So, to top off having a delightfully painful shoulder surgery (not just a little hurt, A LOT OF HURT) I got my arm trapped in a door for added shits and gigs yesterday.
Spoiler alert: NOT FUN!
(Post op, would not recommend leaving the house unless you have a large selection of body guards in tow, or after several G&Ts to take the edge off. I had neither.)
It’s most frustrating because it’s really bashed my confidence (and pain threshold) to the point where now I get anxious on buses and in busy crowds. Not good for someone relying on them for transport to uni or to get home for Christmas.
I’ve gone from being stuck inside unable to go anywhere, to being stuck inside too anxious to go anywhere.
Since my op in November, I’ve been *attempting* to manage with one arm since one is, for the near future, trapped in a sling. It’s not easy. I found it was the things I thought that would be easy, or didn’t worry about, that turned out to the the things I struggled most with.
And everything takes aaaaages! I could be pulling on my jeans for at least ten minutes. Or brushing my hair for half an hour (even longer if I had to wash it!)
Which is why I’m trying to find a hilarious silver lining to help me through recovery.
Behold: ‘A list of five things that are difficult with only one hand.’
- slicing bread.
You’d think I’d just buy sliced but it just isn’t the same. Picture the scene: I’m stood in the kitchen, delighting in the fact I managed to reach the shelf with the bread on in the first place. Then I get the bread knife and, with one hand, attempt to saw a piece off.
Spoiler alert, it ended with crumbs everywhere, and the bread acting like jelly and going all over the place (I think it even landed on the floor at one point.) Safe to say I gave up and wedged the packet between my legs and pulled a piece off in anger. It was much more effective.
On a general, cooking is really difficult. Lifting heavy pans full of food is impossible, even with the good arm. As is getting things in and out of the oven. The microwave is just about possible because you can slide things in and out straight off the counter.
I’d recommend a balanced diet of biscuits ( although you might have to get someone to open the packet), houmous and carrot sticks, raspberries, and pasta.
And that’s without me even mentioning cutlery.
2. ‘doing’ my hair.
As a general, I didn’t really care what I looked like for the last few weeks. I was at home, everyone was AWOL so I spent most of the time under a blanket on the sofa with a cuppa and the television. I didn’t do much, and when I did it was so cold I’d just shove a hat on or wrap my scarf around my head to cover it all up.
One thing I love to do (if I’m just doing nothing all day) is having my hair on top of my head in a might big bun. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing thing in the world but it works for me.
A fun fact about me is that I really don’t like having my hair down. It gets frizzy, especially in the latest arctic temperatures, and never does what I want it to.
So this factor was a nightmare! I had to compromise with a weird twirled up bun which I’d make with one hand and just tuck the end result into whichever top I’d managed to pull on. Voila!
3. making a brew.
I mean, seriously. I’ve just had a lovely operation and now I’m tortured with the fact I can’t even make a cup of tea without some sweat.
Step one is boiling the kettle. But I couldn’t lift the kettle. And I definitely couldn’t lift the kettle and work the tap at the same time. In the first week, what I’d do was put the kettle on a tray which I’d carry across to the sink with my good arm and then put in the sink to fill, carrying it back the same way. Tetris.
Step two is getting the tea bag. It’s alright if you’re already in the packet, but if you’re unfortunate like me you have to go and acquire assistance from a neighbour. It is really hard to pull packets apart if you’ve only got one hand.
So the brew is on the go, but how am I going to carry it whilst turning off the lights as I go, and then put it down within easy reach. Impossible.
In comes my grand invention of the swirly chair tray. You put a tray on a swirly chair and slowly (you don’t want to waste any tea) push the tea to it’s desired location. (Yet to be approved for stairs.)
So I’ve sat down with my cuppa, finally got warm from the frost outside, and I’ve got a new book I’ve been looking forward to reading.
But all I can do is hold it. I can’t flick the pages over (you have to rest it down to do that) and you can’t hold it for too long otherwise it feels like you might need an operation on your other shoulder.
And that’s before you mention wanting to sip on your tea at the same time. Not even a straw will reach that far.
It’s the most frustrating thing because in the end, you don’t want to read the book. You just give up and drink your tea (or at least attempt to.)
I’m a writer.
I study it. I read about it. I do it.
So there’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to.
Whether it be the brain mush that occurred in the weeks after my op, or just the tediousness of typing on a keyboard with one finger, my writing took a real hit this past month. I’m back now, and although I still struggle I’m getting there. But it was the hardest thing for me to have to deal with.
I could live with tucked in hair and botched bread, but losing my creative vent was difficult. Even when I had an idea, my brain would sieve it out before I even got round to finishing the first paragraph.
…until I discovered dictation. And oh my goodness what a wonderful thing that is!
It saved me from many creative meltdowns and made sure my brain (all be it mush at this point) was still trying to chug away.
I’m much better now, I’m doing more and more each day and I’m finally starting to feel myself again (who knew it would take eight weeks!) I’m appreciative of the time I got to just be by myself and mindful. It was actually nice to have a change for a bit (even if I did have to rearrange life to accommodate it.)
For anyone in a similar situation, you’ve just got to take it as it comes. Don’t get disappointed if you can’t do something you could before. Just be creative. It doesn’t last forever (and I think I could make a killing with my swirly chair tray invention!)