Saturday, 31 March 2012

Dislocation diary: Day 27

Seems like now that I'm no longer disabled and can function like before, I've failed to update my dislocation diary.

I'm not completely healed yet, but think I'm probably 85 per cent of the way there. Several major things have happened over the last week or so since my last update:
  • Stopped wearing the strap completely.
  • As of today, arm straighten/bending degree is probably 170-20 (180 being completely straight and 0 being completely bent)
  • Visible bruising still present, although the icky green-yellow ones are fading, being replaced by smaller purple-blue ones.
  • Can now use right arm to feed myself, do light lifting, tie my hair back in a ponytail (with some pain), dress and undress in the usual manner and tie shoelaces properly! Seriously, besides the fact that I cannot completely straighten and bend, the arm is pretty much fully functional.
  • Went snowmobiling two days ago. Probably not the wisest thing to do with a recovering dislocated elbow, but . . . D did most of the driving. I tried, but doing tight turns was a little difficult when you can't straighten/bend completely. For the trip, I strapped my arm, but could certainly feel the strain by the end of the day from holding on. So for anybody recovering from a dislocated elbow, avoid snowmobiling if you can until you are completely healed.
  • Sleep is mostly back to normal. I don't have to just sleep on my back now, although when I'm on my side, I find it useful to have another pillow/cushion to hug or rest the arm, otherwise it gets a bit sore after a while.
  • Started applying Voltaren (anti-inflammatory gel) to the area before I went to sleep (and sometimes after I wake up, if I remember/felt like it), which has been amazing. While the arm hasn't been really sore, I had been waking up in the morning feeling a little pain and tightness in the arm. Remembered reading somewhere that's an indication of inflamed body parts and so decided to apply Voltaren. What an amazing difference! Pain not completely removed, but definitely reduced and I think it has aided in my ability to straighten/bend.
  • The actual elbow area still feels sore when pressed, as are the forearm and bicep muscles.
  • Shoulder back to feeling normal.
  • Can mostly walk around with arm hanging down by the sides, but if I try to bend it after a while, I can feel a slight pain (signs of inflammation again).

Friday, 23 March 2012

Dislocation diary: Day 19

Sitting at Salt Lake City airport waiting for my flight back to Calgary. Spent a week visiting in Idaho visiting work’s sister publishing press in the US. Doctor obviously thought I was well and fit enough to travel with a recovering dislocated elbow.

Flying to Idaho was the trickier part as my arm was still in a sling. It wasn’t painful or anything, just inconvenient as had to do everything with one hand. Still, it was a good visual warning to everybody else not to bump my poor elbow!

Have had amazing improvements to elbow over the last week. The bruising around the forearm area actually got more and more obvious as the pain receded (extremely slowly). The bruises are now this sick yellow-green colour. I can only hope the fact that the bruises are showing more is a sign that things are getting better!

Ditched the sling about three days ago. Simply didn’t feel like I needed it any more, even though the doctor did say I had to have it on for two weeks after the cast came off.

There is a significant amount of strength that has returned to the arm, although I’ve avoided doing any kind of heavy lifting and some twisting motions (like to open containers) can still send twinges of pain down the arm to the elbow.

My typing is back to normal now. In fact, in a sitting position, I doubt anybody can guess that I’m nursing a dislocated elbow. And it actually feels like I’ve got a normal arm.

Standing and walking is a different matter. I still have to hold my arm at an almost 90 degrees as I cannot straighten it completely, and leaving it hanging at its 140 or so degrees is quite tiring. Same thing with bending, probably can get it to about 30 degrees. But, I’m getting significantly more range now and am getting a teeny weeny bit more and more each day.

Sleeping has been so much better. I no longer have to wake up several times in the middle of the night to ease the sore shoulder. In fact, the shoulder hardly aches anymore. It’s still a bit tight, probably just from the way I still have to hold the elbow walking around, and probably also because of my crazy amount of laptop use.

Have woken up in the middle of the night the last two nights (prior to that, had actually slept through the night!) with a light throbbing in the elbow/arm area. It’s not so much pain sore, although there is that, but just this general soreness, probably like as if I hadn’t stretched it in ages. Then again, I pretty much sleep in one position, so no wonder.

