A year ago my life changed. What started as a simple pain in my right hand transformed into excruciating surges of pain in both arms day and night. I was working on a complicated case at work and didn’t think much of it. I needed to write and the job needed to be done yesterday. So I put in the hours, ignored the pain and stayed focused on my goal. In the end, what started as carpal tunnel and a repetitive stress injury turn into a nightmare.
I couldn’t type, couldn’t open doors, couldn’t lift anything, couldn’t grasp objects and couldn’t sleep because of the pain. I could talk and walk, but that was it. If I tried to use my hands, they would scream in pain, go ice cold and start changing colors for several hours. If I tried to carry objects in the crook of my arm, then I would have pain in my biceps, shoulders and neck. If I stayed perfectly still, it was better but the pain never went away.
Three months after my injury my workers compensation was approved. I had doctors turn me away because they didn’t want to deal with the paperwork. The doctors that would see me assumed that I was making it up to get paid leave. They would do a partial job and refer me to someone else. It was absolutely horrific. All I could do was sit there watching helplessly as another doctor did nothing. This was only compounded by the constant pressure from my manager to get back to work. I tried to push my hands so I could keep my job, but only made my condition worse. The doctors wouldn’t help me and my manager constantly demanded more. It was like being stuck on a medical merry-go-round with my manager smacking me every time I went around the circle.
I had no choice but to pay out-of-pocket for all the tests that the doctors ordered. Some of it was covered by my insurance, but the co-pays were not small. Every specialist wanted to see you at least two or three times, even if it was just to tell you that the results were not conclusive and they wanted you to see someone else. Do the math. I’ve seen around 10 doctors. I pay $40 for every visit and each doctor wants to see you at least 3 times. That doesn’t include the out-of-pocket expenses for tests. To put it lightly, our finances were strained.
My husband spent at least an hour and a half every day driving me to and from work on top of his hour-long round-trip to his office. He had to drive me to all of my doctors appointments, repeated bloodwork, the two MRIs, CT scan, echocardiogram, ultrasound, EMG and chest x-ray. I couldn’t cook so we ate a lot of pizza and Chinese take-out, which we normally don’t do for health and budget reasons.
It’s been a year since my injury. I’ve gotten used to my new life. I have anywhere from 40-60% of the functioning back in my arms depending on the day. I can drive for short periods of time. I don’t have to use a straw to drink or ask my husband to cut my food for me. I can cook, which I really missed. I’m starting to feel like myself again and not a shell of who I used to be. I’m still not sure if I’ll ever get full functioning back in my arms. I may not be able to do so many things that I love anymore.
I decided the best way to help with the financial burden my injury has caused is to sell my calligraphy pieces. The medical bills are far from over. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do calligraphy again, especially not to that scale. I want my creative outlets to be more than a reminder of something I used to do. I may be finishing a chapter in my life, but it could be the start of an amazing one. Maybe my limitations could lead to something wonderful. Maybe I can sell a piece of calligraphy, pay a bill and enrich someone else’s home with something I created. Maybe one case and one decision will become something truly positive.
Please consider purchasing a calligraphy piece. The proceeds are going to a good cause. I’m happy to answer any questions, but sadly will not be able to do any custom pieces.