Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Vindicated December 5, 2018

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A selfie taken this fall after going splint-free following months of recovery from a broken left wrist. Now I have even more reason to smile. Read on. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo August 2018.

 

TYPICALLY I AM NOT SOMEONE who says, “I told you so.” I don’t rub it in when someone is wrong. Rather, I pinch my lips, lock the words inside my mouth but think them in my head. That’s a skill learned from many years of parenting and living.

But this time I need to speak up and claim vindication.

 

This is a photo snapped with a cellphone of the implant in my wrist, held in place by 10 screws. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2018.

 

Let’s backtrack. When I slipped on rain-slicked wooden steps in mid-June and fractured my left wrist badly enough to require surgery and implantation of a titanium plate, I heard too many insensitive comments. Topping those was the accusation that my husband pushed me, followed by laughter. I did not hold my words inside. There is absolutely nothing humorous about domestic violence. Nothing. Ever.

 

Me, several hours after surgery on my wrist in late June. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo June 2018.

 

The second most common comment involved the strength of my bones. “You must have weak bones,” I heard way too often with the footnote that I needed to consume more milk. As if I couldn’t possibly have broken my wrist by simply falling the way I fell, left hand outstretched to break my fall.

Now I am vindicated. By a Bone Mineral Density Test (DEXA scan). Results show I have mild thinning of my bones with a low fracture risk. Pretty good for a post-menopausal woman in her early 60s.

 

This is a photo of an x-ray of my broken right shoulder. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo May 2017.

 

I’m not surprised by my good test results. I grew up on a dairy farm and have always consumed plenty of dairy products. I lift weights. And I fell in such a way that anyone—strong bones or not—would have suffered a fracture. And, yes, that includes my May 2017 fall on a hospital stairway in which I slammed shoulder first onto a concrete floor. I defy anyone not to break a bone when propelling into a surface like that. I’m thankful I didn’t hit my head, resulting in a concussion and/or broken neck.

 

A snippet of the informational sheet I received from my insurer.

 

Because of two bone breaks within a year, my ortho doctor suggested the bone density test. I didn’t object. My insurance company also sent an educational sheet about osteoporosis with the recommendation of a DEXA scan. Sure, I thought, why not? I’d already met my $3,600 deductible and am paying $1,000/month in health insurance premiums. Let the insurance company pay for the test (which is really me paying given the $15,600 paid from my pocket to the insurer and healthcare facilities in 2018).

 

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

So there you go. I’ll continue to take my Vitamin D and add a calcium supplement, per my primary care doctor’s instructions. He also noted that I should follow up with another bone density test in seven years. Seven years. Does that sound like a woman with weak bones?

TELL ME: Have you ever fallen? Have you ever fallen and broken a bone? Let’s hear your stories.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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Here we go again June 18, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:57 AM
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ALL I CAN DO is laugh because it’s unbelievable.

For the second summer in a row, I am recovering from a broken bone, And, yes, just like last year when I broke my right shoulder, my latest break involved steps. Saturday morning, while descending wide rain-slicked wooden steps to pick rhubarb in friends’ backyard, I slipped. Just like that, landed on my butt, palms outstretched to break my fall. I never considered the steps may be slippery from the morning rain. Nor, apparently, did the two men who preceded me down the stairway.

The intense pain in my left hand, and its rather deformed shape led to an immediate self-diagnosis of a broken bone. I didn’t need to hear the husband’s, Your hand looks funny. But then he and our friend probably didn’t appreciate my repetitious not again and a bad word I spoke.

I don’t recall much about our drive across Faribault to the ER except urging Randy to drive faster. He replied that he needed to obey traffic laws. Well, if you insist.

After some 2.5 hours in the ER–I was bumped to position two out of eight patients–I was back home with my left arm newly-splinted and tightly wrapped in a trio of bandages. The good  news–the break of my left radius was clean with no surgery needed. For you non-medical types, and that includes me, the break is in my forearm right above my wrist. Yes, I’m still in pain. Yes, my arm from elbow to fingertips is swollen. And, yes, I feel like my splinted arm/hand/fingers are gripped in a vise.

Later this week I see my wonderful ortho doctor, at which time I will request a frequent flyer discount. He’ll laugh. Dr. Armitage has a great sense of humor and I really do like him. Eventually, I’ll get a cast.

And eventually I will be able to type two-handed again and use my camera. For now, my blogging will be limited. For all you language purists, you will have to excuse the errors in my writing. Remember, I am typing with one hand, uh, mostly one finger. It is slow and tedious. I’m hoping I can still complete some freelance writing obligations by deadline.

To my husband, I am sorry for ruining a second summer in a row. Thank you for all the extras you are now doing. You are patient even when I snap at you due to pain and lack of sleep.

To the staff at Allina Health District One Hospital, especially Clare, Michelle, Vanessa, Sam, Sandy, and the others whose names I didn’t catch, thank you for your kind, attentive and compassionate care. We are blessed to have these medical professionals working at this hospital in our community.

I will close for today as I need to elevate and ice my arm.

But just one more thing–that rhubarb never got picked.

copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

 

 

 

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

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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

 

Autumn on my doorstep September 12, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:32 AM
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The first maple leaf to fall on my back doorstep.

The first maple leaf to fall on my back doorstep.

I DID NOT STAGE this photo. I noted this single maple leaf on the steps leading to my back door (ignore the need for paint there on the bottom wood trim) and the phrase, “autumn on my doorstep” popped into my brain.

I grabbed my camera and, walla, my first post about autumn. Typically I would be thrilled that autumn is sneaking into southern Minnesota. It is my favorite season with cooler temps, crisp air and stunning hues.

But this year, because of our incredibly long winter with a foot of snow on May 2 (I’m not making this up; click here) followed by a cold and rainy month of June, I was not ready for this arrival of fall. I want more summer with longer days and lazy afternoons and not even the remotest thought of snow.

With a little photo editing, I transformed that leaf on my back steps in to hues we can expect to see in a few weeks, maybe less. Have you noticed the tinge of yellow and orange in the trees here in Minnesota?

With a little photo editing, I transformed that leaf on my back steps in to hues we can expect to see in a few weeks, maybe less. Have you noticed the tinge of yellow and orange in the trees here in Minnesota? Or wherever you live?

I’ve lived here 57 years now. I should know better. This is Minnesota. Unpredictable. Weather always changing. Autumn knocking on my door. Should I let her in?

Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling