Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Warning: Skip this story if you’re squeamish May 31, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Forty-eight hours after I broke my right shoulder, there was considerable swelling.


AT 6:20 p.m. Monday, his cell phone timer pinged. “Time to raise a toast,” he said, or something like that.


The arm is broken at the top of the shoulder (where it rounds). But the bruising is on the inside and spreading down my arm.


“I don’t want to,” I replied. But I should have humored him. At the marked time, exactly one week after I fell and broke my right shoulder, my husband wanted to celebrate a week of recovery with only 11 more to go (maximum).


A selfie of my arm on May 25.


But it was my eldest daughter who made me laugh after I texted her a current photo of my arm, morphing from a deep purple bruise to yellow and green. “Hope you’re not turning into the Grinch!” she replied.


Four days later, on Memorial Day.


Well, yes, I was feeling a bit Grinchy and very much looking the part on my right arm.

I’ve retold my missed-a-step-and-fell story a zillion times already; that’s OK, I appreciate that friends care. I’ve also stopped two friends from tapping me on the right shoulder as they naturally reached out to comfort me. I’ve dodged kids not watching where they were semi-running inside Walmart. I’ve evaded too many distracted shoppers at the grocery store and avoided crowds at public events.

I am overly protective of my right arm and ever so careful when I walk. My orthopedic doctor’s words of you won’t need surgery unless you fall or make your break worse replay warnings in my brain. I do not want surgery. I will listen. Mostly.

He probably should not have told me I can use my computer—if I move only the fingers on my right hand. He demonstrated on his computer mouse, not the keyboard,  in the exam room. Uh, yeah, I am a writer. The single finger pecking method with my left hand is way too slow for me.

But I learned the hard way that I cannot overdo it or the pain will increase. My pain is mostly minimal and handled with Tylenol, although immediately after the fall, I was crying from the pain.

What surprises me most is my fatigue. I feel tired nearly all the time. A friend reminded me my body has experienced trauma. She is right. Plus, my sleep is often fitful with part of the night spent lying on my back in bed and the remainder sleeping mostly upright in a recliner. I nap nearly daily and I am not a person who typically naps.

Along with fatigue comes the frustration typical for anyone dealing with a temporary disability or health challenge. I need assistance with showering and dressing, etc., and even cutting my thick Iowa pork chop. Everything takes longer. That gets exhausting.

I couldn’t do any of this without Randy. He’s been incredibly caring, loving and helpful, patient even when I’m not. We’ve fallen into a rhythm of movement. Even though he arrives home after a long, physically demanding work day, he still does what needs to be done around the house and also cares for me.

My eldest daughter, Amber, and her husband drove down on Saturday with meals and to help Randy plant flowers. I am so so grateful for their assistance and the visit from my one-year-old granddaughter whom I can no longer lift or hold. Sigh. But she still can make Grandma smile.



I am thankful to everyone who has expressed well wishes and offered prayers for my healing. From the comments here to the phone calls, cards, texts and emails, each word has uplifted me. In the scheme of possible injuries, mine is minor. I fully understand that. Yet, as I advised a friend who has endured many health issues and is currently on kidney dialysis, the challenges we each face should not be diminished by challenges others face.

In 11 more weeks (or less), I should be able to swipe antiperspirant/deodorant under my arms, blow dry my hair, hang laundry on the line, wash dishes, make a salad in 10 minutes instead of 30, use my Canon DSLR, hold my granddaughter…cut my own pork chop….

Until then, I may resemble the Grinch with my green right arm. But I don’t have to act like him.

TELL ME: If you’ve dealt with a health issue, how have you managed to get through it? How were family and/or friends especially helpful to you?

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


38 Responses to “Warning: Skip this story if you’re squeamish”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Somehow I missed your other post—not sure how but I will correct that and go back and read it now. But here I am –raising my coffee cup to your full and speedy recovery. I have a feeling it will go faster than you think it will!

  2. That is quite the bruise – Ouchie 😦 I love the card with the band-aids and their googly eyes – hehe – need humor. Hang in there – rest and take care of yourself 🙂

    • Thank you, Renee.

      My friend Beth Ann at “It’s Just life” crafted the band-aid card. She is the queen of card-making. I love her cards.

      Here’s a link to her blog: http://itsjustlife.me/

    • I will check out her blog – thanks!

      There are (4) of us now in recovery in my immediate family – myself, BroCraves, MomCraves and now Mr. Craves (he spent 3 hours in the ER yesterday and came out with 5 stitches – thank goodness). We are all on the upswing in the recovery process and most days happy go lucky 🙂

  3. Sandra Says:

    Just one misstep, huh. At 74, I try to have great respect for my 15 stairs, but all it takes is stepping off even a curb. I am SO sorry! Dragon speech recognition software is the industry leader, but I would find it clunky. Your faithful will expect progress reports. A year!? A lesson to us all. Thank God for all your loving support. Take (more) care.

    • You are right in “all it takes…” My recovery could stretch up to 11 WEEKS, not a year.

      Thanks for being a loyal reader and for your wishes.

      • Sandra Says:

        Thank heavens, I typo’d. That’s still the whole summer!

