Give this paraplegic a wrist injury and watch the catastophizing begin.
I don’t mean to brag, but I’m really good at the catastrophzing game. I can go from All is well in my world to My entire family is dead in a ditch in the span of a few seconds. Or, more relevantly, You need to rest your wrist for a week to My independence is gone forever and my life will never be the same without pausing to consider a more realistic outcome. I’ve spent decades (yes, decades—plural) perfecting my anxiety skills and this little wrist problem was the perfect catalyst to put them into practice.
I suppose I’ve been angry that this seemingly small injury has impacted our daily life as significantly as it has in the last week. I’m angry that my husband had to take time off work because I can’t transfer in and out of my wheelchair without my wrist feeling like it’s going to snap. The thought, “If I wasn’t already broken, this wrist wouldn’t be a problem” plays on repeat in my head, only causing me to sink deeper into the low mood that’s been lingering for weeks. Needing help for things I’ve all but perfected doing independently has me reliving early moments of my recovery—bringing up emotions I really don’t have much capacity to deal with right now. But it also brings up a fear that has me questioning if I’m doing right by my body at all.
Pain management is high on my priority list. Massage, physio and chiro usually keep my pain at a livable level. What’s also on my priority list? Staying active, staying strong and not gaining weight that will make it more difficult to keep my body moving. But what if I’m not doing it the right way? Is there a right way or a best way to balance pain and activity so as to stretch your independence out as long as possible while also living freely in a way that makes you happy? If there is, it probably somehow involves giving up wine and chocolate which, I don’t think I can do.
In all seriousness, after allowing myself to rely on my husband and rest, my wrist is already much improved. A few more days sporting my new favourite accessories—an ice pack and a wrist brace—and I should be back to my regular working order. But then I’m faced with the question I really don’t want to answer: Am I doing myself more harm than good with my current routine? And if the answer is yes, what do I change? Do I give the gym a break and focus more on yoga, stretching and pilates? Do I rely more on my power assist when we go for longer walks to give myself a break? I honestly don’t know.
This injury isn’t the end of my independence—my physiotherapist assured me of that. I also know this won’t be the last time I need to rest my body or take time to let things heal. Even with that knowledge, I’m sure I’ll spiral down my catastrophe slide each time, momentarily convincing myself that my independence had a good run but that it’s all over. One day I’ll be right, but it isn’t now. Now, I have to come up with a plan—figure out a good balance—to keep my body strong and active but intact and un-inflamed. Any ideas?