Saturday, January 24, 2009

Small Victories

(now with added flashback!)

Summer is really turning it on this year (as I type this hidden away in the middle of the house). It's currently scorching outside and that combined with a sore arm and difficulties with transport has meant I'm not helping out at the Vulcaniser. I'm pretty disappointed, but it was the right decision.

This week has however been a week of small victories for my arm. I'm spending more time out of the brace than in it, on my surgeon and physio's advice. This has meant I've had some progress. It's funny how something relatively minor can impact on your day to day life so heavily. And yes, a broken elbow is really quite minor in the scheme of things. One of NZ's top female downhillers and all round great chick, Sheryl McLeod, broke her neck around the same time I broke my elbow. She was extremely lucky and is not paralysed and amazingly has a crazy bungee for a spinal cord and is up and walking and back in Dunedin already. She's probably got a year of being off the bike ahead of her, so yes, a broken elbow is minor. Good luck with the rehab Sheryl, show those docs what healing is all about!

My healing is ahead of schedule. My brace was originally going to be off on Monday the 26th of Jan (and was then pushed back to mid-Feb by a doc I'd never seen before), so getting it off on Thursday was good news. Now I'm developing a list of things that last month were mundane, or not even worth noticing, that are now great achievements and reasons for celebration.

These all apply to my right hand/arm (of course):
  • Licking my fingers - especially after crumbling feta, mmmm salty goodness.
  • Scratching my nose
  • Putting sunglasses on
  • Touching the back of my head
  • Putting moisturiser on my forehead (still can't do it on the rest of my face without poking myself)
  • Doing up my bra
  • Washing my left shoulder and armpit!
  • Washing my hair
  • Sleeping next to my husband without covering him in bruises from being whacked with a hunk of metal

All in all, I'm pretty happy with progress, even if it is coming at the price of increased pain. This rehab is going extremely well. And I do know a bit about rehabbing joint injuries. (Cue wavey, misty fade to flashback.......)

Picture, if you can, 14 year old Tink, riding her silver ten speed home from school. No helmet, because this was back in the day, and in one hand a delicious cola flavoured popsicle. Yes, riding with one hand was silly, but two hands on the bars would not have in any way prevented or mitigated what happened next. Chatting to my friend and happily whizzing along, from behind us came a couple of third form boys, damn turds. One of them was either showing off, or just a complete shithead (I know which side I come down on) and decides to give the girls a fright by cutting in in front of us at high speed. Ahahahahahahaa ,not. This young man (whose name I won't put up here), misjudges his turn, rides into my front wheel and the next thing I'm lying on the road screaming and looking at the bits of gravel that are inside my popsicle. This is the least of my worries as my right leg has completely given out and I can't get off the road. Loads of people are standing around and my friend has run back to the shop to get them to ring my mum (yay small towns, everyone knows everyone). Then a different third form boy (who's name I also won't put here and who probably doesn't even remember this, but who I'm still extremely grateful to) picks my up off the road and lays me out on the grass. After that everything is a blur, but the result is a severely torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) in my right knee and months and months of physio.
At the time I was playing competitive squash and was just beginning to travel round the South Island to play in tournaments and I wasn't giving it up because some little shit was being a smart-arse. That was until one Sunday evening when I was running to the back of the squash court to get a long shot and there was an extremely audible bang. Yep the ligament completely snapped. And once it had life was actually a lot more simple in some respects. I couldn't play squash at all anymore, my knee would completely dislocate with the twisting. So for the next 3 years I played volleyball and wore a brace and when my knee occasionally popped out, I'd pop it back in. When it got really bad I'd see my fantastic physio, but otherwise it was all good. Then in seventh form I had the ACL reconstruction done (and a huge amount of cartilage removed). If any of you know how modern ACL operations go, forget about that. I was on the table for a little over 8 hours, and woke up in an ankle to hip splint which stayed on for a month. When I got it off my leg was completely wasted to the bone and hurt more than anything I have ever experienced since (include this silly elbow mishap). I was then in a ROM brace for another 3 months (throughout the coldest Central Otago winter for a long time, brrrrrrrr) and had physio everyday initially, then every second day after a month. I had to relearn to walk. Now I believe the operation takes a couple of hours and you are up and walking around the same day. Ahhhhh progress, if only I'd had it back then. (Cue wavey, misty fade to present........)

Having been through that with my knee I have to say that this elbow thing is a bit of a walk in the park. Of course the one thing that makes the current situation worse than back then is that now I am obsessed with my bikes and am suffering terrible withdrawal symptoms from not being able to get outside and ride. Back then I was self obsessed and worried about boys (being a teenage girl), so a bit of extra angst wasn't really a big deal. So with that in mind the bending and straightening continue and if I seem a little grumpy (read: a complete bitch most of the time), its just because I haven't had my fix in a while.

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