Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I can write and ...

One of my work gigs is transcribing disability record reviews.  In many cases, a person starts out with a somewhat debilitating injury, say a torn medial meniscus or rotator cuff, which makes it impossible for them to work (for a time, or forever depending on how their surgeries and recovery processes go).

Many of these cases unfortunately snowball into weight gain-related issues like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, based on the fact that the person can’t work, is sitting around a lot and might have their head stuck in the fridge, which leads us also to the avalanche of continued problems including depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, sexual dysfunction and migraine headaches.

Then, to top it off, the person is also taking meds for the pain, for the gain and to combat the myriad of emotions.  These meds then cause gastrointestinal problems such as reflux or ulcers.

Basically, the person gets a sliver at work, and the next thing you know they’re obese, pill-popping, constipated (or loose-boweled) TV-watching fools!

I’ve always worked on these summaries “as if” this would never, ever happen to me.

The entire time I was working on these summaries, all my other work AND all the things in my life, this was happening to me!

I’ve had degenerative arthritis in the thumb joints of both hands for over ten years, just recently having had the surgical repair.  Despite that malady, I was the super worker, the super woman, the super everything, and so my surgery and recovery were also going to be super, right?!?!!?

Well, the surgery was just under a month ago, and there was a hellish first week of pain while still in the cast, a less hellish and less painful second and final week in the cast and then the application of a hard/fitted splint, which has now been on for 10 days (coming off only for showering and range of motion exercises) and must stay on an ADDITIONAL TWO WEEKS AND TWO DAYS, but who’s counting?

I’m counting!

And I’m going nuts!

Though I have not (as yet) developed loose or constipated bowels, sexual dysfunction, high blood pressure, heart disease or obesity, I already have a hiatal hernia and an esophageal ulcer, depression and anxiety, but I assume (or over think) these maladies as same-same, unless I’m screamingly over-anxious, think my depression (and bipolarity) are worsening and that my esophagus is going to bleed out with my next over-anxious heartbeat (or run-on sentence)!

This keeps me up at night, so you guessed it, I then nap during the day because nighttime sleep is not at all restful, and so NOW I HAVE A SLEEP DISORDER!

And I’m talking to myself!

Every day I get up and say the same things over and over (but in two different voices):

“Self, don’t even go there!”

“Go where?”

“You know very well where, there!”

“I wasn’t even going to say it.”

“Yes you were.  It was on the tip of your tongue you were getting ready to say, ‘I’m bored!’”

“I was not.”

“You were too.” 

“Was not.” 

“Were too!”

 “Was not!” 

“Were— ”

“Okay, too!  Yes, I’M BORED!”

And let me also continue to say, I’m not only bored I’m stirred up and crazy.

I’m all the things I said I wasn’t going to be during my recovery.

I’m bored.  I am going insane, and I’m bored with how insane I am!

I wish I could accomplish more with my work but transcribing/working past the hard brace is painstaking and uncomfortable!  All the ideas I had regarding working off to the side of work are just as painstaking.  Rome was not built in a day, but Jesus!  (Yeah, I know, what kind of mixed up metaphorical mess is that?!!?!?)

I wish I could do more than one-handed, half-assed chores around the house!

If I read one more book, watch one more movie, I WILL DIE!

It kills me that I’ve started hating on books and movies!!!!  WTF?!?!?!?!


There, I feel better … well, slightly better! 

Five minutes from now it’s going to be all rinse and repeat with the boredom, grab another nectarine and some more iced coffee (my current food drugs of choice), read another book, flick a dead leaf off this or that plant, rearrange the silverware drawer and call it a day, AND THEN READ OR WATCH MOVIES ALL NIGHT, so I have a reason to take a nap tomorrow!

Sixteen more days, 16 … 384 HOURS!  THEN I’M GOING TO BURN THIS HAND BRACE!

The upside … My strength is returning (slowly) as I can now make a full fist, flex and extend, give the "thumbs up" sign and do a massive amount of (USELESS!!!!) circles in the wind, both directions. 

My pincer grasp has returned (though it has no strength whatsoever) but at least I’m back to monkey land (opposable thumbs)!

I can extend my arm without the harvested (and what’s left after the harvest) tendon area in my arm “tugging.”  I can swing my arm without (much) pain in the joint repair or forearm tendon harvest area.

And the other day I tried (though it was depressing) to write, with my right hand, and managed one full painstaking sentence. 

