Things that Hurt When Your Rotator Cuff is Effed Up


So it would seem that, when one is a passenger in a car and is wearing a seatbelt, and the back passenger car is hit with enough force to throw the car sideways into one’s yard and bend the damned frame, one can suffer some pretty major injuries. And at first, it may seem like just general muscle soreness. And it will hurt a little bit when one makes certain movements, much like if one had overdone it at the gym a couple of days prior. Or maybe one lifted a toddler the wrong way. But when one is stubborn and refuses treatment, thinking it is minor and will just go away, one is making a big-ass mistake.

So yeah, that’s me. I should’ve known something waas wrong, as pulled muscles don’t not get better over almost 2 months. And I don’t go to the gym. The only lifting I do, other than random child-lifting maneuvers, is a fork to my mouth. Still, it hurt to lift my arms to the side. I could lift it straight forward, but not to the side. “Abduct” for my A&P cronies. (Hells, yeah, I remember my terms from Human A&P 101!) I knew I was sore from the accident and my ER peeps warned me that it would take awhile for the soreness to go away. And, incidentally, “awhile” is a relative term. “Awhile” as in a week? A month? Maybe two?

But it wasn’t getting better and John and I had justt discussed that I probably needed to get it looked at. The pain wasn’t excruciating. Just a little annoying. But we forget sometimes. We forget that I am the dumbass who, after having my left knee reconstructed, walked my happy ass in the house without crutches because, hey, it didn’t hurt that bad. I am also the crazy one who had 50+ contractions an hour for months with two pregnancies, and only wanted to go to a hospital if the baby was coming out. My pain tolerance makes me no such a good judge of when something is becoming a problem.

So Friday night at work, hell unleashed. Lucifer came out of his underground shell to teach me that I am not invincible. We had 10 codes in about 5 hours, some of which were simultaneous. Most of them were on my pattients in the ICU. The bad news is that, even if they weren’t, if resuscitation attempts are successful, they are coming to me anyway to keep them alive. There were hours of chest compressions, hours of being hunched over a bed, clasping a mask to patient faces while I bagged patients during CPR. There was lots of pushing/ pulling ventilators and other life support equipment, crash carts, etc. up and down hallways. The shit went on for hours. And let me tell you something about CPR if you have been fortunae enough to never have to use the little outdated Red Cross card you have in your wallet–chest compressions? on a real human? They’re quite a workout. I mean, you’re pumping the chest 100 times per hour at a force that is enough to break ribs. And bagging a patient? Whose body has its own agenda? Well, that kind of takes a little bit of force, too. One day, I swear, I will have Popeye forearms.

So after all was said and done, my entire body was sore. And my arm? Well, it was screaming at me. SCREAMING! Still, I popped some Motrin and went to bed. And went back to work. More ICU fun. And by Sunday, I wasn’t worth crap. I couldn’t lift my right arm to wash or brush my hair. I couldn’t lay in certain positions. I couldn’t even lean against the back of the recliner unless I was positioned just so. When I tried to do homework and struggled, it was time and I went to the ER.

Fuck.

The hypothesis–and I say “hypothesis” because we can’t be sure until a specialist sees me–is that my right rotator cuff was injured in the accident. And that, after said accident, my retardation and stubbornness have resulted in a worseniing of the injury. And thus I have to see an orthopedic surgeon tomorrow. But nothing prepared me for the stupid list of things that would hurt, and I was told that, if it hurts, I shouldn’t do it until further notice. So here is a list of the stupid shit I cannot do, and somewhere in cyberspace, there is someone reading this who googled “rotator cuff injury” and ended up on my stupid post. I’ll bet that person is pissed. If that’s you, feel free to leave a comment to let me know.

Bitchypants’ List of Shit That Hurts When Your Rotator Cuff is Effed the Eff UP

Washing my hair

Brushing my hair

Coughing

Liftting a toddler

Picking up a single fucking toy from the floor

Pulling the refrigerator door open

Pushing a anything

Driving

Rotating my torso

Writing-yes, writing–it hurts to push the pen that little amount

Highlighting passages in my text books

Laughing too hard

Putting on a sock and shoe

Getting dressed

Wearing a bra

Reaching for anything

Turning the page of a book

Cutting food with a fork (If you think about it, it involves pushing the fork into the food.)

Laying on my side/ back/ front. I guess I’m supposed to sleep on my head.

Wiping up a spill

Typing for a long period (short bursts are okay.)

…..

I’m sure this list will grow as I try do more and discover whatever it is hurts. I will not be shocked if the orthopedic surgeon immobilizes my arm tomorrow. I will also not be shocked if I end up having my fat ass shoved into the narrow tube of an MRI scanner sometime this week. More later.

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Changing Tides

We have had an enormous change here in the Bitchypants household. Mr. Bitchypants, who has been unemployed for six years, went to work yesterday.

