On November 14, 2015, I fell about 8 feet off of a ladder. I sustained the following injuries. I had 12 fractured ribs (all non-displaced - thank goodness); fractured and displaced my right radial bone at the wrist - to my feeling self this was the worst injury; fractured the left scaphoid bone below the thumb; and fractured the zygomatic bone of my face, which was declared self-healing and fortunately did not effect my eyesight. I had no headaches or dizziness, but it did leave my upper right gums and teeth sore with some numbness.
I was brought by ambulance to Oakland’s Highland Hospital ICU - which Kaiser uses in cases of trauma. I was there for 2 1/2 days. Pain meds were liberal, x-rays were taken, right wrist was reset, and both wrists were splinted. My facial fractures were declared self healing. Their main concern were my rib injuries and the possible effect of swallow breathing, leading to pneumonia. Fortunately, I started breathing exercises immediately and only experienced mild discomfort. (It’s a miracle!) The care I received was excellent.
I was moved to the relatively new Oakland Kaiser Hospital - beautiful, all private rooms, internet, big screen TV, for further evaluation and recovery. I stayed there 2 1/2 days before being released to go home. The care was very good; the food lousy - all sugar and denatured, processed carbs.
The doctors and nurses were adamant that I take pain meds not only to stay on top of the pain, but also allowing my body to rest and heal with relative comfort. This was an excellent strategy and looking back I am grateful I submitted. At Kaiser I was both on a drip and could self administer a pain dosage at the click of a button. Research has shown this method of pain control by the patient actually reduces the amount of pain meds patients use. The doctor said I was only averaging about 20% of “normal” usage and believe me, I wasn’t depriving myself. I also used a Lidocaine (topical analgesic) patch over the sorest section of my ribs, 12 hours on, 12 hours off. And I continue (4 weeks later as of the writing of this newsletter) to take some pain meds and use the patch.
At my first outpatient appointment to see my regular doctor, I mentioned I had some sores/tenderness on my right buttock cheek. To my doctor’s and my surprise I had shingles. “But you had the vaccination for shingles, didn’t you?” asked my doc. “Yes, I did,” said I. He explained that I had a very mild case (again, thank goodness!) due to having had the vaccination. But the stress of the injury had brought it on. I was prescribed an anti viral medication.
At my first outpatient appointment to see my orthopedic doctor, new x-rays were taken, the merits of wrist surgery or not were discussed, and I opted for no surgery. Both wrists received new fiberglass casts - which come in a variety of colors. I chose a perky green. The casting process was fascinating - an art and science.
As I write this newsletter, I am entering my fifth week of healing. I believe having done somatic movements for 25 years has kept my body in excellent shape. I believe that the muscles around and between my ribs were able to accept the impact of the fall without going into gut-wrenching spasms. I could breathe in relative comfort from the beginning, even though it was probably somewhat shallow. From the beginning I did my somatic breathing movements, always staying within my comfort zone, and within days I was breathing deeply. From the very beginning, I did bed somatic micro-movements all through my body, and over time increased these in quality and variation. I continue to do standing and bed somatics - I’m not yet ready for getting up and down from the floor with ease. I continue to improve.
My husband and sisters attribute my positive outlook to my personality and experience. I remember just having landed on the floor after the fall (I don’t think I lost consciousness), that I knew I was hurt, and that my life was going to be greatly interrupted, and I had a choice to fight or give in to the process. I quickly made up my mind. In order to facilitate my healing, I needed to be as positive as I could and use all my internal and external resources: Hanna Somatics, mindfulness practices, social support, visualization, nutrient rich food - lots of bone broth, foot massage, and project full recovery. I had an immediate, wonderful support system with my husband, sisters, friends, dog Chester, and cat Louie - although I don’t love him lying on my chest, I do allow it for a couple of minutes.
My Work with clients since 1976 and seeing the effects of injury, depression, and stress on the healing process, helped prepare me for using my injury experience as a healing journey. I have so many people to thank. My teaching partner, Phil Shenk, reminded me to use visualization. I’m visualizing a crew of tiny people climbing up and down my bones fixing and repairing them 24/7. I see them cleaning out debris, repairing bone breaks, running energy around and through the bones and joints, making sure blood and lymph circulates properly, and lately they’ve even been singing to the bones and surrounding tissues bringing healing vibrations to my healing journey.
My injuries leave me with the use of my 4 left fingers (not the thumb). All 5 of my right fingers are not casted, but originally were part of the first splint. When I first got the cast on my right wrist, my fingers were swollen and I could hardly move them at all. Over time and with practicing somatic finger movements I am slowly gaining more function, but still strongly rely on my 4 left fingers. My spine and lower body are fine.
I’ve had lots of help. My sister, Robin, dropped her life and flew up from Burbank, CA, to help me for the first 12 days out of the hospital. My husband, Paul, got a much needed break. Injuries stress out family care givers too and his constant hospital visits, taking care of the home front and pets, and communicating with family, my work colleagues, clients, students, and friends all fell to him. My sister, Marcia (lives in Berkeley as do I), was also on the scene for errands, shopping, walking the dog, whatever. Hiring a friend and student of mine, Janet Jacobson, to come in three times a week for a few hours each time (after Robin went home) has been great and gives my husband and sister, Marcia, a much needed break.
I gain more vitality daily, but take lots of naps, and can only be at the computer or have social visits for short periods of time. I love books on tape, netflix (Grace and Frankie, and Rita), amazon video (Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle) and cooking TV shows - helps my appetite. I am just beginning to be able to read. Working on this newsletter is a big deal! I thank my sister, Marcia, and my computer tutor, Isaiah Smith, for their assistance.
Messages of kind thoughts from so many people, colleagues, students, friends, and family help keep my spirits positive. Thank you.