Happy Arm-iversery to me!

Today is my first Arm-iversery, and a great time to check in on my goals. One year ago today, I bit it on the ice while walking my kids to the bus stop. I couldn’t get back up. Fortunately, there plenty of grown-ups around to help me. Unfortunately, my husband wasn’t one of them. Fortunately,  a neighbor drove me to urgent care. Unfortunately, it was closed. Fortunately, he drove me to the ER. Unfortunately, the X-rays showed my left arm shattered above and below the elbow joint. Unfortunately, I needed emergency surgery and the addition of 14 screws to hold the bone fragments together. And so my recovery saga began.

At my first post-surgery check-up, my surgeon said my arm wouldn’t straighten all the way IMG_1024again and there was a possibility I might not regain full nerve sensation to my fingers. I wore a splint that covered my left arm from arm-pit to thumb joint. The surgeon warned my recovery would take a full year, with most of the progress noticeable by the six month mark. Wiggling my fingers sent jolts of pain through my entire arm, but it did it to reduce the swelling and work the nerves.

This is a picture taken 4 weeks after surgery.  I could not change the bend in my elbow. I could not lift my arm to my shoulder without using my other arm to raise and lower it. Positioning this photo took a long time.

Six weeks after this, I started physical therapy. My right arm grip strength was 58 pound. My left arm grip strength was 2. Normal for a non-dominant hand would have expected to be about 45. I couldn’t hold a book or a toothbrush in my left hand. I couldn’t grip a cup or a coffee mug, but that wouldn’t have mattered because I couldn’t bend my arm enough to bring a beverage anywhere near my mouth. When my physical therapist asked about my long term goal, you would think drinking a cup of coffee would be enough, but no. I said I want to do one push-up on my arm-iversery.

Today is my arm-iversery. Can I do a push-up? Technically, no. I cannot do the one military style push-up I envisioned myself doing. But I can do one set of 12 on the knee push-ups, two sets of 15 push-up style motion with the TRX bands at the gym, five pushups where I let myself fall to the ground the last two inches, rest a second and then push back up into plank, AND do one set of eight “push-ups” of the lazy style permitted in physical education classes where I start in plank, go half way down and then push back up.

arm-iversaryThis is me today. My scars have faded and most days my pain is minimal. So I can’t do a push up.  My left hand grip strength is in the 40s. I can raise a mug, shampoo my hair, shovel the driveway and walk my kids to the bus stop. I also chaperoned a 6th grade weeklong field trip where I belayed kids on a rock wall and paddled on a five mile canoe trip. My alter ego even published a short story, so the nerves to my fingers and my keyboarding skills still work.

Recovery was long journey, but having a clear goal helped my muddle through those days I wanted to quit because of the pain.

Oh, and, in case you didn’t notice – my arm is straight.



Eating in Iceland

When I told people I was going to Iceland the second most common response (after Iceland? Really?) was “Did you see that Anthony Bourdain Iceland episode?” Most people seemed certain I would starve during my visit and also reminded me that Anthony Bourdain called hakarl disgusting or something along those lines.  fortunately, fermented Greenland Shark was not in season. Sadly, I missed Puffin season by a few days but starving was not a possibility.  The food was actually good.

Breakfast consisted of bread, cheese, meats, tomatoes, cucumbers, skyr, muesli and lots of rich dark coffee.  Icelanders understand that if you can see through it, it ain’t coffee.  Such a yummy breakfast kept me happy.  Sometimes we stopped for lunch, sometimes we just grabbed a flaky crescent and a cup of coffee.  More happiness.

But nothing compares to the sheer joy of my dinner at Fjorubordid in Stokkseyri.  My husband and I both ordered the three course meal. Before the end of


the first course, it made my list of the top five meals I’ve ever eaten. The creamy lobster soup was nirvana. It was a beautiful shade of pink with giant chunks of lobster jutting above the brim of the bowl.  Icelanders reportedly drive hours just for the soup and I can understand why.  The quality ingredients and simple preparation let the key flavors– cream, butter, lobster, garlic and tomato–stand out.  Excuse me a moment.  I must wipe some drool from my mouth.

Okay. I’m back and on to the second course – a big pot of steamed Icelandic lobster (actually langoustinos), mini potatoes and lots and lots of garlic butter.  I’m glad they came shell on because the few seconds it took to separate the meat from the shell slowed me down enough to appreciate the firm texture of the lobster and it gave me a opportunty to get garlic butter all over my fingers.  There are simply not enough times we get the tactile experience of eating a messy meal with our fingers after we are above the age of three.  The sides, an assortment of salads and pickled things, accompanied the lobster nicely.

I finished with a big slab of chocolate cake and a cup of black coffee. It was almost too much. Almost, but not quite and that is why my dinner at Fjorubordid makes my top five meals list.  I added a handy link so you can drool a bit too.  My photos don’t do the food justice.

So all in all, we ate pretty good in Iceland.  I’d go back.