When I wake up in the morning, the arm feels quite tired and sore as well, but after an hour or so, I suppose all the muscles warm up and things feel better.

I still put the strap on during the day if I’m out and about, and also when I’m sleeping. I’ve tried it without, but the strap certainly gives a good amount of support and I feel is much better when I’m sleeping. Have stopped taking my medication, although am contemplating starting on it again if I wake up in the middle of the night again.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Dislocation diary: Day 10

Slept last night with the strappy thing around my elbow just to keep things "intact". It wasn't too bad, and I didn't really feel like I had to remove it till about 3pm.

My arm is certainly getting stronger and I'm keeping at the exercises. I think I'm getting a range of 100-80/70 degrees at the moment and it was actually quite easy to walk around simply with the arm bent in front of me.

There is still bruised tenderness near the elbow and it's swollen, but that's about it. The swell in my bicep has diminished very noticeably.

Just resting on the couch watching TV without the sling or strappy bandage, I could almost believe that my elbow is completely healed! But of course things get awkward and slightly sore after moving it. But I'm certainly on the mend!

Tried typing as well, but it was a really weird sensation and I was having a little bit of problems typing. It's like as if I didn't really have enough strength in my fingers.

Sleep was average. Had to wake up because of shoulder again, but I think it's getting better? Didn't take any drugs to go to sleep either.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Dislocation diary: Day 9

Doctor took the cast off! He had to search the medical database online to decide it was ok, but he did take it off!

Disconcerting that he didn't really know and essentially had to google it, but...he says elbow dislocations in adults very rare, usually they break or fracture. Search results said 7-10 days so he said fine to remove. But he did say it was healing up very well and there is no evidence of nerve damage.

The feeling of freedom when he cut it open was amazing. Cast had been feeling loose for last two days, so glad it's off. Skin looked gross though. Strangely creased, discoloured, and bore the prints of the cloth! Bruising in the inner elbow (red flakey spots) and the bicep area where cast ended had a bruised line and was rather deformed.

Doctor said swelling bicep was due to pressure of cast pushing swell upwards. Said will disappear soon. The area had a faint yellow stain. D thinks maybe iodine?

Arm is so surprisingly weak and tender. Still only able to hold at 90 degrees and then a bit up to 50 degrees or so. But feeling stronger as the hour passes. Arm seems so skinny and vulnerable!

No pain, just bruised tenderness near elbow area. Doctor said to keep in sling for two weeks and to light do exercises.

Best sleep I had in a while. Still on back with arm at 90 degrees on my tummy, but more flexibility and less heavy. Shoulder still a bit sore but mostly ok.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Dislocation diary: Day 8

Woke up with much anticipation as going for xray and thought doctor. Turns out was only xray. Will try for doctor tomorrow.

Shoulder has been making strange cracking noises. It's not happy.

Elbow and arm stiff and a bit sore in mornings but better as day progress. Feeling much stronger. Can even hold things in hand and squeeze or turn things. Less pain and tenderness in elbow area. Feel like can turn arm in different directions now.

No probs with positioning for xrays. No pain. Yay!

Bicep swelling gone done considerably.

Washed hair in kitchen sink today with D's help.

Sleep was sadly the same as the last few nights.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Dislocation diary: Day 7

Arm is definitely stronger and lighter. Mood also heaps better. Wrist less painful and hand can clench easily.

Bicep has definitely decreased in size but still swollen. Feel strange waves of burning pain in hand sometimes and soreness in ball of elbow. Hope nerves are healing right!

Called hospital. They have received requisition letter, thank God.

Cast starting to feel loose. Might be coz swelling decreasing? Can feel elbow area quite swollen. Inside elbow still tender to touch, outside feels like normal now. Was also sore to touch before.

Thinking tummy ache and bloatedness, and nauseousness might be the fault of the tylenol. At least not experiencing the other side effect!

Now left wrist sore from one-handed typing.

Sleep the same again - interrupted by sharp pains in shoulder.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Dislocation diary: Day 6

Went up to Pano today. Incredibly proud could do it myself. Laces were a challenge but just tied some loose knot that kinda kept shoes in. Got D to fix up when I saw him.

