Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Kingdom for a Mech Suit (or, the Saga of Abby's Gardening)

Recently a particularly windy night reminded me through the screeching and scratching of bushes on my windows of exactly how little yard work I've done since my injury.
Theme music:  Autolux's "Robots in the Garden"

When we first moved into this house - which Andrew's mother was nice enough to let us rent while we stayed in Santa Barbara raising Sadie - the yard was full of possibilities.  Sure, it was big and full of plants, but I was excited about the idea of making the yard into a place I enjoyed.  Andrew's mom warned me that even when she had her family of 4 living here and they all worked on it every week it still never was quite "tamed," but in my mind the fantasy of Abby, Gardener Extraordinaire was standing behind his mom while she said this, shaking her head and smirking.  "Oh Abby, you know you can do this.  Don't listen to her."  HA!  

When I was 8 months pregnant with Sadie I ripped up almost all of our front yard, pulling out weeds and leveling out the gopher holes so that we could plant grass there.  (I saw "almost all" because when Andrew came home and found me working on it he got mad at me for doing so much work while pregnant and made me go inside while he finished it up.)  We planted grass, watered it twice a day, and right before we went to the hospital to evict her there was a decent layer of baby grass starting.  I was so excited.  Then we ended up in the hospital for a full week trying to get her out of me - 41 hours of labor and a c-section somehow made me forget about my poor baby grass.  When we finally came home, it was little more than a brownish layer of stubble on the ground, and in the sleep-deprived haze of having a newborn I found that I didn't give a crap anymore.  

The next Spring I had finally gotten some sleep and began my quest to tame the yard again - I weeded the flower boxes and planted new stuff, and we had all our local friends over for a "Gardening Party" where we basically bribed everyone with pizza and beer to help us weed and chop and churn and plant.  (I made the fatal mistake of feeding everyone only 2 hours into the project, though, which I should have realized would make it all grind to a halt...)  We managed to get a small veggie garden box planted and half of our yard was actually looking pretty decent after that.  I even managed to maintain it decently that summer, too.  

Then my arm rebelled.
I injured my neck in late April 2010 - a few weeks after the planting all happened - and I now know that my arm's rebellion 4 months later was probably the result of the overcompensation I did with the arm muscles in trying to keep strain away from the bulging discs.  After over a year of mis-diagnosis and bad treatment prescriptions, my stupid right arm is still grumpy and my yard looks like crap.  

Last week I saw an orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed my arm with two things: chronic elbow tendinitis and ulnar neuritis.   Which rings true for me in a way that previous diagnoses that assume my bulging discs are to blame have not.  But the doctor emphasized to me very strongly that rest was the only way to treat the neuritis (which is the reason my hand goes numb and I can't grip things very well anymore) and that I need to bring the amount of elbow-bending I do to an absolute minimum if I want it to recover without surgery.  He also told me that because my tendinitis has continued for so long that my body has probably stopped trying to heal the tears in the tendon and that he has only one more type of injections he can try on it before he decides surgery is necessary if it's ever going to recover.  

sad face Pictures, Images and Photos
My reaction to this news looked something like this

So now, here I am: staring at a yard full of weeds and overgrown plants, with a boyfriend whose solution to it all is to "just salt the earth" (and I really, really wish I was kidding about that statement), and zero money to hire someone to come help tame it.

♫♪I've got first-world problems...♪♫

The very windy day I posted on Facebook about how the wind was reminding me how little yard work I'd done, and I had two long-time friends post replies that basically suggested that if I wanted to fix the problem I could.  Which, yes, is true: if I really wanted to prune back that bush, I could do it.  I wouldn't be able to type or open jars for probably two days afterward, but I could do it.  I did my best to not reply to them in the knee-jerk pouty way that I wanted to, because I realize that most of the world doesn't understand what it's like to not be able to use your dominant hand.  They don't know how hard it is to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand or to use scissors with it or to try and carry your toddler around with one arm.  And I have to try and remember that they don't understand because what my instinct is is to scream, "STOP JUDGING ME, I KNOW MY YARD LOOKS LIKE SHIT AND MY HOUSE HASN'T BEEN SCRUBBED PROPERLY!" at them.  I have a serious lack of elbow-grease going on here.  And I have to work on allowing myself to be ok with this and realize that my true friends won't judge me for the fact that I have an overgrown yard and hard-water build-up in my bathtub.  (I'll admit, I've never been a particularly clean person, but becoming a mother has made me want to be one.  There are days when I genuinely wantt o scrub the crap out of my bathtub and realize that I really can't.)

 Unless someone wants to buy me one of those awesome mech suits that Sigourney Weaver wore while battling Aliens...  

In which case I will be more than happy to come do yard work for you.  

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