Heal Thyself

It’s been over 2 months since I broke my arm. Each day is still peppered with a variety of challenges, particularly with my hygiene and getting dressed but it’s certainly more manageable than just a month ago. I go to physical therapy twice a week and am able to lift my arm a bit more–enough to wash my face now and even to create an awful-looking pony tail. But that’s something!

Every 2-3 weeks I get another x-ray and have become quite familiar with what the inside of my arm looks like. Unfortunately, my last x-ray this past week was extremely discouraging. Three weeks ago it was clear that my arm was starting to heal. You could see this white bit in my x-ray where the bone was healing and it wasn’t just a black void. But now, after another three weeks have passed—nothing. Not one thing has changed. There should have been signs that it was healing more, but there were none.

My doctor tried to be positive and said that it was good that the plate or screws hadn’t moved and it didn’t look worse. But that really wasn’t much of a consolation to me. She said it was time to beef up on Vitamin D3 (5,000 IU) and try and get this bone to heal. My daily dose of vitamins and extra calcium and D3 just wasn’t cutting it.

So since things didn’t look that great, I decided to ask the question I really needed to. “Will I really get my full range of motion back?”

She didn’t say no, but she didn’t say absolutely yes. When I look at my x-ray and see that one particular screw pointing towards my breast and know that that screw is helping to hold me together, just makes me wonder if I’ll ever be able to freely move my right arm back and forth and stretch my lovely limbs out like the orangutan I know I am. She told me when I stretch my arm across my body to my left side, that movement may always be impaired. But I might not have to have the plate in my arm forever…if I’m particularly sensitive to it and it drives me nuts after a year or two. Or I may have to live with it despite the sensitivity if my bones don’t heal enough.

So…..well….fuck.

I teared up just a smidge as she’s telling me these things and tried to be positive. I told her I was going to the beach with my kiddo and my niece and her family and try to enjoy myself. And I did. Then I didn’t do my physical therapy exercises that night because I was just too pissed and disappointed and frustrated. When I told my physical therapist the next day what the doc said, I did cry then. And my PT was just as distraught and discouraged. But we sucked it up and carried on.

The last few days I’ve had off from work and have faithfully done my exercises morning and evening. I’ve taken my huge dose of D3 every day and have tried to not dwell on the “what ifs.” I’ve been repeating my father’s mantra, “one day at a time” and trying to channel every bit of his laid back attitude. I don’t always succeed but I try.

This week as we dive back into school schedules and all the juggling that entails, I’ll be murmuring “Keep Calm and Heal On!” and “One Day at a Time” and I’m sure by Friday, “Where’s my glass of wine?”

Have a good one, friends. May we all heal just a little bit this week.

Dreaming of Dad

I had a dream about my father last week. It’s my first since he died. You know when I was a kid, I would dread dreaming about my dad. See, just after my parents split up when I was about 9, I moved with my mom and brother to a small apartment across town. I had a nightmare one night and watched someone rip my father’s head from his body. A few nights later, I dreamt that my father had a heart attack and I ran from his house to our apartment to get help–we’re talking probably 7 miles on a little chubby girl’s legs. So after that second dream, I just knew that if I had another dream about my father dying, he really would. Kids have weird minds, don’t they? I didn’t sleep well for weeks until exhaustion finally made me sleep. Fortunately, it was a few years before I had any more dreams about my father dying, and I was even luckier because I got to keep Pop in my life for another 37 years after those initial dreams.

But the dream I had last week was not a death dream. I saw Dad die in real life and I sometimes re-live it, but never when I’m sleeping. Instead, this dream was some kind of wonderful. Odd, but still wonderful.

Dad and I and my son were driving to the dump. My boy was in the back seat, spending too much time on his phone, and I sat in the front while Dad drove. It was like one of the cars from my childhood that Dad would drive–a big car, big hood, bench seats. For whatever reason, we were picking up someone else’s trash and taking it to the dump. A nice gesture, I suppose. But the person’s trash was really a bunch of recycling all packed into a huge cereal box. Ok. At least it’s neat, not messy…until I tipped the box and old macaroni and cheese came out and dry cereal. So I’m stuffing everything back in and complaining to Dad, “What the heck is this? Why did they do this?” And as I kept stuffing I realized that there was a nice neat little square tucked into the garbage that was actually a trash bag. WTF?!?

So I sigh loudly, mutter a little while unfolding the bag and trying to put everything into it, when very quietly Dad says, “Hey. Look at that.” I look up and through the windshield on the opposite side of the road but coming towards us, was this huge tortoise. I glance at my dad and he has his arm out the window in that relaxed way he always did for the entire summer, with his right hand on the steering wheel. He had a smile on his face and was just as fascinated as I was. I alerted my son and told him to look out the window. And as the tortoise got closer, we could see that there was some kind of plastic doll tied around the tortoise’s neck so it looked like it was riding him. I whispered, “Wwweeeirrddd.” Dad chuckled and I woke up.

I don’t think there’s anything to analyze here, but I love that my father came to visit me in my dreams. I’ve struggled a bit this past week–my emotions and moods have swung wildly, feeling more stressed at work, not loving the pain after physical therapy. Yet the more I think about that dream, the more I feel ok. Dad was a great sounding board for me. He let me vent about whatever I needed to, but always, ALWAYS put a positive bend on things. My mom does that, too. They both could be negative about their own lives, but tried to show us that things will get better or they’re really not as bad as we think.

So today I focused on how much more I can move my arm. I made a plan for the next few weeks at work so I won’t feel so stressed and have tried to keep calm when I start getting irrationally angry or sad about anything. “One day at a time, Hol,” Dad used to say. “One day at a time.” That was Dad’s mantra from the time he stopped drinking in 1987 until the day he died. I’ve always tried to be patient and follow his advice, but I’ve never been that great at it. I rush through life sometimes and want the next week to end or the next month or the season. But what if something amazing is waiting for me today?

So I keep trying. I will try and live my life by taking the pleasures and difficulties one day at a time. Savor the good stuff, get through the bad stuff.

I think I’ve finally got it, Dad. I can picture you now, throwing your head back and laughing while sitting in your chair. “Figures!” you’d say. “Now you understand and I’m not there to see it! Oh well. That’s life, right? At least you finally get it, kid, and that’s all that matters. Now get over here and give me a hug.”

I wish I could, Pop. I wish I could. ❤