I look forward to the day when I don’t have to rip sugar packets open using my left hand and my teeth, when I can hold that pen again, rip paper and CUT MY OWN STEAK!

But today, omg, OMG!!!!! I AM BORED!  I am losing it … I am inches away from a sleep-disordered bout of diarrhea and then constipation, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and the resultant sexual dysfunction!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Something To Do While I'm Waiting ... for something to be through ...


Things I’ve been doing while I’m waiting, while I'm waiting to be able to make a full fist so I can punch a pillow … or something …

-I try, and fail, to write a funny note for my sigother to find in the a.m. … it looks like something a five-year-old left behind.

-I clean off everything on my desktop (the computer), dumping and deleting a zillion files here, a million files there, reorganizing folders, uninstalling programs, fix-cleaning, defragging, virus clearing and super defunking until my computer no longer makes that “I’m full and going to puke my guts out/fan working too hard noise.”  My left hand has grown so attached to the spacebar and my mouse!  The fingers of my right hand get to join in this dance, as well, but my right thumb, wrist and part of my forearm remain out of the game, under wraps and hard-splinted, immobile.

-I put a bunch of things back where they belong, in the house, using only my left hand, gradually giving up, because everyone knows that when you put a bunch of things away where they belong, it just makes you see the BUNCH OF THINGS THAT ARE LEFT TO PUT AWAY WHERE THEY BELONG!

-I clean out the DVR on the TV in the bedroom, where in a preop anxiety-ridden funk, I recorded 9,000 episodes of “Chopped,” way too many episodes of “Iyanla Fix My Life,” and one hundred too many reality shows!

-I clip the dead heads off the outdoor plants, encouraging new growth, with my, thankfully, ambidextrous garden clippers, forcing my face into all the blooms, then lifting my head to the sky and screaming, “I’m going to bloom where I’ve been planted,” which is right here at home doing stupid hand therapy that is eventually supposed to get me somewhere.

-I continue to pluck and tweak the indoor houseplants, watering them with ice cubes … who knew!

-I read this or that book and share a nectarine with the dogs.

-I make and drink 90 doses of ice coffee a day.

-I read EVEN MORE books and share a nectarine with the dogs.

-I grow tired of reading, so I watch an old movie, take my splint off, do range of motion exercises.  As a reward, I ice and elevate the bad hand and use my good hand to, you guessed it, share a nectarine with the dogs.

-I do some work, yes!

-I do not do some other work, boo!

- I paint my nails, haphazardly, looking forward to the day when I can go meet up with my manicurist for the “real thing.”

-I aimlessly flip through magazines which I really, really need to tear up, fondle yarn and fabrics, consider working (but have not started on rebuilding) my Etsy shop.

-I read everything in my Kindle’s Pulsed/Linked In newsfeeds, decide on all the ways I’m going to change the world … later, after I read some more and share just one more nectarine with the dogs.

-I clip the dogs to their leads (clumsily but efficiently/but takes forever!!!!) and let them outside, multiple times a day, so they can peruse the yard and decide on a spot wherein they may dispose of the many nectarine fibers they’ve been consuming.

-I rinse and repeat, with my “good hand,” applying ice, antibiotic ointments, fresh dressing and then reapplying the hand splint to my “bad hand,"

And I do all of this while humming and/or murdering the lyrics/revamping them to fit my mood and my day, as I continue to go through the motions of "Something To Do While We're Waiting" ... 

Postscript:  I really need to change that to “my presurgical/full of steroids, and muddling on through left hand” which is in reality the “bad hand,” the unfixed hand/thumb joint.  The postsurgical right hand/thumb joint are in actuality the “cured and fixed” hand/thumb joint, and therefore the new and improved “good hand,” but I just doesn’t fully feel like that yet.  I am getting there, however, super excited for the day when the language of this all makes sense. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014


my Saturday morning story ... i've come to the conclusion that, when push comes to shove, one mustn't ignore the push because it means the universe is fully expecting you to move in a new direction.

i have to think like this right now because my days, of late, are (BEYOND) super bipolar in nature, bipolar inside bipolar x50 grams of bipolar with bipolar sugar sprinkled on top.

some back story here includes that my brain and my behavior “mimics bipolarity” since my stroke at age 40.  so that’s my given this last 12 years.  that's how i rock on, hard, but it's also how i sometimes roll over and play really, really dead in the head.

the first time i was told this, i was relieved, “whoa, dude and dudettes, i’m not really bipolar, i’m just going to ACT bipolar.”

yeah, so looks like a duck, smells like a duck, is.a.DUCK, a duck that is totally fucked up!

me, this duck, a bit over two weeks ago i had a CMC joint (base of the thumb) arthroplasty with the “new joint” being built using a tendon in my arm as a cushion to “mimic cartilage.”

