As most of you know, I broke my right clavicle when I did an unplanned dismount off of Paj back in July. Well, after months of physical therapy and doctor visits, that little mishap is finally drawing to a close. I had my last visit with the orthopedic surgeon this week. I'm not posting a photo of the latest x-ray because a) it freaks my loved ones out, and b) it looks just like it did in the beginning; a drawbridge ready to let a tall ship through. Those bones have not and probably will not knit together. But as the good doctor says, "you treat the patient, not the injury". And when an orthopedic surgeon tells me that in my case, surgery has a greater chance of making things worse than better, I listen. So the goal has been to get the function back, and to get pain free.
The range of motion in the shoulder is pretty darn good. The strength is not quite to where I want it, but it's getting there. I learned in physical therapy that the less dominant side of your body is normally 2/3s as strong as your dominant side. Right now, it's the opposite for me. I'm right handed, and my dominant right side is only 2/3s as strong as my left side. I've returned to full work in the barn, so I expect that to improve. In fact, I went a little crazy proving to myself that I was better in the week leading up to the last appointment. David had to go to The Big City for work on Tuesday, so I fed and cleaned for all 7 of Chuck's horses plus our horses, cleaning stalls, runs, and paddock. Another day I cleaned pasture poo. Another day David and I set up the lunge pen. Each panel weighs 106 pounds, and we carried them and set them into position.
David had previously taken down the dressage arena fence and stored it in the barn for winter. The arena pad is not fenced off from the pasture, and we were afraid that when the snow gets deeper than the dressage arena fence (12"), the horses would blunder into the fencing and hurt themselves. Or it. There's still an area 20m x 40m, the size of a regulation small arena, behind the lunge pen. But I'm getting off track. The point is that I was nervous before the last appointment, and did a lot of work to prove to myself that I could. This brings me to the "pain free" part of getting better.
I am off the vicodin and off Advil except when I am stupid and do too much (see above). I'm comfortable most of the time, but aware of the clavicle, especially at night. I would like to be to the point where I don't think about it any more than I think of my big toe, or any other part of my body. But all in all, it's pretty darn good. This brings me to my big beef.
I am pissed that nobody thought to tell me to exercise my fingers all that time I was in a sling. My poor fingers froze up, and I am having the devil of a time getting them back in spite of my exercises and my pot of orange finger putty. They don't obey my brain. This morning a plate dropped out of my hand when I was unloading the dishwasher. Worse, we could have had a disaster leaving Chuck's after the roofing. I can wrap my fingers around a horse's lead, but with no strength. When we went to load Paj on the trailer, I saw "Gallop Home" flash across Paj's little pea brain. That would have been a great time to give a tug on the lead and remind him there was a human on the other end. My brain told the fingers, and nothing happened. Fortunately, Paj is all about food, and as soon as "Gallop home" flashed across his brain, "Food on trailer" flashed, and on he went. I'm wandering again, but the point is that the finger problem could have been avoided.
The doctor says a full recovery for the shoulder and the fingers can take up to a year, and it's up to me to get there. The public goal is to get back to where I was. The secret goal is to be able to ride again with that peculiar mix of strength and sensitivity riding requires. I have a plan. I've started swimming again. I love swimming. No snickering please, but I was on the synchronized swimming team in college. Anyway, I think swimming will really help me. And even though we live way out in the country, there is a gorgeous rec center 20 miles from us, complete with lap swimming. My body remembers the rhythms and the stroking, even in slow motion. And I think I might try to knit again for the fingers.
Oh, one more thing. When I had my final physical therapy session, the therapist told me that if I ever had to go to one of those ghastly (my word, not hers) ice-breaker sessions where you have to tell the group something unique about yourself, I could tell them "I have three clavicles". Oh ha-ha.