Saturday, June 29, 2013
If I was a bird it would be a broken wing, but I'm not, so it's a broken shoulder.
PAIN April 27, 2013 Ah, vacations, how filled with the unexpected they are, good, bad and excruciating. My little epic begins on a sunny saturday evening in Antigua, the welcome party the evening before sailing week begins. A glass of wine, a nice dinner, good conversation and a live band to dance to. It is quite perfect and the band is, the band is, just awesome. My brother and sister-in-law join me as we make our way through the crowds to stand just in front of the stage. We dance, and dance and dance. It is wonderful! And then..... I bump into someone and down I go. "ARGH", I say. No actually it wasn't argh, it was something my mother wouldn't approve of, but what the hell, she isn't here. "FUCK!" I screamed. Again and again as I try to stand up. People try to help me, they grab my left arm, ""FUCK", "no", "don't touch me". But they do. Touch me I mean. Eventually I am upright, tears pooling in every wrinkle in my face, (I am old, I have lots of wrinkles), holding onto my left shoulder believing if I let go it surely would fall off. Through the crowd I went, my brother and his wife following me. The crowd parts. People hold their hands up to give me a high five. Apparently it was a spectacular fall. I, of course, raise my right hand to high five them back. My left arm does not fall off, but it does screech so loud I have to give up the hand show and grab the injured limb once more. People stare as we make our way through the hotel to my room. We are followed by the manager of the hotel who asks if she may call a doctor. I don't even give it a thought. It's a yes. The staff are overwhelmed with concern. My husband awakes from his nap to the sight of his wife, screaming in agony, holding her shoulder, trying to tell him what happened. I was un-intelligable. My brother finally managed to explain what had happened. The doctor arrived. He looked at me and the furrow between his eyes grew deep. He cannot touch me, my eye furrows are deeper than his. I am still sobbing; snotty, gasping, sobs. He asks me if I can move the arm. I shake my head no. Then he tells me he believes I may have dislocated my shoulder. That he really cannot be sure. He draws us a picture on the back of a slip of stationary. "This is what is wrong", he says. "You must go to the hospital now." I agree. Hospital, treatment, pain medication, fixing me. Yes to the hospital. The woman manning the desk tells us we should not go to the hospital, it would be be hours and hours before we could be seen. My husband, my brother, the hotel staff all confer. The woman at the desk tells us her mother works as a nurse for the best doctor on the island. She will call him and see if he will meet us at his clinic. The answer is yes. It is decided that we will take a taxi as the ambulance is at the other end of the island and it would take almost an hour for it to get here. There is a taxi within a few minutes. My brother looks at me mournfully then turns to my husband. "I think I broke her. I'm going home now." It seems almost funny now. Things get very blurry for me, times, people, places. The only thing that is a constant is the pain. Unreal, unrelenting pain. In the cab, holding my shoulder, the cab bouncing with every bump, (the road is really a series of bumps),crying and saying over and over, "it's only pain, it's only pain. I can do this, it's only pain." I must have said it a hundred times between the hotel and the clinic. I don't know what I thought it would accomplish, it certainly did not effect the pain or my ability to withstand it. My husband tried to comfort me but what could he do? Nothing. But he tried. What must have been several years later we arrived at the clinic, no lights on, no answer to our knocking on the door, just darkness and silence. We wonder if we have come to the right place. We hope so, the cab has left. Eventually a head peeks around the corner of a drape and stares at us. Then it disappears and we hear a lock being turned and the door opens. It is dark inside but we can see a dim light down a corridor. We follow the woman who let us in down that corridor and she instructs me to sit in a chair and begins to ask questions like, where does it hurt?, what did you do? The doctor will be here soon. I do not believe she know the definition of soon. It is altogether different then mine. Eventually the doctor appears. His brow is furrowed also. His hand is placed on his chin as he looks down at me. He touches my arm and shoulder. ouwwwwww! He tells us I need an x-ray and that the x-ray tech has been called, she will arrive soon. The word soon again. I cannot sit still, I pace the darkened room and wait. I discover I do not do this well. Finally the x-ray tech arrives and I am directed down another hall to a room with the x-ray machine. The tech moves me this way and that, some of which I cannot do. All of which hurt. She takes several pictures then sends me back to the chair in the corridor and tells me the doctor will look at the x-rays and be back soon. I am beginning to hate the word soon. He does come. He tells me my shoulder is fractured and shows me on a lighted screen what my normal shoulder versus the broken one looks like. I don't understand what all of the little shadows mean, but I can clearly see a jagged spiral of white that he points to telling me this is the main fracture. He points to what looks like a splintered piece of kindling. He tells me it is a bone in my arm that has, well, splintered. Hmmmm. Through my sobbing I can tell this is not good. The doctor assures me with a kindly pat on my arm, OUWWWWWWWW, that it will be okay but he must call an orthopedic surgeon to look at the x-rays. He will be here soon. My heart swells with anger and pain. I am so tired of soon and waiting and pain. The nurse comes back and tells me to lay on a gurney in the corridor and starts and IV. I am given pain medication. Then more pain medication. Then a shot for pain. Finally the medication begins to work. I am still in pain, but not the I CANNOT STAND THIS ONE MORE SECOND kind of pain. I hear voices and a new doctor arrives at my bedside. Both doctors seem to agree that I have a broken shoulder. The surgeon pats me on the shoulder, (my broken one), and tells me I will be fine. I will just need a sling for a while. The sling is brought in by the nurse. It is a size extra large mens. I am 5'1" and 125 pounds. I could swim in this. The surgeon looks at it, adjusts it a little, frowns, pats me again and tells me not to worry. He looks angry that he has been disturbed from whatever he was doing before he was called here. He shakes hands with my husband and my doctor and leaves. My doctor tells me that I will be fine. He instructs the nurse to continue the pain medication for a while,that he will return to see how I am doing. Time passes. I have no idea how much. I am still in pain, but dopey. My husband tries to talk to me but I am confused and don't understand exactly what he is saying. The night goes on. Forever. My doctor returns and asks me how I am doing. I tell him. His brow furrows then he smiles, he tells me I will be fine and that he will send me home with pain medicine. He talks to the nurse, she unplugs me from the IV and before I know it we are standing outside the clinic waiting for a cab. The ride back to the hotel us not much better that then to the clinic. Somehow my wonderful husband manags to get me back upstairs to our room and tucks me into bed. The hotel staff bring bags of ice and extra pillows to support my arm. I try to sleep and I guess I do because when I open my eyes the room is bright, the sun shining through the windows. I can hear the street noises and wonder how they can go about their business when the world has changed so much. This has been the longest most painful night of my life. And I cannot change it. I cannot make anything better. Even my imagination fails to comprehend the reality of my situation. Thank God my stalwart husband is at my side, getting me ice, food, pills, blankets, anything he can think of that might help my comfort level. It is nice of him but all these things are separate from the pain which is central to my life. It is all that I have. Life has come down to one word, one feeing, one thought, pain. And even though I told myself it was only pain and I can handle it, it isn't true, not even a little bit. It isn't only pain, it's everything pain, and I find I am not equipped for it. Whatever am I going to do?