This morning was difficult. I had lots of fatigue, pain, and stiffness. I got out of bed at 6:00 am, and made my way to the couch where I slept another 4 hours. When I did get up, I didn’t feel like doing anything. I made myself go to the YMCA, where I got into the whirlpool and sauna. This coupled with the fact that it was sunny and warm (79 degrees) really helped my spirits (and body). We also had dinner delivered by the angel that has been cooking for us on Tuesdays. Now it is evening and I am feeling much better… and grateful for all the things that have turned my day from a rough one to a pleasant one.
I was dreading setting the clock back to standard time today, since we “lose” an hour. As it turns out, I didn’t lose a thing. Hubby and I stayed in bed late since we had no children at home. Once I was up and moving, I went outside for a walk, which I’ve only recently been able to do. It was much slower and shorter than my walks used to be, but an outdoors walk nonetheless. Although it was a bit chilly, the sun and fresh air were invigorating. When I returned home, I fixed myself a delicious, nutrition packed smoothie. Then I settled in for a day of reading, mostly on spirituality and health, and a few blogs. I stopped long enough to fix a quick dinner for my husband and myself. Afterward, I went back to my reading.
I am still building my stamina since my accident, so when I became tired I simply retired to the couch for a nap. (There was a time when “nap” wasn’t in my vocabulary. Now it is a regularly used term.) At some point, it dawned on me that I was very relaxed.
Relaxation is something I had great difficulty experiencing six months ago. I was always in hyper-drive. My naturopath told me I had no low gear. My adrenal glands were shot. If I sat still for more than a few minutes, I fell asleep. Of course, I didn’t ever sit still for very long. I was up at 4 or 5 o’clock and didn’t stop moving until I went to bed, at which point I was utterly exhausted.
Today, as I sit in a virtually silent house, I feel the calm inside my body and mind. I enjoy simple pleasures like a long shower in the middle of the day and I don’t feel guilty for what I’m not getting done. I know that rejuvenating myself this way will allow me to accomplish what needs to be done later without robbing myself of the joy of simply living and being.
My son took this photograph just before I left for the hospital. I removed the splint so you could see the pins. (The stitches were removed two weeks ago.)
My husband took this photograph after we returned home this evening. It’s the first time I’ve had my wedding rings on in 4 months. (We actually drove home to get them before we went out to dinner.)
I still have some occupational therapy to do, and I have to sleep in a splint at night, but my hands are recovering. I actually typed this with the three veteran typing fingers on my right hand, and my index finger and thumb on my left. Now that’s progress!
Recovering from trauma is a process, with it ups and downs… three steps forward, two steps back… and can be unpredictable.
Yesterday was a pretty good day until, on my way home from a trip to the store, a bus pulled up right behind us at a red light. I thought I had overcome all of my anxiety surrounding buses. Evidently, I have more work to do.
After having been hit by a school bus while walking to my car in November, I worked with a cognitive behaviorist who recommended exposure therapy. Right after my accident, the hair on my neck stood on end every time heard a school bus drive by my house. This was particularly difficult as three buses pick up children in the morning and the same three drop off children in the afternoon.
My therapist suggested I overcome my fear of the bus by gradually getting closer to it until I could tolerate the fleeting feeling of anxiety that always came with hearing it. After standing at the front door with my walker when the bus came by in the mornings, I eventually had my husband take me outside in my wheelchair when the bus dropped off my son in the afternoon. This strategy enabled me to pass buses on the road with no physiological symptoms… until yesterday.
When I realized there was a bus behind our car, I felt a bit queasy. Then I heard its brakes and almost immediately developed an excruciating headache. By the time we got home, I felt physically sick and cried intermittently for the next 30 minutes. I felt completely drained and remained on the couch for the next several hours.
Having participated in a trauma survivors’ class and individual therapy, I knew that I needed to talk about what I was experiencing. I talked to my husband and gave myself permission to feel what I was feeling. I forgave myself for having what I saw as a setback. Although I was emotionally exhausted, I was feeling better before I went to bed.
I slept late this morning, and woke up feeling calm. In fact, I had the thought that I felt unusually peaceful. Like a still lake, I felt emotionally placid. The day was peaceful and quiet, with no surprises. Once again, I am grateful for a good day and the fact that there are increasingly more good ones than challenging ones.
Today, my hubby posted these pictures on his Facebook page with the words “Buh-bye ramp!” I was grateful for my father-in-law’s labor of love (building my wheelchair ramp after my accident) and now it no longer serves me so it is time to let it go.
