Tuesday, February 19, 2013


The last week of January it snowed.  People and cars were slipping and sliding that week.  So, when the paramedics were dispatched to my house on Friday, February 1 for a possible dislocated shoulder from a fall, they expected to find me in the driveway.  Instead I was crumpled on my own hardwood floor, having slipped as I was rushing for the door to greet my daughter's school bus.  Slipped isn't quite the right word.  I had stumbled and pitched forward and put my hand up to break my fall since I was heading for the door jamb.  I managed to smack into the wood with such force that I felt this very obvious sensation of a bone shifting in a way it wasn't supposed to.  I hit the floor howling like a wounded beagle.  My husband found me face down in the foyer, but I was in too much agony to even tell him what happened.  At that moment Foghorn walked in the front door, looked down at me with contempt, and said something along the lines of, "What did she do now?"

The Professor was left to babysit while I was wheeled on the stretcher to the ambulance.  If I hadn't been cursing my shoulder I'd have cursed my husband who hadn't trimmed the bushes well in the autumn and I got pummeled with ten feet of snowy branches as I was pushed along the walkway.   Long story short slightly less long, I did indeed have a dislocated shoulder and a couple hours later they finally dosed me with Propofol ("Milk of Amnesia") and snapped it back in place.  I awoke in a sling with this extra piece that essentially strapped my arm against my body so I couldn't pop the shoulder again.  I was sent home with a Vicodin prescription and warnings to be very careful until I could see an orthopedic specialist the following week. 

All weekend my arm was completely numb, from the fingers to the upper arm, the same tingly numbness you get when your foot falls asleep.  I was told in the E.R. that was normal because of swelling in the upper arm.  When I visited Dr. Ortho the following Monday, he and his physician's assistant and the nurse all acted  like this numbness was anything but normal.  They took more x-rays and tested my mobility (or lack thereof) and said I had Radial Palsy, which I had never heard of.  It was explained that the nerve that basically controlled the whole arm had been damaged and thus I had some paralysis.  Dr. Ortho then said, "It's one of those things that either comes back or it doesn't."  Huh?!?  'Scuse me?  This might be PERMANENT!?!  He sent me for a wrist brace and told me to come back in three weeks to see if there was any improvement.  His parting words were, "Don't panic yet.  I've seen this come back in a number of cases...and worrying doesn't help anyway."

My sister drove me home and I cried hysterically to my husband and we all jumped on the Internet.  From what we read, Radial Palsy is not uncommon for people with shoulder injuries, broken arms, or folks who have surgery.  It IS serious, but 85% of people get function back in four to five months.  Presumably out of the remaining 15%, some lucky folks get function back sooner than four months, some it takes longer, and some (ack!) don't get it back at all.  Still, I figure the odds are in my favor.  That doesn't mean I'm not worrying.  I am, but I also am keeping what was left of my sanity by reminding myself that statistically my chances are good.

Normally in times of stress I comfort myself with watching lousy television while knitting.  Um...yeah...unfortunately knitting's a two-handed hobby.  It's depressing how many things are two-handed activities.  And the dogs can't figure out why I'm not on the floor cuddling and can only pet one head at a time and why their breakfast is always late because they have to wait for that guy with the furry chin to come down to feed them. 

I'm hopeful things are looking up.  About a week after the fall the numbness started to ease a little and I started to get slightly more movement in the fingers.  It's slow going, but each day it gets just a tiny bit better.  Unfortunately as the numbness is wearing off, pain is setting in.  The lady at the hand specialist said the nerve repairs from the upper arm down, meaning the fingers will be the last to heal completely.  The pain is certainly following that pattern.  It started in the arm  just below the shoulder and has moved into the elbow area.  I wake up every two hours in the night with this shooting pain like I cracked my funny bone on a brick wall, only it doesn't subside.  The ortho's office said it helps to keep the blood circulating as much as possible, so I wander the house and get on the computer and eat cookies and finally go back to bed...for a couple hours.  Rinse and repeat.

I still can't hold the arm up at all and the ring and pinky fingers are pretty much useless.  But I can keep the wrist from completely drooping and I'm that close to being able to give my husband the finger.  I can't wait to reach that milestone.  Like President Obama said of Rahm Emanuel with his injured middle finger, I've been rendered practically mute.



Anonymous said...

I hope the tags pull in some people who are suffering from the same problem. I think it would help them to read this post.

steph said...

oh, Shannon!!! sending positive vibes your way--hoping for a speedy recovery. i have a friend who has just had shoulder surgery---in the same kind of sling-thing; recovering, but the hassle and hardship has been monumental. Hoping the worst is behind you and you'll be 'talking' real soon!!!

Marcy said...

Wow, how terrible. I am so sorry. Wishing you a speedy--and full--recovery.

Corinne said...

OMG, this is EXACTLY the same accident that happened to me 12 years ago (the weekend when I met my now-husband)! Getting my arm and shoulder back to "normal" took a lot longer than it should have because I did NOT do proper physical therapy. Don't be as dumb as I was!

However, no matter what, this will take a lot of patience. In the meantime, get all that you can out of it ... get the kids and hubby to do all your fetching, reaching and grabbing! Feel better SOON! Have missed your postings!