It’s been a long time. His unemployment started out by choice when the line he worked at in a hospital-equipment company moved to Mexico. Thanks, NAFTA. Anyhow, he was having a hard time finding a position to replace his earnings. Evan was in half-day kindergarten and we were paying full price for him to go half-days, and another $50 per week for the school bus to take him to school from the daycare in the small, rural community in which we lived. Instead of him just taking any job with a paycheck and paying $1000 per month for that arrangement, it made more sense for him to just stay home. Yes, I said it.

That is when it all started. Having him home was….different. First of all, while I am a feminist of sorts, my husband is the Man’s Man. USMC veteran. Country Boy. His wife supporting him while he stays home? Ummm, it didn’t sit well. Not with him, not with his family, not with society. Regardless of how progressive we think we have become, there are some deep-seated traditionalist views we all have. I had no problem with it, but the world in which we live had big problems, and I could see it everywhere we turned. I found myself defending our lifestyle. If the roles were reversed, and a man had an infinitely larger earning potential than his wife, and it cost the wife almost as much in childcare as she was earning by working out of the home, we would not bat an eye at her choice to stay home.

Make that woman a man. That wife a husband, That mother a father. Replace the vagina with a penis. Does the arrangement make any less sense?

Regardless of the rationality of our choices, we faced mud-slinging from everywhere. To my colleagues, my husband was constantly a “bum”. To our debtors, there was disbelief that he didn’t work. They wanted to put everything in his name, and he would tell them that his wife was the breadwinner, much to their shock. His parents would lecture him to get a job, that he would have no retirement when the time came. Of course, this was coming from his mother, who was living on her husband’s pension, with none of her own because she retired too soon. And the other objection: “What if Andrea leaves you, John?” Well, “Andrea” has been here for almost 12 years. Through homelessness, hunger, illness, poverty. And when the going got tough, I am the one who pulled myself up by the bootstraps, got a higher education and pulled my family out of that situation. And what of all of those stay-at-home moms? Does anybody ask them what they would do if the husband left them? So yeah, we heard it.

A couple of years ago, with the introduction of Zachary into our family, we really could use the extra income of John’s work. He began looking for work. The arrangement no longer made sense with diapers to buy and another mouth to feed. But with my establishment as the breadwinner for so many years, he couldn’t just take any job. We needed something that would A) not conflict with my odd schedule, or B) pay enough to compensate us for putting 2 children in childcare. And if one child was expensive in rural Indiana approximately 4 years earlier, the cost of 2 kids full-time in Cincinnati was damned near prohibitive. So John had trouble just finding positions for which to apply, let alone accept a position.

Enter the tension.

With two kids, we began bickering and fighting. I would come home from working God-awful hours to a house that was trashed. I would get ready to go somewhere and have no clean clothes. You see, John never was much of a housekeeper and I’m a little obsessive-compulsive. So we would fight. I would be upset that, while I was working my ass off to make ends meet, he was showing flagrant disregard by allowing our house to get trashed. I remember a particularly awful day where I found some of the boys’ expensive designer clothes molded because hey were under a wet towel in the basement laundry room for God knows how long. I began to try anything to get him to understand my point of view.  That is where I made my near-fatal mistake. Since he is a hard worker when he is getting a paycheck, I thought it would motivate him to do better by presenting it as if he was getting paid. With food and shelter and medical benefits, all provided by me.

How awful of me. I didn’t mean to hurt his self-image. I did not mean to completely emasculate him. I just wanted clean laundry and felt that I deserved it.

And with the pressure I was dishing, John issued his own counter-pressure. He wanted a job. Desperately. But he was still limited on the types of positions he could take. Then when he would find one that could work, he had to explain a years-long period of unemployment. Society still just could not handle that from a man. “You were a what? A stay-at-home-dad? What’s that?” So even if he made it through to an interview from the piles of applications, he never got an offer. In the meantime, I wanted him to find work. If I was going to clean the house anyway, at least he could bring home some money so I could maybe stop working all of the overtime. But nobody would give John a chance. And in John’s eyes, it was all my fault. I am the one who said, all those years ago, that he should just stay home. That it made more sense. And now, he couldn’t find work.

The man who served his country. The man who is such a hard worker. The man who, despite his own desires for his own life, put everything on hold to meet the needs of his family when the time came for it.

Well, yesterday, the phone rang. He was backing out of the driveway to go and put in yet another application, and I had to flag him down. It was a job offer, but the employer really needed someone. They wanted him to start then and there. So he left. The pay is only a quarter of what I make, but it is enough to compensate for childcare for Zachary one day a week. The only time we will need it is on Friday so I can sleep a little before going into work. Evan is old enough to play on the computer or watch a couple of movies while I nap, and he knows to wake me if he needs something. And we found a center that will do just one day a week without charging us for full-time care. In the fall, when I start my MBA program, they also allow flexible scheduling so I can pay by the hour while I am in class three afternoons a week. John’s schedule is 8-5, Monday through Friday, no weekends. In other words, perfect.

