on for everything lately. I can’t lift myself up without it. At the Oakland Half Marathon my husband had to pull me up off the ground with this arm because I still couldn’t bare too much weight on my left arm. I’m calling this my “strong arm” lately.

Then there’s my T-Rex style left arm:


That’s not a huge dust bunny down there. That’s Cassie. She’s taken up Beau’s love of photo bombing my blog shots.

Notice a couple things here different? My wrist is slightly askew. I can’t align it properly with the rest of my arm without getting a bit of shooting pain up my inner wrist. My elbow is also more bent than on my right arm. It still feels vastly uncomfortable to bend it. It also feels uncomfortable to try to force it into a straight position.

I’ve been trying to get it more mobile than it was three weeks ago when I initially went in to see the doctor. He mentioned ordering physical therapy the last time I was in. I’m hoping to avoid that. I think it’s past the threshold set by the doctor initially. Then, I could barely bring it out in front of me. That’s part of the reason I went to see the doctor. I knew something was wrong.

The biggest problem is still the elbow-area, where the radial head is located. I still can’t put a lot of pressure on it. I’m also having some issues with lifting or moving things, even small items.


I figured a visual would be better for an explanation of what type of pain I’m dealing with.

The red lines indicate the areas where I’m still getting shooting pain, which is essentially up my entire radius bone on both sides. The pain comes when I usually try to grab something or forget that my radial head is broken. The pain is just enough to shock me, but it doesn’t stick around. I’d like to think it’s just a reminder to me that I broke a bone and I need to slow down.

The blue rectangle shows my wrist area where I still have some general weakness. Essentially since I haven’t been using this arm all that much, everything I do with it feels foreign and just kind of wrong. I found my list of exercises from when I strained a thumb tendon shooting video that I’m using to increase the strength in that area. It still hurts, though. My grip isn’t very strong. If I’m carrying something, usually small, I hold it close to me because I’m unsure of myself.

The yellow circle is the worst and most uncomfortable of all of the pain, it indicates the area where the pain comes out once pressure is applied to the area, even slight pressure. It’s really hard not to put your arm down on a table or use it to support yourself when doing activities. Have I mentioned how hard it is to put on my running shoes with limited mobility? That elbow area is where I usually get the pain associated with that. Anytime I put pressure or increase pressure on that bone through activity, it hurts.

That’s the type of pain that actually sticks around for a bit. I’ve actually cancelled runs because the pain has become so bad I’ve taken to take an Ibuprofen, which is what I’m using for breakthrough pain.

What I’m not showing is my general mobility. My arm feels very stiff. I was warned around this. My doctor said normally when medical professionals treat these injuries, they put the arm in a sling for a couple weeks, then take it out so the patient can begin regular movement again. I’ve really struggled with that area.

Three weeks ago, I couldn’t lift my arm above my head. Even putting on a T-shirt was difficult. I couldn’t style my hair. I actually held off on dying my hair (I’m so gray without it, it’s ridiculous), for a couple weeks so my husband didn’t have to figure out how to help me. It’s not that bad now. In fact, I can lift my arm over my head, but it’s not a fluid motion.

So I’m getting better. It’s healing. But it’s happening fairly slow. I have an X-ray with my doctor’s visit on Friday. Then I’ll see just how my arm is doing.

‘Tell me where it hurts’

Remember when I was absolutely certain that I didn’t have a broken arm? It wasn’t swollen. It was starting to feel better. The advice nurse told me that it didn’t sound broken. To be fair, she also told me to follow up with a actual doctor’s appointment, but I didn’t bother for another week.

That appointment was today.

I had to twist my arm and basically show everyone “where it hurt” like I was a five years old and had a stomachache that wouldn’t go away. But in actuality, I kind of had to tell them a lot since it was so far after the fact.

I left the office thinking that it was exactly what everyone thought it was: a trauma-induced muscle strain.

At 6 p.m. my doctor told me and said it looked like there was a fracture.


I’m officially broken.

There’s supposedly a hairline fracture in there somewhere in my radial bone. I’m being referred to an orthopedic doctor in Stockton at some point in the next few days. (See what happens when I can’t use one of my arms? I have crazy hair. Just absolutely a mess crazy hair. This isn’t even as bad as it was two weeks ago when all of this first happened. My husband had to do my hair. I’ll let you imagine just what that looked like. It was bad.)

