Week Seven: May 15 - May 22, 2013
“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.” - Hal Borland
It’s very nice to be free of the buddy wraps (velcro straps holding index and middle fingers together), so I can do things “normally.” I continued to do my exercises, working on recovering full range of motion and was able to start strengthening exercises. The therapist told me my goal was 3 sets of 15 reps of 5 pounds for bicep curls and tricep extensions. Like an idiot, that’s exactly what I did on Day #1. Hurts... hmm, what a surprise. My poor little atrophied arm was complaining like crazy, which is exactly the point. Gripping the bar is the most painful part of the whole thing. Good news is that the swelling is down enough that I can jam my official weight-lifting gloves on. Hello, old friends... haven’t seen you since October. Nice to be able to wash both hands without having to take off straps or splints. If something could be done with my left hand, I tried to do it that way, as an exercise. Part of my job is to retrain my whole hand to work as a unit, rather than favoring a gimpy finger. This means using all fingers on the coffee cup handle, and holding the fruit with all fingers.
On Saturday, I tried to plant my herb garden and discovered that my hand was done by 9:30 AM, with only 4 plants in the ground. So I messed around weeding, trimming,etc. all with my right hand. Had to come back later in the afternoon to plant the marigolds, which keep the bunnies out. Did lots of extra ice and a minimum of stuff for the rest of the day.
Spent Tuesday AM in the ER with my 5-year old with a severe reaction to cashew nut. Food allergies are something that I’ve dealt with my entire life and my 8 year old was diagnosed with peanut/egg/banana allergies when she was 8 months old. I spent the morning without a shower or coffee, covered with my kid’s vomit, and hoping that the reaction didn’t get any worse. I didn’t do my routine of soaking in hot water, exercises, strengthening, and ice. Discovered that if you don’t do the “stuff,” then you pay the price. Oh well.. 1 step back for me, but I’ve made that up over the course of the next few days. I did notice that “Hey, I’m using my hand without thinking about it” in the course of the whole ER experience. My kid needed my attention for the rest of the day and it was the first day since my surgery that I didn’t do what I was supposed to do.
Flute playing is full of ups and downs. I like the way my index finger doesn’t have to touch the tube with the vertical headjoint, but I can’t stand the sound. I can’t seem to find the “sweet spot” on my face for that headjoint. I did play for a few minutes with the regular headjoint and the sound is so much better. I was fortunate to have a Skype lesson with my friend, colleague and mentor Amy Likar, who gently reminded me that my whole body is involved with the flute and that I can’t focus exclusively on what my index finger is doing. She asked a question about my thumb...”Umm.... don’t know what they were doing.” Very interesting to observe this in myself when one of the basic tenets of what I teach as a Body Mapping teacher is the absolute necessity of whole body awareness. Encouraging whole body awareness even with the weight lifting - don’t hold your breath, stop pulling head down, etc. Glimpses of the incredible amount work that will need to be done to integrate my wounded wing back into the whole of me. On the other hand, I’ve come a long way from a plaster cast and Percocets every 4 hours.
May 22, 2013 - OT #8 Wow!!! I doubled my finger strength on one of the 4 tests measuring grip strength in 1 week. The therapists were very excited about this. All of the grip test numbers were higher. Last week, I was relieved to find that my right hand could grip with 61 lbs. of pressure and my left was at 27 lbs. So there was a mechanical reason for why I was dropping things. I was given another set of strengthen exercises for muscles in my forearm and I finally had to buy a 2 lb. weight. Of course, it only comes in pink and I absolutely hate all shades of pink! Bah humbug.... I bought a green 3 pounder too and am hoping to move up to that one soon. It has a foamy grip and it’s a bigger diameter, so it’s much more comfortable with my hand. I also graduated from weekly therapy and am now going every 2 weeks. My therapist said there’s not much else she can do for me now that I’ve got all the exercises. I just have to put in the time. She also told me that scars change for up to 2 years. The adhesion that I have is still normal for this point in time and I just have to keep up with the scar massage.
Key things I learned during this stage of my journey:
1) Recovery continues to take lots and lots of time. How do people do this when they’re working a full-time job? My kids and husband get it. There’s Mom again, sitting at the table doing the hand exercises. Oh yeah, she takes forever to get ready in the morning because she has to soak, exercise, lift, ice before she can shower. I understand how professional athletes do this, they have the best of the best as physical therapists and have somebody else to attend to much of the little stuff that has to be done. Kind of like supermodels who have nannies, housecleaners, personal trainers and chefs.
2) Slow is good. I’m able to do most everything in the kitchen, but I’m slow. I’m usually moving so fast, it’s not bad to slow down and be a little more mindful.