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Healing a Broken Shoulder

Posted Jun 15 2012 12:00am

Five weeks ago, I fell off some stairs at a friend’s home in San Francisco, where I had gone to present a paper at my dissertation advisor’s (and mentor’s) retirement celebration, the RobinFest.

And I broke my shoulder, a day after the celebration. It was scary – I literally fell and couldn’t get up. I had never broken anything before, so I was stunned by the pain – and the fact that I couldn’t get off the floor by myself no matter how I tried. And not even with my friends help. It took the ambulance crew to get me back on my feet – and then onto their cot.

I was lucky of course that my friend was there to call 911. What if I had been house sitting?

I was also lucky that I hadn’t fallen on my head, hadn’t fractured a hip or my wrist or who knows what. And that it was my left arm I injured, not my right now – yes, I’m right-handed. Still, I didn’t feel terribly lucky right then and there.

I spent many hours in the emergency room, on a cot, behind some curtains, waiting for SOMEONE to come and find out what was broken and how to fix it.

Eventually, they did an X-ray and sent me home with my arm in a sling.

At first, I thought, hey, doesn’t this require a cast, but as it turned out, most shoulder fractures do NOT require a cast, and once I thought about it, I was glad because casts can be quite uncomfortable and unwieldy (never had one).

The next couple of days were lessons in relying on the kindness of strangers. In the motel by the airport, where I stayed for the last night before my flight back home. On the plane, and especially during transit – getting on the plane, and getting from one plane to the other in the Charlotte Airport.

I was so happy when I was finally back home, though getting stuff out of my suitcase was a major challenge as well. But then I just lay down and fell asleep, utterly exhausted. Not as easy as I thought, because I could not sleep in my normal position, but I managed.

When I woke up the next morning, I took some inventory. Just what could and couldn’t I do?

As it turned out, there was hardly anything I COULD do. I had extreme difficulty getting into and out of clothes, and in fact, the only kind that worked at all, were extra-extra-extra-large tops with very wide arm holes. And it took about a couple of hours and very careful movements to change out of one set and put on another.

Needless to say, I minimized the times I changed clothes. And I discovered a whole new meaning of mindfulness. Every move required careful thought and planning. Everything took several times as long as it usually did.

For the first couple of weeks, I could not bend over without causing big pain in my shoulder. That meant that putting on shoes was VERY difficult. So I relied on my big industrial-strength slippers. That’s not the real name, but these things give great support and are easy to get into. They worked at footware when I flew home from San Francisco, and they’re still what I mostly wear.

I was tempted to keep wearing the hospital gown that somehow made it back with me to Richmond. And I think I did for a day or two.

Food was easier – as long as I stuck with nuked food, or fresh food.

Driving was a challenge – I only had one usable arm, and then my left arm started cramping up. You know, like those leg cramps at night. REALLY painful. Not something I could drive with safely.

So I minimized driving too. And when I did drive, I had to work out a weird routine to get my lap belt on since I couldn’t reach it while sitting in the car. So I had to pull it out with my right hand, turn around, sit down in my car, and then close it. And then reach over to the door’s frame and pull it shut.

I tried to figure out which doctor to go to since I hadn’t had health insurance in several years and wasn’t sure whom to call. I went online and searched for orthopedic surgeons. Finally, I checked out Angie’s list. Then I made some calls…

I had the X-rays from San Francisco, which showed a big gash in the ball of the humerus bone. The doc I eventually talked to wanted to take a CAT scan to find out exactly what was broken, to what extent, and what collateral damage there might be.

Also, whether I would have to have surgery to put some screws and/or pins in there to hold things together and facilitate healing. Yikes.

Considering I had no insurance, I was wary of the cost, so he sent me to a place that might be able to help me, but they were looking strictly at gross income, and just between my mortgage, my condo association fee, and the phone bill I made more than they allowed.

So I ended up going home with my sling and read up on how to heal a broken bone. Found lots of great info too, and started making some lifestyle changes.

As luck would have it, I had recently snagged a couple of bottles of bone strength supplements at a small fraction of their considerable original cost that had been on sale at my neighborhood GNC. So I started taking those.

Next, I read that I needed to alcalinize my body, and one thing that helped with that was lots of veggies and lemon water. I didn’t much care for lemon water, but once I mixed in some Vanilla stevia and lots of ice, it was quite tasty, and I made it my main beverage for the last several weeks.

I also added veggies etc. And got a ton of sleep.

It seemed like this bone healing action took a lot of energy, and I was going to give my body the rest it needed.

Now, It’s more than five weeks later, and I’m thinking I really should go back to have my shoulder checked. They said it would take six to eight weeks to heal, depending some unknown factors…

My shoulder doesn’t hurt much anymore, though as it feels better, I have to be careful about not making any stupid moves, so I won’t injure it all over again. So the sling stays on.

I feel pretty optimistic that it’s healing well, and just visualize a healthy, happy, strong shoulder with its old flexibility intact. Actually, I’ve been doing that all along, even back in the emergency room.

I used one of my favorite Quantum Touch techniques – the mind/body/spirit meditation – focusing it on and around my shoulder.

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