What I’ve Learned From My Surgery 20

On March 2nd I had a pretty serious and involved hand surgery–the technical name is Arthroplasty of the basal joint of the right thumb.  Basically they cut off an inch of bone at the base of the thumb, near the wrist.   Then they made an incision on the inside of my arm and took 4-5 inches of tendon, rolling it up like a tootsie roll to replace the removed bone. And then the doctor “threw in” surgical correction of carpal tunnel–so I had another incision on the inside of my wrist. My arm was super swollen for almost two months.  If you’re eating breakfast scroll by fast–no faster!!!

*  Adding stars to help you bypass the picture. 
I didn’t put any of this on Facebook because there was no way I could have handled hearing horror stories, and I didn’t want any rumors starting that I wouldn’t be able to write anymore or anything like that. 

I’m right handed, so this was a huge adjustment. More than I anticipated. I have three author friends that knew I was going through this and they were invaluable to me during this process–Natasha Knight, Tara Finnegan, and Trent Evans. I’ve thanked them a million times, but want to publicly thank them for dealing with me in a drug induced haze for a month and for keeping me encouraged during this process and it still isn’t over  ::::sigh:::::

Now the husband and I have really progressed in the arena of my “submission” in our marriage. (I’ll be doing a post within a week on that too.) But I panicked about two days before the surgery when it occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to fold laundry. I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen that I absolutely abhor laundry. ABHOR IT!!  But it’s the main reason for fights in our house, and the one thing that will throw me over the edge quickly. I have all kinds of rules for laundry–Towels are to be washed alone.  But never with dish towels (I don’t want any greasy smell on my bath towel.)  Laundry is to be folded almost immediately, preferably while it’s still warm from the dryer. If not, then the clothes are to be draped over the side of the basket to prevent wrinkles. My husband sees no reason at all to do any of these and thinks it is fine to leave a basket of wadded up clothes sitting for days.  Blink, Blink Blink.

I literally cried.  I’d said to him that there was no way I’d be able to watch him or the kids “destroy  my laundry.”  I whined. “It’s going to be the main reason I get caned. Oh God.” He chuckled. “Well, I guess you’ll have to learn how to relax in that area of your life or your ass’ll be sore.” 

What I learned from my surgery

**It should be noted here that until mid-April, I wasn’t even able to use my fingers (even while in a cast) to hold anything, stabilize anything, scratch, pinch, etc.   I couldn’t even use a finger to push something.  Between the bone taken out and the tendon–I had NO strength at all.  And if I did any of the above, I’d experience the WORST charlie horses ever.**

1.  Almost everything requires two hands, EVERYTHING. 

2.  Learning to eat with your left hand is so difficult. I held a fork/spoon like a toothbrush for easy six weeks.

3.   You can’t balance your checkbook or do bills alone 🙁   and 3A–You get caned EVERY single time you do bills with your husband.  He didn’t like me saying, “Did you write that down?”  “Do you remember where to write it down?” “Where did I tell you to write deposits just five minutes ago?”

4.  Most toilet paper holders are on the right hand side of the toilet.   4A sitting sideways on a toilet is odd.   4B We aren’t even going to discuss the trials and tribulations of learning to wipe with the other hand

This face applies to bras and toilet paper

5.  You can’t wear a bra.  Not even a sports bra. Picture trying to put a bra on with only one hand and remember you can’t even use your fingers on the other hand.  Nope not happening.

6.  Your husband LOVES you not wearing a bra–unless you’re in public, then he’s walking around zippering and buttoning your polar fleece.

7.  You can’t button or zipper with one hand–you have to hold the fabric with the other hand.  So you have to wear baggy sweat pants or, better yet, a Ma Ingalls nightgown. Hubby said that I made that sound so unsexy LOL  I swear that’s my nightgown–but it has blue flowers on it.  What?  It was March, I needed to be warm!!

8.  You can’t shave your left armpit at all or your left leg (not well anyway) when you can only use your left arm.

9.  After 4 weeks, when you’re sobbing and your husband asks what’s wrong, you say you need him to shave your legs and armpits, he sweetly asks “Why did you wait so long to ask?”  It killed me–it seemed like such an awful thing to ask for. It’s one thing if we want them to do it to be sexy or we write about it in one of our books, but to really be unable to do it alone, seems like an admission of …..I don’t know…being helpless, I guess. But, per the normal, he made me laugh by saying, “You’re quite European. I think I like it.”  He’s sweet.

10.  You can’t open anything with just your left hand.  We don’t realize it but we brace things with the other hand.  Try opening a water bottle with only one hand.  Twist ties were the bane of my existence.  I had to leave caps on pain meds just resting on top so I could just take it off.  You can’t spread either peanut butter on bread or butter on toast with one hand, try it.  You can’t open a bag of lunch meat or any baggie with one hand (unless you use your teeth–go to #11)

11.  Your teeth make a GREAT substitute for your right hand. I opened baggies, pill bottles, water bottles, and many other things this way for almost two months. You get tired of asking for help all the time.  One night the husband came into the kitchen to find me bracing a pop bottle in the crook of my left arm using my teeth to twist the cap off.  He stomped into the room “You could have just asked me to help!”  I received easy four swats on my bottom–hard swats. I continued to do it–I just made sure he wasn’t around.

