Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Busted July 21, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Effective immediatley, I can drink coffee using my left hand only.


DON’T LIFT. Not a laundry basket or a watering can or a dirty dish. Nothing. Not even a John Deere coffee mug.

That mandate came from my ortho doctor Wednesday afternoon after he asked, “What have you been doing with your arm?” He was referring to my right arm/shoulder, which I fractured 8 ½ weeks ago.


Thursday morning I stair-stepped a laundry basket up the basement stairs with my left hand, angled the basket onto my body and steered it out the door. Then, using only my left hand and mouth, I managed to clip towels onto the clothesline.


Not that he was accusing me of anything. But he knows me well enough to realize that I will push the limits. I confessed to all of the above. I was so busted. But, in my defense, I had surmised that if a specific movement/activity didn’t hurt, I could do it. Wrong. It’s a good thing I am not a doctor and that mine understands me as “a force of nature to be reckoned with” (his words, not mine).

I love my doctor, even if he tells me things I don’t want to hear. He is kind, compassionate, caring, funny, a great listener and a really good communicator. I always understand exactly what’s going on with my body and what’s expected of me when I leave his office. On this day, had I been a student in a classroom, I likely would have warranted after school detention for bad behavior.


This is a photo of an x-ray of my broken shoulder taken on May 22. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


But I got an imaginary gold star for healing. Pulling my May 22 and July 19 x-rays onto his computer screen, the good doctor compared the results. “Looks great,” he said. If I used exclamation marks in my writing, I would string a series of them after that assessment. I beamed. He showed me how the top of my shoulder had settled, rounding back toward to its normal curve rather than jutting like two misplaced puzzle pieces. Then he traced his finger down the screen, along a white line indicating healing in the length of my shoulder.

After delivering that good news, my doctor issued the lifting ban for two weeks, longer if necessary. By 12 weeks the bone should be healed. I’ve learned, though, that directives can change. I intend to obey rather than risk a setback. “If I have to go in there and do surgery now, it will be a mess,” my doctor warned. So my husband will be washing the dishes again.

Today I return for my second physical therapy session. I have the OK now to start active (rather than passive) range of motion exercises to rebuild and strengthen my muscles. I can expect muscle soreness for up to a year. Ditto for the swelling that stretches from the top of my shoulder to my fingertips. Sigh.


For the first time in 8 1/2 weeks, I don’t have to wear this arm sling while sleeping.


But I can ditch my arm sling. I stopped wearing it during the day several weeks ago. I can also sleep on my side, including on either arm, as long as it doesn’t hurt. I tried sleeping on my left side Wednesday night. My arm hurt. I’m back to sleeping on my back. So much for sleeping freedom.


My blood donation card.


Then I asked one final question of the doctor: “Can I donate blood?”

“I don’t see any reason you can’t unless there’s something I don’t know about you,” he replied.

So I am scheduled today to donate blood, some 8 ½ weeks after I missed a step, fell and broke my right shoulder while on my way to donate blood at the local hospital.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


24 Responses to “Busted”

  1. Go Grandma Says:

    I find it difficult to follow doctor’s orders as well – there’s things to get done, of course. Funny how we loathe chores until we’re told we can’t do them.

    • I hadn’t seen my ortho doctor in four weeks and he had not specifically told me I couldn’t lift anything. I was using common sense with the lifting. But clearly I shouldn’t have been lifting anything. I have been pretty good about following orders from both my doctor and PT.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Well that is good news that it is all healing like it is supposed to. And yes—heed his directive about lifting. No need to test it too much.

  3. So it’s good news but you still have to be careful. Thanks for donating blood.

  4. Take it easy and ease into doing less, especially lifting. Glad to hear you are healing and PT is going good. Happy Weekend – Enjoy 🙂

  5. Donate blood?
    Of course, you would…
    because you are awesome and amazing and saving the world 🙂

  6. Almost Iowa Says:

    At the hospital, keep in mind, you are supposed to be a donor, not a patient. 🙂

    Great to hear you are on the mend.

  7. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Glad to hear that your recovery is going well. I sure understand the frustrations involved with not being able to function as well you want too. I wish we loved lived closer together. I’d hang your clothes out for you.

  8. Valerie Says:

    I like the confidence you have in your doctor! Glad you are listening to him and your are healing well.
    Thanks for donating blood.

    • I just really really like Dr. Armitage and appreciate his ability to explain everything in terms I understand, to listen and answer my questions, and to express his sense of humor. Others who have seen Dr. Armitage feel the same. He is well-liked.

  9. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    Perhaps it is time to think about putting in a stair chair lift. One reason I love my new home so much – absolutely NO steps, not even into the front door. The washing machine is only a few steps from the drying line. Another thought: a doctor who will explain everything is priceless.

    • Thanks for the suggestion. But I live in a 1 1/2 story older home so there are steps in, up and down. For now I can manage them just fine. Someday, who knows?

      Yes, I am thankful for the good doctor and an equally wonderful therapist.

  10. Littlesundog Says:

    Woot!! Toss that sling! I’m not surprised at your anxiety to get back to normal life… and I personally love that bit of rebel in you, Audrey! Do take it slow and easy. I’m off the foot for a while – it’s a blessing the blazing heat is finally here and it has stopped my work in the orchard. The old foot will catch a break (not the fracture kind!) for a while until it cools off some.

  11. Jackie Says:

    I’m glad the healing is progressing despite the lifting. I’m sure the word “surgery” was enough to make you stand at full attention and say “yes sir” to your doctor. Ha ha.

  12. Susan Ready Says:

    Well I must say how challenging even the most mundane tasks of laundry and hanging clothes must be for you. We all take so much for granted. And the amount of PATIENCE you must have to exercise in this recovery process and I so admire your continued determination to donate blood./ . ..

    • Patience is a key word. Not always easy to hold onto, though.

      Unfortunately about a dozen of us were turned away from the blood donation site due to machinery problems and “the wrong kind of ice” to keep any additional donations cold. I’ve never had this happen before.

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