Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Road To Recovery: A Surgery Recap

On Tuesday I had surgery on my broken left arm. (I realized that I kept using “arm” and “wrist” interchangeably in my last post. It is technically my arm, but it is close to where it meets my wrist).  Before the surgery my doctor came in to see me. I told him to “Be very careful because this is my wedding hand.” He said, “My goodness! When is the wedding?” “Oh, I’m single. But some day this hand will matter.” He looked me in the eye, vowed to take care of my wedding hand, and then the most important thing happened. He slid his pen out of the pocket of his crisp white coat, knelt down beside me, and he signed my left arm - as close as he could to the place that he was about to perform surgery.  The concept of a doctor signing a patient was new to me, but it is a way for him to show me that he cares. He isn’t in a hurry. He is paying attention me. He is taking ownership. He knows exactly what he is going to do to heal me. It was as if he was saying...

This arm? This broken one? It is about to get all of my attention. It hurts. And yes, it will hurt worse before it feels better. But it will feel better, I promise. I know this because arms are my thing. I fix broken arms. I make them just like new. And I do it well.  Your arm is my handiwork and I am so proud of the work that I know I will be doing on it. Its broken, but it is mine now. And it will be healed. Trust me, it has my name all over it.

I know, I know. Lovely photo, right? But notice the signature on my left elbow right by my cast. That's the important part.

For just a moment, I was calm. I was safe. I was allowing myself to receive healing. In a situation that was out of my control, I knew someone who could take control.  My mind raced with thoughts of how God must feel when we are broken and hurt. As if He were saying...

This heart? This broken one? It is about to get all of my attention. It hurts. And yes, it will hurt worse before it feels better. But it will feel better, I promise. I know this because hearts are my thing. I fix broken hearts. I make them just like new. And I do it well.  Your heart is my handiwork and I am so proud of the work that I know I will be doing on it. Its broken, but it is mine now. And it will be healed. Trust me, it has my name all over it.

Unfortunately, just as quickly as a little signature calmed my nerves and eased my worries, they gave me a block in my shoulder to numb my arm and started giving me anesthesia. I lost my mind. Nothing was making sense and everything felt hazy. And guess what? Anesthesia apparently makes me a worrier. I was scared that the doctor would be in a hurry. I told every male nurse (assuming that he was the doctor I had just seen) to take his time. One finally replied, “We have to be here whether you are or not. We aren’t in a hurry.” Okay. Noted. “But what if I fall off of the table?” “You won’t. You are surrounded by a lot of people” replied Nurse #15 as he pulled a giant black strap across my waist, literally fastening me to the table. Okay. Noted. “What if I don’t wake u…..?”

The next thing I knew I was waking up, complete with a new titanium plate and six new screws. But the worrying didn’t end there. The anesthesia really did a number on my mind and had me ultra-confused. For the next three days my parents were harassed with: What if I’m not alive right now? What if my arm stays numb forever? What if nothing ever makes sense again? What if my scar is ugly? What if I can never move my wrist again? I really want an O’Charley’s Fried Chicken Salad with Bleu Cheese Dressing and five rolls. I think I am alive now but I don’t remember being alive yesterday.  Don’t wreck. Don’t drive too fast. Don’t touch me. Don’t fall on me. Don’t let anyone near me. Don’t talk about me. How many times did I die? Are you sure I’m alive?

You see, when I had started waking up from surgery, they unplugged me from the heart monitor, which resulted in a flat-line beeping sound. Thus the reason for thinking I had died. I had several people jokingly text me things like “Well, are you alive?” or “Welcome to the land of the living.”  Those texts, although now appreciated, thoroughly added to my confusion!

It has now been five days since surgery and I am proud to report that I am completely aware that I am alive (and that I have been the whole time). Although still throbbing, my arm is improving a little each day. My fingers are still tinted with orange from the iodine scrub which has left me with a permanent craving for puffy cheetos. I also scrolled through my text messages on my phone and realized just how many people love me (and just how many delirious replies I sent – most proclaiming “I don’t know if I’m alive or not, but mom keeps telling me I am.”). I checked my online banking account and discovered that I only unknowingly purchased one groupon. Fortunately, it was to a restaurant that I have actually heard of. I’m thankful that I don’t have a Coach account online. I found a few dresses in my closet that I will be able to get my arm into for work this week and have relearned the art of taking a bath instead of a shower.  

