that's why i've been so quiet... on facebook, on this blog, and even in person. to be perfectly honest, it's been a bit of a downer! but i want to tell the story for posterity's sake and because hopefully some aspects of the story may be amusing to others now, and to me many, many years from now.
so here's what happened:
it was a gorgeous saturday morning, just 8 days after my last trip to the ER for my final rabies vaccination (see raccoon attack posts below for more info), and bill and i decided to go for a bike ride in forest park, just 2 blocks away. it was within those two blocks that i hurled myself over my handlebars, cracked my chin open, and broke my ring and pinky fingers right at the knuckles on my right (dominant) hand.
it's really very simple - and lame: bill is a more comfortable and aggressive biker. he darts in and out of traffic, ignores traffic signals and loves big curbs. i prefer the sidewalk, use the corner ramps as though my life depended on them, and get pretty nervous if any moving object comes within 10 feet of me, whether motorized or human-powered.
but i was following bill, who does everything i just mentioned above. he jumped what appeared to be an enormous curb, and i thought to myself "i can't jump that thing! or should i? maybe -" and then i hit it and went flying.
i remember cars stopping to see if i was ok, which is embarrassing even when you're half a breath away from being unconscious. i remember my hubby pressing a really dirty cloth to my chin. i remember telling him to call my mother to come pick me up, and i remember the ashen look on her face when she saw me. i nearly passed out in the car, but mom opened the windows and cranked the air and made me drink some water and by the time we drove the few blocks back home i had gotten myself together.
our dear friend rob corley the ER doc came over and basically superglued my chin back together. he does great work. on the hand he said that it definitely looked broken and that i'd have to get xrays, so i might as well go to the ER and have them reset it. why not! so back to st. mary's we went, for the 5th time in 22 days.
this time they asked me all kinds of questions like "do you feel safe in your home?" and "have you ever felt that you or a family member was in danger?" i said "you all didn't ask these questions when i was here for the raccoon attack." and they said "of course we did - we ask everyone" which is totally not true. i guess they can tell raccoon bites from human bites. lucky for bill, who was in the room for both interviews.
they xrayed me, confirmed that i had two breaks, put me in a splint, wrote me some scrips and told me to see a hand specialist. in other words, i left without them doing anything to the hand and with no specifics as to how it would get fixed.
i should say now that i am an optimist, and i also have unusually good luck. if i need the last standby seat on an overbooked flight i always manage to get it. if i need a rock-star parking spot in order to make a meeting on time one magically appears. up to this point i'd never broken a bone or spent a night in a hospital. the worst case scenario almost never (knock on wood) happens to me. at this point i was mostly making cracks about vicodin and how to shower one-handed.
in the 5 days following the crash i had a makaboo photo shoot with five kids, an interview and shoot with the Post-Dispatch, and my 34th birthday, all of which which i somehow managed to pull off despite a fair amount of pain and a wooze-inducing amount of meds. i was still assuming that when i finally got in to a hand specialist they'd say it was already healing fine on its own, or would reset the bones and call it a day. which is what i needed them to say because i had 3 straight weeks of travel and six makaboo trunk shows across the country coming up.
so it came as a shock when i finally got in to the specialist and learned that i needed surgery to place pins in my hand in an attempt to properly reset the bones, followed by weeks/months of physical therapy to get the fingers fully functional again. i ended up having the surgery the same day that i saw the dr for the first time. i highly recommend having only 2.5 hours to prep for surgery - there's no time to psych yourself out!
when i woke up from the surgery i was told that it was worse than the dr had anticipated and that he had to put five pins in. the hand was in a temporary cast that would be removed 4 days later when i went to PT for the first time.
there are two huge things that do not occur to people when they hear that your hand is broken and that there are pins in it. the first is that the pins are like sewing needles that are sticking straight out of your hand, with big blue nubs on the end of them. like sewing pins in a pin cushion made of hand flesh. or push pins in a bulletin board, also made of hand flesh. i have to clean the pin sites every day. a good analogy might be when you first get your ears pierced, except that turning these pins would not be a good idea.
the second thing people really don't understand is what a dramatic life change occurs when you lose the use of your dominant hand. here are some of the things i can't do:
- type with my right hand (hence the no caps)
- open things, like pill bottles, drinks, food containers, boxes or packages, or anything that requires tearing or scissors
- dry and brush my hair at the same time
- put on a necklace
- open certain doors
- wear tight clothing (tops can't get over the pins; bottoms can't get on or buttoned/zipped with one hand)
- cook or eat anything that needs to be cut with a sharp knife
- cook anything that is in a pot that can't be lifted with just one hand
- do laundry
- do dishes
so, i've spent the last 4 weeks mostly at home, mostly by myself. as i said above, it has been mostly a downer, but as an optimist i have to note the positives as well!
- i am now pretty awesome at typing left-handed
- i know that i will never become addicted to vicodin - it makes me sleepy and nauseas
- i get to walk to my twice-weekly PT appointments, which is always a nice break from the at-home workday
- i will have cool scars on my right hand that will always make it sound like i had this daring bike accident in my 30s
- i have a new understanding of what disabled people endure every day and of the respect and admiration that they are owed from all of us
- my hubby felt so guilty that he got me a gorgeous handbag (no pun intended) and wallet for my birthday!
- said hubby has been unbelievable - he is the ultimate caretaker and i owe him some serious loving and nurturing
the biggest upside by far has been seeing makaboo's incredible employees pick up the slack in my absence, and keep the company humming. i am so, so grateful to my embroidery manager angela and packaging specialist nina for keep everything on track during our busiest month ever. they are incredible assets to the company!
since the surgery i've have PT two times a week (which hurts!!) and have had to exercise the hand myself six times a day. tomorrow i get the pins out, then we pick up the PT hard core. right now my pinky's basically not moving at all (i call it botox of the pinky), and my ring finger will go down but not up. i believe that the worst case scenario is that the pinky doesn't start behaving after 3-6 months and i have to have another surgery to remove the scar tiisue, but to be perfectly honest i don't really know!
more to come. and if you like grody things and want to see photos, i have plenty!