Two years ago, I had a motorcycle accident; this letter shares my thoughts, feelings, and reflections about the experience. Thank you for everything you’ve done for my family and me.
- I’m off all prescription medication!
- I got my prosthetic! It’s nifty.
- I am living independently in Atlanta, GA.
- My design career is off the ground and thriving.
How’s your arm?
After my accident, I’ve not been able to move or feel any part of my left arm. Then it was amputated at the elbow. Last month I had another surgery to shorten the arm by three inches, and it’s been healing well.
Last July, I had a nerve transfer surgery that has not yet helped me control my remaining arm. I believe it’s improved my shoulder stability since it’s less painful when not wearing my shoulder brace, but I still choose to wear it daily. Next, I’ll work with my prosthetic team to test the transfer site’s nerve function. Perhaps there are signals too weak to fire the muscle but strong enough to control my electronic elbow.
I got my first prosthetic in November and have used it 5 – 10 times. 48 hours after receiving it, I moved to Atlanta and was too busy to practice with it. Before my recent surgery, I could use it for 30 minutes while the tissue acclimates, and it is a challenge to get on and off by myself. Still, it is instrumental when doing dishes, cleaning, or any physical project. Now I’m waiting for my arm to heal so I can use the prosthetic again, this time with an electronic elbow.
How are you feeling?
A huge blessing is a decrease in physical pain. After my accident, I took six different prescription medications every day for my phantom limb pain, surgical recovery, and depression. I am off all of them now! The nerve pain, which was so debilitating- is almost gone. I experience it regularly in explosive bursts but only for an hour on average. My prosthetics team warned me it may worsen as my brain gets used to seeing my arm with a prosthetic. I would appreciate your prayers for this.
Day-to-day emotions have been pretty good, all things considered. My daily mood isn’t dramatically different from how I felt before my wreck. Psychotherapy was helpful for processing, venting, and re-imagining the future.
I still feel emotional pain. I had many months of depression initially, but it has waned. I still experience low self-esteem and self-worth. At times we all struggle that we are not enough or won’t be loved. These anxieties have new ammunition now. They tell me variations on the theme. “you have always been an idiotic failure, and this is the ultimate proof. What more evidence do you need? Or, “you couldn’t even look after your own arm, what type of person can’t do that?” Finally, “what type of girl is going to love you? You are physically incomplete and have all the psychological baggage to match.” These are my demons, and I try to prove them wrong every day, but it hurts.
Are you hopeful?
Yes. I have less pain, no medication requirements, a promising career, and my own apartment. I’ve done my best to acknowledge my feelings of anger, sadness, and low value, then channel that energy into making life better. The time to reflect and think was valuable. Learning professions, skills, and hobbies now take longer, so I must be intentional with my efforts. I’ve also spent a lot of time reconstructing my vision of the future and contemplating what I’m on this planet to do.
It’s been helpful to focus on what I can control: how I organize my environment, finances, what I read about and think about. Paying attention to these little choices has improved my hope and well-being; I see the progress that I can impact. This contrasts the lack of healing with my arm, where nothing seems to improve despite regular physical therapy exercises. I’ve also established a daily quiet time for my spiritual life, something I didn’t have before my accident.
In summary, life is satisfying now and getting better bit by bit. Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, cards, and donations. I am still shocked by the overwhelming support of friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Many people I never thought I would hear from again sent money and encouragement. The support is humbling. You have shown your care and acted on it to make my family’s life and my life much easier. Thank you for who you are and what you have done.
Sending my love,
January 18, 2022