Throughout the course of the week, my parents kept encouraging me get out of bed, in which case I moved to the couch.  Then I was encouraged to get off of the couch, so I moved to a chair. Then I was encouraged to get out of the chair and do something which required a little effort, to which I replied “You clearly did not watch me try to put on a pair of jeans.” But yesterday I got out of the house.  Even though I was grumpy and quiet, mom took me to Scarlett’s Tea Garden. And she was right.  Drinking tea from a fancy cup and getting a glimpse of sunlight did make me feel better.

So now my mother fixes every meal for me, washes my hair, and sometimes buttons my pants. I can’t drive yet (legally I can, but the logistics and safety of that are questionable at the moment) so my mom will be dropping me off at work each day as well. So thankful for two selfless parents who put up with my constant whining, middle of the night cell phone calls from the room just down the hall, and my never ending neediness.  Also, when you get hurt, you just want your mom.  And since I broke my arm 3 hours away from her, I discovered that the absolute next best thing is a big sis who is just like her in so many ways. She was an angel! And my other sister introduced me to Words with Friends and activated our wii with Netflix. My nephews, who couldn’t choose between flowers or a Get Well Soon balloon, got me both. And I’m so glad they did.  I needed both, as well as their handmade cards.

I am now well on my way to healing.  The road to recovery has my name written all over it. I did, in fact, just type an entire blog with one hand.

In other news, if you haven’t subscribed to my blog, there are several ways to follow me.  Click “Join This Site” under “Followers” on the right hand side of this page. Enter your email address in the “Follow By Email” section. Or add this hyperlink to your Google Reader account.

Update: Read about my sleep study here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Dreamer: The Tale of a Broken Wrist

I’m a dreamer. Anyone who truly knows my heart knows that about me. I dream about my career. About writing. About politics. About marketing.  About my family. About God using my story. I live in a world where my dreams are a reality to me. Where I do everything I can to take advantage of opportunities to prepare myself for these crazy dreams I have. I believe that God shares His desires with us in so many ways, and I know that He does so in the dreams that He puts in our hearts.  But the truth of the matter is that if MY dreams never come true, I will still be satisfied. Fulfilled actually. Because I know that my God has a great story for me. And it may be nothing like I have planned, but it will be beautiful. His stories always are.

I am also another kind of dreamer, though. I have crazy dreams in my sleep. I regularly get up and walk around. I wake up sitting in my closet floor with different clothes on than when I went to bed. I even fold my clothes and put them away which I hardly even do when I'm awake. I roll out of bed more often than a preschooler. I wake up on my staircase after having tripped the motion sensor on my alarm in the middle of the night. One time I even convinced a fellow counselor at Church camp that all of our campers were missing. She gathered some adults and looked all over camp for them. Meanwhile, I got back in my bed. Along with the campers that were there the entire night. Yep. I totally made it all up in my sleep.

Well, for the long weekend I decided to go to Indiana to see my sister and her family. I love those little nephews that I always blog about. I subscribe to their city's weather on my iPhone so that I know if they're waking up to snowflakes or sunshine. I talk about them regularly. I look through old videos just so I can hear their voices. We had the best weekend together. Just hanging out, drawing, building lego towers, racing cars, dodging nerf darts, and playing lots of "I'm gonna get you". Plus, we ate lots of really great food courtesy of my talented sister. About half way through the weekend she asked me if I had any good material to blog about yet (which I now know is a Blogger’s Curse). I replied, "No, not really. Except that a man at church accidentally called me Ashley... Because he thought I looked just like Ashley Judd…" Random. And so not true. I personally think Ashley Judd looks like a brunette Katherine Heigl, but that is neither here nor there.

On Sunday night we all enjoyed skillet popped popcorn and watched Swiss Family Robinson, an old family classic.  The significance of this is still to be determined.  Later that night I kissed the boys Good Night, made plans with my sis for the next day, went down to the den, and got in my cozy pull-out couch bed. I fell asleep quickly like usual. BUT.... The next thing I know I am camping and on some kind of air mattress on the ground. But then my mattress turns into a raft and I am on a river. I see yellow, beady, glowing eyes beside me. A snake! I'm terrified as the snake attempts to get on my raft to attack me.  But just in time for my much-needed rescue, I look across the river and see that there is another raft that's floating by. I get on my hands and knees and, with as much effort as possible, spring off of my Snake Raft and jump onto the Rescue Raft beside me.

