For most of my life, I can say that I had never broken a bone. but on October 18, 2015, all that changed. As my associates, Jim Stengel and Carrie Beauchamp said, I have now “joined the Broken Bone Club” and that the only membership dues was to have broken a bone somewhere in the body. I didn’t really ever want to join this club to be honest. I think they view me as an overachiever though, because as everyone has told me, I did a bang up job on my shoulder. I was on a simple hike on Casper Mountain’s Bridle Trail to celebrate the victorious journey to health of my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg, who had become ill two years to the day, and had gone on to make an amazing recovery. I suppose that it is true that I did a bang up job on my shoulder, in that you almost never see a break like this one, unless it was a bad car accident, or a bad fall. The fall itself wasn’t that bad, but the bone did break on impact. It was the twisting movement that happened after the break that caused the ball of my shoulder joint to twist a quarter turn in the socket, thus requiring surgery, including a plate and nine screws, to be necessary to make the repairs. That surgery was a week ago, and I have learned so much in that one very long week.
It has been just ten days since my life was turned upside down, and I went from being a caregiver to a care receiver. What a shock to my system that was. My mind does not really like the concept of needing help with my daily needs. Nevertheless, that has become the case. I am very thankful to the group of experienced people I had with me at the time of my fall. My sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely is a nurse, and a friend of my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg, Laura Murray is a physical therapist, The two of them immediately set about making a sling out of a Laura’s dog’s leash and Jennifer’s handkerchief. Jennifer’s boyfriend, Brian Cratty is an prior life flight pilot, and my husband, Bob Schulenberg and sister-in-law, Brenda are experienced caregivers. As I was laying on the ground trying to control the feeling of needing to pass out, two CNAs, who’s names I do not know, unfortunately, came up behind us and helped get me to my feet, and fashion a gait belt for me out of a sweatshirt, so I could walk the last three quarters of a mile to finish the hike and go to the hospital. I could not have asked for a better group of people to have with me…if I just had to break my shoulder.
While that group was amazing, and I owe then more than I can ever repay, it has been something within my self that I have found to be equally amazing, since my fall. It is the power I have in my right arm…the power of one, as I call it. People do not think about how many things take the use of both arms to do. When you are down to one arm, you find out just how strong…or weak it is. Thankfully for me, it was my non-dominate arm that suffered the break. My power of one level would have been far less successful had it been my dominate arm that suffered the break. Still, my right arm, which is the dominate arm, did have to be retrained. There were things that I simply could not do without assistance at first, but in my minds refusal to truly be a care receiver, I continued to think of ways and try to do things one handed, if I could find a way. In less than a day, I was able to put my contacts in one handed, with just the assistance of my teeth to open the container of my dailies lenses.
In less than a week I could dress myself, including jeans, for which I fashioned a way to button them with a ribbon and minimal help from my left hand. I figured our ways to get my shoes and socks on one handed too. I did makeup one handed and brushed my hair one handed. I typed my stories one handed, and even lifted my laptop onto my lap one handed. While there were a number of things I couldn’t do one handed, I must say, I’m surprised at the things I could. We don’t often think about how important it is to have both hands to perform our daily tasks, until we don’t have both hands. Having the use of just one arm is a set back to be sure, and a serious inconvenience, but after spending the last ten days in just that predicament, I can also say that I am very much amazed at the power of my one arm.