Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A broken wrist and a much needed break

The title for this blog post must be a little confusing but if you'll bear with me, I'll do my best to explain.

It was a bright and beautiful day. My daughter and granddaughter had come to visit. It's always fun to have them spend the day with me. At three years of age, Heather loves to be outside so I wasn't surprised when she came in and immediately wanted to go out to play. One of her favorite things to do is play with balls. Since I'm her favorite playmate, I never mind when her little hand reaches up and she says, "C'mon, Gigi." As we head outside, her tiny laughter melts my heart. We toss the ball back and forth for several minutes. Her eye hand coordination hasn't developed fully yet so she misses the ball often. Though she doesn't mind, she finds it funny to ask me to retrieve the ball whenever she misses. Being a good Gigi, I obey her gentle commands and chase after the rogue ball. This toss and miss game continues a little longer. We revel in laughter. Once more, she throws the ball my way and it skitters down a leaf strewn path. I run to gather the ball in my arms and in a split second, find myself on the ground. There had been a hole and I'd found it. As I lay upon the cold ground, my daughter runs over to see if I'm okay. I sit up but tell her I am not sure. I say I need to sit there a few minutes and gather my wits about me. A few minutes pass and I think I am probably just suffering hurt pride. When I try to stand, I felt searing pain in my left wrist. I look down at it and see it's abnormally shaped and swelling rapidly. At my daughter's insistence, we go to the doctor. After having my wrist x-rayed and examined, the verdict is a fractured wrist.

At close to sixty years of age, I'm no spring chicken. The next few days are filled with throbbing pain. I quickly find myself unable to do the most menial tasks and have to ask for help to do simple things. I don't like depending on others. I enjoy being independent. But now I have no choice.

The Spica brace the orthopedic doctor placed on my wrist is tight but holds the bones in place. It's uncomfortable to sleep in at night and I have to keep it elevated. This frustration added to my constant insomnia and agony from lymphedema seems to be adding fuel to a neverending fire. I didn't need this and I begin to wonder why God has allowed me to experience one more trial in my life.

Since retiring several years ago and after having gone through my breast cancer journey, I've spent my days writing. I blog. I write for breast cancer magazines and do book reviews for Christian companies. The writing has allowed me to do something I truly enjoy and has provided an outlet for me since I'm unable to work outside the home. I enjoy being paid for something I love to do but now, with a broken wrist, how can I do it?

God knew I needed a break is all I can figure. With so many deadlines and obligations on my calendar, I tend to get overwhelmed. Since the holidays are just around the corner, I don't need any extra added stress. As I thought about it, I had to look at the fracture as a blessing.

You may wonder how I'm typing this blog post today. Don't worry! I'm not using my broken wrist and I'm not typing with one hand. I have a voice activated program called Dragon Dramatically Speaking which allows me to speak as the computer types for me. It's an amazing program designed for the physically handicapped. A friend with multiple sclerosis told me about it many years ago. When I found the program on sale, I quickly purchased it and stuck it in a closet. Now, years later, I'm finding it useful.

It's not easy to face trials, especially physical ones, but I've learned over my life that God brings them at just the perfect time and for a special reason. While the breaking of the bones in my wrist were extremely painful, the break that injury afforded me was a much needed and welcome one.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I'm already thinking about all the ways God's blessed me this year. My middle daughter, Laura, has agreed to host the meal for us so I don't have to stress over that. My gratitude jar sits on my kitchen counter. It's filled with tiny slips of white paper on which I've jotted notes throughout the year. On Thanksgiving day, I'll open the jar and begin reading all the blessings God's given me. Being reminded of His goodness is so important to me and I've found myself spending my days learning to be intentionally grateful. Counting my blessings and naming them one by one reminds me of God's faithfulness. This afternoon, I'll add one more blessing to my gratitude jar - I'll thank God for my break (fracture) which led to a much needed break from demanding tasks. Learning to rest is hard for me and I think God's been trying to teach me that lesson for a very long time. Maybe I'll get the hang of it soon! For a type A personality, someone who's always busy going and doing, the lesson has been a hard one to learn. But I guess it's okay to take a breather now and then. Thank God also for the voice to typing program. It's been a lifesaver!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Oh bother!

My granddaughter, Heather
It was a good day until I fell into that hole! My granddaughter and I had been outside playing catch when suddenly the ball rolled down hill. As her little voice exclaimed, "Get it Gigi," I smiled and ran after the ball. The ground was covered with a blanket of leaves. Running through them I worried about sliding. Instead of sliding, I stepped into a deep hole. Falling backward, I stuck out my left arm to brace for the fall. As soon as I did it I knew it was a mistake. The swelling was almost instantaneous. My daughter tried to help me up but I told her I wanted to sit a few minutes. While coming to grips with the fact that one minute I had been up and the next minute I was down, my granddaughter continued to play. I have no idea how long I sat on the hard ground, but thought it wise not to get up in a hurry. When I was finally able to get to my feet, my daughter and I went inside.

With concern in her voice, my daughter asked if I was okay. I glanced at my wrist and noticed the swelling. My hand and wrist looked misshapen. She asked if we needed to go to the hospital and I did not know how to respond. A few minutes later the pain began and I determined it might be a good idea to visit my doctor. I placed the call knowing I might not be able to get in to see him. I was hoping I would not have to go through the weekend without knowing the damage. Thankfully, I was worked into the schedule and saw the Dr. about 2:30. After taking several x-rays, the primary care physician determined a break was evident. He referred me to an orthopedic doctor the next day.

Spica splint
The orthopedic doctor decided I have a Scaphoid break. He said the break is also called a snuff box break. I ask him to expound and he said there is a little divot just above the Scaphoid bone where old-timers used to place their snuff so that it was convenient to sniff, hence the name snuff box break. I left his office in a Spica brace with instructions to return in 10 days for re-x-ray. At that time, he may or may not put me into a hard plaster cast. I am hoping he does not!

It has been extremely challenging without the use of my left arm. It is especially difficult to get dressed without help. Today after much persistence I was able to finally zip and button my jeans. Imagine my anxiety when I needed to run to the bathroom a couple of hours later and could not get my pants undone! If I had been wise, I would have changed to elastic waist pants. Instead, I fought to re-button my pants only to go through the same scenario a few hours later! Live and learn!

While it has been difficult to function with a broken wrist, I have been able to find ways to do what I want to do. I've realized how much I depend on both hands. I've had to use my mouth and teeth to aid in opening things. My husband has been helpful with the heavy lifting. Knowing my disability is temporary makes struggling through challenges easier. I don't know how I would manage if I had a permanent disability. I can only imagine how frustrating it would be in the beginning.
Scaphoid fracture

It seems like it's always something. The update for my most recent oncology visit: my Lymphocytes were at 19% which is considered extremely low and indicate a compromised immune system, my vitamin D level was extremely low as well, so I was put on a supplement of 50,000 international units per week, and I was told to return in four months for a check up. I did not feel the oncologist gave me the time or attention he has in the past at this visit. Perhaps he was having a bad day or had something on his mind. I am hoping the next visit will be better but if not I may be looking for another oncologist. It is very important to me to have a doctor who is very attentive and caring. I have been driving an hour each way to his office because I felt he was worth it. Perhaps he has lost his interest in being my doctor since I have chosen a natural alternative route instead of going the traditional chemotherapy route. Time will tell and I'll report more at my next check up. There is a Cancer treatment Center of America with and 25 minutes of my home should I decide to change. I have heard nothing but good things about them.

For those with breast cancer, mundane tasks like grocery shopping can be a challenge. Before cancer, grocery shopping was a pleasurable ...