Over the last two weeks, I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about my arms. Looking at them. Studying them. Wondering what the heck is going on in my body. Worrying about the bruising, contemplative about healing, engrossed in the daily changes, meditative about how this may affect my gait, energy level, and overall fitness.
Arms, arms, arms. I have become obsessed with my arms.
Throughout these last few weeks, while I have been thoughtful, I have not been very emotional about it. I didn't shed a single tear at the ER, not one when I got home, and remained stoic for the next ten days. While those gashes looked nasty, they were not very painful. Once the stitches were in, I felt an enormous wave of relief. I was at hill day within 24 hours, ready to rumble, and got at least six miles in every day. Arms, schmarms. I could do this.
This bravery ended spectacularly on last Friday morning. Stitch removal day. I had no idea, but those stitches were like tiny black crutches. Cue the water works.
As my doctor gently removed each stitch, laying them in uniform order on the white paper of the exam table, I felt great. No more itchiness! My left arm had taken the brunt of it, red and puffy from irritation. I couldn't wait to get these things out and go on with my life.
"All done," he announced.
I looked down. And once again, almost passed out.
Yes, technically the wounds were closed. But instead of a smooth surface, two red, swollen cuts lined a little pink valley of tissue. There was space between those cuts; a lot of space. It looked as though all I needed to do was stretch my arm out just enough and bam! Skin would split apart and once again, I would have giant holes in my arm.
In my best, my professional voice, I told the doctor to please put the stitches back in.
He smiled. "You heal from the inside out," he informed me kindly. "Your cuts will not reopen."
I shook my head. They pass out medical degrees like candy these days. This guy clearly did not know what he was doing. I repeated my request, this time with an edge to my voice.
Now he was laughing. "The majority of healing happens within the first 72 hours," he stated. "You will be fine."
This was not going well at all. In the first 24 hours of that critical window, I consumed a margarita the size of my head and chased it with cough syrup. This was a bona fide disaster.
I felt a tiny bit better after he applied the Steri-Strips ("just one more," I encouraged him as he taped my arms together. I'm such a backseat patient) but the idea of extending my arms terrified me. Walking out to the car, I gingerly carried them, walking like an oversized Barbie. Out of the office and in the safety of my car, I laid my head on the steering wheel and wept.
Scotty, in the backseat and justifiably freaked out by his mother's behavior, cried too. Epic parenting failure.
Somehow, somehow, my arm cuts did not reopen. The compression arm sleeves gave me a hit of confidence during my 16-miler down Mount Charleston on Saturday morning (wakeup time: 3am). In addition to seven pounds of water, I also carried my phone and a tiny make-shift first aid kit in the event the cuts decided to split apart on mile 7 when I was completely alone (and likely surrounded by wolves. Oh, that imagination of mine). Despite the extra weight, I finished a full minute faster per mile than I should have, which highlights just how downhill the course was. My legs paid the price but at least my cuts remained closed.
By Tuesday, two weeks after the accident, I found myself in the chiropractor's office complaining of neck pain. All of my Barbie-ish movements had pulled on my right trap, making it almost impossible to turn my head. Once again, I found tears in my eyes as I told the doctor about my fears of seeing the inside of my arms again. He handed me tissue, gently patted my leg, and readjusted my neck. He also encouraged me to stretch my arms daily, since those muscle fibers are regrowing. Without stretching, they will regrow tight, making this an issue going forward.
How am I now? Mostly irritated that I keep crying, haha. But this morning, my arms look better than they have since this whole event happened. The original Steri-Strips have fallen off, but I keep reapplying my own. Is it possible to develop an addiction to Steri-Strips? It's really more for peace of mind. I love Steri-Strips. I'm also becoming a regular at our local CVS.
Let's hope this entire incident will be a thing of the past by the end of this week. I just don't ever want to see the inside of my body ever again.