So I need to apply ice, wrap it for compression and wear a sling. Then the orthopedic doctor can decide what, if anything, we can do to fix me.

For the record, I’m tired of needing to be fixed. I’m still tired of doctors. Today’s visit was with my third primary-care physician in eight months. I’m not feeling as anxious about this insurance change as I thought I would (we switched to Kaiser coverage with my husband at the beginning of February after four-plus years with a PPO), but I’m still annoyed.

I’m thinking I’m not as apprehensive because I’ve approached the last three months of my life with a “rip off the Band-Aid” quick rule. Make a break. Get away. Be done. Move on. And it’s working, outside of the fact I keep hurting myself and ending up in doctor’s offices where I have to explain everything that’s happened to me since October.

I feel like I’m in a group therapy session: “Hi, my name is Tara and I fell apart in October to the point that I was having nightmares about my coworkers at my full-time job killing me at my desk. I also cried and hyperventilated every time I thought of walking into that place of employment. In January they fired me via email, then let me resign, after I tried to go back to work but apparently became a problem. I’d devoted more than a decade to that company. And yet, when it all went down, I was just glad I didn’t have to walk through those doors again. I’m better now. My life is fuller now. I run a lot more now. My husband says I’m happier. The whole episode made my mom cry. I never wanted to make my mom cry. Questions?”

I think that’s the first time I put that out on my blog. Again, rip the Band-Aid quickly.


In actuality, I’ve been off my anxiety medication since the moment I left that job. I haven’t had any issues with depression since then either. It’s taking a lot for me to write that, especially since there’s such a stigma around mental illness.

If I wasn’t better, I wouldn’t be making fun of it. If I wasn’t better, I wouldn’t be writing it.

Those who were supporting me feel as if it was limited to one particular place, over a period of time. If they knew then what they know now, a concerted effort would have been made to get me out of the situation I was in a lot sooner. I’m grateful for what I learned in the process of losing myself, then finding my way back, but it also made me very aware of the limited resources for dealing with these sorts of problems in my area.

Everybody tells you to “talk to someone.” No one tells you where to go next. It’s not like having a broken arm. You can’t splint it and send a patient on their way.

For months instead of telling someone where it hurt, I was telling someone (an incredibly good therapist) about all the stupid little things that scared me. For two weeks, I couldn’t even put gas in my car because I was so overwhelmed by the motions involved in it. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted anymore. The nightmares were the worst. They manifested as terrors, feeling so real I was afraid to go to bed. When I went back to work the people who were in those nightmares were literally sitting right on top of me.

“This will make you a stronger person,” my running buddy and good friend Jennie once said to me. “Things like this happen for a reason.”

It has. It’s also made me very aware of the signs when someone is falling apart at the seams. I was falling apart. For months. There were people who saw me everyday, my family included, who could have helped. No one knew what to do. I needed an intervention. Instead, I had a breakdown.

I won’t even start on the fact that after four years and multiple emergency room visits it was only this year my medical providers caught my very sick, very angry gallbladder and removed it.

After all that, can you imagine how I feel about doctor’s offices?

But today went fine.

I got in. I had an X-ray. I went back to see the doctor. She prescribed me some extra-strength Ibuprofen. I filled out paperwork to transfer my oodles of medical records from as of late. Then I went home…only to get the call as I was getting dressed to run, all full of myself for NOT having a broken arm and being stupid enough to walk around with it for nearly two weeks.

That’s karma folks. It bites you right in the butt all the time.

I wanted to be upset, but I’m kind of just rolling with it.

Today, when the doctor’s assistant brought me back she told he she had to put me in the “vibrating room.” I looked at her suspiciously. But she was serious. The room sits above the engine room on the first floor. I would have shot video of everything vibrating, all the medical tools and what not, but I kept thinking the doctor would come in.

I did get this gem:


I imagined how many people thought of being a superhero when they saw this drawer. I laughed, out loud, in the vibrating room while thinking about it.

I didn’t know my arm was broken when I left, but I still felt as if everything in the world was set right again after a good visit with the doctor. Even after getting the call and email from my new primary-care physician, I realized it could be a hell of a lot worse.


I’m rejoicing today because, unlike some things, a broken arm can so easily be fixed.