reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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old linoleum tile. [k.s. friday]

i’m generally a floor-noticer.

i, intimately, know the wood floors in our house. i know where they creak, where they are silent, where they are slightly uneven, where the floorboard gaps are smaller and where they are bigger. i know where the stains are and where there are holes that were drilled into the floor to install a christmas tree – a silly tale from decades before we lived here. i adore the wood floors in this house.

a year ago today i connected – for seemingly forever – with the floor at my place of employment at the time. i knew those floors well also, having been there for a full eight years…the stuff of old-building linoleum tiles, looking polished and shiny from time to time, committees always pondering the next waxing, the grungy it-needs-to-be-washed. we had a similar floor in our basement growing up, darker in color, but the same stuff. that floor at work used to bring me a sense of comfort, the recognition, the familiarity, the place.

that day was much the same. perfectly at home there and proud of the work i was doing, i was simply walking down the hall. it was unfortunate that someone had washed the floor and had not put up any signage to indicate that caution was needed, that the floor was wet, and, thus, i was unaware. i was almost at the office – where i was headed – when my feet slipped from underneath me and i fell, landing hard on my right hand. and now, that floor will ever be a part of me.

i’ve worked very hard to regain the use of my wrist since tearing my scapholunate ligament that day and i was up to 60 degrees of forward range-of-motion when they stopped covering treatment a few weeks ago. the mri, weeks after my communion with the floor, showed definitive tearing – a “high grade partial or complete tear” – and, just mere minutes into online research, the nih (national institutes of health) states “proper ligament repair is recommended within four to six weeks after trauma” which includes arthroscopic surgery, reconnection of torn ligament remnants and pinning. they continue, “….all intrinsic carpal ligaments tend to undergo rapid degeneration in as short a time as two to six weeks, after which primary repair may be difficult or even impossible and ineffective.” continued degeneration, serious arthritis, ever-decreasing range of motion are the hallmarks of an s/l tear gone untreated in a timely manner.

i suppose that there is a reason why the person-in-charge-of-the-paperwork just put the accident report in the drawer. i suppose that there is a reason why that form-in-the-drawer was a random incident form off the internet that the person printed and filled out without communicating with me about my fall, though there are specific proper-process official-wisconsin-employer forms also accessible on the internet. i suppose that there is a reason i had to do a little preemptive googling and let them know that sans-official-proper-process-timely-reporting there could be a steep fine for this [formerly] cherished place in which i worked. i suppose that there is a reason why they, then, a week later, decided to officially report my injury, ultimately pushing medical intervention coverage back and, also ultimately, in a snowball effect, delaying an mri until six weeks later. i suppose that there is a reason why the physician in my own town read the mri report and flippantly said, “i believe for the most part this should improve”, adding, “i do not believe i will be able to make her scapholunate ligament better than what it is right now,” and, though 3.6mm (my measured interval) > 2.0mm (normal interval), stated “i do not believe that these [results] are going to be clinically relevant.” i suppose that the froedtert hand specialist would disagree heartily with that local doctor when he told me, at a requested-second-opinion appointment, that this injury – the s/l tear (concurring with the mri) – should have been addressed at the very beginning, that lost time was irretrievable. he stated that these injuries are the bane of hand specialists’ existence and that months later – by the time of the second opinion – i had crossed over into territory where complete healing would be impossible. i suppose it would be naive for me to think that requiring an IME-outside-opinion-by-a-doctor-chosen-and-paid-for-by-the-insurance-company was on the up and up and designed for my health, well-being and long-term healing. i suppose abruptly ceasing treatment would, well, i don’t know; it can’t be anything good. i suppose it all didn’t really matter to the person-in-charge-of-the-paperwork back a year ago. i suppose it still doesn’t. it wasn’t that-person’s wrist. that-person wasn’t a lifelong professional musician. neither were those on the rest of the decision-making-committee. why would they care or be compassionate or concerned? perhaps those words were not in their job descriptions, though that seems preposterous considering the place of my employ. whatever-that-person’s-deal was, whatever-their-deal-was, it devastatingly got in the way of protecting me, their employee, from harm and from doing whatever was possible to aid me, their long-term-employee-aka-fired-employee-eight-weeks-after-the-fall-on-the-floor, to heal properly and to be able to normally use my wrist – an imperative for a musician – for all time to come.

i suppose there must be reasons. i just, for the life of me, can’t figure out what they are.

maybe someday, when i feel less indignant, less disheartened and far less disappointed, i’ll forget about those old linoleum tiles.

*****

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UNTITLED INTERLUDE from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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undefined texture. rising. [k.s. friday]

and so, september has arrived. and the texture of day for many is changed. fall is around the corner; the cooler mornings whisper that to us, ushering in – with little fanfare – the color transformation of leaves, the waning of the garden, the ultimate fallow of winter.

autumn is my favorite. and as i look to it, i see transition rising out of the horizon. undefined, but transition nonetheless. unfolding.

i got a letter a few days ago from the insurance company handling my wrist injury from falling. they have decided to stop my treatment. as of right now.

back in july they hired a physician to do an IME – which is the acronym for, ironically, “independent medical exam”. don’t be fooled by the word “independent” for when an insurance company chooses and hires and pays a physician time and again to do medical exam reports for the insurance company that wishes to stop paying for treatment, that physician is questionably “independent”. in an unsurprising result, the physician, who has not been the treating physician all along, gave them the verbiage they were looking for and BAM! they instantly wrote-a-lettuh to me discontinuing my medical treatment.

to say that i was disappointed would be to grossly underexaggerate the complex and intense emotions that came with opening that envelope. my own froedtert hand specialist and stellar OT, who both recommend continued treatment, have helped me make much amazing progress – as a professional musician who kind of uses my hands in lifelong work – and i am now able to bend my wrist to 60 degrees from the initial 20 when i started with them. it’s not the 85 – 90 degree forward range of motion of a normal wrist, but i guess the insurance company et al have decided it’s plenty. wow. and wow.

so the texture of my days will change as well. i’ll try to translate exercises and stretching my OT has done to home, without the benefit of specialized therapy center equipment or knowledge or her hands aiding my movements. and undefined transition will rise out of the horizon.

and we’ll see. things will unfold as they unfold. and summer will turn to fall. and fall will become winter. and we’ll see.