MIMIC?!?!?!  are we seeing a theme here?

anyhoo … i was more than ready for this procedure as my right hand began to degenerate about ten years ago, ramped up over the last five years and became now stage 4, no cartilage left, starting to deform and i basically had no grip or other strength in the hand, and severe, BEYOND SEVERE, pain.  my left hand is not far behind.

that being said, i was still doing all the things, many things because, hello, nucking futz!

when the right thumb joint was beyond “burnt,"  and i could barely get through the day, i scheduled several orthopedic visits, had one last steroid shot to help cushion and reduce pain in my right hand (didn’t last long/didn’t work much), had x-rays and scheduled the surgery (right hand) and further steriods (left hand).

you can read about the condition, surgery options, outcomes, etc. here.  you can see the surgery here.  you can see the process of steroid injections of the joint here, which i've had them done in the office (not without swearing) and this last time, i had the left hand done while under anesthetic (to prevent swearing).  

or, you may or may not want to read or watch any of this because ... yeah, gory!

right now, today, i’m in the “omg, get this fucking cast off/cast is finally off” phase of things.  the cast had been on for two weeks, the first week a PAIN BEYOND PAINFUL BLURrrrr, and the second week less so, helping me to realize i had done the right thing and could look forward (someday) to chronic pain-free days and return of all functions/strength.

this next four weeks i’m stuck in the “omg, omg, can we please take off this fucking form-fitted, hard plastic splint and get down to real business” phase of things, wherein pain and swelling are decreasing.  deep and superficial healing is taking place. however, when it comes to range of motion and strength, i’m forbidden to use the hand (aside from the somewhat free fingers).  

i must elevate thy right hand over my heart as often as possible.  there is much icing, warm water soaks and dressing changes.  

there is the delightful range of motion exercising (splint off), in the air or in warm water.  this consists of “mimicking” a pincer grasp, but i'm not allowed to really "pinch" anything.  there is the touching of each fingertip to the thumb tip, but no finger-snapping or actual hitchhiking.  i'm allowed to draw tiny circles, round around with my thumb, but holding a pencil and a try at writing is off limits (as is EVERYTHING ELSE).   i'm allowed to "mimic" a fist, but i cannot hit anyone or pick up even a coffee cup!

MIMIC???! are you crazy yet?

i am.

so if i wasn’t “crazy” before, what with my “mimicking” bipolar brain activity, imagine me now!

i’m uber-crazy, a super-duper version of crazy, a trip on acid on an acid trip!

i’m all like, “so glad i did this, long road ahead, but i CAN do this … omg, OMG, OMG, why did i do this, WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE … no we’re not, it’s going to be fine, just follow the rules—rest, elevate, BREATHE DAMMIT! … omg, whatever?!?!? i don’t have to follow the rules, watch this, okay, OUCH, OMG, OMG, WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE, WHY DID I DO THIS?!?!?!  WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?!?!”

i did this because i was to the end of the rope, in pain and had lost so much function of daily living! 

i did this because everything that gives me joy, breathes life into my soul, is done with my right hand--with both hands--to include (but not limited to) family, working, playing, traveling, hand-holding, hugging really hard, cooking, art, writing, sewing, knitting, crocheting, walking my dogs, riding my bike (have not been able to do in YEARS), gardening, etc.

i did it because i’m 52 years old and i have life left to live WITH BOTH HANDS.

i did this because both hands have to be done, so i really needed to get this right-hand dominant party started, paving the way for the left.  

i did this because it's going to be a long haul of healing one hand, moving on to the other, getting full two-handed/FOREVER strength back.  

i needed to start and finish this, so i could start all over again and then finally move forward!

yep, i did this!  i was brave.

the pain week one/ post surgery was 50-times worse than the daily preop pain (which had been off its own fucked up chart), but the next week was better.  by week two, yes, i could see and feel that the pain was going to dissipate which meant that some day (over that bright sparkling rainbow) i would be chronic severe pain-free, once both hands were done!!!!!!!

