Here I am in crazy pain from fracturing my right elbow joint, waiting in the ER all day, and smiling?!?! Seriously?! Just a few minutes ago I was crying actual tears and my face looked grimmer than the reaper's as I contemplated the impossibility of cooking, cleaning, driving, or doing childcare with only one arm for weeks? months?
What about all my home-improvement projects? In particular, I was so excited to start tearing out some gnarly plants to clear some gardening space now that the soil was all prepped from a recent record rainfall. But there would be no wielding my giant shovel now. Sigh, maybe next year.
Soon, after I got home, I realized even perforating toilet paper was an impossible struggle for my ultra-pain-sensitive arm. I finally gave up and used a combo of my left arm and teeth. Oy. You know you are truly f*cked when TP is too much for you to handle.
But it wasn't just the loss of my dominant arm that bothered me - it was the pain. The raging, flaming, burning, never ceasing, I can't find any position that doesn't hurt, pain.
Pain that hounds you like a shadow to the point where nothing could distract you from it. Pain that feels like a crucible in which your actual identity starts to warp. Pain that becomes an ocean's roar and a hot glare shining right into your eyes. Pain that turned me inward and away.
|The 3 year old's depiction of mommy with a broken arm - looks like a creature from hell - very accurate.|
For two days I felt unceasing pain that wavered between a 7 and 9. I started to completely understand how chronic pain sufferers would commit suicide. Actually I started wondering why more chronic pain sufferers DIDN'T commit suicide. And I cursed the medical policies that made my docs advise me to only manage my pain with tylenol and motrin. Seriously? What do you have to do to get some Vicodin around here? Break a bone?!
And then on the third day I woke up to the sound of silence. My arm had finally stopped screaming at me. Oh it still hurt to be sure, but at least now I didn't feel compelled to swallow a raft of OTC drugs that had started to give me major stomach pains - the lesser of two evils.
But I still despaired. I don't want to go in for a numbing shot so the bone doc can check my range of motion. I don't want to get surgery if the range is impeded. Having needles and instruments stuck in me just makes me viscerally recoil...and kinda totally scream on the inside in panic.
And of course my mind revisits over and over again the moment things took a sharp dive for the worse. One second I'm fine. The next second I'm royally screwed.
One second I'm running down my driveway about to get something from my parked car, excited to take a nice stroll through the sunny neighborhood after 5 straight days of rain. And the next second I had slipped on a pile of still-wet leaves while rounding a corner.
Half a second. Flat.
The rest of that day was spent in urgent care. The rest of the next day was spent at the orthopedics. And a good chunk of the next day was spent getting a CT scan. Today is the only day I will not have some major medical appointment. But tomorrow will be judgment day - the day my bone doc looks at my CT scan, injects a giant numbing needle into my elbow, and determines if I need surgery. The moment I've been dreading.
Through all the endless waiting in waiting rooms, I (luckily?) had an e-book on my phone that I'd been very excited to read - When Breath Becomes Air - a memoir about a 36 year old neurosurgery resident who discovers that he has late-stage lung cancer. While I was totally entertained and absorbed by his fantastic writing and intriguing insights, I wonder if that was probably not a good reading choice - maybe I should've opted for something lighter and funnier - like by the SNL ladies.
Contemplating living while dying a horrible death in the midst of my own personal fear and pain is just not the kinda thing that lifts one's spirits, you know?
But you know what does lift one's spirits? All the acts of kindness and well-wishes from friends. Thank you friends! Those are sweet sweet balms indeed.
Which leads me to that ridiculous picture of me smiling. The spouse, who could've been understandably annoyed at losing his one day-off to a long hospital visit, and at the looming loss of all his free-time and then some to more housework and way more child-care, and a lot more driving duties for an indefinite period, was astonishingly smiling at me behind the lense.
It's impossible not to smile at that.