*****

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UNFOLDING from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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fluid. with wings. [k.s. friday]

“when she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. they wanted her to change back into what she always had been. but she had wings.” (dean jackson)

“trust the wait. embrace the uncertainty. enjoy the beauty of becoming. when nothing is certain, anything is possible.” (mandy hale)

i had an IME on tuesday. an IME is an independent medical exam. it is a brief exam ordered by an insurance company and the physician is both chosen and paid for by that insurance company. it is defined as an independent assessment of an injury or illness, in my case, my wrist, and the determination by the doctor-chosen-and-paid-for-by-the-insurance-company-paying-for-treatment will be placed next to the reports of the medical hand specialist and the occupational therapist who have been treating me consistently for the last five months. a basic review of articles about IME reveals that the insurance-company-paying-for-treatment will pick the report they wish to concur with and that will decide if there is to be future, in this case, my future, treatment. so be it.

there is nothing to do now but wait.

my OT is wonderful. she has encouraged me, pushed me, held me accountable and she has brought me from twenty degrees of forward right wrist movement to fifty-five. this is big news, since, at first, six degrees was all i could muster. brutus and my OT have caused me much pain, but what’s that saying? no pain, no gain. we have worked hard. and, in the way of hard work and healing, there are things i can do now that i wasn’t able to do a few months ago. and there are things i fear i will never be able to do again. uncertainty.

there is nothing to do but wait.

sometimes i wonder what life will look like in a year or two years. i wonder what i will be doing. if i looked back a year i would never have guessed back then what this year would have looked like. no, last july looked very different than right now. it just suggests that truly everything is uncertain, that everything is in the act of becoming, in the middle of the fire, maybe everything is ashes transitioning to riches over and over again. possibility, evidenced in tomato plants bearing fruit on an old barnwood potting stand, evidenced in a nest-home created in a birdhouse hanging empty for years, evidenced in the smell of the rain bringing cool on a summer morning.

there are times, when you are simply going about your business, going about life, that you don’t expect change. you don’t expect to be thrust into ‘different’. times when you find out the caterpillars were talking about you all along. after reeling from the surprise, after trying to grab the wheel to stabilize, after railing about the unfairness of it all – for life does not seem to be fair, you find yourself out of the deep, dark water – in the shallows.

and in the shallows there is abundant life, abundant food, abundant shelter. in the shallows we can rest and nourish and breathe. we can sit in uncertainty and the unknown. we can imagine new. because anything IS possible.

there is nothing to wait for and everything to wait for. it’s now.

i’ve written here about transition before. and again. and again. and i suspect i will yet again.

because life, i am learning over and over, is one transition after another. fluid. with wings.

*****

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IN TRANSITION from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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it’s my *hand*. [k.s. friday]

there is nothing certain. nothing totally black or white. but this morning i am in the middle of the grey; fog has closed in and nothing is certain.

in a few hours i will know more. i will know what has happened to my hand and wrist. having already healed fractures from two broken wrists ala snowboarding this winter, i will know what changed the day that i fell recently – a serious fall, hard and directly on my reflex-outstretched hand – on an unmarked wet floor.

soon i will know why it aches constantly, why i can’t extend near an octave, why i can’t pick up my cat or the bucket to wash the car, why i can’t bend my wrist forward more than 5 degrees.

i’m pretty tough when it comes to pain; my threshold is pretty high. usually for me, it’s just a matter of dealing with it and getting used to it. and then i adjust. and people around me don’t actually know that there is any problem because i am making do.

but *this* is different. this is what i do. this is how i make a living. this is my profession. it has always been my profession. i am an artist – and a human with opposable thumbs – and this is my *hand*.

and so i am anxious to know what this hand specialist says, what he recommends, what he forecasts as the route for rehabilitation from this new injury, the arc for healing, the possibility for playing, the chance to ‘have my hand back’.

because, as i told david when we were walking on the trail the other day, this is not short term. this is long term.

there are wooden stages i want to play on, albums i might consider recording, babies i want to pick up, cars i want to wash. there are potatoes i want to mash, hand-whipped whip cream to whip, songs to write, doorknobs to turn, manual cars i want to shift. there are cellos i want to play, dishes to scrub, leaves i want to rake, jars i want to open, hard-to-reach spots on my back i want to scratch. there are boxes i want to be able to pick up, moves i want to help with, conducting batons to hold, guitars i want to fingerpick, waterski towropes i want to hold. there are bikes i want to ride, yoga positions i’d maybe like to try, reins i want to hold, clay pots i want to throw, my strong dog i want to walk on leash, mountains i want to try scrambling up. there are warm gloves i want to wear, rings i want to put back on, glissandos to execute.

but i can’t.

this is no small list. this is no small thing. this is my hand and my wrist and, like you, i have taken it for granted. until now.

there is nothing truly black or white, but i am anxious to be out of the middle, that liminal space, of not-knowing.

oh, and i want to do cartwheels.

but, then, i’ve never been able to do those.

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IT’S NOT BLACK AND WHITE from RIGHT NOW © 2010 kerri sherwood