Breaking My Wrist or How Long Does Healing Take?

It’s been quite a year… In April as I was walking my dog, I fell and landed on my right wrist, smashing it into many pieces. I will write more about that experience at some point, but today, I want to talk about how long it takes to heal…

Obviously, as an energy worker and body worker I was out of work! How long to take off? Until my hand was totally back to normal? That seemed absurd, the first month I felt like my whole right arm was off-line. It not only couldn’t do anything, it didn’t even want to try. I remember the day, about 5 weeks in, that – without thinking about it – I reached for a glass and picked it up with my right hand. I stared in amazement. My right hand had just spontaneously picked something up! It felt like that whole part of my body woke up that day and I found myself flipping light switches, reaching for the toothbrush, picking up a fork with my right hand again. So as soon as I felt that I could minimally function with both hands I thought that was enough healing time. I was ready to go back to work.

I decided to go back to work after six weeks not because I was actually physically ready for it, but because intellectually that seemed like long enough. So over the next few months I did what I could with my right hand and compensated by doing much more with my left. I was strong, tough, and enough was enough… I wanted to get back to my normal life, I felt like I should be able to work and so I did.

When I gradually began developing tendonitis and carpal tunnel problems in my left hand and arm from all the overuse I was dismayed. I tried to compensate, juggling back and forth between the two. I will never forget the night I came back from a conference and walked through the airport parking lot pulling my suitcase and having to stop every minute to switch hands, when each side became too painful. What was I thinking? When was I going to accept my limitations and let my body take the time it needed to heal?

This November I had a second surgery to remove the plate and screws that had put my wrist back together. Somehow, I came up with the idea that I could take just two weeks off after the surgery and go back to work. By the second week, when I was just getting the stitches out and the cast off I realized how ridiculous that notion was!

And as I finally stopped listening to my head and started listening to my body I really, profoundly got the truth that I have told so many clients over the years. And at a very deep level I accepted that my healing will take as long as it takes. And that I had to give that to myself. As I have said so many times, “every problem has a gift for you in it’s hands...” No arbitrary back to work dates, no theoretical recovery period. I finally had to stop pushing myself and rushing the process.  My job was just to stop and rest, and let my body heal from the repeated and ongoing traumas of the injuries and surgeries. Heal from all the stresses and changes of my life over the last few years. Heal from whatever it needed to heal from…

The healing will take as long as it takes. My apologies to my clients who I’m not able to care for now. And my apologies to my body that I was not able to fully listen until now. So when will I go back to work? That is up to my hands. One day they will let me know that they are ready to shift from their own internal healing process to assisting other people in their healing process. One day soon, they will reach for that proverbial glass and I will know…

Yours in Peace and Healing,

Carol

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Steve Tuttle - December 25, 2013

I have much empathy for you. In early October I fell off a ladder and broke (more like pulverized/shattered) my radius bone about an inch from the wrist end on my dominant right hand. Had surgery 2 days later to install a t-shaped metal brace to repair it. Also looked and felt like I severely sprained my wrist and all 5 fingers. Like you I was surprised how slowly the healing process was–constant pain for 5-6 weeks, really couldn’t do anything with the hand, mentally tired due to pain and had to take a nap every day due to poor sleep at night, etc. Started physical therapy to start getting some range of motion back and eventually to start restrengthening everything. Little milestones regularly come–can use my toothbrush, hold my coffee cup, turned my car ignition on (about wk. 7). Still a bit of discomfort all the time and the swelling is not all gone and am getting stronger and with a bit of extra mobility week by week. frustrating how slow it is, but like you I realized it will heal at its own pace and all I can do is be diligent with my daily PT exercises. Might not ever get the full range of motion, but hopefully will get enough ROM and strength so I can once again do all the bodyweight exercising I used to do and wield all my gardening tools, etc. Humbling process overall but also lets me have deep gratitude that I still have my hand and basic health unlike so many.

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Sharone - December 26, 2013

Dear Carol,

When I read the words describing what you’ve experienced and how you’ve come through to acceptance and peace I’m truly inspired. I feel your loss and great strength.

This has been a challenging couple of years for me and mine as well. And take heart in the renewal of the New Year.

Happy New Year Carol.

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Bonnie - January 26, 2015

I just read your post. I would like yo hear from you on how the process has been since 2013 to now. I broke my right wrist on Decemer 17,2014, falling on ice at work. I had surgery on December 23, 2014. Have not driven since surgery, as my hand therapist said I really need to be able to do a tight fist before driving. I know for many they have started driving right away or within the first month. My concern, if I can drive then I will be considered ready to go to work as I am a courtesy driver for an auto dealership. As a courtesy driver who gives clients rides, my concern is the liability when I am limited in my use of my hand, actually probably can’t turn the key, or shift the gears well if at all either…it was just 1 month Friday since surgery. I was out of the cast after 6 days, and into a brace that I remove and do hand exercises 4 x per day, plus have hand therapy 2x per week… Again, I want to heR. Your progress from 2013 to 2015 and if you don’t mind has age been a factor?

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Carol - January 28, 2015

Thanks for writing. Every body is different, every injury is different. One month after surgery I was not driving; not because I absolutely couldn’t drive with one hand, but because in an emergency, I know my right hand would have grabbed for the wheel and that would have been painful and stressful to the delicate healing tissues. It is really worth it to give your body the time it needs, so that your healing is complete. You will be much less likely to have residual problems if you let it totally heal. And yes, age is certainly a factor in healing. At 60, I know my body needed longer than it did at 30.

Now, over a year since the last surgery I am able to do most things that I want to do but am still careful and mindful of how I use my hands. My work uses my hands, so that subjects them to very different strains than other people. I have discovered that I cannot weed my garden for very long, and don’t know if I ever will again. I would never try to wash windows (no great loss!) and this winter I don’t shovel much snow. Will this change in another year? I can only listen to my body and find out.

I wish you speedy and complete healing. You are at the beginning of the process, give yourself a year to allow the healing process to unfold. Regardless of the timetable they give you, my best advice is to listen to your body and honor it, even if you don’t like what it says.

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milica bravacic - October 5, 2017

only 2 weeks in cast of the right wrist and your words sound very wise to follow..last few days i am in an unusual need of sleep and rest and am allowing myself in doing so.

our body is smart more than we think…

good luck to everybody!

milica

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