If I had broken my sound arm I would have been fed, bathed, and dressed by nursing home staff for two months. Below are three lessons I took away from this experience.
1. It is too risky for me to do heavy housework anymore. I tried to find a cleaning person in the past, but friends were reluctant to give me their housekeeper's phone number. My broken arm moved a friend to take pity on me. Ann gave me the phone number for a cleaning lady. When I learned Isabel would charge $70 I gulped. Even though Isabel makes my home spotless, it took me 3 months to be at peace with this indulgence. I finally relaxed when I realized I would be giving an assisted living facility $1,500 or more every two weeks. Assisted living is an expensive way to get a cleaning lady.
2. My fall at the laundromat began with a turn. Weeks later I felt my back arch before I turned and fell against the kitchen counter. I realized I've been bouncing off my kitchen counters for a long time. Now I picture myself hitting the floor of the laundromat and find myself turning more slowly. I also felt my stomach push me away from the bathroom counter while I put rollers in my hair -- one more example of arching my back to lean on a counter so I won't lose my balance. Now I place my hemiplegic hand on a piece of Dycem to make my abdominal muscles hold me away from the counter when I use curlers. A PT taught me arching my back contributes to back spasms. I've been faithfully doing the abdominal exercises the PT showed me, but transferring that strength to familiar tasks is a challenge. Bad habits die slowly.
3. Thank God for out-patient OT. I couldn't have coped emotionally or physically with this setback on my own. Cathy used contrast baths, retrograde massage, and gentle active range of motion to bring down the swelling, which was painful, and help me regain strength in my shoulder and elbow. When my forearm bone healed she began resistive exercises. Instead of restarting SaeboFlex exercises, Cathy recommended that I try a new dynamic splint called the Releas. Later posts will document my progress with this new splint.