Arm feels better but getting occasional tingly and numb sensations, as well as goosebumps? Fingertips get cold easily too. But can feel everything. Wrist still hurts but think it's coz of floppy positioning within cast. Continuing rotation and clenching exercises.

Think bicep is less swollen than before but certainly still big. Compress continues.

Put hot water bottle on shoulder several times in the evening. Felt amazing and relaxing.

Bought prunes to combat potential side effects of drugs. Feeling extremely bloated and full of gas though. Quite ill feeling with tummy ache and nauseousness. Think may have gastro?

Sleep was same as before. Great until woken by shoulder ache. But less often than before? Think hot water bottle working.

Drugs potentially helping too as think might be anti-inflammatory?


Right elbow dislocated. Can't blog (or do much for that matter). Shall leave you with gross pic instead:

Also just realised this is my 1000th post. Whee! Happy anniversary. LOL!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Dislocation diary: Day 5

Before falling asleep last night, stomach was making all sorts of loud and strange gurgling noise, as if hungry. Woke up to more gurgling and sharp intense pain in stomach. Thought maybe was hungry.

Breakfast didn't help. In fact, felt nauseous again. Nothing much came out though.

Went back to bed with tingling sensation and feeling tired. Slept for about another hour. Tummy still a bit sore and would feel nauseous after eating every time.

Arm starting to feel lighter. Bicep still hot and swollen. Kept putting frozen food on it. Wrist starting to hurt, so started doing wrist rotations on top of clenching. Inside of forearm feels stretched. Can feel elbow area very bruised. Occasional shooting sensation of pain too. Shoulder still tight.

Feeling stronger. Like as if I can and should break free of cast now. Arm seems less immobolised than before. But can also feel elbow is a bit weak and certainly sore. Still worried things are not healing right, but not sure how to find out.

Drug seemed to wear off faster tonight. Could feel it kick in - entire body suddenly relaxes. Pain still there, perhaps just dulled. When drugs kick in, I forget I'm wearing a cast and try to scratch itchy arm. Of course denied.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Dislocation diary: Day 4

Worked in bed till lunchtime, then called it quits. Mood better though. Maybe because it's D's day off so not alone at home.

Spent day watching TV and sitting on couch. Arm sore only if placed in wrong position and then can feel minor odd, slight painful feel, especially around ball of elbow. Really hope everything is healing right, including nerves, tendons, etc.

Called local hospital to set appointment for follow-up X-ray on Tuesday. Needed letter of requisition from previous doctor or it will be another $500 more. Called first hospital asking for letter. Why didn't they just give it to me in the first place since they were the ones who said I need to go for a follow-up? Hospital said will fax through. Hopefully.

Shoulder extremely tight. Bicep starting to look scary big. Mum suggested heat pack for shoulder which reminded me of cold compress for swollen biceps. No compress so frozen mixed veg will have to do. Needed D's help for hot water bottle. Tried to lay flat on floor to straighten shoulders. Screaming pain and elbow not happy after a while due to positioning.

Hot water bottle helped ease ache. Mixed veg...bicep looking even more scarily big.

Decided to take the Tylenol #3 prescribed by doctor. Had avoided it coz doctor said constipation was side effect and didn't want to be that! Also said to take if in pain, which I wasn't really. But thought might help with sleep.

Knocked me out for a good while, till it wore off then felt shoulder pains again. Had to keep sitting up to relieve pain then go back to sleep. Elbow and arm seemingly fine, ironically.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Dislocation diary: Day 3

Maybe reality sank in, or it's a side effect of Fentanyl, but got really depressed today. Felt useless, helpless and stupid for dislocating arm. Got rather upset. First tears since accident - nope, didn't cry when dislocated elbow, just lots of groaning and some dull yelling.

Tried to work again and was mostly ok. Slow-going but ok.

Forearm less painful when clenching fist so have taken to clenching exercises. Arm feels incredibly heavy to lift on its own. Biceps hurt and look a little swollen.

The itching has started and is really annoying.

Lunch was burrito again. Lucky with couchsurfers over, haven't had to worry about dinner.

