A year ago today I came home from the hospital. I mentioned that to Darling Husband this morning, and he said,"Yeah, I had to fight to keep you in there. They wanted to send you home after three days. I was freaking out; you were in such bad shape, there was no way I could take care of you. We were looking into skilled nursing facilities."
I remember little of that, other than the sourness of the sole female physician, "Dr Crabby," who was pushing to get me out ASAP. I stayed on, though, either through her being overruled by the other doctors on my case (there were at least three) or institutional inertia. I do remember a neuro-something-or-other in a nice tie, who had me stay a seventh night, for which I was very grateful. Due to my multiple concussions, he warned, I shouldn't have any alcoholic beverages for six months. Yet he had no problem with my taking opiates.
Once home, I spent most of my time on my back in bed, propped up on a big foam wedge, with a smaller one under my knees and pillows under my extended right arm. DH moved to the single bed in my office, where, except for a few days in July, he slept for the next seven months. Soon we rented a motorized La-Z-Boy so I could hang out in the living room. We thought we'd only need it for a month or two. How wrong we were.
Remember how "Dr Tommy" put a brace on my arm, and said I'd be OK in 8-12 weeks? Funny thing about that...
Shortly after I got home, my uninjured lower arm swelled up enormously and turned rainbow colors. My thumb looked like a turkey drumstick and I could barely move my bloated fingers. Naturally I was rather alarmed, so I called Dr Tommy's office. His receptionist chirped that some swelling was to be expected; beyond that she offered no help. So I called Dr S, my wonderful osteopath, who'd visited me in the hospital and even brought me a plant. (Dr S is no botanist, though, as revealed in The Importance of Horticultural Nomenclature. Swallow your drink before reading.)
Dr S told me the swelling was probably due to lymph drainage, and that I should elevate the arm and apply ice packs. I did, and whaddayaknow, the swelling went down. As did my estimation of Dr Tommy and his minions. A few days later, Dr Tommy's tech fitted me for a new brace. It was horribly uncomfortable, with a curved piece that poked into the top of my chest right under my arm. After several weeks of increasingly sleepless nights, I ripped the #$%! thing off at 4 a.m. No more Dr Tommy.
Dr S reconfigured the brace, then ordered me a new one that felt better. But my arm wasn't healing. Dr S said it needed surgery, so he sent me to Dr M, an orthopedic surgeon. No surgery necessary, said Dr M; the arm was healing fine with the brace and new sling he gave me. (Sling #1 was polyester, which made me itch.)
Meanwhile, I could do almost nothing with my right hand, as the thumb and first two fingers didn't work. I couldn't pick up anything, or even push down the space bar on my laptop. (I was typing left-handed; lucky for me I have big hands and a little keyboard.) And my arm still hurt so much I couldn't even carry my car keys. (By late July I was driving again, exclusively left-handed--quite a challenge when I had to turn on the ignition, or shift into reverse, or fasten/unfasten my seat belt, or make a hard turn.)
On a fine day in early August, I went to vote. My neighborhood polling station was at the Denver Botanic Garden, which conveniently had free admission that day. So after I performed my civic duty, I wandered around the gardens. On doctor's orders, I'd stopped wearing the sling, but had a wide Ace bandage wrapped around my upper arm and chest, which gave me a dashing flapper bustline. By the time I was halfway through the grounds, I was in agony. My arm felt like it was falling apart and I had to cradle it against my side with my left hand. I called Dr M's office right then from my cell phone and the doctor on call told me to come in the next day.
Just a few days earlier, Dr M had looked at the newest X-ray of my arm and declared the break was healing fine. Dr S looked at the exact same image and said, "There's no union" (i.e., the bone was still in pieces). When I was seen by a colleague of Dr M's next morning, he echoed Dr S and set me up for surgery six days later. I was going to have a steel plate screwed to my humerus--which Dr S had been recommending for months. I don't remember if he was angelic enough not to say, "I told you so." I think I said it for him.
To be continued.