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?

Yes, I’m getting old, but I was born to break

Yes, getting old sucks, but some of us were born to break, and I am one of those people. I have a doctor’s note. Even in your 40’s, with a body that is in better shape (and way more active) than some people in their 20’s, bone breaking has nothing to do with age.

Disclosure: Pissy pants post prompted by some haters in my life, most that shouldn’t even matter, but I feel I need to get this off my “old” chest.

We all hate getting old, but let me dispel the rumor. I’m not falling apart because I’m getting “old”. I have a doctor’s note. I’m falling apart, and breaking, because I was born this way, and the breaking started some time around birth, apparently.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fooling myself. I am getting old, but I’m not broken because of that fact. I’m broken in spite of it since I’ve always been “broken”.

I posted the other day about my “new normal” and I got some flack on Facebook. I heard that I’m just “getting old” and “these things happen”. Honestly, I was offended. I wasn’t offended that people said I was “getting old”. I am getting old. I was offended because people made the assumption, and overly judgmental statements, that my condition, my current broken situation, was solely based on the fact that I’m “old”.

Apparently, according to my doctor’s note, I was born broken. I guess I was born old? My bones, my tiny body, are not strong. I have a condition, that I was born with, when I was young.

There’s no name for this “condition” that they can put their finger on yet, but basically, I was born to break. Someone should have noticed years ago, apparently. I was born large, with Erb’s Palsy (because I was a huge baby…HUGE…1o lbs 11.5 oz). I’ve been ridiculously bow legged my whole life. I broke my baby toes while I cheered (or walked into wall jams) so many times that my baby toes now bend completely to the side of my feet with a ridiculousness that’s nothing short of a party trick. I have scoliosis (diagnosed at the “old” age of 12), a muscle disorder in my back (that they found when I was ridiculously old at 18). Broken, since birth.

I demolished my left elbow at the ripe “old” age of 35, it broke like a twig in several places, and I hit menopause at 41, just 4 months after the birth of my son. Let it be noted that I’ve had 4 children, now ages 26 to 7, without any hormone therapy, because “old” people do that. Yes, I might sound snippy here, but I’m tired of the insinuations and I’m ready to set things straight because my new “old” normal has been my normal my whole life, and I never knew it.

My normal is the reason why I never grew “like a regular person” apparently. My normal is why I break. My normal is why I don’t “heal” like everyone else. In fact, my “normal” is why my body actually heals quicker than most.

My body is what my orthopedist and my therapists now call “Mighty Mouse Syndrome”. No, that’s not an official medical term. That’s their term. They can’t explain it. In just 24 hours after my second surgery, while my arm was completely numb, a full block, my elbow healed itself to non-motion before I could get motion back again. Yes, in 24 hours, my body healed itself, protected itself from more pain, at a rate that most bodies, at a young age, would heal in 2-4 weeks. That’s what “old” bodies do, or not.

I have a disorder. I’m not your kind of  “old”. So, before you say my issues are because I’m “old” and I should deal with it because I’m “old” like you, maybe you should try to read, research, and understand, before you make your rash old judgements. You know who you are and thankfully I have WAY more supporters than I do haters, so there’s definitely that!

I am getting old. We all are, in fact. But my body, my 95 pound fit body, is still fighting harder than a 20 year old. My arms might be broken, but it has nothing to do with my age. Proof positive, there are millions of 40+ year olds walking around without broken elbows, all day, every day. Go figure. But not me. I was born this way. I’m an abomination of nature. Yay, me.

I can deal with getting “old”. I can’t deal with uneducated people telling me that I’m broken because I’m old. I can’t deal with uneducated people telling me that I’m not healing because I’m getting old. Take the time to read. Do your research. I’m not “healing” because my “old” body is healing too quickly. It’s fighting my condition. It’s protecting me from pain and further injury.

Thanks for your “advice”. When you get a medical degree, when you understand what’s wrong with me, I’ll be happy to listen to you because I really hope you can fix this “old” body of mine. In the meantime, I’d appreciate if you’d STFU because you have no idea how it feels to hear real professionals tell you that you were born to break.

You might be falling apart because you’re getting old and you don’t work out regularly and take care of yourself. I’m not taking that road. I’m really not that “old”. I was just born broken. I’m dealing with my new normal, my life-long normal that I never knew about. What’s your excuse?

Keep your issues to yourself and don’t read my rants if you want to judge. For real, I don’t need that shit in my life right now. I’m dealing with real issues. Just grow “old” and shut up. Thank you in advance!

#endrant

Excuse My Absence, I’ve Been Under the Elbow

If you’ve ever broken a bone as an adult, you’ll relate with this post. If you’ve ever shattered an elbow and were still left to adult, these life lessons learned while under the elbow will resonate with you. Sit down, grab a coffee, and come feel my pain.

