I’m pleased to advise that It’s been a much slower news cycle. No new disasters or twists of fate to report. Instead, it’s been at once a busy month (adapting to and meeting new daily needs) and a slow month (reconciling to doing less and more slowly).
Angie had follow-up x-rays and saw her surgeon for a post-op appointment on March 24th. He was pleased with the surgery (in his words, he did a “cracker jack job”) and how well it is all holding together. You’ll see what I mean by ‘all’ when viewing the attached photo of ‘before and after’ x-rays showing the fracture and then the plate and 11 screws gathering and holding her shoulder together. On seeing this picture, one friend wrote, “Oh my god, you poor thing - the pictures look absolutely terrible. Am I supposed to say, ‘oh, it looks as if it'll be just fine etc.’?" That comment was our (wry) laugh therapy for the day as we’ve become used to the image. But, no doubt about it – it rates as one of the most severe shoulder injuries and it was major surgery. She sees her surgeon this week for the second post-op consultation and x-ray which we hope will confirm that the surgery has fully taken. We have no rational reason to believe it hasn’t so it will be good to put that nagging worry behind us.
She is doing as well as can be expected. But the thing about the injury and surgery is that it’s still there even though the shock and pain and surgical staples have gone. She has another 3-4 weeks in the sling, immobilized. She is being resolute and as independent as she can be. She is able to do gentle (but surprisingly hard) exercises to mitigate the risk of frozen shoulder when she emerges.
She can dress and shower herself and she can read a book with a strategically placed cushion. But it’s remarkable how much of keeping house and home together needs (at least) two functioning arms. As a result, I have been duly instructed in the domestic arts which I’d evaded for many years. It’s actually all very grounding and good. I’ve remembered the pleasure of making a meal (even if I haven’t quite mastered lining up all the timing – including the time to begin). It is good to be able to care for her – and indeed for us to be caring for one another. To riff off the scripture - love is patient and kind; love likes hanging out together and love enjoys a good laugh and the company of friends.
And indeed, we continue to be blessed by the kindness of friends who have shoveled our walk as winter has refused to release its grip, delivered nourishing meals and helped us with errands. Mary from Newfoundland, came after Easter during the week of my second chemotherapy – and quietly made meals and broths, dispatched loads of laundry and re-provisioned the larder. Angie has also been approved through the local CLSC (community health and social services) for a few weeks of assistance with tasks around home – a real help against the frustration of being unable to get on with things.
I’ve been fortunate in the midst of this that I’ve taken the chemotherapy well through two doses so far. Next treatment is April 19th. I’ve kept my appetite and taste buds. I haven’t been nauseous. The steroids that help with the nausea haven’t shaken me up. Blood counts held. I find myself easily tired though. The pattern has been that I’ve been pretty much wiped out for the first week after this two-drug dose. I expect the effects will begin to cumulate (and new ones develop when I switch in May to the single drug) so I’m just grateful for a good start to the process. My hair is gone, on schedule and as expected. I’d prepared for this ahead of time and have a stylish new public look. Picture attached so you’ll recognize me.
Also a photo of the ever photogenic Angie to reassure you that she too is smiling in the midst.
As things settle down a little we are trying to walk most days to help our respective bodily ills. I’ve been able to begin to read again. My concentration was shot with the confluence of events. I’ve just finished When Breath Becomes Air, after circling it since receiving it at our open-house. Authored by a young neurosurgeon as he engaged with stage IV lung cancer and probed questions of life and death, it is a very reflective, and beautifully written book. An invitation to ponder. I have other lines of literature lined up too – including mysteries -- and a working list of Netflix shows. And, we’re enjoying Madame Secretary on TV (secretly rooting for Hilary).
Spring is also in the air. Our resident chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers are having to compete with rapaciously hungry migrants – a vast slew of pine siskins, a fleeting visit from a flock of redpolls, some wary starlings and some robins unimpressed by the continuing presence of snow. Fingers crossed that this is the last of the chill. I feel my fingers twitching for the soil and Angie has her eyes set on getting the deck furniture set up for longer, languid, healing days outdoors.
Thanks for your friendship and being our Village.