"You fractured your clavicle"
I was asked not too long ago to contribute an article regarding my recent injury. See, I broke my clavicle falling off of a horse and had surgery to repair the fractured bone....but the subject matter of the Non Profit who wanted the contribution seemed null and void to my experience. What could my injury possibly have to do with the Beautiful Me Campaign? I'd realize later, the answer was everything.
My friend Molly started this Non Profit not only to raise awareness on Eating and Body Image Disorders- but also to influence young women in a positive way to encourage them to be the best version of themselves. To be empowered, and to be their own best advocates. Over the years, Beautiful Me has transgressed strictly ED's to an all encompassing mental, physical and spiritual health advocacy organization for young women everywhere. So enjoy my story as I learn to grow and progress through my healing!
June 14th, 2019. "You fractured your clavicle". I was sitting in a room in our local Emergency Department joking around with my husband about how badly I smell, and how awful I looked- covered in sweat, sand dumped out on the floor from my boots with an ice pack stuffed through the waistband on my underwear on my hip, and one around my shoulder. I would've SWORN over my own dead body that my shoulder was dislocated. The shock of severity hadn't set in
yet, and the cocktail of an adrenaline high mixed with ice and fluids masked any real pain. "You'll need surgery to repair it." [yeah, okay] I thought....it's probably cracked and I'm fine. Then I saw the X-ray- the whiteness on my shoulder as I looked right was actually bone, trying desperately to protrude through the thin layer of skin on my right shoulder and the angle my arm hung across my chest was due to a severely shortened shoulder as a result of a tented fracture. Surgery was scheduled for two weeks, and I was released after having a low dose of Morphine, and sent home with a few blue slips for some painkillers, nothing I hadn't been through before.
I don't recall much of that night- but I do know based off my husbands exhausted face the next morning that I must've not slept more than an hour at a time off and on. I think I blocked a lot of that first night out, but I can also remember just moving my head slightly in one direction- or the simple act of getting out of the chair to go to the bathroom became so laborious that I started crying every time I opened my eyes or needed something. My husband got me a surgery that same week as a result. He's such a go-getter. Surgery came and went, and with it came a new addition; a plate secured with 11 screws, I wound up with a frozen shoulder, muscular damage, nerve damage, a pinched nerve, loss of sensation, muscular atrophy, and a shitty attitude....but I'm really just getting to the point. The surgery isn't what I'm here to talk about.
I was never the girl who had a million appointments to get to- I never had anything physical that anyone ever noticed, I was (am) always early, never late and am genuinely a good worker. I'm a people pleaser, and I'd never had an injury. In being so, I'd never realized what it was like to be so helpless. I felt trapped in my own body, full of anger and frustration. I couldn't pull up or down my own pants to pee, I couldn't reach to the side for toilet paper, couldn't bathe myself, couldn't even put on my own shirt or up my own ponytail. When I finally could stand to be in a shower in water pressure, I can remember getting so angry that I couldn't bend to use my loofa that I swiped everything off the shower shelf and sent the bottles crashing to the floor. Dramatic, I know. But my life went from finally progressing in my riding to feeling humiliated having my husband literally undress and dress me every time I had to use the bathroom- could you blame me? I cried almost every day. I got mad when I couldn't open a drawer and don't even want to tell you how many tank tops I cut off myself because I was too proud to ask for help. I had a few friends who came to visit but most assumed it wasn't a big deal....and it wasn't their faults, I wouldn't have wanted them to be around me honestly, not like that.
Months went by and I started progressing enough at PT to add acupuncture and eventually Chiropractic to my regiment. I'd started riding again, still needed help to tack up, but was okay for a good half hour ride or so. I started to heal, and my attitude changed for the better. I could walk my dogs myself again, and I was able to get into long sleeves (although there was that one time my neighbor had to get me out of one)....I started being more myself and being a friend again, but the injury still lingered over me.
People would see my scar and cringe, or wrinkle their nose, or say things like "omg that's an awful scar!" When in reality; the cut was amazing. I had finally gotten to be proud of my new scar- she was straight and unwavering, although pink and purple, but all people saw was how thick it is and how awkwardly shortened and pointy my shoulder was the longer they studied it. On top of that- friends, employers and others in my life seemed to consider the injury a non serious one. One that they were "amazed" took so long to heal (to be clear, I won't be fully healed for another year most likely- but I almost have full RoM back and it's November). I got the ever so slighted comments such as "you're STILL going to PT?", "HOW many days a week do you have to do that?!", "You CANT lift that?!", "does that REALLY help???", "it was your clavicle, not your arm/shoulder/neck/back", "are you done yet?" And my favorite, "can't you reschedule these appointments for another time?" I would get frustrated, I would cry, I would lash out at my husband and friends and instead of reveling in my little victories and brushing off the lack of understanding, I became obsessed with what I couldn't do.
How did I move on? I started getting more serious about my therapies, instead of going through the motions I started working toward what I want. I rode more. I leased a horse when everyone thought I was crazy because I needed to for me. I started doing some research on my injury to better understand it, and actually telling people how I was feeling mentally. No one really knew! They all thought I was fine because I was projecting being fine. I learned patience, a lesson I dreaded, and above all; persistence. I found that when I started owning my injury- asking for help, telling people I wasn't ok, and accepting help that I actually started to heal. Im still learning to advocate for myself, (I was recently told I can't continue my Thursday appointments) still finding myself mid breakdowns (although fewer and fewer) at the thought of just ONE MORE WEEK of this/that/and the other, and still anxiously and hopefully anticipating the day where I go the whole morning, afternoon and evening before realizing I had no pain, and no appointment to rush to. I'm finally healing. It took a village; Physical Therapy, Acupuncture, Cupping, Ultrasound, Heat, Massage, Ice, Traction and Dry Needling, Friends, Parents, Coaches, Horses, and last but not least my Husband- but asking for help and speaking up was the key.
I hope if you're reading this- you know to never stop advocating for yourself and your health, that it's okay if you don't feel like "you" sometimes and that you will heal. I may have a scar now, but it's only a reminder of my persistence, patience, and ownership of my own life.