The day I was cleared to walk, we returned home from the orthopedist and I asked my husband to leave the wheelchair in the trunk of the car. I was grateful for the loaner from my step-father, and I was ready to release it. I returned it rather than bringing it back into the house.
When it no longer served me, I asked my husband to put my walker out in the garage. The same was true for my tub transfer seat. And I recently put my cane out of sight. It isn’t that these things trigger bad memories. I simply want to keep moving forward, and it seems like getting the things that no longer serve me out of my awareness helps me do just that.
I waited to post until later today because I was hoping to entitle this one Writer’s Hands, Part 3. I went to the hand surgeon today, thinking the stitches and pins would be removed from my left pinkie. The former were, but not the latter. But I did get the go ahead to remove the splint from my right pinkie.
I have resisted putting pictures of my finger online because they are quite graphic. I find them quite fascinating but when I’ve offered to take my splint off and show people what’s underneath, I often get responses like, “That’s all right” or “I’m good.” So my next “Writer’s Hands” post will have to wait for two more weeks.
On the other hand (no pun intended but after it came out, I decided to leave it), I was happy to hear that a woman who has been cooking for us every Tuesday would be bringing dinner. (I still have difficulty cooking because of my hands and because standing for long periods of time is painful.) I had not received the usual heads up she sends, so I thought we had enjoyed our last meal from her. Instead we arrived home from my doctor’s appointment to a hot meal of roasted chicken, green beans, and scalloped potatoes.
And really, when I looked back over the rest of my day, I even more for which I am grateful. I completed 2 hours of physical therapy this morning, without the usual fatigue that follows. Afterward, I mailed a coaching contract and assignment to a client. I completed the last module of an online course I am taking. I designed my own business cards and ordered some. I tackled a technology issue that I normally would have asked my husband to show me or do for me. In spite of my limitations, I was productive today.
Albeit, I was disappointed that I will still have a splint and pins for two more weeks, I really can’t complain. This day may have been a mixed bag, but there was much more good than anything else.
I am noticing that my recovery is not linear. Today I struggled to get up and get moving. I managed to make it through an hour and a half of physical therapy. Initially it was wonderful. My therapist did some soft tissue work, relieving the tension in my muscles from my previous visit and the headache I endured much of the previous night. She then assigned several exercises that quickly reactivated all the tension she had just relieved. I then returned home only to struggle to stay awake a short while. I finally gave in to the exhaustion and slept for two and a half hours. This evening my husband suggested dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, to which I quickly agreed. I will complete this post and my day will be essentially done.
This has been the pattern lately. If I take a shower, that’s the most physical activity I can endure in one day. If I go to the store or to run an errand, I’m done. It is somewhat frustrating for someone who has been used to running at full speed all of her adult life. I am learning to accept the low energy times, although I do regret the “lost time” until I remember that it isn’t “lost.” I have to remind myself that these afternoons when I have to recover from therapy or other activities are times my body needs to heal itself.
Above all else I have to remind myself that I am fortunate that these obstacles I am facing are not permanent. So I will accept the fact that some days my body’s need for rest will win out over my will to be Wonder Woman. In the long run, this will ensure that I keep moving forward. After all, three steps forward and two step back does equal forward movement… one step at a time.
Growing up in an alcoholic home, peace was something I didn’t get to experience much. Even if things were quiet, I perpetually anticipated a coming storm. I didn’t understand this about myself until I was in my early forties.
I recreated this constant sense of dread by marrying an alcoholic… and this was the least of our problems. My second marriage was not to an alcoholic, but to someone whose inability to manage himself closely resembled the behaviors of an addict. My purpose here is not to place blame, but to note that my own addiction to chaos was preventing me from enjoying the very peace that I claimed to want in my life.
In my quest for peace, that I realized I really didn’t know what it felt like. In fact, someone once said to me that no matter what was going on, I never looked ruffled. I had to confess that it was often in these times, there was a tempest swirling around inside of me.
In order to experience peace, I began meditating… and sometimes simply sitting on my back deck doing nothing. I began to realize that for the first time since I could remember, there was no drama in my life. I also realized that this was an odd feeling. I started to make the connection that, in the past, when this odd feeling arose, my remedy was to create some chaos so I could feel normal again. Of course I did not do this on a conscious level.
After several years of practicing being at peace, I can say that I am quite good at it. I have also learned that part of staying at peace is forgiving others because they were only doing what they knew with the information they had at the time. An even bigger portion of my peace comes from forgiving myself, for the very same reason.
