On Labor Day, I fell and chipped the bone in the tip of my elbow. Immobilized in a sling, my dominant right arm was lost to me (mostly). What an interesting experience.
My personal experiences since the injury in no way come close to what it is like for someone who loses a limb, or is forced to wear a cast or external fixator, requiring true immobilization. Mine is a wimpy, silly injury, not in the least bit catastrophic.
Yet, it has thrown me for a complete loop, leaving me quite loopy. Wow, I actually looked up the definition of “loopy,” and it means crazy or silly. Hmmm, maybe loopy isn’t the right word. Demented? Nope. The actual word I am looking for is forgetful. I am merely forgetful. Loopy works better in a blog post title, though. Here is why I feel loopy.
Yesterday in public speaking I thought it was Monday. I am forgetting so many things that I am afraid I will forget to complete an assignment or take a test (mostly in my online classes). I am so stressed by how this injury has stressed my body that I fear I am in a downward spiral.
I am right handed. I was forced to brush my teeth with my left hand. I didn’t know how to blow dry my hair. I had to open doors with my left hand and walk down stairs on the wrong side (much to the irritation of my fellow students — I cannot walk down stairs without holding on for dear life — don’t want to fall, right???). I had great difficulty opening jars, grinding coffee, and pouring. Every time I began a task, I had to stop and figure out how to accomplish it without the full use of my right hand and arm.
I know: cry me a river.
I have been out of the sling since the beginning of week 3, but I still have enough pain that the arm is constantly demanding my attention. I can’t lift anything heavy, rotate my arm or lean on it at all without lots of pain. As I have mentioned in previous posts and in my “About” post, I struggle with chronic pain and fatigue from chronic Lyme disease (a non-existent condition in the eyes of the IDSA – infectious disease association). It exists for me. So I already have constant pain that I am familiar with enough that I can mostly filter it out. Not this new pain. And pain isn’t all that is worse.
With this chronic pain and fatigue comes an always-present brain fog. It is worse at times and almost gone at others. During my recovery from this injury, it has been much worse. I am walking through a thick soup of mental processes. I can’t see very far ahead and I might be going in circles or backtracking. I feel lost.
Yet, in the midst of this sea of feeling lost and loopy, my critical thinking skills are as sharp as ever (or I am so clueless that I wouldn’t know if they weren’t). I am taking two classes that are using horribly-written material (requiring even more effort). I am involved in an intensive college project of which I am in charge (yikes!!!). I am still fighting to bring back the college newspaper (because I am completely insane and a glutton for punishment — I don’t have time for the college newspaper). Oh, and I offered to be a student blogger.
It really isn’t like losing an arm or a leg; and I have a completely different, much deeper understanding of what those who suffer these kinds of injury must struggle with during healing and recovery. Irritability, frustration, feeling overwhelmed, forgetful . . . on a drastically higher level.
Did I mention that my mother is in the hospital ICU again? Sigh. I cried last night because I want to be there to hold her hand, but I am 1800 miles away.
The human brain is an amazing organ. It is capable of creating new neural pathways after being damaged. The healing process, however, is not easy or quick. While on the one hand I am scheduled for neuropsychological testing next month to evaluate me for cognitive issues because my memory had already been declining, I feel as though the process has accelerated.
I am tired. I am considering taking next semester off to focus on my health and wellness (and to research on my own, and write).
Well, loopy it is, for now. Okay, forgetful. I refuse to think of myself as crazy (much to the chagrin of my family and friends).
I will not surrender to the loopiness! I will not give up!!!