Life Lessons from a broken elbow 9 29 15

Y’all, the past month (OK, 25 exact excruciating days) has been rough. I’ve been absent from here, I’ve been absent from social media, and honestly, I’ve been pretty absent from life. Why you ask? I’ve been pretty much under the elbow. Most people are occasionally under the weather, they’re gone a few days, they come back. But you see, when you fall “under the elbow”, you’re pretty much down and out for a good long while. Why do I keep saying pretty much? Well it’s either the pain meds or the fact that no matter how broken (literally) I am, I still have to adult. Honestly, I really haven’t felt like adulting, but I’ve pretty much been pulling it off. Anyway…before I get on to the lovely life lessons I’ve learned as a full-time wife, mom, and employee as a one-armed bandit, let me back up and fill you in on what happened in case I haven’t whined it out enough.

dislocated broken elbow 9 4 15

We were out in the historic district…nothing happens there. I was on the sidewalk. I was standing. I went to walk. Someone stepped on my flip flop. I started to go down and pulled a rookie move. Hand out, hand grab closest chair, elbow shatters, arm bones break. It’s a thing. Kids, don’t try this at home (or anywhere else). Take my word for it, that bruised knee would not have been catastrophic. Just fall, dammit, just fall!

relocated elbow 9 4 15

After a super fun ride in the ambulance, 3,793 x-rays later, it appeared this was not a simple dislocation. Putting it back in place took way too long, and honestly, it looked better before the relocation. But they gave me drugs. Drugs (legal…shut up) give me wings. It was a holiday weekend so I took those drugs and ran with them before they could cage me in until that Tuesday when everyone showed back up. The good news? That super swollen, totally messed up arm, was my right arm. Cool. I’m left handed. This would be simple. I can still play. I can still adult!

jeepus 9 9 15

Yup. I was handling things well. My arm was literally hanging in a sling, I wasn’t sleeping or eating, but after my orthopedic appointment 5 days after the break, B was able to pick up my BRAND NEW JEEP that I can’t drive for months because it’s a stick. The irony. It’s cute though, right? Sitting in the side yard. Dammit. On to the story. I missed other things. It’s been fun.

bugs bday day before surgery 9 13 15 crop

Bug’s 9th birthday was on September 14th…10 days after “the fall”…the day they scheduled the dreaded reconstruction (yes, please, put this shit back together). But, birthday. We changed all plans. We stayed home. We smiled. It wasn’t the same, but…family. I grimaced. I smiled. She loved her presents. I love her. I adulted. She humored me.

rebuilt elbow 9 14 15

On September 14th, I was rebuilt. After five hours of surgery, I got a kitchen hinge, a rake, a new half cast, and a sling. All ready to adult again.

I clean what I can, I wash clothes (no folding required), I cook and clean up the kitchen, I work full time at my real job, I get the kids back and forth to school. I cry in between. I don’t eat much because those drugs don’t like food. I don’t sleep much. But dammit, I’m adulting. I have to.

During this journey, I’ve learned some one-armed bandit life lessons I wanted to share with you. This is a temporary situation (40% anyway since that’s the usage I’ll get back in the perfect world) but you need to know. If you ever find yourself one handed, here are some things you need to know.

  1. I do way more around here than anyone thinks, including myself (this place is a hot, disgusting mess…the toilets, the kitchen, the floors…gross, for real).
  2. If you go to take a “bath” with one arm, you will cut, scrape, or bruise something. Oh, and you’ll never feel clean. Ever.
  3. Arm pit waxing. It’s a thing. Use it before it’s almost too late.
  4. Cutting a frozen pot roast to put in the Crock Pot is way simpler than it seems.
  5. Cutting a small onion to put in the Crock Pot with said pot roast is way harder than you’d think.
  6. Writing with your dominant arm is so simple. Until you realize you were holding that paper with your non-dominant arm all along. My handwriting sucks right now. Don’t believe me? Put one arm away and try. Exactly.
  7. Being “lazy” with folding clothes for a mom compares to no one else’s idea of lazy folding. We can’t even find our bed right now. Actually being a “lazy mom” only makes everyone else around you look lazier, if that’s even possible. Oy!
  8. I typically load and unload the dishwasher 27 times per month. When I can’t do it, it happens about 10 times per month max and the house smells.
  9. You really cannot make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with one arm. Try it. I dare you.
  10. When you’re effed up, you find out who your friends and true supporters (inside and outside of your home) are. I really already knew, but it’s more obvious at the moment than ever before.

And so folks (all 5 of you who are still reading), that’s where I am right now. I’m adulting. I’m coping. I have my surgical follow up today. Good vibes appreciated. This clunky non-cast needs to come off today. I need some normalcy. My family needs some normalcy. I need to clean this place before they let the bugs take us away. I’m ready to be well, to be whole. I’m ready to work at a desk again. I’m ready to sleep and eat. I’m ready for this chapter to be over.

I’ve learned my lesson. I’m tired of being under the elbow.