The Four Labors of Carrie Cook: Part 2
Three weeks, are you kidding me?
The “sit back and see” approach was not in my vocabulary. I took this as a sign to start physical therapy immediately because non-mobile arms for three weeks were not an option. People waiting on me hand and foot, are you kidding me?
Before I got out of the building of doctors’ office both slings were off. With the assistance of my husband, we researched every video we could find on elbow fracture rehab. After watching a few dozen videos, it became very discouraging as all the videos described the use of the one “good arm” which I did not have! I am accustomed to doing things on my own with my stubborn attitude, but it was becoming clear to me that this would require enlisting someone to help with physical therapy. That afternoon I had my husband take me to the lap pool at our club house to determine if water aerobatics would be a good fit to get my arms moving.
I have never felt so free than when I got into that pool. My arms could move and no I do not mean the way they used to, but my shoulders were able to float which gave me freedom to move my arms that I had not felt in 4 days. This gave me a tremendous amount of hope and made daily physical therapy my lifeline and something that would consume my life for next couple of weeks. I spent about four hours a day focused on arm recovery. I was still icing every 20 minutes including throughout the night, using a tens machine to liven up the muscles and swimming every day.
“I have never felt so free than when I got into that pool.”
Within three weeks I had 70% use of my arms, which my doctor suspected would not return until six to nine weeks. Now I can see how athletes with proper physical therapy can recover quickly and come back stronger, while the rest of us crawl into a bubble of doing nothing and letting time do the healing.
I would be lying if I said that I was not in excruciating pain every day, but the progress kept me going. And yes, I did have to succumb to a regular routine of Advil. What I have not mentioned is that I was unable to work more than 4-hour increments. It was incredibly frustrating to me as I used to pull down 10-to-12-hour days.
By the third week, I was not feeling much progress with my left elbow. When I went to the doctor for updated x-rays my suspicions were correct the fractures in my left elbow were the same on these x-rays as the original ones taken at the hospital. The right elbow was healing nicely, but the fractures were still present.
The doctor asked me again on a scale of 1 to 10 where was my pain level. I really did not have pain; it was just the use of the arm and the inability to straighten it that was frustrating. Maybe I got so used to the pain that I did not feel it. The doctor was surprised by my lack of pain given the results of the x-rays. The left elbow bones were not healing and not realigning as hoped. The doctor wanted to consult with the surgeon to determine if additional intervention may be required. Lucky for me the surgeon was in surgery, so I was able to leave the doctor’s office and await a call back. I remember texting my assistant that was waiting in the lobby that she may have to be the getaway car if they suggest surgery.