100 Hikes in 2014: 51 Was No Fun
As many of you may have read earlier, I set a goal to complete 100 hikes in 2014. I had a slow start but caught up quickly as sunny weather settled in and before I knew it, I was halfway through the year and my goal.
Then I went on hike number 51.
Just after leaving the summit of Spencer Butte with my fiance and pup, I slipped down the rocky face and attempted to catch myself with my right hand. My hand was pushed back unnaturally and a loud *pop!* was heard before extreme pain began radiating through my wrist. Something was horribly wrong.
My fiance, Jason, immediately jumped down by my side and had me sit as he examined my wrist. We both knew we had to get to a hospital immediately. Jason removed his shirt and tied it around my wrist and shoulder to stabilize and hide the unnatural bumps on my swollen wrist and we made our way down the mountain at an excruciating pace. At the bottom, Jason called our good friend Brittany to ask for a ride to the hospital. Ten minutes later, we were on our way to Sacred Heart Medical Center.
After a few initial questions, we were heading to the x-ray room. The technician unwrapped my arm and I saw it for the first time since the initial fall...and instantly began sobbing. It was clear that this was not a simple sprain or break.
Back in our exam room, I was finally given strong medication to ease the intense pain in my wrist and arm. The gravity of my situation was starting to come into focus despite the relief and fogginess: I was in for a possible surgery and a long recovery. No summer swimming, no long drives...
The ER doctor came in and showed me my x-rays: I had a badly fractured ulna and a bone chip on my radius. I would be called by Slocum, an orthopedic center in Eugene, later in the week to determine if surgery was necessary.
While waiting for a cab to take us home, I called my mother who I knew would be sleeping and attempted to leave her a calm message explaining what happened. I am not very good at reeling in my emotions in difficult situations like this but was helped along by the heavy painkillers. I thought I had done a good job so I was surprised to get a text the next day saying her and Dad were making the three hour drive to my house. I called her to attempt to talk her out of it and she said, "we had to come up anyway to meet a client so get over it, we'll see you in a few hours." I was anxious and excited to see them. On the way up, they called several home goods stores until they found me a portable air conditioner so I wouldn't be miserable while healing. I was thrilled as I'd been living without one for nearly eight years. Before leaving the house, my mother braided my unwashed hair for me and I was instantly reminded of August 2005 when I was recovering from a car-accident that shattered my kneecap. My patient and kind mother made me food, helped me in and out of bed, and washed my hair in the sink for three weeks. And I was still grateful.
The next day, I met Dr. Heather Campion, a young, friendly orthopedic surgeon at Slocum. She showed me my new x-rays and informed me that I couldn't heal with my ulna in the position it was in and recommended surgery...the next day. I agreed in a daze and attempted to choke back tears as so many worries clouded my head - Would my wrist hurt and ache for the rest of my life as my knees had? How much would it cost? What if it didn't work? I texted Jason who instantly left work to be home and tell me everything would be ok. I wasn't allowed to eat after midnight so Jason told me to order anything I wanted for dinner and he'd get it or make it.
I was in much better spirits for the day of the surgery. What's done was done and I was going to buck up and go in with a smile on, no matter what. My parents and Jason took me in and waited patiently in the waiting room. Before I knew it, I was waking up to their smiling faces in recovery. The surgeon had inserted two pins into my wrist that were partially sticking out of my arm so they could be removed later. In ten days, the splint would be removed and I'd have a cast put on until the pins could be removed, then I'd wear a brace for a few more weeks. Again I thought about the adventures I wouldn't be having during these precious summer months and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. The days ticked by like an obnoxiously loud clock.
Jason has been so helpful during this time. He has taken over most of the housework since I can't lift anything and has never lost his patience with me as I stumble through this emotional recovery. I'm very lucky to have him.
Unfortunately, I received very disheartening news on Tuesday during my follow-up appointment: the tip of the ulna that was secured by pins is inverting back to the position it was in when I broke it. If it gets worse, they'll have to put a plate and screws into my wrist which will be permanent. The thought of beginning my recovery all over again is extremely upsetting and I'm not really sure how I'll get through. Another surgery on my tab and permanent hardware feels...unfair. I know I'm not supposed to have regrets over a freak accident but they're there, many of them.
I think the hardest part of this process is my inability to tap into my outlets. Typically, I'd journal, hike, walk my dog, or take photos to ease my worries but all these things feel impossible or risky as I'm supposed to rest even more now than I have been. I had no idea one short hike would flip my world around and my only solace is knowing that one day this will simply be another story to tell around the fire.
I wish I could click my heels and be by your side to help keep your spirits up! You are a trooper sweetheart!
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