Tuesday, April 30, 2013


When I was in the E.R., right after they snapped my dislocated shoulder back into place and strapped me  in a thick sling that felt more like a strait jacket, they informed me I might have to wear it for two to three weeks.  Two to three weeks?!?  Oh, the agony.  Had I known that twelve weeks later I'd still be struggling to get back to normal I might have asked about robotic prosthetics.

Amazing how tough this can be.
At the beginning of March I had an EMG which showed that I didn't just ding up the radial nerve (which was already obvious from the severe wrist drop and inability to do more than slightly wiggle my fingers) but managed to do some fairly hefty damage to all the main nerves coming down from the shoulder.  Luckily the test showed that all the nerves had some life in them, so I should get all function back eventually, just not quickly.  (She managed to have me on edge by saying she did have some concerns about how little nerve activity there was in the fingers and a portion of the upper arm.)  At the time of the test I couldn't lift my fingers off the table with my palm flat on the surface, I couldn't lift my thumb into a "Fonzi" and I couldn't do a bicep curl.  It goes without saying I also couldn't raise my arm above my head or any advanced gymnastics like that.

Therapy aid or medieval torture device?
After nine weeks of physical therapy I still can't raise my hand above my head, but I can get it a little above shoulder level, making me feel less like Barney the dinosaur.  The nerve damage and a fracture in one of my upper arm bones in addition to the dislocation are making everything very interesting for my therapist.  We've been focusing mostly on getting everything stretched, since it will be impossible to straighten my arm in an Arnold Horshack pose, even if the nerves and strength are there, if the limb can't stretch that much in the first place.  So, I spend literally hours every day stretching my arm with slides on the table, with pulleys hooked to my basement door, with a broomstick over my head while lying on the bed.  I use my House cane occasionally, both as a therapy tool and as a weapon for ridding myself of a husband who likes to stand in the middle of the room and sing "Eye of the Tiger" at me.  

Last week the therapist asked how I'd rate my ability to do every day activities.  I told him if the activity involves my arm going no higher than shoulder level, I'm at about 90%.  Anything higher than that and I've got issues.  (I've perfected the art of one-handed hair washing.)  While it would be nice to be able to use both arms to get cereal off the pantry shelf, my mental health is salvaged by the fact that my fingers mostly work now.  I still have numbness and tingling in the pinky and part of the ring finger.  (Strangely, the ulnar nerve controls the little finger and the half of the ring finger next to the pinky.)  I've been able to type with the ring finger for the last couple weeks, but it wasn't until a week ago that I could start using the pinky.  Prior to that I couldn't feel the keys under the finger enough to type with it.  Plus I think it didn't quite have the strength to firmly press the button.  Can I sound any wimpier?

The most important part of getting most of my finger function back isn't that I can now cook meals or floss my teeth with both hands or drive.  It's that I can knit.  I almost went stark raving, batsh*t crazy without yarn in my hands.  I've mostly been doing dishcloths, easy patterns that will use up little odds and ends of cotton yarn I have around.  I also managed an incredibly simple bunny rabbit toy for my beloved Tristan's Easter gift.  I never thought garter stitch could make me so happy.

Thanks to all those in cyberspace who wished me well and have asked about my progress.  I'm looking forward to the day I'm back to being a two-armed blogger (even if I am one with only half a brain).


Confessions of a One-Armed Blogger



Marcy said...

I am so glad to hear that you are making progress, even if it is slow progress. Tell your husband to keep singing "Eye of the Tiger" at you. That'll help, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

You have been working so hard at trying to get better and I'm so glad you're getting good results, even if it is taking longer than you hoped.

Anonymous said...

Glad you are doing better! My vote is torture device...I have a few around here if you run out--lol..sorry. Keep plugging at it. It is just a matter of time I'm sure. Take care!

Alison said...

Oh wow, Shannon. This has been quite a journey for you. Here's hoping the rest of the therapy and recovery will go by quickly.