Warning, graphic images
I've been asked about how I'm doing, so many times now that I've lost a grip on any remainder of emotional intelligence. I could say I'm great, but that would just be saying it.
Initially I joked about feeling great because of prescription grade painkillers.
In truth I slept best with a quantity of champagne, painkiller and valerian. That seemed a winning combination and allowed for five or six hours of thorough shut eye. Not that I needed it. Barely able to use the bathroom on my own, I could hardly leave the house for something better to do with my time. As a result, I have pretty much exhausted the contents of Netflix. Perhaps recommendations could make up an entire series of blog posts. Just today I finished season 2 of Person of Interest. After over 40 episodes of that series, the blurry line between reality and post CIA apocalyptic behaviour makes me want to either Krav Maga or return to coding. For now I'm practicing one arm press ups but perhaps both would be an ideal, perhaps I'm disillusioned.
Without Cici here to capture this set of images and write this text and also being the best sister in the world and owed a new handbag from babysitting yo' ass I'd just be staring up at the ceiling. As I have done, day in day out for weeks now.
I don't know where this all started.
I do remember nearly two decades back to my Grandma. I would sit beside her, looking up at her neckline where she wore a long scar all the way across her neck, the necklace, I'd call it. I would whisper to Katie-Alice, what do you think happened to Grandma, do you think she was a criminal. Again, I watched too much fiction, kinda. Anyway. I once saw her palms, again, from TV - I think it was The Bold and the Beautiful where I first discovered palm reading - I think it was Brooke or maybe Pearl who had theirs done and inevitably fifty episodes later there was a shipwreck, and it was all written already in fate. With my excellent new found skill - palm reading, I pulled open her hand, she was too busy talking Momma through a recipe to really notice, and there it was. My gosh, I shuddered. She had another life line running down her palm. I knew she was some kind of poltergeist entity - oh, uh, I also watched the Poltergeist aged 6 in secret after my teen aunt who lived with us tried to exorcise the house after watching it herself it explains so much about both of them.
Back to the point, it was only until last year that I found out that Grandma was not possessed because of having a second life line on her palms. Nor was she the anti christ. Phew, it made christmas dinner less awkward. I approached her with a glass of her favourite, orange and passionfruit J2O - and dropped it at her feet "oh Grandmother (please don't kill me) my hand, my hand just let go." Ahhh. She knew, in a menacing attack she grabbed my arm, I crossed myself fumbling for holy water or brown liquor she clawed at my palm "no! Grandma please! Don't kill me." I wondered if her olympic training also included Krav and hand to hand combat all those years back. She pulled my palm to my shoulder, pinching my elbow and doing something uncomfortable with my tarsals. Her voodoo worked, my index finger went tingly. Someone help me! And bring me more Single Malt!
Our father stepped in, empathising.
Apparently Grandma doesn't have a second lifeline, but instead a long scar from where her carpal tunnel was decompressed on Harley Street back in 1720, or the fifties, it's hard to pinpoint.
Papa suffered the same numbness, "and that's why I stopped Caving and Climbing. Patricia... belaying does.not.help your pain."
From all the possible Christmas family truths, this was the most unexpected. Firstly, Papa used to Climb! AND CAVE. Second, Grandma is not the Poltergeist. And third, my Papa's brother prefers Cognac to Single Malt!
So, it continued. The numbness, the disjunct sleep, the pain.
In late January I cried down the phone to a receptionist at my GP "please, I'm struggling to do anything."
I met my specialist, a man who has fixed up many a defect.
We tried shots of steroids to reduce inflammation. That way, I could join my buddies on the rocks, climb new grades, but, it didn't last long.
So, after returning from Ethiopia, it was time.
I went in for surgery. The same surgery my non demonised Grandmother endured over half a century ago.
I was mentally blocking everything out. Not thinking about it. When I got in the car I kidded myself that I was going out for a bad coffee - kinda true.
While in great private care, the menu didn't overwhelm me. Earlier this year in a similar ward, I looked at the same menu while Andrew went under the knife for his knee surgery, I had a simple solution - outsource. AJ went off foraging, as he left a nurse entered, "your doctor is ready, please could you put on this gown..."
It was local anaesthetic. Pfff, easy. I thought.
I sat in the pre op room, my Specialist had met me enough times to know to JFDI, rather than wave the needle around. In went the first, I riled.
The second didn't hurt. Nothing hurt.
On my bed they wound me through doors into a room of surgical unease and bright lights. I remember the nurse remarking about my eyelashes, the old ostrich joke blurted out my mouth in a tremor.
"Can you feel this?" I was asked as forceps apparently yanked at my wrist. I shook my head. "Can you feel it?" "n,n,no." I tried to hold it together.
The thing with carpal decompression, is that the little duct is right there, so close to your flesh, that it truly is not intrusive. I told myself I'd be back to climbing, work, photography, in just weeks.
As my shoulder moved from each slice in my hand, I shuddered, trying to forget about what I thought it was that was being done within my arm. I wondered what AJ would have found us for lunch. I wondered whether he'd find the perfect panini out there. Better yet, wasabi peas.
Things started becoming a little hazy.
Voices muffled and distanced themselves from me. The beeping from the machine slowed.
Someone tried to raise their voice at me, I felt a sense of bliss. Like the time I sliced my foot open in the Lesotho highlands, and then tried to fight the nurses as they approached with needles. They weren't sure how much anaesthetic had been administered to this flailing child, so played it safe with a bit extra, inducing a feeling of bliss. Plus corporate policy on that contract dictated that insurance would be void unless the doctor on site worked on the laceration. Thing was that the man with the needle and thread was tanked on an afternoon of Rugby and beer. The same blanket of warm silence fell over me.
A little while later, shaking back into life, the voices at my side started making a little more sense.
I tried to sit myself up, slumped down as my arm gave way. I pulled it from beside me, and there was this giant bandage, my fingers felt a million miles from the rest of me.
Back in the ward I asked to stand up on my own, it took a while but I did.
That was the first of many little wins.
Some days I wake up, stare into space, then try to trick myself back into sleep.
Every now and then I get a feeling of excitement as I begin to think "my strength is coming back, it's coming back" then, just a few minutes later I don't have the capacity to lift a pencil.
My thumb twinges, like a little electric pulse running through it, it shivers.
I get excited, thinking yes - next stop the climbing wall! But then the throbbing an pain returns.
The bruises are like a mood ring. They change from day to day. It just so happens that today they're kinda purple, yesterday they were more yellow.
A little incapacitated but surrounded with amazing humans, I can't help but feel positive. Words and images roll through my mind, but without a pretty awesome bunch like Cici who's going to take your Jeffrey Campbells once I'm done, they would etch away at my mind. Unable to release images from my mind is like being unable to scream in the depths of a nightmare.
Right now, this isn't a nightmare, it's a weird pergetry.
I get to recover from this, and find greater strength, but for those who have lost limbs my heart aches. Over and over I've looked at this image, unsure of whether to share. These pages are normally places of positivity, but every time I look at this healing cut, I can't help but think of the coming months and all the great experiences this will lead me to - in the best way possible!