“Oh come on Shel, it’s just an arm.” My least favorite thing to hear, maybe ever. It wasn’t just my arm, it was my life. Completely changed, in an instant.
On July 3rd, 2016 I was in a bicycle accident and landed on my left elbow… on concrete. I broke it in 3 places along with creating a TFCC tear in my left wrist, a tear that causes ulnar impact & is highly operated on.
I was told I was fighting a battle I should just accept as a loss. But, I believe there is a difference between accepting your injury & it’s limitations vs. accepting your injury but fighting for what you believe you can do again.
Have I slacked here and there? Yes. Have I wanted to quit? Yes. Was I suicidal? Yes. Was I heartbroken? Yes. Did I feel alone? Yes. Did I have support? Yes. Did I see who my true friends were? Yes. Did I see this as a blessing? Not always, yes.
And guess what? Some days, I still feel all of those emotions & feelings because I am still going through this chapter of my life.
What are those numbers?
7.3.16 the day my life changed.
2,192 hours spent in an arm brace for over a year… and counting. That’s almost 92 days of my life spent in painful, uncomfortable, bulky braces. (I’m not even including the hours I spent sleeping in my nighttime brace, because… let’s not)
424 nights of sleeping in a metal brace… and counting
4 braces I alternate between every other hour of the day for over a year now.
155 occupational & physical therapy appointments … and counting
386 hours spent in occupational & physical therapy … and counting
1 broken heart… and mending.
Countless hours spent in pain, chronic pain.
116 degrees of motion I have fought to get back… and counting.
1 girl who believes in herself.
July 25th 2016
I underwent my first elbow surgery — shelo hardware.
October 15th 2016
Find out I have another major injury & hear it needs to be operated on — devastated but determined to prove him wrong.
May 2nd 2017
I underwent my second elbow surgery — bye hardware.
No wrist surgery & lots of hope in my heart ?
take a walk with me through a typical day in the last year
7 am wake up, remove metal elbow brace & heat my arm
7:30 am get in elbow extension brace. Set alarm for one hour, as I crank on the brace to help my muscles stretch back to where they belong.
8:30 am remove brace
8:40 am complete round of physical therapy exercises, cry, hate life, journal, watch netflix, go for a walk.
9:30 am wear forearm brace
10:30 remove brace and head to therapy
11am to anywhere from 2 pm-3 pm Occupational or physical therapy depending on which one I had that day. Feel like I was in kindergarten again, trying to turn pegs over, watching my arm unable to do things it knows it can do. Fighting through the pain.
And yes my appointments range anywhere from 2.5-3 hours, each.
3 pm drive home with an icepack on my arm
4-5 pm wear elbow flexion brace
5-6 pm complete another round of therapy exercises
6-7 pm sleep from physical, mental & spiritual exhaustion and/or make it to the beach for sunset.
Usually every day, call my brother or close friends from home in tears and feel their love & support from over a 1000 miles away.
8 pm Write in my “can do journal”
9-10 pm wear another brace
10 pm get into bed — put back on metal brace, look at my arm and tell it how thankful I am for how hard its trying and then a lot of times, cry.
Wake up — try my best to believe in myself and then — do it all over again.
As you can see, my days were/ still are structured around how I can get my life back. People have told me I’m too obsessed and it’s unhealthy for me to put my life on “hold” or care as much as I do, but what I believe they forget is…
this is my best chance to get as much strength and mobility back as I possibly can. I am giving my health & body the best chance to comeback. I will do whatever I have to do.
how have i managed to maintain this attitude & perseverance?
let’s talk about the power of sacrifices
+ I chose to quit a job I was passionate about so I could make therapy and healing a priority. So I could be in my braces and not feel guilty for not working when I was in pain or needed to rest.
+ I chose to make sacrifices that people didn’t understand or support.
+ I chose to do my exercises & put the braces on even though I could have slacked or not worn them.
+ I chose to survive off of disability money even though every 6-8 weeks I worry I won’t make rent or eat. Know that money comes and goes. Material things don’t matter. Jobs don’t matter. Your health is your future, so keep fighting to beat the odds, it is worth all the sacrifices. It is stressful but you have to be willing to fight for it & yourself.
Notice I don’t say ” I had to.” You’ve got to want it bad enough to choose your sacrifices. No matter what you’re going through, no matter what someone else thinks of you or tells you something can’t be done.
Keep persevering. Keep believing in yourself.
my next steps
I will straighten my arm again (I am so close!) I will bear weight on my arm again. I will do a push-up again. I will play beach volleyball again. I will get to play a pickup game of basketball again. I will be able to go a day without pain. I will piece my heart all back together. I will have a job I am passionate about, again. I will feel happy, healthy and strong again. Because, I believe in myself. I believe in you.
Special shout out to the two therapists who have changed my life. Who support & encourage me, hold my hand through countless tears, push me, guide me, believe in me and the only two people who truly how hard I work. Grady Cabling and Kathleen Sanding, I love you both. Thank you for everything & more. Special thank you to my surgeon, Dr. Leo Kroonen for kicking ass in surgery and believing in me too.
I’d love to hear your story or chat about overcoming adversity. Or if you have an injury and need someone to talk to and answer any questions, then by all means -REACH OUT! For more tips on recovering from an injury, click here. You can always comment below or meet me on Instagram @changebeautiful.
As you know, I avo?cad-ding luh you.