Friday, May 24, 2013

How I Broke Both Elbows in One Fell Swoop.

It's been over two months since I fell on the sidewalk and broke my elbows.  Every day, I tell myself I am going to sit down and pen the odyssey on my blog, but every day the necessary words of description escape me, so I put it off another day. Today, I am going to give it my best shot and see if I can come up with an adequate description of the past two month.

March 20, 2013 was a day like any other day.  I did the laundry and the cleaning and household mundanity as usual, then at about 3:15 pm things would take a turn that would make the next two months anything but normal.

In a nutshell, what happened was, I let the dogs out for their afternoon business.  I went to the restroom myself, and came back to let them in and only Tinkerbell came to the door.  Hm... that was not a good omen.  When I started to call Charlie back in, Tinkerbell ran to the front door and began to bark relentlessly, so I abandoned my backyard search and went out the front door.

There he was, across the street, sniffing like the hound-dog he is, from house to house, completely oblivious to the fact that he was most definitely NOT where he was supposed to be.  I walked toward where he was, and noticed a neighbor walking her very large horse dog further down the street.

Not wanting my little chiweenie to encounter the much larger animal, I sped up my pursuit.  I almost got to him too.  He stopped to do his business in the neighbor's yard (bad, dog, Charlie) and I thought - here is my chance.

Just as I thought my chances were favorable to catch up to the errant little chiweenie, my toe caught the edge of an uneven spot in the slab of sidewalk and just as quickly as I thought I might catch him, my hands and face came in contact with the unforgiving surface of the concrete.

As soon as I made contact, I knew this was like no other fall I had experienced.  Oh, no, falling flat out like that isn't a new experience for me - I've had the experience, oh about... five times in the past few years.  My balance is a bit awkward, since I've had both hips replaced, and I tend to shuffle my feet instead of picking them up like a [normal] person should, so, unfortunately, face-planting isn't a new experience for me,  However, as I said, this time felt different.

I experienced stabbing pain in both elbows as I tried to quickly, as one does when they fall, pick myself up off the ground, and I struggled to breathe, as the fall had knocked the breath right out of me.  Neighbors who were outside and had witnessed my humiliation accident, came running to help, but I assured them I was okay as I quickly turned toward home, where one of the neighbors had chased my oblivious dog back into our backyard.

I still don't know how he got out, but I knew I needed to get back home, and get him back in the house before he found his way out again.  So, that's what I did.

Wow, this nutshell is turning into a fully grown oak tree, isn't it?  It's hard to make a short story out of this long saga, so bear with me.

My 18 year old daughter came home from school at about the same time I got home and got the dog into the house.  She could see that, despite my protestations to the contrary, I most certainly was not okay.

She drove me to the minor emergency clinic, where after three excruciating hours of waiting and a few minutes with an x-ray machine and a couple more minutes with a doctor, my arms were deemed unbroken and I was sent home with a sling and a couple of pills.

What a waste of time.  Not to mention almost $300.  I won't go into all the details of how wrong the diagnosis was at the clinic, or how the x-rays were misread, or how I spent the next month wondering why my elbows, which were deemed [fine] where still hurting like the dickens.

I'll skip all of details of that horror, and fast forward to the day, four weeks later, I sat in the office of an orthopaedic surgeon as he told me I [immediately] required surgery on my broken right elbow.  Head swimming from disbelief, I scheduled the surgery for the following week.  Surgery?  What?  I didn't even know they were broken, since I'd been told there were only some tiny cracks in the bones that should heal without further ado. 

The right elbow surgery went off without a hitch the next week, on April 25th, as the radial head was pinned back in place. I went home later that afternoon with a bothersome splint and a few more pain pills than the original clinic doctor had prescribed.

After suffering with the itchy splint, unable to do much without the use of my right arm (I am SO not ambidextrous) for a week, I went back to the doctor for a post-op visit.  That hateful splint was finally removed and the first thing I did was scratch my arm for all it was worth. The x-rays on that arm showed it was healing up nicely; screws were holding.  Great news.

Not so fast with the celebrating there, Girly.  X-rays on the left elbow revealed that the radial head on it had also slipped out of place during the healing process.  I needed yet another operation to remedy that.  And it needed to be done quickly, or I would run the risk of losing blood-flow to that area, which could cause all sorts of problems, not the least of which is osteo-necrosis, which I'd already been through with both of my hips, leading to the hip replacements in 2003 and 2008.  Not great news at all.

The following week, on May 9th, I was back in the operating room again.  This elbow repair proved to be a little more complicated that the right one.  The bone was more fragmented than the right one had been, and he was only able to pin the largest of the bone fragments into place; the rest had to be excised. The next week went by more smoothly, since I was prepared for the itchy splint this time around. I bought myself a set of very long knitting needles so that I could get a better angle on the itchies (I don't advocate doing that, as it is discouraged by the medical profession, but the itching was unbearable for me).

Since then, I've been focusing on recovering full use of my arms.  The range of motion still isn't what it should be, and there is some nerve damage in the left elbow, which caused numbness and a tingling sensation, as well as an electrical jolt of pain periodically.  The right arm is doing well thank goodness, the incision infection not withstanding.

I have been instructed by the doctor not to carry anything heavier than a coffee cup for 6 weeks post-surgery, which, however annoying it's been for me, has been a learning experience for my family.  I think they understand now what I [do all day] while they are away at work or school.

I suppose them learning a bit of self-sufficiency is not the end of the world.  I'm also learning a lot about surrendering control of all things related to the running of the home. Things do get done if I'm not micromanaging it, and my kids are actually willing to do things if they are asked specifically.  They don't  see that what needs to be done, and take care of it, but they are teens after all, so it's a bit much to expect them to see it and do it.  I am just happy they are willing to do [whatever] when asked.

If there is a silver lining to this cloudy situation, the lessons we have learned, and continue to practice are on top of the list.

Hopefully we have all sufficiently learned our lessons, and some sort of normalcy can return to our lives.  I think we are all ready for that.

As for Charlie the chiweenie, he hasn't escaped the confines of the backyard since that day, and we never found exactly where his escape route was located. He continues to be oblivious (as you can see from the picture below) to the havoc his little [mis]adventure caused us.