Tried to wash hair. Filled bath with water. Knelt on the outside facing tub and dipped head in. Mostly clean but felt some shampoo residue when hair dried.

Went out for first time since accident. Took forever to get dressed. Can't tie shoelaces.

Sleep was horrid. Right shoulder would cry out in pain every few hours. Have to wake up, sit up and ease the soreness before going back to sleep.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Dislocation diary: Day 2

Arm feeling sore, but not as bad as when dislocated. Fingers are in right positions! Forearm hurts whenever I try to clench my fist.

D asked if arm itchy in cast. Say not feeling anything.

Phoned travel insurance company who will send out claim form. Should get some money back from crazy expensive overseas hospital visit.

Spent day on couch, trying to work with one hand. Mostly fine, but tiring for the one good arm.

Can't make lunch. Got leftovers together to make a mish mash kind of burrito. Interesting attempt to form burrito.

Slept quite good tonight after reading tip of placing towel under armpit for more comfort. Used PJ top to put under arm and elbow to create extra body width.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Dislocation diary: Day 1

Elbow dislocated at 1pm. In ER at 3pm. First (failed) reduction 6pm. Second (successful) reduction 7pm.

Noticed can ignore pain if left arm in certain position. Crazy pain when trying to change positions for X-ray.

Drugs took edge off pain but certainly still felt it when the tried popping it back in place! Immediate relief when back in place but still painful.

Felt immensely nauseous at about 8pm but did not throw up. Might be coming off drugs?

Driving back, noticed bumps in road didn't bother me as much as before. Felt extremely exhausted.

Arm in half-cast thing. Took bath with arm resting on side of tub. Mostly clean, except left arm where can only sprinkle water, and right arm, which is in cast.

Went straight to sleep after. So tired. Slept mostly ok. Had to only lay on back. Woke up few times to adjust arm, which was a dead weight.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Simple white cake

Despite turning his back on his old job and going on a working holiday at a Canadian ski resort, once an accountant, always an accountant. So while out shopping at the local supermarket when he first arrived, D calculates that buying a 10kg bag of flour is probably more worth it than buying 1kg.

This also means we now have 10kg of flour that needs to be used up in two months. How do you go through 10kg of flour?

This simple white cake is my attempt at making a dent in the bag. I don't have a mixer, a whisk or even proper baking equipment. All I have is a puny little right bicep, a fork, a bowl and some pyrex dish that will have to pass as a cake mould.

Still, I reckon this turn out pretty good, and I got a workout all at the same time!

It's really a no-frills kind of cake, great actually to have with a hot drink, ice-cream, fresh fruit or as a base for cupcakes. It's really simply to make and turned out tasting quite moist and soft.

What would make it better is vanilla extract/essence/bean paste, of which I have none, but still, pretty happy with it!

Recipe here.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A trip to the movies

From the outside, Toby Theatre didn't look like it was open for business. The big wooden doors looked firmly shut, there were no windows to peer in from and all was quiet outside. But when K tugged at the door handle, it reluctantly relented, revealing its plush, red-carpeted warmness inside.

Before we could thaw out from the cold outside, we had to pay the lady sitting in the little booth right by the door inside the theatre. Calling it a booth might be a little generous. It looked more like a closet, or a confessional booth, except instead of a curtain and some netting to obscure the confessor, there was a thick clear plastic pane with a little cut-out circle so that we can communicate.

There was no need to tell the lady which movie we were watching. Neither did we have to tell her which screening we wanted. The cinema only has one screening about once every two days and if you haven't figured it out by now, the cinema literally only has one screen.

We were catching Mission Impossible 4 (one would think that they would be screening Mission Impossible 5 by now, being this close to the tinsel source), but it wasn't only that they were screening something that is already on its last legs of the season in Australia a few thousand kilometres away, the movie actually made its premiere in downtown Invermere a mere week ago. And we caught the final screening a week later.

Stepping into the building, everything felt very . . . compact. It was as if we had entered one of those old British theatres (for performances, not movies) in minature. There was dark wood panelling and a maroon carpet. There was a sense of plushness and also . . . tradition. We didn't even get a ticket stub in exchange for our money. S was a bit confused as to where we'd be sitting. The lady called out "just go through and sit wherever".