i’m able, as well, to see, believe (and feel blessed) that the surgery was a success and that hand function will return (strength too), though it’s a lesson of patience, perseverance, following the rules and “asking for help” when i need it.  

that latter one, i've always needed training on that one, but i sucked it up, asking for help from my ortho team (the hand gods), my family and friends.

it has paid off!

but the last weeks have not been without their bipolar on top of bipolar moments, with mass anxiety and depression mixed in.  it’s been a trip, thus far, but a worthy journey. 

so, this morning, i got up, took 800 mg of ibuprofen (no more narcotics!), made my iced coffee, took my meds (yes, "those meds") and managed the following one-handed activities: got all the pillows back on the couches and the beds (my sig other made the beds), watered plants indoors.  i perused and plucked (one-handed) at the gardens outside, hitching the dogs to their leads and letting them frolic (attached to the house/not either of my hands).  

i accepted a wee bit of work for the weekend (i can keyboard, just slowly/must wear the brace/and left hand on space bar and mouse).

AND i started writing this. (it’s taken so long, you can’t imagine —faster than most, i suppose, but so not my normal.)

beyond that, if i manage to get this posted with photos and links, it will be a dream!  if today, the only thing i get out of otherwise idle activity (have to do my home PT and then ice and elevate for an hour or so and watch an old movie) is that my blog reopened, well then! 

we’re not ALL GOING TO DIE!  (okay, we might, just not today.)

i am getting somewhere, which is why i’m clinging (one-handed) to my new adage in that:

... i've come to the conclusion that, when push comes to shove, one mustn't ignore the push because it means the universe is fully expecting you to move in a new direction.

it's true, i CAN’T work at normal speed, but i’ve also in the last 24 hours figured out a way to still do what i love career-wise, slightly revamped, but still fulfilling.  

i CAN'T reap the financial benefits full-time, but i CAN be thankful that i'm not alone in this either, with a roof over my head and a supportive partner and family.

i CAN’T drive, though in two weeks, probably so … so not a real problem.

i CAN’T walk all three dogs at once, but i CAN (starting next week) walk them one at a time, around the block (left-handed) and get a three-block walk in, in total.  a week after that, i CAN go back to the gym, treadmill and stationary bike, at the very least. 

i CAN’T sew, knit, crochet, hold a pencil (or anything else), write freehand (or very fast on the keyboard), vacuum (who would want too?), stand on my head, do yoga poses, etc. but i CAN try later today to “tear some paper.”  

i CAN play around with and post my art/etc. in my dormant Etsy shop. i CAN daydream about new projects.  

i CAN read books and burn up my Kindle.  i CAN edit and organize what's already been written, work on submissions, etc., tap the keyboard with rest periods (lots of them) and talk-to-text a grocery list even though it will end up not making sense!

i CAN watch old movies, new movies, documentaries, docudramas, reality shows, home shopping (FASCINATING), nature shows, sitcoms, etc.

i CAN have people come over and/or take me places ... also not a problem since my norm is to NOT invite people over or go places with them, solitary introverted soul am i.

i CAN peruse the house and yard (surgery hand held tight to my chest/over my heart of hearts), wash/dry/fold clothes, fluff pillows, water plants, clean the toilets and tweak all the edges of things (still feeling like i’m in control of my castle).

for the rest, and there is a very lot under that category of “for the rest,” well, for the rest i’m learning TO ASK FOR HELP!

so, already in this journey, this bipolar-ish, anxiety-ridden, depression-inducing time in my life (atop my regular bipolar-ish, anxiety-ridden, depression-inducing regular state of brain affairs) is making me see all the new directions. 

collateral damage, thus far —wait, wait, stop the crazy train! 

let’s start that over … the INCIDENTAL GAINS AND GIFTS thus far include:  a. i CAN ask for help (with only minor posturing, cringing and brow-furrowing), and b. i reopened my blog.

so there!  i give you where i started from and where i'm headed ... push came to shove ... and beyond ...

row 1:  what it is/what i hope it will be, surgery/home day one on ice with one of the three dogs, pain meds etc.
row 2:  dog helper/11-year-old grand girl Scarlet, mom comes over to help me shower, and finally two weeks later reveal day!
row 3:  instructions (can i do this?), i can do this, WE ARE DOING THIS!