July 30th will mark eleven years (and 12 surgeries) since my car accident.
I’ve been struggling much more than usual with my upcoming “bad” anniversary.
A year and a half, and three surgeries ago, I had resigned myself to living my life with my nonfunctional, very (!!) painful, arm.
Paul Newman convinced me I “didn’t have to live like this” and that I should go through one more surgery.
He didn’t give me much choice.
I had the distinct impression he didn’t feel like he could keep me on/help me anymore if I didn’t attempt another surgery.
Paul Newman has been life changing for me – helping me manage my pain more effectively than anyone or anyTHING I’ve previously tried.
I knew I’d be in terrible pain without his help, so I did as he wished and started gathering surgical opinions.
Fortunately, I eventually found Dr. Itamura – the first and only orthopedic surgeon to “get” my injuries.
(I’d previously had so many docs look at my arm!)
Surgery #10 was a big one.
It took away a LOT of pain and I was very grateful to both Paul Newman and Dr. Itamura.
But, two more surgeries followed.
Two surgeries I hadn’t expected … on the elbow of the same damaged arm.
It has been six months since the last one.
I expected to be back to normal and done with physical therapy by now.
But, instead I’m really struggling.
One of the PT techs scolded me for not being able to lift my arm last week.
Then, the same day, she scolded me for not being able to bear weight on my arm.
She felt I should be able to do these things.
And, I suppose, a normal person who had one or two surgeries WOULD be able to do them.
But, I can’t.
It’s not for lack of trying.
And, after everything I’ve been through, I have a very high pain tolerance – so it’s not from wimping out either.
I left PT feeling totally defeated.
And silently, my brain keeps chanting: “Eleven years, eleven years, eleven years!”
Maybe my arm is as good as it will ever be.
Yes, I’m in less pain now and that is a wonderful, positive, thing.
But no, I do not have much function/use in my dominant arm.
I always said I’d be able to live with my arm if it didn’t work …
If only I could get rid of the worst of the pain.
The pain is not gone, but it is much less than it used to be.
Trying to use my arm, however, DOES result in pain flare-ups.
I imagine I’ll always live with pain … but if it isn’t teeth-clenching pain life will be much better.
This is as good as it gets for me?
I don’t know why my arm won’t work as well as I’d hoped.
Maybe my brain has forgotten how to make it work?
I’ve heard that can happen with long term, disabling, injuries.
Maybe more function will gradually come to me – albeit very slowly?
Maybe it will take me years to regain strength again instead of the few months it takes someone with a normal injury?
I don’t know.
I don’t have answers.
I see my surgeon in a few weeks for a follow-up visit.
I can ask him what he thinks then.
But, I do know he (and many other doctors) have previously told me my final results are unknown.
There just aren’t that many (any?) other people out there who have had a non-functioning arm for 11 years with the injuries/surgeries I have.
No one has ever known how much of a recovery would be possible.
Maybe this is as far as my arm can go.
Maybe this is it …?
On July 30th it will be eleven years ….
Eleven years, eleven years, eleven years ………