Note: The purpose of this post is to explain to people why I was completely offline for more than 24 hours. See note at bottom.
This entry is part 1 in an ongoing series of semi-irregular posts detailing my frustration with Workers Compensation and the wonderful world of rotator cuff surgery. Part 1
(YOU ARE HERE) | Part 2
| Part 3
| Part 4
| Part 5
| Part 6
| Part 7
| Part 8
| Part 9
| Part 10
| Part 11
Wednesday, I came to work a little late because Tuesday is my late night because of my writers group that meets, and I have dinner afterward. So I have to stay up later to avoid reflux, and blah blah blah.
I got to work, and it had rained lightly. Just barely enough to tell that the ground was even wet.
Exited my car and got my rolling computer case out of the back of the car. Since it was rainy, I grabbed my umbrella, as well.
Because I got there late, I had to park at the far end of the parking lot. Not a huge trek, but annoying nevertheless, considering how much I was carrying.
I had my lunchbox, umbrella, and water bottle in my left hand (my off hand) and behind me, I was pulling my wheeled thing with my right hand.
As I approached the ramp from the parking lot down to the entrance door to my building, something happened.
You know how when it rains juuuuuust a little, there's not enough water to actually wash the oil away? It just floats it up out of the asphalt and leaves it lying on the surface.
It was either that or some tiny little acorn-looking things about the size of sesame seeds that were strewn on the ground. Or maybe a combination of both.
My right leg shot out from under me and before I could even react, the ground was rushing up at me.
Because my right leg was forward, my left leg was bent, and I went down partially on my left knee, with my right leg out in front of me. Lunchbox, water bottle, and umbrella went flying. I must have taken pretty much all
of my weight on my right hand when I hit the ground.
There was a huge pain. I sat flat on my ass on that oily parking lot cradling my right arm, wondering if it was broken. I could feel all my fingers, although there was some tingling. It felt like it was my upper arm that had taken the brunt of the force.
After a couple of minutes, someone came along and helped me to get up. I'm severely right-handed. To the point where I cannot eat with my left hand. It's like . . . if my right hand is Albert Einstein, my left hand is that strange kid who eats bugs and has conversations with hammers.
I managed to pick up everything one-handed and, still cradling my right arm against my chest, made my way down the ramp, wrestled open the doors, and made it to my desk. Where I sat for maybe 45 minutes before I realized that there was no way this was going to work. The more time went by, the worse the pain was getting, and the less I could move my arm. From the shoulder down to the elbow, solid pain.
So I packed up everything again (left-handed) and left work to visit my doctor.
I put my arm through some tests. I could extend the arm down, which was a damned good thing because I keep my keys in my right pocket. Lifting them up to put them into the ignition? No. Basically, the only move that didn't hurt like eight kinds of hell was bending my elbow about 30 degrees. If I moved my shoulder up or back, rotated my wrist or elbow, or tried to raise my arm at all
, the pain was exquisite.
Driving was . . . a challenge. I had to do everything — including turn the key and shift gears — with my left hand. It's an automatic, but I still had to lean over and, with my left hand, take the car out of park and into reverse, and then into drive. I had to turn on my windshield wipers and lights with my left hand (wipers are on the right). Steer with my left hand. Retrieve, put on, and take off my sunglasses with my left hand.
I could hold the wheel with my right hand at the very bottom of the wheel, but that's about it. So rather than risk getting on the Interstate where the speeds were 60 and up and the roads slick — because, of course, by now it was fully raining — I took a longer way with speeds limits in the 35 to 45 range, with lots of stop lights, and generally fewer instances where people actively try to kill me by doing stupid things.
About 45 minutes later, I made it to my doctor. He had me put the arm through some moves that hurt, and he manipulated it.
No broken bones. No torn muscles. No broken, torn, or detached tendons. No rotator cuff injury (which is what I truly feared).
In short, I twisted the hell out of my arm and applied pressure straight up the ulna/radius, through the elbow joint, up the humerus, and jammed the ball joint at the shoulder. At roughly the same time.
I'm probably lucky I didn't fall over backwards and land that way.
He prescribed an anti-inflammatory because he said the arm was swelling up because of the terrible things I'd done to it, and it was likely going to get worse before it got better.
Went to CVS and got some Ibuprofen. Took three of them. Left-handed.
I went home and ate dinner. Left-handed. Had to undress. Left-handed. Put on more comfortable clothes. Left-handed.
We won't mention anything about bathrooms. Left-handed.
As the evening wore on, I tried to use the computer, but typing became more and more painful as the arm, as predicted, got more painful.
Finally, I had to sleep sitting upright in my recliner because any pressure on the arm made it impossible for me to get comfortable in bed. So, fun evening. Gravity hurt, if that tells you anything.
The next day, Thursday, I could barely move my arm. Now the palm, where it landed on the handle of the rolling computer case (which I broke, by the way, and will have to get replaced) hurt. The fingers hurt. The wrist hurt. The elbow joint, which the previous day I could move, hurt.
The computer was out of the question. I sat all day and read my Kindle. I took a shower as hot as I could stand it, and stayed in there as long as I could take it. And had to soap and dry myself left-handed. And ate left-handed. And took the maximum dosage of Ibuprofen. Left-handed.
Today, I'm still unable to "flap" my arm or to push anything with it, but at least it felt good enough to type. So you're getting this update. I'm at work because I can at least type, and that's pretty much what I do.
I can sort of feed myself, but luckily we ate Ethiopian for lunch, so I was able to eschew the fork and eat using the injera, which of course I could do left-handed. Driving is easier because I can shift gears today and steer partially with my right
And I'm still eating ibuprofen like it's the other red meat.
In other news, it's really amazing to me just how many muscles
in your arm and shoulder you use doing everyday things. Note:
- I'm neither soliciting nor expecting medical advice.
- I know it was very likely foolish / irresponsible / dangerous / <fill in your adjective of choice, here> to drive, but I had no real choice and took the safest route for me given the circumstances. If you feel like you have to berate me further, please don't.
- I trust my doctor, so I once more am not looking for alternative medical advice.
- Really. I'm not. If you are poised over your keyboard right now, just itching to tell me about how <thing> will fix me right up, hold it in. I know it's a struggle, but we'll both be happier in the long run if you just accept the fact that I am taking ibuprofen.
- I know I am being a dick, here, but OMG, you have no idea. Trust me, medical "experts" crawl out of every corner when I say anything about a medical issue.
- If your question begins with "Have you considered...?" the answer is "Yes, I have. Thank you."
- If you actually are a medical expert, feel free to comment, but be aware that I already saw my doctor and he was satisfied that there was nothing wrong with me that time and some ibuprofen wouldn't fix.