“Well, imagine an ice cream cone with two scoops on top. You know the double headed cones where the scoops sit side by side?” the doctor looked up from his fist he was using as a prop to make sure I was following along.
I nod indicating that I am with him.
“Well, now imagine if one of those scoops sloughs off the side and separates from the other. Maybe it breaks free and maybe it just sits there. On the verge of slipping off,” He was now using his other fist as an example of the scoop slipping free yet hanging on.
If only it were an ice cream cone that he was describing and not the ball of my shoulder bone. I listened, not really comprehending exactly the seriousness of my situation. There was talk about a main artery and nerve that ran along the top of the humerus. It all sounded like a teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons.
“Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah,” says the unseen authority figure.
I guess the cocktail of pain medications did not help my comprehension or attention abilities. Thank goodness they sent me home with well-written instructions on what to do and who to contact next.
I stumbled out of the emergency center into the bright sunlight and stood for a moment gathering my wits – or at the least the ones I could catch. Looking around the parking lot, I spotted our grey Sienna and my husband sitting inside. Due to the new COVID restrictions, he was not able to come in with me and had to wait in the car. I walked over and reached for the door handle. He had already hopped out of the driver side and sprang around the front to meet me at the door and help me in. Gently guiding me into the seat, he carefully closed the door. His silence spoke volumes.
Now inside the care, I fumbled for the seat belt. He reached across and pulled it gently around me, being extra careful not to bump my left arm, and snapped the lock into place. I felt the tears pressing behind my eyes, begging to be released. Swallowing hard, I asked for a drink of water. The nausea settled and the tears held as I drank deeply from my hydro flask.
I had already texted him letting him know the prognosis that I had fractured my shoulder. I was now looking at physical therapy and possibly surgery. We drove home and I went straight to the restroom where I proceeded to writhe in pain trying to get my pants down one-handed. Trying to stand up I nearly passed out in pain. Not from my shoulder, but from my left knee. How had I missed that? Why was my knee so painful and how am I going to get off the toilet without calling for help? I was determined to get my ass off that toilet and so I forced my right leg to do all the heavy lifting as I pulled with my right arm on the ledge of the counter.
“Are you ok in there?” my husband called to me.
“Yes, I’m fine,” I groaned between my firmly gritted teeth as I hauled and pushed with all my might to get myself off the toilet.
Standing, sweating, and breathing heavily, I still had to get my pants up. I stood and took several long deep breaths trying to calm my shaking body. I was clearly still in shock from the trauma of the morning. However, there was no way I was going to allow my husband in to help me pull my pants up. Slowly, carefully, gently, I eased up the waistband of my leggings and managed to make myself presentable. Opening the door, I found him sitting on the bedside waiting for me.
“You know, after 20+ years together, I think I can help you pull your pants up,” he said with a wry smile.
He stood up and gave me a very careful hug and I felt the tears pushing into my eyes once again.
Stepping back, I gave him a kiss on the cheek and thanked him for being such an amazing husband, but there was no way I was going to let him ‘help’ me in the bathroom.
Sitting at my desk, my arm hanging limply in the sling, I felt the pressure of the tears return as I pecked out my first one-handed email, very, very slowly.
How will I shower and dress myself?
How long will it take to recover?
Will I be able to fully use my arm again?
How am I going to finish my books if I can’t type properly?
Who’s going to take care of the chickens?
How am I going to plant my seeds for my spring garden?
How am I going to go to the bathroom?
Unable to care for myself
I sat there staring at my keyboard. My right hand resting on the edge of the desk and my left arm resting in the sling. I took several long, deep breaths and tried to calm my racing mind.
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself,” the voice in my head chastised. “Bryce and Lionel will do anything you need them to do to help.”
“But I can’t expect them to do everything for me. I’m not even capable of dressing myself.”
“Yet,” the more positive voice in my head added.
“There is no way I’m going to let them help me in the bathroom or shower. That’s not an option,” I cried into the blackness that was descending across my mind.
“Do they love you?”
“Do you love them?”
“What if this were one of them instead of you who had fallen and fractured their shoulder? What would you do?” That damn rational voice asked.
“I would do whatever I need to do to help them heal and recover,” I answered after a brief pause, now seeing where this discussion was heading.
“Then why would you rob them of the opportunity to help you? You are always giving and doing for everyone else. Allow them to do for you what you would happily do for them.”
The message was clear and the tears streamed freely down my cheeks as I realized, I had called this into existence in my resistance to letting others help me. My fear of being incapacitated in some way, being helpless, drives me to do and be everything for everyone but me. It’s my turn to take care of myself and allow others to help me in anyway they can.
My husband and son have assumed the responsibilities for cooking, laundry, chickens, dogs, plants, etc. I have released my attachment to how the towels are folded, what and how they are preparing food (except regarding WildFit guidelines), feeding the dogs and chickens. They are doing great and I’m enjoying letting them care for me – mostly.
I released my fear of being incapacitated and allowed myself to be cared for by those who love me in the same way I would happily care for them.