My right arm hangs limp at my side, unusable, and yet I am grateful.
It was about 10:15 p.m. on a Sunday night. There was a report of snow for the next day but it was a clear moonless night.
Driving my Yukon Denali up the winding gravel driveway to the house at the top of the hill I drove the car into the garage bay. Grabbing my iPad, iPhone and purse I walked out of the garage closing the garage door behind me. The Sentry sensor light was shining, lighting my way. The trek toward the house was about 30 yards up a small hill, a pathway lined with boulders and smaller rocks.
As I was taking a step with my right foot the light went out. I felt a rock on the right side of my hiking boot. The next thing I knew I was holding my right arm to my chest with my left hand. I was in excruciating pain. If I moved my right arm downward even slightly, the pain became even more intense. I remember feeling very, very cold. I was on the ground, lying in the gravel. But I wasn’t sure where I was.
I tried and tried to get up. I got on my knees and lifted my right leg so that my right boot was on the ground, but could not seem to right myself. Holding my right arm to my chest I put my left elbow into the gravel and tried to stand up. I was extremely cold and my pain was ‘off the charts.’ I lay on the ground with my alpaca poncho around me and thought, “If I don’t get up and get to the house, I will die.” I was so very cold.
Somehow, I was able to stand. I credit my Eastern European/Polish heritage with the strength of my strong hips and legs. As I look back, I’m pleased that I played women’s professional football and was a middle linebacker. Although that was many years ago, this physical ability was an important factor in being able to stand and to begin to move. I was confused and was not sure where to go. It appears I had rolled down a hill and was at the bottom of a driveway.
Once upright I began to walk and realized that I was walking away from the house. The pain in my right arm back and shoulder was excruciatingly severe. The next day, when the emergency room doctor asked me if I had lost consciousness, I said “no.” I didn’t know I had hit my head because the spectacular pain in my right shoulder arm and back engaged my entire attention. And, I was indescribably cold.
It was very dark, but somehow I walked up the hill yelling “John, help.” John is staying in the basement apartment of the house. I got to the door. He opened it. I don’t know how long I have been yelling, but as I got to the door he heard me. I lay down on the bed, still holding my right arm to my chest with my left hand. He gave me a pain pill. It was so cold that I could feel my teeth chattering as he covered me with blankets. I fell asleep for a few hours. Upon awakening, John drove me to the emergency room in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
He told me that it was about 1:15 a.m. when he opened the door and let me in. It had been approximately 20° for about three hours. I can now understand why my inner guidance told me that if I did not get up I would die.
The emergency room doctor told me that the bruises under my eyes indicated a concussion. He performed a CAT scan of my head and neck. The pain continued in a phenomenal manner. The x-ray of my right shoulder showed a dislocated humerus, and a possible fracture. There was no orthopedic surgeon in Pagosa Springs, so I was taken by ambulance to Durango. The emergency room medical staff inserted an IV for pain medication, which took the edge off, yet still, the pain continued. The orthopedic surgeon in Durango relocated the arm bone into the shoulder socket and put my right arm in a sling. The x-ray taken after putting the arm bone back into place showed that there was no fracture on the head of the humerus.
As I type this my fingers tingle and the two middle fingers are somewhat numb at the tips. The area across the deltoid muscle is also numb. I have nerve damage including the axillary nerve that innervates the deltoid muscle. I cannot lift my arm. It hangs limp at my side.
And I am grateful to be alive.