Two years ago today, at 7:45 AM my life changed so radically that it is still hard to believe. I was at work at the Women's Prison, when I got up to run to the bathroom before the day began. I didn't know the phone cord was wrapped around my ankles and took a fall that rocked the whole Medical Unit. You can read about it in my first Journal entry, July 21, 2004(I have yet to learn how to link entries-maybe someone could tutor me).
I not only broke my right elbow, but shattered my right upper arm to smithereens(it was no longer connected!) and damaged the radial nerve, probably beyond repair. I spent 16 days in the hospital, had surgery, came home with a frozen shoulder and elbow, an uncontrolled drooping hand, and what eventually turned into chronic pain. I have not been back to work since, although it was my dream job-HIV testing, counseling, and education, and running an HIV positive support group. I still miss the inmates dreadfully.
This was the catalyst for the changes which have now taken over my life, dragging me along, sometimes kicking and screaming, occasionally flowing along smoothly with surprising (to me) courage. I've learned a lot about myself. First and foremost is that while I hate change, I can be rather good at it at times. I went into physical therapy a fragile mess, and emerged 15 months later with the ability to move hand, elbow and shoulder close to normally. I have learned to cope with more pain than I ever thought possible, both acute, then miserable moderate to low, long term. I have accepted I will have serious radial nerve damage for the rest of my life. And I had to fight Workers' Comp every two months for more sessions
I have become Warrior Woman with the Medical System, fighting and demanding and refusing to see mediocre doctors, even when I am sobbing with frustration between phone calls. And lately it has been literally screaming with frustration between phone calls, which is more satisfying somehow.
I started going to a gym seven weeks after surgery, literally staggering in, mortified by my size, clumsyness and weakness.Now have a personal trainer(this still make me laugh) to whom I have been going for almost two years. I will never be buff, but I am stronger and slightly more mobile. I lost 45 pounds, gained 60 back and said, enough, never again. I spent hours researching Gastric Bypass, and chose to do it despite all I knew it would bring into my life.
Of course, not all change is wonderful. Being home full time has lead to depression and self-pity and a real loss of identity-am I still an HIV counselor even though I may never go back to it? It has been hard on Rene, who is happily retired, to have me home and often miserable, and has put such a strain on our relationship that we're now in counseling together. And my WLS has not helped at all, causing more tension in the house.
Still and all, change is inevitable, and while I will probably never go skipping happily forward into it, I now know that I can live with and (eventually)embrace the changes I am given by life. It will never be easy for me-my poor mother made that impossible-but I now know I can do change when it is thrust on me, and even choose to change when I know it is right for me. Not bad work in just a couple of years.
I started my Journal one year and three weeks ago to muse on my changing life. I never dreamed that the support I would get from my new friends would often give me the courage to keep going during some very bleak times-but it is true. Thank you all so much, you have come to mean the world to me.