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Learning to listen…

The injury saga continues…

I took this photo last Friday to send to my mom after a post-op check up. I had just then been fitted into a new split that was to last a week. 

The second I stood up to transition to my knee scooter, I felt an intense sharp pulling sensation in my tendon (the one that had been repaired a week prior). I said this to the technician, who had fitted my splint. He advised me to let it dry (24hrs), and then use mychart to contact them if I’m still feeling discomfort. I hesitated, because it felt wrong – my embodied knowing was telling me that something was wrong. But who am I to question the medical professional in front of me? (At least that’s what you think when you’re a female patient being told by a male medical professional that his knowledge of the theoretical body is more accurate than the sensations you are experiencing in your body). So I went home. 

It only took me a couple hours to decide that the splint was causing harm – it was too tight (cutting of my circulation) and was holding my foot in slight plantar flexion (holding the freshly repaired tendon in a stretched position). So I sent a message to my doctor using mychart, as instructed. By the time I went to bed that night, I was having crazy sensations – the muscles through my lower leg were pulsing, causing twitches all over my foot. And by the time it was 3am I was in tears, having not slept the entire time.

Of course no one had responded to my mychart message, it being a Friday appointment, and currently the middle of the night. So I called a 24 hr number that connected me to an on call orthopedic doctor at the hospital. She told me that I definitely needed to get the splint replaced as soon as possible, and that an urgent care wouldn’t know how to do it; therefore my only option was the ER, who would need to page an orthopedic doctor to come down. So, I went to the ER. (Let’s not mention how much this whole thing is costing me…)

I was at the ER for 7 more hours before the orthopedic doctors finally fitted me for a new splint…my foot sitting in a position that was putting tension on my newly repaired tendon the entire time.

Through this process I am developing an intimate trust in and relationship with the sensations of my body. I’ve not always been in tune with my body – I dissociate a lot, especially when I’m anxious or having sex (more on that some other time). This injury is forcing me to confront this habit of dissociation. When I have pain, it’s such a specific and unfamiliar sensation that it can’t be ignored, no matter how much I wish it could. I am having to relearn how to use my body with every action – using crutches to aid me while balancing on one leg as I reach to grab a shirt off the rack; scoot/crawling myself up and down the stairs, distributing my weight between my arms and one leg; sitting on the edge of the tub to carefully lift one leg, then the other, wrapped in plastic, out of the shower (which I had taken sitting down on my new shower stool with my new shower head with a hose), gripping and praying like hell that I don’t slip on the wet porcelain. I am learning to trust what my body is telling me when something feels wrong, even when a medical professional, who I’m supposed to trust looks me in the eye and tells me that my embodied experience is mistaken – like when the initial doctor I saw (the first time I went to the ER) shrugged, saying that my tendon is fine, and that he has no explanation for why I can’t move my ankle, subtly insinuating that it’s all in my head. I’m having to advocate for myself based on what my body is telling me, getting a second medical opinion whenever a doctor (usually male) tells me something that doesn’t match my embodied experience.

Ironically, through the vulnerability and trauma of this injury, I am learning to listen to, be with, trust, and follow the lead of my body. 

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