12.  Men aren’t as observant as women.  Most of us know this.  Most of us accommodate for this.  But when you literally can’t make a sandwich or do much of anything, this becomes a problem. My daughter would have my pills set out for me, and if I was still sleeping when she left to teach that day, she’d leave me my breakfast and if she remembered, she’d even make me lunch too. But one night the husband made steak on the grill for dinner and slapped a piece of meat on my plate. He and the son proceeded to eat, both of them blissfully and totally unaware that I couldn’t use a knife with one hand.  I was just too tired to ask for my meat to be cut–again it’s pride and admitting I needed help :::sigh:::  I picked the meat up with my left hand and proceeded to gnaw on it.  

My daughter came home, walking into the kitchen and immediately noticed.  “My God, didn’t you people see that she’s eating her steak with her hand like a cave woman?” Totally unaware. Totally. Not mean spirited, not even neglectful–Just unaware of their surroundings.

13.  Husbands don’t do laundry as well as wives.  FACT (at least in my house)

14.  My family would be buried alive within a year of my absence.  FACT.  I had a very hard time adjusting to #13 and #14.  Just as I knew I would. Watching two 20 somethings and a husband wad up sheets is like getting a tooth pulled without Novacane.   And they would fold them in front of me asking how to do it?  Now my mother could fold them so perfectly they looked like they came straight from the store.  I come close, but not as good as she was.  My family is ridiculous.  I finally just said, “Wad it up into a ball and throw it in the closet I’ll deal with them in June.”  Christ!

15.  If you throw a hissy fit at the mess in the house and clean it all by yourself, you WILL get caned. I contemplated sharing a photo that I shared with close friends of the aftermath of a man-made bomb that exploded in my house one week.  Literally every inch of my kitchen table, bar stools, laundry room, and all my counter space in the kitchen was filled with dirty dishes and clean laundry.  Yes, they were intermingled (see #14 again). But it’s just too effing embarrassing.

I said I don’t care and started dragging stuff around, filling and pulling laundry baskets, emptying and filling the dishwasher, mopping, etc. Now at this point, I was supposed to keep my arm elevated most of the day.  Well, stomping around the house for an hour, doing all of the above made my arm swell to the point of ridiculousness and I had to take pain pills every 4 hours for the next two days.  My husband (Please, Dear God, Bless Him) called in the middle of this frenzy and was greeted “not so nicely” until ultimately he threatened to come home. I was told to sit down and contemplate the caning I’d be receiving when I was well again.

And the friends above, had NO sympathy for me. LOL  “Looks like you’re in hot water.” Or “What were you thinking? Leave that shit alone!” Or “You’re getting just what you deserve.” Friends. And when the caning didn’t occur that night, I was tickled. Then I got told. “Oh it’s not a pardon! It’s just being delayed until you aren’t in pain and on pain killers.” I’ll give more detail on that with my “Submission–Part 2” post.

16.  I finished Widow Wagon the morning before my surgery and finished all the edits for Mastering Inga before the surgery too. I learned to trust Trent implicitly as we coordinated final edits prior to surgery, and he did all the uploading for Mastering Inga for me. People have posted it over and over, but Trent Evans is truly Superman! He is the kindest and sweetest person you’ll ever meet.  His help with these books has been immeasurable.

17.  I learned to use Dragon in April to start Widow Wagon 2, and although it’s difficult to adjust to, it wasn’t so bad once I got used to it. I didn’t have a hard time with the voice recognition (much).  The biggest issue I had was having to prepare a sentence mentally and include punctuation. The editing after the dictation is very time consuming.  In all honesty, the talk-to-text on the iPhone is better that Dragon.  And in the meantime, I purchased a Samsung phone and their talk-to-text is probably similar to Dragon.  I lived with talk-to text and highly recommend it. 

Overall, I learned to let things slide a little.  Nothing is a major crisis.  I learned that when push comes to shove, family is there for you. They care and they watch out for you–unless you’re eating steak or need laundry put away. hehe  Two months is a long time to need help.  I had my cast off after five weeks and by nine weeks I was able to type pretty well. I’m able to do most things about 50% or 60% now and some things are just about normal.  I can chop, a little now, so I’m making dinners again. I’m doing dishes and laundry again. Paying the bills and able to use a pen again.

Yesterday, I dragged a bistro table up the stairs to put on the deck so I could write in the sun.  I held it mainly with my good hand, but did end up hurting my right hand a little.  I thought I was going to be caned again, but he’s been worn down.  The physical therapist said trying things is how I’ve done so well and why I’ve made so much progress. So he just sighed and swatted me, and I got off this time.   

The husband summed it up pretty well.  “This is where being stubborn as hell and determined as fuck has paid off for you.”  haha  Yup, that’s me!!

Learning to rely on friends and family isn’t a bad thing–it doesn’t always mean weakness.  It means giving people who love you and care for you the ability to show their love and concern.  And I’ve learned that the world isn’t going to fall apart if the house is a mess, but it will be majorly affected if I hurt myself again.  It’s just not worth it.  Let it go–move to another room. 

Sorry!  I couldn’t resist!

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