You never realise what you have until it is gone'. This phrase has never related much to me before, until now, but its going to be a very long 6 weeks without the use of my left arm!
Of course it is only temporary, and I take my hat off to the people who cannot use one or more of their limbs permanently, because I didn't realise how much I rely on my left arm until now! Even typing this blog is a lot harder with just one hand! I can't tie my hair up, cut my own food, get dressed, or even wash my own hair. And have you tried pulling up jeans with one hand!!
But the hardest part is sleeping - as you can see by the photo ** my sling keeps my arm in a neutral position, and as I have to wear it day and night, when I am on my back my arm sticks up in the air and I lose circulation in my hand and fingers. Therefore, I've discovered its easier to sleep in a sitting position so my heart is higher than my arm - consequently, it is a real operation (no pun intended) to get set up ready for bed with about 20 cushions and pillows! But of course, Just when I had gotten into a comfortable position, I had to get up to use the toilet!
If I do my exercises every day and do not use my arm or its muscles then I should be in this sling for 3 weeks rather than the 6 they were threatening and then in a smaller sling for the other 3 weeks. It will then be the long road to recovery and getting my fitness back before the Europeans in July. It will only give me about a two months to get my new swim stroke sorted and some resemblance of fitness back.
I know that's a very tall order considering I haven't swum since September but with the help of my coach Kris - who just so happens to be a great swim coach - it might be possible.
However, for me, the hardest part of it all is going to be not training. I'm finding it impossible to keep still now and its only been 2 days since the operation. I am already driving my parents up the wall, mum says I'm a very 'impatient patient'. I cannot stand being in pain and incapacitated and I know I shall be missing my running and cycling. Although I've discovered I can at least walk at a fast pace with the incline right up on my treadmill today so there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
**The blue sling with the pipe laid over my black arm sling in the photo above is a cryo-ice sling. It is filled with cold water and is placed over my shoulder after exercising/stretching/physio (after being stored in the freezer) and designed to reduce swelling and oedema.