I haven’t been able to write in several days. Usually I don’t write much on the weekends because EJ and I are hanging out together. Here is what has been happening:
It’s been snowing almost every day for the last week, and snow is forecasted through Wednesday night this week. It melts a bit during the day so we don’t have a huge amount of accumulation, but we do have several inches of snow on the ground. The photo at the top of this post is of the Bay, which we drive by one the way to the doctor. The Bay is still partially covered with ice. It’s very beautiful–but it’s beautiful in every season.
Thursday afternoon JJ took me to my second session with my occupational therapist. He brought along his roommate, David–I think so he could help him load the recliner we are giving them into the Xterra? Or maybe just for company? His roommate seems to be a really nice guy. They joke and tease each other like brothers, which I think is a good experience for JJ, who is an only child. They drove here right after JJ’s college class so they arrived about an hour early. To kill time, we stopped at Meijers on the way so JJ could buy new wipers for the Xterra.
When JJ had cancer, we had days when we cried–and that was ok–but we always joked and laughed when we could when facing difficult medical situations. It helped relieve tension. To this day, when JJ talks about the Christmas Day that his hair fell out from chemotherapy, he remembers it not with horror or sadness, but with laughter–because I had told him that his head looked as if he had been attacked by moths. Whenever JJ told me that I was acting “stupid”, I told him that I was merely the comic relief. Now that I am facing medical appointments that make me nervous, JJ is helping provide the comic relief.
Last Monday JJ drove me to the hand surgeon’s office to get my cast off. As we entered the elevator, I observed that the buttons for the first two floors were labeled with the names of the businesses, but the third floor was blank. “I wonder what is on the third floor?” I said. “That is where the Cybermen are,” JJ replied. All morning he had been telling me that my cast was going to be sawed off and I was going to be turned into a Cyberman. A Cyberman is a human whose consciousness–minus emotion–has been forcibly “upgraded” into a robot body in the Doctor Who series. There is usually screaming and it’s implied that there are saws involved. We are Doctor Who fans.
When we entered the elevator on Thursday to go to my occupational therapy session, JJ’s roommate kept pushing the open/close doors button of the elevator. “You better not get us stuck in this elevator–oh, and make sure you do NOT push the button for the third floor,” I cautioned. “Why not? What’s up there?” David asked. JJ quickly answered, “Black Ops.” For those who might not know, Black Ops is a covert operation by a government agency or a military organization. Such operations are secret and not attributable to the organization carrying it out. They involve a significant degree of deception, to conceal who is behind it or to make it appear that some other entity is responsible. “Can we go up there?” David asked, his finger hovering over the third floor button. “No! No! No!” JJ and I shouted in alarm. “You must never, NEVER push the button to an unlabeled floor. If you do, you will never return.” We made it to my therapist’s office safely, the third floor button unpushed.
When we entered the occupational therapist’s office, I was told to take off my removable splint and then warm towels were wrapped around my hand/arm to loosen up the muscles, tendons, ligaments. The warmth felt good. After 15 minutes, I was called over to the OT’s table, where she began working with my hand. After a few minutes, I told her that I had expected to be screaming in pain from the torture by then. She said that sometimes her patients who have been in therapy for a while have told her that they feel like groaning and screaming when they see an obviously first-time patient come in. I felt like screaming to freak out JJ and David, but I restrained myself…barely.
I’m amazed at how gentle the OT is, even when she’s pulling on my arm. I asked her the purpose of doing so, and she said that the ligaments shrink because of the surgery/cast and she was trying to stretch them out–but she was only stretching them a tiny little bit. I said in pretend relief, “Oh, good. So this won’t result in me having a gorilla arm that reaches to the floor?” She laughed. She also told me to let her know if anything she did was painful and she would immediately stop. “No pain/no gain is only for people working out in gyms with healthy bodies–not for people recovering from injuries,’ she said.” I replied, “I’ll try not to be too tough or brave then.”
The OT uses a sort of bendable ruler to measure to what degree I can move my fingers/hand. She measured at the beginning of the session and also at the end and then recorded the degree of change. I actually do have more mobility at the end of the session than at the beginning, which I think is remarkable. The OT also gives me exercises to do at home. She said I can use moist heat at home to warm my hand and make it more flexible at home. One method of moist heat is making a rice bag that is heated in the microwave. Our previous house had been old–built in 1920–and the upstairs was always cool. We had warm blankets and were not cold except when we first got into bed so I had made rice bags from old hand towels to warm up the blankets. Those required folding the towels in half and sewing around the three open sides, pouring the rice in just before sewing it completely shut. With my injury, I didn’t think I could manage to sew well enough to contain the rice so I googled different options. The method I used was filling an old sock with rice and then tying it shut. I managed to tie it, but later EJ re-tied it tighter for me. So now I warm my arm before I begin my exercises, which I have to do at least four times a day. I made two bags–one to put under my arm and one to put on top of my arm.
I told the therapist that I had always assumed that once a cast came off, the person was as good as new. I had no idea how much work it was to regain mobility. She told me that children heal very quickly, but it takes longer for adults. I asked her how long it usually took for a person to regain as much mobility as they could, and she said about 6 to 8 weeks. I tend to expect healing from injuries or surgery to be faster than it is. I noticed a couple of days ago that I have bruises up my forearm even though the surgery was more than a month ago. I also still have some swelling. The therapist gave me a heavier “sock” for my arm, which is worn under the splint, to help with the swelling.
JJ drove me to his apartment after my OT session. We had agreed that EJ would picked me up from there after work so JJ would not have to take me home each time. While I was still in therapy, JJ schedule appointments for me for the next few weeks. He made them for Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4 pm–the last appointment of the day–so that I would not have to wait so long for his Dad to get out of work and take me home. JJ has been very good at getting me to my appointments.
We needed to get our taxes done so Saturday I googled our preparer to find their phone number, and in the process I learned that I could schedule an appointment on-line. I thought I was scheduling an appointment for next Saturday, but I accidentally schedule it for that afternoon. Oh, well. We went to the appointment. At first we almost had heart failure because it appeared that we would have to pay several thousand dollars. Yikes! But then we were able to take advantage of tax credits so we are getting a really good refund. It is more than the amount we had to pay with our credit card on the day of my surgery. We plan to use our refund to pay our credit card.
JJ has decided that he would rather buy the HHR from us than the Xterra. It actually makes more sense because he will be doing mostly city driving. We told him that we will sell it to him for the cost of the repairs that need to be done, which probably will only be a few hundred dollars. We told him that we will buy new front tires for the HHR as our gift to him for his birthday, which is approaching fast. He was relieved and grateful.
Oh, JJ just got promoted to Lieutenant at work. I think this promotion comes less than a month after his promotion to Sergeant. He also got a second commendation. He is doing very well and we are very proud of him.
EJ stopped at Meijers on the way home from work on Friday to pick up a few things we needed. He also bought a space heater that normally cost around $60 but was on sale for $20. We are using it to help reduce our propane usage. The cats love the heater and one or more are always lying near it. Timmy likes to put his paws under it.