      • Yes, it is the entire summer. But I’ve had summer health issues in the past. Ten years ago, I had total hip replacement in June and spent most of the summer recovering. And one summer I had whooping cough, which is termed the 90-day cough. I can attest that pertussis does, indeed, last 90 days.

  4. Almost Iowa Says:

    11 weeks? Oh my!

  5. Louise Flom Says:

    It’s amazing what our husbands can do when we need them. I had rotator cuff surgery a year ago and I was sent home from surgery with a hospital gown on because I wasn’t suppose to use either arm until I returned the next day. The next day I returned to see “Lynn” the therapist who was going to teach Bob how to dress me and get my bra on. I thought good, at least it will be a female. When I got there, Lynn was a MALE! It was kind of embarrassing but at the same time funny. Bob had to give me a bath, dress me and make my meals for the first 2 months. At night he had to “prop” me up in bed and put ice packs on. The first few nights he had to wake me up every two hours for my pain medication to keep it under control. It was a long recovery but he was such a trooper, I couldn’t believe it. Of course, we would do the same for them!

    • Your story about Lynn made me laugh out loud.

      I can relate to so much of what you are sharing. Our husbands are great, aren’t they? Randy styled my hair this morning before leaving for work. I told him he didn’t have to, but he knows I feel better if my hair is semi styled and not flying every which way.

      I’m sorry you had to go through this surgery and recovery. I hope you’re much improved.

  6. An Irishman’s Remedy

    When you get a call to raise a toast
    and one arm’s hanging loose…
    Then use the other after all
    and put it to good use!
    For that is why we’re given spares
    in those emergent situations
    so just grin and bear the pain a bit
    and enjoy a few libations!

    ~Jack Downing~

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery Audrey!

  7. Judy M. Says:

    You are blessed to have Randy and that he styled your hair before going to work, how special. I am glad you are able to have some freedom and not be in bed. So nice that your daughter brought meals to the house. I guess a person doesn’t realize how much they really do in a day until you can’t do it, y I wish you a speedy recovery and I pray for you and Randy as you wait this out. Your bruise looks sore. Blessings to you and your family.

  8. Jackie Says:

    Sounds like you are being a good patient and following doctors orders! That will be beneficial in healing my friend!!! I’m Glad you have you wonderful Randy to aid you…. “in sickness and in health, right” When I detached my hamstring from the bone some 10 years ago, I had similar bruising from the butt down to my ankle (which is a classic tell-tale sign of a ruptured hamstring) The blood will travel the path of least resistance as it did for you. I had surgery 3 months after the injury because it took me that long to finally go to a doctor….don’t ask??? anyway, stay all my friend, rest as you need, and be patient…it will pay off in the end.

    • Your hamstring injury sounds horrible, Jackie.

      I’m trying to follow the doctor’s orders, although it’s not easy. But he advised me that pain is my body’s signal and I need to listen. Today my body is signaling that I have been doing too much.

  9. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Ouch! Good thing you’ve got loved ones that are willing to help out. This too shall pass…

  10. Louis Rolf Says:

    Sorry about your collision with the floor. We pray for a speedy. recovery. Lou and Arlene

  11. Susan Ready Says:

    I would be having a beer or some kind of toast every night to mark the passing of each day of recovery. I can imagine how frustrating this is to depend on others. and not driving would be the worse. Keep your sense of humor and enjoy the naps 🙂

  12. Littlesundog Says:

    You are in FAR worse shape than I am! Goodness, that is a horrible bruise! And I have heard from a couple of friends who have broken their shoulders that it is very painful and slow to heal. One had the surgery and said that the therapy after was more painful than the pain before the surgery. So do what the doctor ordered and take care of yourself.
    I have a stress fracture in my right foot. I can be on it in a support boot, which actually feels good. When the boot comes off I’m in pain. I guess we’d make a great pair!

    • Oh, Lori, I am so sorry about the fracture in your foot. How and when did this happen? And right during your especially busy season.

      Yes, we would make quite the team.

      I pray for quick and full healing for you. And for patience.

      • Littlesundog Says:

        I have no idea how it happened. Likely I misstepped in the orchard while cleaning up limbs. I often use my feet to break brittle limbs down to a manageable size – snapping them in half, which isn’t a good idea. Wearing my work boots really helps offer support so I can get along pretty well in the day. It’s the evenings when the boots come off that the pain and swelling bothers me.

      • Ah, pain, I can relate. Take care, Lori, and rest if you can.

  13. melirey96 Says:

    So sorry , I pray for a speedy recovery for you. I had a little accident myself earlier this year. It happened in April . I happened to sprain my right arm. It had to be my right arm, couldn’t be my left. I say that because I’m a righty and not being able to do anything with my right hand was a bummer. Trying with my left was not easy, but I still did what I could and at times try to use my right hand, but when I did my goodness did I see stars! My right arm is not healed completely . I still feel the pain sometimes on my right arm depending what am doing. For one I cannot lift weights . I have five pounds weight that I use three times a week and when I try to lift weights with my right arm I feel the pain. So that tells me is not completely healed. So I have to wait a few more months hopefully by then I can get back to my normal routines.

  14. Valerie Says:

    Wow, your arm is really purple and looks so sore. I pray for a speedy recovery…hopefully faster than 11 weeks!

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