We had to pass the strategically located candy bar before entering the screening room. K and D succumbed and bought some popcorn with "real melted butter" (it was one of the selling points on their website). In true German style, S wondered if there were any beer available. I helpfully told him there was root beer.

"That's not beer," S replied.

"But there's the word 'beer' in it," I reasoned.

"Yes, but there's also the word 'root'."

Goodies in hand, we turned to the screening room where we could already see the entire width of the screen through the double open doors. Guess the minature theme extended there. There were model WWII planes hanging from the ceiling, giving me the distinct impression that I was going to be catching one of those propaganda movies during the war.

We walk down the carpeted path, past less-than-plush chairs. These weren't modern-day, Gold Class cinema soft cushiony seating. These are what church pews would look like if they had individual seating and fold-up seats, complete with hard wooden back rests and the bare minimum of cushion for your bottom that leaves you undecided if the seats are soft or hard. The seats in the back half of the theatre even had some strange red carpeting on the back rests.

Amusingly, some of the seats were actually cuddle-friendly, in the sense that they had no arm rest in between two seats, not in the sense that they were any more soft or lounge-friendly.

We chose our seats, D and I on one of those "love seats", K and S in individual seats next to D. The place was really warm and we were in a hurry to shed our layers, beanies and gloves. Unfortunately, some of us were also heavy laden with pop corn and drink, and there were no cup holders. S stood in as a human-sized cup holder for K, while I placed our drink on the hard cement floor (the carpets were reserved only for the aisle).

Before long, the lights dimmed and the trailers came on. We got as comfortable as one can on seats that promoted good posture. Then about a minute into the first trailer (some sort of sequel to the Borat movie), the film reel melted.

You know those special effects you see of the film melting and suddenly all you see is a white screen? For a split second, we all thought that was what we were witnessing. That was until the lights in the theatre came on and the screen stayed white for an unnatural amount of time.

D exploded into laughter. Elevator music came on. The four of us looked at each other in amusement. I looked around at the other five people in the cinema. They looked like this was what they experienced every time they watched a movie. I didn't realise there are cinemas out there that still use actual film!

About five minutes later, the lights dimmed again and we continued where we left off. After the second trailer and no ads, the movie started.

For a small screen and lack of Dolby surround sound, we actually got quite engrossed in to the movie. That was until the part where Tom Cruise had to step out of a window some 100 stories up so that he can scale the building from the outside.

I waited with bated breath as he inched closer towards the open window . . . and then suddenly, a white screen with the words "Intermission" appeared. I actually thought it was part of the movie. Who puts an intermission in the middle of a Hollywood movie? This isn't a circus act. You watch a Hollywood movie, you commit to it and ignore the bladder that threatened to explode the minute the movie started.

But once again, the lights and elevator music came on. People actually walked out of the cinema as if this was normal. This time, I burst out laughing and looked at D, K and S, asking incredulously, "Really?!"

With nothing else to do, we milled out into the foyer that now felt like half the size of an entire hotel suite (the budget one, not the presidential one).

Since this was no longer a bladder endurance exercise, I thought I'd pay a visit to the washroom, appropriately labelled "Guys" and "Dolls". That was when the next surprise of the evening awaited me. It was as if I had stepped into an old Western saloon.

There were two stalls in the washroom, one fully enclosed, the other, which I had to go to, had one of those Western saloon swinging door that basically only covered me from my knees up to my chest. Luckily, I could lock the door.

Unluckily, there was another girl in the washroom who I somehow felt I had to have a conversation with, seeing that we could see each other clearly despite me being in a cubicle! We exchanged an awkward look, I muttered, "This is interesting." She laughs and politely replied, "I'll just leave now."

Escaping the less than private washroom and about three minutes later, we settled back into our seats and resumed our movie-watching, picking up from where we left off.

Toby Theatre was a very interesting experience, something that I have never had before. It was a step back into time and what made it even more amazing is the fact that this was no tourist attraction - the locals actual experience this in their daily lives (well, maybe weekly lives, if they choose to catch every new movie that comes into town).
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