Author’s Note: Don’t let the title fool you. This isn’t one of those uplifting posts that tells you how wonderful you can be. You can read that stuff on your own time.
Long-time readers know that I find most people annoying. People are nuts. Some of the things they do defy sanity and I’m not just talking about the guy who cuts me off at the Starbucks drive-through.
When you meet people who are in your same situation, there is an instant bonding that happens regardless of background, experiences or anything else.
Earlier this week I arrived at my occupational therapy session a little early. There was a departmental meeting going on so I was directed to sit in the waiting area which has exactly four chairs. There were three of us. All of us waiting for hand rehab.
I don’t remember how it started but within a nanosecond we were comparing hand problems, surgeries and recovery.
One guy stuck his hand in the exhaust chute of a snow blower (eyow!). The other woman fell cross-country skiing and fractured her wrist badly enough to require plates and screws (double eyow!).
There I sat with a simple cyst. Completely outdone but very happy about that.
As we shared stories I found that my recovery isn’t any different from theirs.
Hand stuff is more painful than some other surgeries. I recovered from breast cancer surgery much faster. There are less bones and nerves in soft tissue boobs.
Heat is kinder than cold. The woman with the plates talked about the discomfort when the weather was cold. The thin wrist is not much protection to keep her metal plates from chilling down. Even without metal plates, I could relate to that and so could the other guy.
The woman and I worked with the same therapist side by side. He would work with one of us while the other was in heat therapy or doing an exercise but the conversation was three-way. I learned a lot from her intelligent questions. (My office questions are never intelligent. My best questions come at 3 a.m. and always have a fatal answer – at least in my head. I know no one has ever died from a thumb cyst. Yet.)
I have made the circuit of all the therapists on the team to which I was assigned. It was very helpful because each one gave me new information or techniques. I think this is better than having the same person all the time.
As helpful as they were, my waiting session with my fellow sufferers went a long way to making me feel normal (which is not an easy challenge).
This happened to me once before. When I had breast cancer I received a new therapy. I was the 65th person to receive this type of treatment and yes, it was scary.
The best part (other than it was successful) was that there were two other woman going through it at the same time. We had surgery the same day so the recovery stage was identical.
We came in for treatment twice a day for five days. We compared our energy levels and our fears. The treatment did not make us sick but sapped our energy. Sapped it beyond belief! Like maple syrup running out of a tree.
We were told we could work through it. It didn’t make sense because we had to report to the hospital at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. every day for an hour and a half. How do you work around that?
I was too tired to attempt it. One of the other ladies tried. She worked in a library for a few hours in the evening. She had her husband pick her up the first night because she was so tired.
That was empowering. Knowing you are not alone is the most empowering feeling in the world. It doesn’t matter what the connection is. What matters is that there is someone else who feels and reacts the same way you do.
Perhaps people can be useful. Sometimes. Maybe but the jury is still out.