So the tides have shifted. Because while he may not have been a great housekeeper, I never had to worry about the kids destroying the house while I take a simple shower. If I mentioned that I wanted coffee, he would brew it for me before I even thought of moving. When I had to get ready for work, he would have my clean scrubs waiting for me. When we were hungry, he would cook…

I never realized just how much he did.

So while, with my career now and my future MBA, I will always be the breadwinner, John’s new job has done something monumental in our little family. I have a newfound appreciation for the partner I have had in John. I have taken him for granted. And with the first day of work, I have seen a change in him. He smiled all night last night. He was slower to lose patience with the boys last night. He seemed….fulfilled. And I had to realize that working is so much more than a paycheck. Being as into my career as I am, as motivated and driven as I am, I should have realized this all along.

Benefits to a job include medical, dental, vision, life insurance, vacation time, 401K. They also include self-esteem, self-worth, dignity. I feel like I have robbed John of that. I said it was all about the math, but I was so wrong. It’s more than math. It’s more than a Women’s Rights Statement and a big middle finger to the “establishment”. I’m still the breadwinner. I am stil the tough woman who will take the male-dominated world by storm one day. But this way, we all get what we need. Most of all, John.

Another Year

On Sunday, Zachary turned two.

Two.

I cannot believe he has been in our lives for two whole years. I should be able to spew some poignant tribute to his wonderous persona. I’m sorry to be failing you in that respect. I simply can’t come up with the words. This past weekend was too much of an emotional roller coaster for me.

It all started with a trip to take the boys to see John’s parents. We haven’t been able to make the trip since Thanksgiving. That alone was enough to induce tears when John’s mom quietly whispered, in a resigned tone, that Zachy just didn’t know her. I felt guilty for keeping the boys from her, though I cannot help it. I gave living down there a try and it just did not work. This is where work and school are. We have a life up here that we simply did not have down there. And then it was Sunday.

Zach’s Birthday.

Also? It was Mother’s Day.

We were so busy traveling the four-hour trip, packing and unpacking the brightly-wrapped and be-ribboned packages fro the car, keeping the boys from tearing up Grandma’s house, well, that I completely forgot. It was May 13th. It was Mother’s Day Weekend. And I completely forgot thatt it was also the day after May 12th.

I forgot Mom’s Birthday. I didn’t take a second to stop and honor her memory, and then I felt even more guilt. For each year since her death, May 12th has been horrendous. Depressing and sad as I wallow in missing my Mom. And I have hated Mother’s Day for the same reason.

I forgot this year. I was wrapped up in Zachary, subconsciously procrastinating the memory of the Motherless Daughter. And as I saw the mother-daughter pairs at Zachy’s birthday party later in the day, I started to cry. And then the thought of my littlest baby growing up…I actually had to remove myself for a few minutes to get myself together. When I emerged, only John, who knows me best, could tell I had been crying. He is also the only one who would not have to ask why.

So I put on my smile: the smile of a mom.  The smile of a host. It started out so …fake. Then it was time.

Dimmed lights. The flicker of a “2” candle. Happy Birthday, Dear Zachary. And I watched my honey-blomde angel relish his homemade red velvet birthday cake, made from scratch by his other Grandma–the one who is still living. I giggled as he squished handfuls into his face. I laughed out loud when we looked at the cake and icing goo between his fingers, exclaiming, “Ewwwwww!”,as he reached out and wiped them on me. We laughed some more when he threw a fit to go outside afterward, and we all chipped in to move his mountain of presents outside to make him happy. And I stood over him, taking photos at the top of his beautiful little head as he opened his gifts that were hand-picked by so many who love him.

For so many years, I have missed my mother while loathing this time of year. And Zachary was born this time of year, over six weeks before his due date. He came into the world in a manner that seemed so serendipitous, but now more than ever, I am questioning that. As a mom, I know that a mother will do anything in her power to ensure her children are taken care of. Does that translate to the beyond as well? Did my mother fix this time of year for me by sending a surprise little boy who looks just like her?

So that night, as Zach went to sleep, I watched over him. My mind flashed back on the little moments that have made up the time since his last birthday. On the day I found out I was pregnant with him. Evan made me love life. And then I got caught up in goals and plans and obligations. Then someone sent me Zachary. I was reminded of the beauty and wonder in the world and of what really, truly mattered in life. And I remembered how to laugh and smile again. There weren’t many who could have done that. John. Evan. Now Zach. And my Mom could’ve. Only them.

I’m not sure what else I have to say here. Not sure how to explain. I know I am failing mmiserably, like I said. So I am going to just stop here after I say one more thing.

I love you, Zachy. I love you, Mom. Happy Birthday to both of you.