Sunday, April 27, 2008

Free at Last! Free at Last!


"...see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There's a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised:
proud flesh,
as all flesh
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest --"
Jane Hirshfield

Well, this moment was a longer time in coming than originally anticipated. I was scheduled to get out of the cast way back on March 26 (6 weeks post-op) and I told myself after my last blog entry..."When the cast comes off, I'll blog." "When the cast comes off, I'll journal." Turns out that Xrays revealed my hand had not fused in one of the three places the surgeons had packed in my hip bone. Sigh! Back into another blasted cast for another 4 weeks. Prescription: Lots of walking (to increase blood flow), calcium, vitamins, rest, and of course, the restriction and protection provided by a fiberglass prison. For the most part, I managed to behave myself. No lifting, pushing, or pulling. But I did "alter" my cast to make moving my fingers easier. While unauthorized (but tolerated with raised eyebrows) by my doctors, that deconstruction of my cast allowed for continued art-making while healing. Last week, after ten weeks in a cast, I went through the follow-up process again and received official word on Friday (4/25) that my hand is almost completely fused and that I could advance into a soft, removeable splint. Let me tell you: there was not enough hot water and perfumed soap in the house once I was allowed to actually wash my arm. And finally! Showering without a taped-on plastic bag! Yes! It is the small things in life that make living grand.

Now, I move on to the next signpost in this journey: rehabilitation and adaptation. My arm is withered and pathetic, weak and awkward. I find it quite strange that it doesn't move; although my logical self understands that 10 screws, a titanium plate, and no joints mean that my wrist doesn't move (and won't ever again), my brain seems to have missed that news flash. It keeps sending signals to move my wrist as I go through my day and automatically try motions I could do pre-surgery, only to discover "Ooops! Can't do that any more!" It is taking some adjustment. As for the Harry Potter-esque scar...it actually looks pretty good. My hand surgeon has excellent sewing skills and a knack for working in small spaces, so the scars acquired in the last four surgeries are all minimal. I've looked at pictures of incisions on the Internet, posted by people who have the same surgeries I've had, and their scars are Frankenstein-ish by comparison. I'm not a vain person but I am very self-conscious. This is the largest, most obvious scar I have (love the lightning bolt motif!) but if this is what it looks like at eleven weeks out, it is sure to fade to almost nothing over time. And if it doesn't...well, the quote above says it all.
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