And then I wake up. On the hard concrete floor. On my hands and knees. Three feet lower than the pullout couch that I started on. I wasn't jumping raft to raft. I was jumping from bed to concrete floor. In the moment I just think about how crazy I am and try to crawl back in bed, but soon realize I'm in a lot of pain. My left wrist hurts so bad. There are shooting pains from my fingertips all the way up to my elbow. I try to shake it off. Well, not literally because I can't move it. So then I try to give myself a pep talk. But instead of the pain going away, it gets worse and starts to take over my entire body. Even though it is 12:30 am, it doesn’t take long for me to decide to go up to my sister’s room and wake her up. But I realize that I'm in so much pain that walking makes me think I'm gonna be sick. I sit down in her floor, drink a little bit of water, let her put a sling (and shoes) on me, and she drives me to the local hospital.  At this point I know it's broken. If it isn't then something crazy is going on because I can wiggle my fingers a little but there is no way I can move my wrist very much at all. I just know that this is a lot of pain. There are approximately 2 patients at the tiny hospital in town, so my crazy dream story spreads fast. Every nurse that comes in says something to the effect of “What exactly were you dreaming about?” or “How exactly does someone your age fall out of bed?” To which I always remind them that I didn’t fall. I leaped. My favorite was the x-ray tech who hardly uttered any words to me, took my xrays, glanced at the scans and said, “Well… that must've been some snake.” Why yes, yes it was. So my radius is broken pretty good right where it meets my wrist and there some mild displacement. They put me in a splint and sling and sent me with orders to visit a doctor asap.  

Sleep-Deprived and in a LOT of Pain

My sister drove me the four hours home to Nashville so that I could visit a local surgeon.  Tomorrow I will have surgery to have a plate and screws inserted. And then I’ll make friends with the cast that will impair my hair straightening, jewelry fastening, blog typing, jar opening skills for the next couple of months.   

So blame my dreams on the Swiss Family Robinson adventure, the Blogger’s Curse, or some deeply rooted psychological issue that only a Sleep Center could figure out…but the point remains.  I broke my wrist in a dream. Seriously. Who does that? Apparently only this dreamer does.

Update: Read about my surgery here.
Update: Read about my sleep study here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Where I'm From

Today at work I had a meeting with two sales reps. As my boss and I were talking about Nashville with these first time visitors, he asked a woman with a very thick accent, “Where are you from?”. I knew what he was asking. New England? Boston, maybe? Her reply was something like “Oh, I’m from Bank of America.” In our industry, many times people refer to themselves by the name of the company where they got their start. “Hi. I’m Bill. I work at Wells Fargo. I’m an old A.G. Edwards Guy.” In the moment I just quietly laughed to myself as she proceeded to tell us about her previous company, awkwardly filling a vacancy in our conversation that we had expected to fill with mindless banter about the Red Sox and cream pies. But it got me thinking, Where exactly am I from? I mean, yeah, I’m from Nashville. But I’m from so much more.

I’m from a small country church where potluck dinners can feed your soul.

I’m from two parents who gave me roots and taught me to dream big.

I’m from Times Square and the Grand Canyon and Chicago and Yellowstone and Waikiki Beach and Gulf Shores and Capitol Hill.

I’m from big birthday celebrations and handed-down holiday traditions.

I’m from catching lightning bugs at dusk and finding Roly Polies under rocks.

I’m from best friends who are like family and a family who are my best friends.

I’m from Romans chapter five and Luke chapter one.

I’m from honesty and bravery and courage and joy and confidence.

I’m from cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents and nephews who teach me what love is.

I’m from people giving me chances and God giving me blessings.

I’m from Amazing Grace and VBS and youth group retreats.

I’m from a richly colored heritage and a bright future.

I’m from Hope.

I’m from white water rafting in Montana and surfing in Hawaii and skydiving in the Smokies and snorkeling in Kauai and inner-tubing in Percy Priest Lake and kayaking in the Potomac River.

I’m from my Granny’s hugs and my Pa’s eyes.

I’m from a farm in a tiny Tennessee town, a cozy house on Beach Lane, an apartment in Georgetown, a dorm room in Oklahoma City, and a condo in Nashville.

I’m from handmade quilts and homemade peach cobbler.

My Granny Quilt - made from my mom and aunt's old clothes

I’m from two big sisters who taught me how to curl my hair, paint my nails, style a Barbie, and live passionately.

I’m from a God who gave up everything to love me.

So yeah, I am a Southern Belle with pearls on my neck, a guitar in my living room, and an occasional drawl in my voice when I say ya’ll. But I’m from something so much more beautiful. I’m from people and places and experiences and love. And that is a beautiful place to call home.