What a difference a week makes!
I went to the doctor for my first post-op appointment on Valentine’s Day, and got a present way better than flowers or candy: I got news that the titanium plate holding things together in my elbow is working beautifully, meaning I got to shed the monster splint I had been wearing since my surgery. I also got cleared to start occupational therapy, and to get back to some light activity, with the addition of swimming this Thursday.
You will be unsurprised to hear that after that appointment, I drove right to the gym and took a spin class, which felt better than anything I’d done all week.
I also got to start occupational therapy, which was both exciting and humbling. And, of course, painful. I could go the rest of my life without having to sit in another room full of therapy tools, trying to bring a sleeping muscle back to life. This time, it’s my triceps and biceps impeding my post-surgery recovery progress, and my lovely, kind therapist, who speaks with a thick Scottish brogue, sympathetically described the exercises that will help me regain my mobility as “murder.” He also said it’s almost impossible to do these exercises too much on my own, so I’ve been spending every waking minute flexing and extending my left arm as far as it will go, which means I spend a lot of time wincing and making strange little whimpering noises.
Giving me optimism is the wide range of stuff I can do again, which includes taking care of my basic needs without pain or struggle (I can almost manage a ponytail, which I now consider to be the holy grail of arm mobility and fine motor skills), taking spin classes, lifting with my legs, running (though it feels a little too jarring on my arm right now), and, as of Thursday, swimming.
Also giving me optimism is something my OT said during my initial appointment on Friday. In his list of questions about my pain level and daily life, he asked if I play sports or work out regularly. At the time, I was wearing my Bolder Boulder 10K “Sea level is for sissies” T-shirt, and carrying a water bottle with the National Ski Patrol logo on it. When I told him that yes, I play sports and work out to a level that may be described as obsessive, he replied this way: “Good. Athletes usually have the best outcomes. They’re motivated to do what they need to do to get better, and they know how to work hard.”
I still have a long way to go. But today, I’m full of hope that I can work toward that best outcome.