It's been a bit of a summer. Not weatherwise - it was gorgeous - but in terms of my pain and injury levels. The right shoulder has been bitchy for months and when it finally started simmering down just a little bit after the steroid shot about a month ago, the left one took up the cause, apparently thinking that I’d feel lonely without a hefty dose of pain somewhere in my body (note to shoulders: no, I would not). And then the right shoulder felt left out and just around the shift from August to September freaked out completely, making it really difficult to get anything at all done. About a week ago, when both shoulders appear to have someone healed again, something happened to my back causing it to seize up.
Throughout all these various escapades, I threw drugs at the problem and did my best to learn to modify my activities (admittedly, this learning has improved more lately than in the beginning this summer) and because of my new focus on healing my body first, completing the to-do list second, by Friday morning, I felt pretty good. My back was just muttering, my shoulders were simmering in the background and I more or less took the days to quietly putter. Bought groceries for the weekend, talked to friends on the phone, did a teensy amount of work, but stuck to the plan of coddling my body throughout the day and it went so well that a little before midnight, I realized that other than taking my usual dose of painkillers around dinnertime, I hadn’t needed any meds all evening.
And that's when the windowsill jumped out and attacked me.
No? Okay, what really happened was this: I’d finished watching my movie and went to the bedroom to pick up my iPod, located as always on the small tray table I use as a bedside table. It's on wheels and had been put out of the way a little bit closer to the window than normal, which I found out when the windowsill hit the toes on my left foot (the leg that doesn’t bend) and pushed back.
The pain is overwhelming, all-encompassing, there is nothing but the pain and the urge to make it stop. Luckily my instincts are functioning well enough that they know this means I must reverse my wheelchair - which probably took 2-3 seconds, but it feels like hours - but there’s nothing else, because everything shuts down and I become very, very quiet, curling in upon myself as a reaction to the assault. And for a while, I sit there inside a pain so clear and sharp and pure as a sunny morning in Antarctica and then, as I start to reclaim my breath - the nausea doesn't until hit about half an hour later - I assess the damage. How bad is it? It hurts. A lot. Was there a crack? Did I feel a crack? No. Okay, good. Nothing broken, then. Can I curl my toes? Yes, cool. And bend my toes upwards? Sonofabitch! No, I guess that's not a good idea. And for the next little while, I feel very alert as I become very aware of the straps of my sandal as my foot swells and naturally, share the experience with a friendly voice on the phone, talking very fast, because that's what shock does to me. I also try to somehow wiggle an icepack down towards my foot, but it's hopelessly slippery and ends up on the floor where Lucy sniffs it and backs away, almost bouncing off the cold.
As I simmer down again somewhat and my foot simmers up, I start to worry about my transfer, because naturally this happened to my strong leg that does most of the work when I move from chair to other places. And then it hits me that apparently, I am not allowed to have even 24 hours with entirely manageable pain, because someone, somewhere is convinced that…. Well, what? It'll be bad for me? For heaven's sake, it's not even Mercury retrograde! And I'll admit that I'm more than a little put out about this, getting just a tad cranky about the prospect of having to heal yet another injury for several weeks, making the remark that my plans for the weekend are now scuttled, leaving only "drugs and bitterness." And the only thing that saves this from being more melodramatic than a 14-year-old girl with PMS is that it is said with a dollop of humour. The deepest, darkest humour, but at least it's there.
And then I decide to go to bed with a lot of drugs and remember that there is at least the possibility that this might not be as bad as I think it will be. That perhaps Humira and the strength it has allowed me to regain will make it possible for me to bounce back without weeks of healing.
I wake up Saturday morning and the swelling is down. And although the base joints of my toes are aching, more so when I stand to transfer, it doesn't really interfere with the transfer and it appears that I won't have to spend the next several weeks healing this one (universe? Please don't get any ideas. I'll be okay without further injuries for a long while. Go pick on someone else. Better yet, stop picking on anyone!).
And that's when it occurs to me. Is this what happens to regular people when they hurt themselves?