At noon Monday (two days ago) I walked to my car and broke down in tears. I just had physical therapy and my therapist flexed and extended my arm harder than ever before. I left unable to move my arm. At home I laid down and propped my arm on a pillow with an ice pack and told myself it was just muscle strain. I’ve been told repeatedly that physical therapy was supposed to hurt. But this pain seemed over the top, far beyond muscle strain. I was in pain and terrified that something had gone very wrong. Perhaps he had broken my humerus while leaning on it or the metal in my arm had shifted or come apart or that the many bones (comminuted fracture of the olecranon and monteggia fracture) had come apart. I lay with an ice pack most of the afternoon in fear, put a call into my doctor and finally decided to go to urgent care to get an x-ray.
There was hardly anyone in urgent care when I got there at 5:00 PM and I quickly got looked at by the doctor and had an x-ray taken. A smiling and pleasant doctor told me that everything was fine, that nothing had been broken, that the metal was in place, and the arm looked like it was healing well. Apparently, muscle strain can be extremely painful. He prescribed a couple of drugs, some ice for at least 24 hours and then some heat applied to the muscle.
As I was walking out, the urgent care doctor smiled and offered the usual platitudes like, good thing it wasn’t your right arm or your head … He also touched my shoulder, looked me hard in the eyes and said that I was just at the beginning of a lot of physical therapy. “Be brave, he said. “It’s going to be okay.”
When I got to the car, I took off my mask and goggles and cried again. I knew that I had a long road ahead of physical therapy if I ever wanted my arm to look and function somewhat normally again. According to my ortho doctor if the bones come apart or it doesn’t heal right, or I can’t get it moving, none of the options are good. I just try not to think too far down the road and try not to panic every time I think about going to physical therapy.
I spent yesterday drugged and laying on the couch watching bad TV. I binge watched I Shouldn’t Be Alive, which oddly made me feel somewhat better. Today I’m feeling better and trying to get on with my life with a shattered elbow, the depression and claustrophobia of the pandemic, and fear of the upcoming election.