My oldest son is home from graduate school in North Carolina for his spring break.
Later this week, my youngest son arrives from Texas for his college spring break.
And, also later this week, my daughter and her boyfriend arrive.
It will be a busy, but fun, few weeks.
I’ve always related to Frida Kahlo.
She was in a serious traffic accident when she was eighteen.
She spent her life dealing with her injuries, surgeries, and chronic pain as a result.
She expressed so much of her resulting isolation through her creativity, painting, and photographs.
I know, all too well, how isolating it can be to have a similar type life and I’ve always admired her work greatly.
I’ve been gradually moving forward with my own recovery from Surgery #12.
Paul Newman is trying to restore my confidence.
Right now, he has a lot more faith in me than I do.
I spent the first five years post-accident fully believing I’d make a full recovery “someday.”
Somewhere during the last five and a half years I gave up hope I’d ever use my arm again at all.
All I wanted and hoped for was LESS PAIN.
And now, I have less pain … and, it will hopefully, continue to be even less as I heal more and time goes on.
Paul Newman suggests to me I might someday be able to do Real Arm Things and I scoff at him.
It isn’t that I don’t WANT to believe him, it’s just I can’t even fathom having a working arm again.
Last week he had me put my arm against a wall and, using the wall for support, raise my arm above my head.
The goal was to do this in two sets of 10 … a total of 20 times.
This “exercise” is as easy as it gets post-shoulder surgery.
After four times, with help from my healthy arm/hand to help raise my bum arm, I thought I’d die from the effort.
I managed SIX before needing to stop.
The tech helping me suggested I start practicing at home.
“I have been!” I answered, defiantly AND embarrassed.
(“This was my VERY BEST with lots of home practice,” I wanted to say.)
After time out to rest, I did a second set of six.
This is where I am folks ….
The simplest of tasks are major accomplishments for me.
Also, what I wasn’t expecting?
The chaotic jumble of emotions over this process.
I’ve never been able to “strengthen” my arm before.
Sure, PT’s have tried many times –
And I have failed many times.
Fail, fail, fail, FAIL …. over and over again.
But, this time is REAL.
This is it … the final try.
I am as fixed as I can ever be ….
And now the question is –
What amount of function will I be able to regain?
I bounce from excitement to anxiety.
From fear to fearlessness.
I feel like a failure for not being able to do what “normal” surgery patients can do.
I feel like a rock star for being able to do ANYTHING after 10 years eight months and 12 surgeries.
One minute I’m hopeful, the next I’m totally defeated.
I’m constantly embarrassed such “little” things are so difficult.
No one ever warned me how emotional and confusing this could be.
Am I doing well?
Am I doing terrible?
Should I be able to do more?
Should I be able to do what I’m doing?
Will I be able to do more?
How much more?
How long will it take?
How close to “normal” will I ever get?
Why do I want to laugh AND cry as I struggle through this?
It is so very, unexpectedly, emotional.
I’m filled with fear, hopes, and doubt …. and absolutely zero confidence.
I feel like I’m a one year old trying to take my first steps … wobbly and uncertain.
This is so difficult ….
And so scary ….
And so exciting …
Did I mention …..
I never thought I’d get here,
And now that I’m here,
I’ve been surprised to find it’s so confusing, and emotional, and crazy!