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April 17, 2019
I suffered my injury last summer on a vacation weekend to the Upper Pennisula. We were visiting family and enjoying a little "heaven on earth", as my brother lives on a beautiful piece of property right on the shores of Lake Michigan / Big Bay De Noc. Early on the Sunday morning we planned to head for home, I decided I wanted to swim one last time in the lake. It had been such a pleasant, enjoyable day in the water the day before, so I just wanted that one last swim. The lake bottom is really rocky and you have to pick your way carefully in before you get out to sandy bottom. I never got out that far. I was wearing water shoes and thought I was being cautious enough, but before I knew even what happened, I was down in the water and instantly felt excruciating pain in my left wrist. As I recovered from the initial shock and tried to sort out what had happened, I picked my left arm up. I remember looking at it and seeing how oddly deformed it was, the pain registering in my brain and realizing that "something ain't right here." I had to crawl back in to shore, on my knees and using my elbows. Let's just say that my entourage and I packed up our stuff and headed back for home a little earlier than we had planned. I decided that I would wait until I got back home and to a healthcare facility I was comfortable with. That was a loooonnnnngggg 6 hour car ride back home.
Now, enter TCO. When we got back to my hometown of Stillwater, MN, I went immediately to the ER at Lakeview Hospital. I was informed that, indeed, I had broken bones and suffered a "Colles" fracture of the wrist; a common injury that occurs when you extend your arm to break your fall. The ER doctor did the best he could for me that day and then gave me the referral to TCO. He informed me that I might need surgery to repair my wrist if TCO thought they couldn't reset the bones properly. I was scared. I had never broken any bones before and to think I might need surgery? Yes, I was frightened at the thought and whether or not I would regain complete function of my hand and wrist again.
I was fortunate to get into TCO within a week of my injury and saw Dr. Ryan Karlstad. He specializes in the hand and wrist. He immediately put me at ease, he was so kind and soft spoken and yet honest. He gave me a few options and surgery was a definate part of any of the options. Of course he had to inform me of the risks of surgery and the possibilities of not recovering full mobility or function of my hand and wrist afterwards. I opted to have him do an ORIF (open reduction and internal fixation) using a plate and screws. He informed me this would be the optimal route to go for best and long lasting positive results. Within a week of my injury, I was in the High Pointe surgical suites getting my fracture repaired!
I started occupational therapy very soon after with Bonnie VanDeMark OTR/L, CHT. I loved Bonnie. She is about the same age as me and shared the same sense of humor as me. I related so well to her that I actually enjoyed going to my sessions with her. I was almost sad when we were all done! Aside from her having a such a wonderful personality, she really knows her stuff! She gave me new and progressive exercises each time I saw her and measured my progress every time. Now, I am a really good patient, too, and always did my exercises religiously since I obviously wanted to get back to "normal" mobility and activity. I had to do my part.
I enjoy walking, hiking, yoga, Pilates, and my newest and latest passion, pickleball. You don't realize until you can't do things, how frustrating it is to have to require help to make a bed, fold clothes, put on a shirt, open a jar, or carry a laundry basket downstairs. Nope, I was going to do everything in my power to recover completely because I am fiercely independent (and am quite particular in how things ought to be done, my family will tell you I am a little OCD that way).
Even with my fractured wrist, though, and splint on, I went to my 3 x week Pilates classes faithfully. And there was no reason not to continue my daily walks, I didn't break a leg, after all. I figured I would do as much as I could physically without the use of one arm, as there was no reason not to, right? I remember my Pilates instructor and the usual Pilates groupies marveling at my one armed planks, three point push ups, and "off balance" roll downs. Within a few short weeks, I was doing full planks, pushups and weight bearing yoga and Pilates exercises with no pain. That's incredible and I just can't believe that I am "back to normal" activity and mobility again, pain free!
I thank the huge role my caregivers and therapist from TCO did for me in this whole recovery process. I would probably not be considered a success otherwise. I guess my point also would be to emphasize to not count yourself out. Be in the mindset that if you do all that is requested of you from your TCO care team, you too, can be a successful "Comeback Story" like this 60 year old, retired, ordinary Grandma... ME! Thank you TCO!