Guess who was released from physical therapy? That’s right. Me!
I convalesced for six weeks in a sling. I maintained physical therapy for nine weeks. Now, two months ahead of schedule, I’m back in the business of being me. And so, I have a few lessons learned or reinforced from this experience:
It’s okay to have a range of emotions.
I was angry when I tore my rotator cuff and bicep tendon. I was anxious at the idea of having surgery. I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to use my dominant arm to do everyday activities; things like blogging, revising my memoir, or grading online work. I was bothered by the idea that I had to sit around and…heal. But I didn’t allow others to force me into a space of gratitude, joy, or happiness. I didn’t allow others to invalidate my feelings.
I knew any emotion that surfaced would be fleeting, that I wouldn’t feel angry, anxious, sad, or bored forever, and I was right. Eventually, my emotions shifted. I was joyful on some days, and once I was able to exercise, less moody. Just to reiterate…it is totally fine to have a range of emotions, even if others are uncomfortable with you having them.
It’s okay to ask for help.
For various reasons, I have hyper-independent tendencies. I can do it myself, I often say, even if doing it myself is more challenging. However, there is no room for hyper-independence when you are one-handed. Showering and dressing require assistance.
And I didn’t like it.
Days after surgery, my voice shrank smaller and smaller each time I had to ask Dwight for another glass of water. But these circumstances left me with no choice. Over time, I grew more used to asking for help and not seeing it as a weakness. I’m not saying this has totally resolved itself, but I have accepted that receiving help is not bad. Sometimes, it’s necessary.
Listen to your body.
Part of what got me into this situation was not listening to my body. And what’s gotten me back to 100% is…listening to my body. Once I was out of the sling, I noticed that my shoulder ached when I slept. I didn’t reach out to the doctor or physical therapist to ask for advice. Instead, I put a pillow under it for support. Later, Dawn confirmed this was the right thing to do for all kinds of medical reasons. First, I listened to my body, then I did what I thought was best…in a lot of situations, this is the way toward strengthening your intuition.
Ultimately, I didn’t need Dawn to confirm if I was doing better. I learned to monitor my own progress. If I could move my arm higher, then I was doing well.
Healing is not just physical.
My husband has been amazing. I could write 1200 more words about how he has embodied the phrase in sickness and in health. He has done everything you’d think he is supposed to do because I couldn’t fend for myself.
But others’ love and care has also been integral. For example, my oldest daughter put some braids in my hair; my youngest daughter cooked dinner a few times, took my braids out, and detangled my hair; my sister talked to me daily for two weeks and sent money for lunch. My father-in-law texted me every day, until my two-week appointment.
A friend bought me the cutest and most comfy house shoes ever because she intentionally wanted me to be comfortable, while I “rested or wrote!” One friend talked to me once a week on my walk. Another friend sent me chocolates that spelled out a recovery message. A different friend picked me up and took me to the movies and lunch to relieve my boredom.
And of course, the blogging community has been instrumental in allowing me to share a range of emotions and offering well wishes publicly and privately.
Relationships are important to me, and I’m sure my healing process would’ve gone differently had friends and family not actively shown love and compassion.
* I promise this is my last post about my rotator cuff and bicep tendon. I’m about to go prep for my birthday trip 🥳