Peace be with you as you leave your broken childhood behind…
Peace be with you as you spread your wings and fly from a happy childhood home…
Peace be with you as you find your way in life…
Peace be with you as you flit from job to job, class to class, relationship to relationship, looking for that “just right” one…
Peace be with you as you settle into routine…
Peace be with you as you welcome your own children into the world…
Peace be with you as you raise your children better than your parents raised you…
Peace be with you as you raise your children exactly as you were raised…
Peace be with you as you push your children out of the nest to soar on their own strong wings…
Peace be with you as your children climb back into the nest because the world isn’t ready for them, or they aren’t ready for the world…
Peace be with you as you struggle with your parents’ health issues, or your own health, or God forbid, your child’s health…
Peace be with you as you bask in the unconditional love of grandchildren and the pure joy of knowing you can send them back to their own parents when you’re tired… except you’re never tired around them…
Peace be with you if you have no children, or fur children, or nieces and nephews that you influence and nurture…
Peace be with you as you travel the world and learn the perspective of someone whose life hasn’t been as blessed as your own…
Peace be with you as you struggle to pay your bills and keep a roof over your head…
Peace be with you as you suffer the loss of loved ones dear to you, friends and acquaintances, too… for all touched your heart while they shared their time and space with you…
Peace be with you as you enjoy the sunset of your life… celebrating your accomplishments and forgiving yourself your failures, because in every failure there was a lesson learned…
Peace be with you always as you wander your life’s path… wherever that path may lead you..
This is a follow-up to my post on January 16, 2014 entitled Writer’s Hands. I resisted the temptation to include a picture of my exposed, post-surgery, pin-laden, stitched pinkie. I found it fascinating, yet others have described the graphic photo with other less-than-desirable adjectives (i.e, gruesome, gross).
I can now type with 5 fingers, 3 on the right and 2 on the left. Unfortunately, I still cannot wash dishes or vacuum. (Okay, I must confess. I actually don’t really mind doing dishes. In fact, I actually enjoy housework in general. Strange, I know.) Using my cane is a little tricky, but not impossible.
In addition to my hand issues, I am now attending physical therapy regularly. It feels good to be moving again, and I am exhausted (and somewhat uncomfortable) afterward. And at the end of the day, I am grateful to be making progress every day toward a full recovery.
Ironically, my temporary disability is what has allowed me to write more, and that writing, in turn, has facilitated my healing process.
I began my day at 6:23 A.M. this morning, unless you count getting up at 5:00 A.M. to take medicine and let the dog out. I set the alarm for 6:23 because my teenager asked me to wake him up at 6:30, if he slept through his alarm. He is a bit of a character and when the movie 23 came out, he made a big issue over the number 23 (just to entertain folks… primarily himself). I figured if I set my alarm for 6:23 (I like to get up before everyone else so I can get a head start.), I would initially note the odd time and then remember my son’s request because of his number. Incidentally, he was up as soon as his alarm sounded, so my little mind game wasn’t necessary. I still enjoyed the little device I used to help me remember his request. I try to do this more often lately, since I am having some difficulty with short-term memory… and going off on tangents. So I then nudged my youngest through the process of getting ready for school.
Then at 7:00 A.M. I had a physical therapy appointment. I was grateful my husband warmed up the car, as the temperature was a whopping 4 degrees this morning. I was also thankful that the therapist’s office is only 5 minutes from home, so I was able to slap on some sweats and leave only 30 minutes after getting out of bed (off the couch).
After the therapist kicked my butt, my husband and I did have time to have breakfast before heading to my appointment with my hand surgeon. They removed the large splint from my left arm, revealing the pins and stitches left over from my hand surgery. A technician took two x-rays, one of which had to be redone. Then I was fitted for a new, less cumbersome splint.
I needed to have a document notarized, and I had decided to do this while I was already out of the house. When I arrived at the bank, I needed to use the restroom which involved more of a walk than I had done to date. While there, I ran into a friend who I chatted with for a couple of minutes. Afterward, the notary took care of me and we headed toward home.
Realizing it was now lunch time, we stopped for Mongolian stir fry. It was my choice, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but by this time I was tired and my back hurt. Afterward, we headed home and I sat in the recliner for two hours until my youngest son came home from school. And then I sat for another 30 minutes or so.
A little before dinner time, my substitute teacher brought by food that a coworker had prepared for my family. We talked a while, and I realized that standing for any length of time hurts. In the meantime, another friend had also asked to bring dinner as she does weekly. I already knew the first meal would be cold and could be held until tomorrow. And I never turn down offers of food, as I am still unable to cook. So when our hot meal arrived, I visited with my friend and returned her dishes from the previous week.
We ate dinner and then I retired back to the recliner, this time with a heating pad. Now I compose this post in my perfected three-finger style, and I am having the thought that this recovery is a full-time job.