5 Months Into Therapy, We Broached the Word “Plateau”

If you’ve even broken a limb, a hinge, experienced a life-altering event, you understand that the road to recovery is long. But what do you do when the word Plateau is broached during a therapy session 5 months into your recovery?

Therapy Fail IINAO

Yes, this is yet another post about my elbow. I know, y’all, it’s getting old to you. It’s getting old to me too.

It’s been five months since my life-altering injury. The unfortunate evening of September 4, 2015 that I now (un)affectionately refer to as #Elbowgeddon2015. I’m over it. But I’m not. I’m no longer officially broken, because my bones are healed, officially. You might even say I’m unbroken, if you will.

But I’m not. At all. And I’m tired.

I’m coping. In fact, I’m working and carrying on with my life as if nothing ever happened. On the outside. I’m typing well again (with my now unbroken arm winged out at a 90 so that my hand can find the keys). I’m cooking, cleaning, and taking photos (sort of) with my shoulder raised high (because it helps me cheat) and my new “wing” held in that awkward position that allows me to carry on with my “new normal“. I’m functioning. On the outside.

But on the inside? I’m dealing with all kinds of crap. I’m dealing with it on the outside too, and it’s starting to be apparent to the outside world.

Case in point. On Tuesday, just two days before the anniversary of #Elbowgeddon2015, an ugly word, a forbidden word, a word we’d never considered before…PLATEAU…was broached at therapy.

pla·teau
plaˈtō/
noun
noun: plateau; plural noun: plateaux; plural noun: plateaus
  1. a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress.
    “the peace process had reached a plateau

After breaking my right arm in 8,792 (OK, only 6 bone breaks and an elbow that was literally “dust” according to my orthopedist), an 8-hour ER visit that resulted in much pain to relocate those very broken bones into that very broken elbow socket, a 10-day wait for surgery, reconstructive surgery, a long wait for therapy (because of a really bad organization), two months of intensive therapy, another surgery to manipulate all of the stuff that had healed to non-movement, and then another month of intensive therapy…the word plateau was broached.

Plateau.

As in, we might be at a plateau now. How are you? Are you functioning OK? Are you OK with where you’re at? We can keep working on it. We’re more than willing to work on it. We want you to be OK. Are you OK with where you’re at (she painfully said)?

No.

NO, I’m not! But I see it too. We’re no longer making progress. Not really, anyway.

Let me back up. I have an AMAZING orthopedic surgeon. I have an AMAZING physical therapy team. I have an AMAZING will to heal, to get better, to be normal again. We’ve all worked very hard, together, and we’re a great team. We’ve made great strides. But I was born broken and it’s not been an easy road for any of us. None of us are ready to give up.

But the word was broached. Now it’s a thing.

I’ve gained a 21º improvement in extension (super significant), a 16º improvement in flexion (not bad), a 10º improvement in supination (from 0º), and 5º in pronation (from 0º). That last one is bad. I can’t turn my hand in. At all, almost.

Think cooking, photos, typing, putting your socks on, wiping your ass. Yea, those things. Not cool.

Plateau.

Plus, I can’t bend my shit. It’s great that I’ve had a 16º increase from day one, but that’s not ideal. Brushing your teeth, scratching your face, holding a phone, and eating a slice of pizza should not be this much of a challenge. I’m not ready to plateau.

They aren’t either. But it had to be said. It had to be discussed.

It’s a very possible reality. It’s been five months. Today.

Happy #Elbowgeddon2015 anniversary to me.

Where are my flowers? My shiny new ring? I’ve worked hard for this anniversary. I expected to be whole. I’m not. We’re not giving up. Really, we aren’t. But we’re openly discussing it now. Because we have to.

I’m not broken. Officially. I’m literally unbroken. But, I’m kind of still broken because…plateau.

I can’t bend my shit, I can’t turn my shit in or out. It’s annoying, sometimes painful, always a bother. I can’t say I’m pleased. I can’t say I’m disappointed. I’ve made great strides, my team has made great strides. I have a great team. I’m remaining hopeful despite the fact that a really bad word was broached.

But I remain hopeful.

I’m unbroken. My bones are healed. We’ve made progress. Will someone please tell my stupid tendons and nerves that the rest of us are ready to move on with my normal rather than their “new normal”, please and thank you?

Plateau…be gone. I’m about to break your ass. I’ve been through a bunch of crap in my life. I’m not ready to cow down to you now either. It’s time to get back to progress. I’m not giving up yet. I can’t. I won’t!

Happy 5-month #Elbowgeddon2015 Anniversary to me. Let’s hope #unbroken2016 can kick this plateau’s ass. Who’s with me?

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About Christy

Christy Gossett, managing editor of SoFabFood and creator of the healthy living blog, Insanity Is Not An Option, is a WAHM of 6 kids ranging in age from 27 to 8. She enjoys sharing her heart-healthy, low sodium recipes to help others with dietary restrictions enjoy a flavorful life while maintaining a healthy diet.

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  1. I’m sorry, Christy. I wish so much more for you. I am always here for you and never tire of hearing about elbowgeddon.

  2. Lindsey Montgomery says:

    It will get better! My husband’s humerus was shattered in a car accident, and had multiple surgeries, strange new treatments (robo-cuff), bone grafts, and at-home antibiotics over the course of over a year. At his five month mark, he still couldn’t move his arm, similar to your situation. He couldn’t even raise it above his shoulders. Now it’s fully functioning, he’s regained muscle mass despite the bicep being completely sliced in half for three surgeries, and we are SO glad that’s all behind us. All of that to say, keep working at it, it will get better!! They told my husband that he would never regain nerve consciousness, nor over 75% of pre-injury movement. Hoping your elbow shows improvement soon!

  3. I googled broken elbow and found this blog post. I just broke my elbow I see my dr wed after the er trip I been in a splint since Friday. I been taking 600 ibuprofen and sleeping and eating a lot with both. My hubby and kids want me to rest like the dr said and are helping but I feel alone and isolate because this is the first bone break ever

    • I am so sorry I this comment never showed up until now! I quite literally feel your pain and I hope that you are recovering by now. Did you require surgery? It’s a painful experience for sure and I do hope you are getting your rest and healing up. If you ever need to talk to someone who understands that desperate, isolated, helpful feeling, please do contact me via email. I totally get it!