If you read my previous post, this is a follow up on my journey to recovery. Though, it has not been a fun journey, and I am not here to complain. At this point, I am happy to to announce that I am on the mend and making progress. But let me tell you about the bad times that ensued in the last 14 weeks.
My elbow was broken, and the amount of trauma on my left arm caused so much swelling from the hematoma I lost all functionality and strength. The pain was constant and unbearable so much that by doctors orders, couldn’t work for 2 weeks. I spent most of my time in a sleepy and doped up state. Finally, went back to the doctor and the unwrapped my arm, which appeared to be less swollen. The pain was still excruciating, but they aloud me to go back to work part-time. I had concerns about how it felt, but wasn’t sure if the pain was normal. I’ve never broken a bone before, nor endured so much trauma either. So, I asked my concerns with the PA and she said the fracture was healing and not moving out of place. Which was great news, but as for the inflammation and pain in my arm, she said everyone has a different pain tolerance. My other concern was the heat radiating off the top of the hematoma that covered most of my forearm/elbow. She felt the top of it and said that it was normal because my white blood sells were trying to heal the soft tissue damage and the blood was pooling.
Went back to work part time, and it was good to get out of the house. Everyone at the office was happy to see me, and were glad to know I was okay. I am not one that can sit around and do nothing. Since I couldn’t drive, or work, or even dress myself, I found myself very mind-numbingly bored. After four hours of work each day, I was exhausted and in pain. I’d come home and take a nap or watch Netflix.
This next section is not for the weak stomach, it’s actually quite gross.
On the Saturday before my next appointment, my husband woke me up and told me my arm was bleeding. My arm was seeping blood from the top of my forearm, where the hematoma was the worst. The blood was pooling under a layer of skin about the diameter of a half-dollar. So, my husband cleaned it, and wrapped up my arm. A few hours later, it was bleeding through the bandages. It didn’t show any signs of stopping. So we headed to the clinic that part of my doctor’s network. The doctor cleaned it, and pulled off the loose skin where the swelling had receded from the loss of blood. She put an antibiotic ointment and wrapped it back up. My instructions was to clean it and re-wrap it twice a day with the prescription ointment. She told me to follow up on Monday since I already had a scheduled appointment. Sunday, the blood started to get murky but didn’t put off any bad odours. Good thing I had an appointment the next day.
On that Monday, November 27th, went to work as usual and went to my doctors appointment as planned. Had my weekly x-rays done, and the PA told me the elbow was healing really well. She wanted me to unwrap my arm, and the second I pulled off the gauze, it started oozing a thick puss. In a panic, the PA told me to go lay on the table with my arm hanging. Worried that I was going to drain unwanted bodily fluids on their floor, I sat on the table and held my arm. She turned around and said, “no, you need to lay down, don’t worry about the mess”. So I laid on the table and the PA runs out the room and I waited. She returns with one other assistant and they start attending to my arm. The PA starts asking me if I had eaten recently. I told her I had eaten before my appointment. She told me that I needed that since I had eaten, I was to not eat after midnight. My mind is wondering and panicking. What on earth is going on, I thought. She then tells me, that I need to go to the hospital tomorrow morning and have surgery (I&D) because my arm was infected. And to be prepared to stay overnight. I was in absolute shock.
My surgery was scheduled the next day at 8am (arrival at 6am), one month to the day of the accident. Having just learned this news, I didn’t even know what to tell my husband. I was still in complete shock at this point. I drove, in a daze back to work and gave them copies of the doctors note that I was to be off work for another three weeks. My work was more then understanding and wanted want was best for me and my recovery. I left work and sat in my car and called my husband to let him know what the next day was in store. He was fortunately able to get time off work so he could take me to the hospital in the morning and see me after surgery.
Nervous and scared. I wasn’t sure what they were doing to my arm. But it was time for me to go under the knife. Pre-surgery jitters, I sit there trying to make off-kilter jokes about the show Supernatural and the Leviathans. The trauma surgeon walks in to introduce himself, handsome I might add. The nurse stabs me with an IV needle, and tells the doctor that we talking about a show about doctors eating peoples legs and livers. The doctor spouts back in humorous manner, “don’t worry, I don’t like liver, so you do not have to worry about me eating it while you are under.” He looks at my arm, and starts writing on it with a marker. He asks if I am nervous, and tells the nurse to give me a little something to calm my nerves. The loopy-ness sets in and the anaesthesiologist comes in and gives me something through my IV starts putting me to sleep. Away I go.
I wake up in recovery, the surgery went well but they had to go in much deeper than expected. I did not how big the incision was or how deep they went. My arm was wrapped from my elbow down to my wrist. A drainage tube was hanging out of my arm. I was still feeling pain, but it was a different pain. The recovery room nurse fed me ice chips and morphine. Delicious, right? That was all I could have. They moved me to my own room. All I wanted to do was sleep, so I slept and slept. Feeling guilty I couldn’t stay awake and entertain my husband. Woke up and I got sick because I always get sick from anaesthesia even with the anti-nausia medicine. And, I may have drank too much water since I was horrible parched.
The rest of my stay was pretty uneventful, just groggy and sickly. I finally got released to go home the next day after 3pm. I was happy to be home. But, it meant another 3 weeks of no driving, or work. Went back to see the doctor on December 19th and they finally unveiled my arm for the first time since surgery. I was completely surprised how big the incision was. I had 16 stitched on top of my forearm.
So, the surgeon told me I could go back to work part-time again for two weeks and then I can go back to full-time. He was pleased at how my arm looked, and thought the infection was gone. Yay! I can finally start healing. Because at this point 7 weeks after the accident, I had no use of my left arm, my elbow was completely locked up. I needed Physical Therapy.
Started Physical Therapy right before Christmas at 70 degrees from being straight. Zero functionality or strength. I have PT 3 times a week every week. To this day 14 weeks from the accident, I still have 17 degrees to go. The therapists (I have two) and surgeon are aiming for 90-95% recovery.
On January 15th, the trauma surgeon said my elbow was completely healed and their was no sign of infection. The scar looks good, but there is still a lot of soft tissue and nerve damage. He is not sure because of the amount of trauma my arm went through if I will ever regain feeling in certain parts of my arm again. I have been released from the doctors. I will continue with physical therapy until I can graduate. At this time, they are expecting at least another month of hard core PT.
This has been my journey. It has changed my life completely. Right now, I am dealing with medical bills out the wah-zoo. Think it’s time for a lawyer. It breaks my heart. I am not going after my friends, just their insurance companies to cover all of my out of pocket expenses, medical bills, and loss of wages. Woe-is-me. Not sure which is worse. the 14 weeks of pain, or the financial aspect and having to get a lawyer? Either way, this has not been a pleasant few months. However, I am thankful to be alive and still be a part this world and experience new things, and see my friends.
Till next time.