This Is What Really Happened

Trigger warnings: Run-on sentences. Querulousness.

 

Thirteen days ago I had my thumb joint reconstructed. This was  elective and a long time coming—both carpo-metacarpals whittled down to bone on bone, naked osseous matter grinding boorishly against its equally unclothed neighbor, hyaline cartilage having fled years ago.

I chose the off hand to start, because surely I could function quite well with just my rightie bunch of fives (even with a gimped-up starboard pollex), and I was certain I could still one-handedly perform  in my starring role—the relentless primary caregiver mama to a special adult kid, (the reason I waited so long). Surely partner and assorted kind souls, paid and unpaid, would whisk up nicely with daughter’s own emerging self-care skills and ability to be flexible (unlike said thumbs),

and it would all be FINE. Or at least good enough. I’m a competent healer after all, my senescent body more flexible than most, well fed and reasonably exercised, and I know how to visualize vigor into something material like a rearranged joint with bright prospects of being quite salubriously employed.

And then the shoulder, same sinistral side, got mysteriously vitiated— either during afore-mentioned abscission or post-operatively, perhaps while the 18-hour nerve blockade was in office (which may or may not have caused me to carelessly swing or drop the cumbrous and leaden limb in a less than favorable position at some point), or possibly the orientation of said articulatio humeri during surgery was convenient for the medico but not the arm—

And my faithful left arm, who’d never really done anything horrible to anyone, at least not on purpose, received an additional serving of (non-elective) trauma.

Pain has been indifferent to multiple medications, and apathetic towards heat and ice, movement and salves. Channels of aching misery sprout from the shoulder cap and flow, lava-like, in three distinct runnels down the upper and outer arm, ending abruptly just above the elbow. Day and night the show continues, with brief periods of respite when I press my right digits forcefully into the vexed tissues.

The past days have held a concatenation of phone calls, doctors, appointments. Questions about causes and which course to follow towards relief. Tests will be done. Therapies will begin.

Meanwhile, I’ve been discovering what is and isn’t reasonably possible to do with one hand, one arm. Humbling indeed.

One day I wrote out a check and sealed it comfortably in its assigned envelope. I pressed on a pretty floral stamp and a return address label. Success!

I pecked at my computer over other days, a little each one, and produced a blog post! Big success. Then the week after I pushed out another offering onto my blog and into the inboxes of my tiny audience. For whom I’m truly grateful, always and forever. Amen.  (If you’re reading this consider yourself praised, saluted, and felicitated.)

Sometimes I try talking to the pain. I say neutral, non-accusatory things like What are you trying to tell me? What do you need? I’ve no answers yet, but I swear a few times I could hear faint laughter—the low, malevolent kind. Once I thought I caught a peripheral glimpse of something that looked suspiciously like a raised third digit. I caught myself before I uttered what I was thinking: Pain, should you be using that poor innocent post-surgical hand and arm to make your feelings known?

This isn’t meant to be a woe-is-me tale. Over the past week I’ve learned that a local family I know lost their adult son who had special needs. Unexpectedly, tragically. He was just 34, yet went through more in his brief life than most of us will ever face. A dear in-law is living with Glioblastoma. Two friends have lost their husbands, both from malignancies. Another beautiful soul reached out this morning, asking for prayers. Her dear father has been failing, and her mother (his primary caregiver) was in a car accident and is in ICU. My heart aches for all of them. We each have these stories, all around us people are suffering. My temporary ailments are nugatory in the scheme of things.

Truth is, I’m a penwoman who’s been struggling to write, a scrivener who’s seriously off her game in the past year or so. My blog almost up and left me last year for greener pastures.  I’m letting this missive count for something, even as a discipline while I recover from all this upper larboard trammel in my port wing. I’ve also learned a few new words in the process. If you’re still with me, my valiant reader, perhaps you have, too.

 

-Melinda Coppola

 

 

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