Edited by Barney R
Adjusted by me, so all mistakes are mine.
Author’s Note: The injuries and rehab described are ones I have actually suffered. The rest of the story is fiction. When I was injured, my wife was my strongest supporter.
My name is Stefan Johnson, at the time of my injury, I was 33, and left handed in most everything except writing and eating. I am 6’ 0” and weigh about 155 lbs. I am a Letter Carrier for the U. S. Postal Service. My soon to be ex wife is Constance (Connie) Detwiller-Johnson. She was 30 and insisted on that hyphenated name because; as she puts it, she is a professional rather than an hourly worker. She is a bank trust account clerk, not an officer, a clerk. I make three times as much income as what she does, but because I do actual manual labor, and wear a uniform, I am labor, and she is professional.
I met Connie in an ordinary, normal way. I was in a pizza parlor having a beer and a pizza. She was sitting with a couple of other ladies. I was about ready to leave, when I walked past where the ladies were sitting when I recognized one of them as a classmate from high school and also a co-worker in the same post office. Beth caught my arm and asked me to sit down. The ladies made room for me and I sat down next to a pretty lady who was introduced to me as Connie. She was a long haired (down to the middle of her back) blondish lady. Tall, and exotic of face, she had a small smile that made you think she was laughing on the inside.
I sat with the ladies until they got ready to leave, and I asked for Connie’s phone number. I told her I would call her the following Monday.
When I called Monday, a very surprised and almost angry sounding Connie answered. She said; “I really didn’t think you would call. You probably wouldn’t understand, but I would estimate that ten guys told me they would call and you are the first that didn’t lie”
“I said I would call and I did, I’m sorry I pissed you off. Perhaps I had better find a more placid girl to talk to.” Then I hung up. She really put me off with her voice.
A half hour later there was a knock on my apartment door. When I opened it, Beth was there.
“You sure know how to treat a lady, asshole. Connie called me and told me she pissed you off. She said that after you gave it back to her you hung up.” Beth was on a rant. “Now she wants your phone number. She told me she had been in the middle of a screaming match with her bitchy sister and she was angry, but not at you. She wants to apologize.”
“Fine, I don’t want you giving her my number. She could have toned down the raw anger I heard in her voice when she answered. If you want to give her any information, give her my address. That way if she truly wants to apologize, she will have to work for it.”
Beth laughed and said; “Listen stud; do you really think that you are worth the effort you want her to go through just because your feelings got bruised?”
“YES; now if that is the end of your message, would you like some coffee?”
That got me a complete belly laugh; then Beth pushed me out of the way and walked into the kitchen and into my cupboard, got a cup and poured herself some coffee. After a deep sigh, she said; “You are an ornery prick, but you do make heavenly coffee. Can I call Connie and give her your address?”
“Yes, I really enjoyed talking to her and with all three of you ladies. There is something about her that I liked until I heard the shrew on the phone.” I continued; “I suppose you should give her my phone number she really doesn’t need to grovel in person, on the phone will be OK.”
That got me a swat and after she refilled her cup and mine, Beth called Connie. She did not give her the phone number, just my address. Then she told Connie that if she wanted the best coffee in the world, she needed to get over to the next building and come to my apartment.
It turned out that Connie lived in a different building in the same complex as I did. Five minutes later she knocked on my door.
When Connie arrived, she was very contrite. She explained that her sister was living with her temporarily because of her divorce. She was also getting on Connie’s nerves because she won’t help around the apartment or look for a job.
“I was about 30 seconds away from telling her to hit the road when you called. I’m sorry I was bitchy, and it was not directed at you. Jane is even now packing her shit and I’m driving her to my mother’s house as soon as I know we are alright.” Then she asked; “Are we alright?”
“Yeah, go take care of family, they always come first.” I said; “I will call you either tonight or tomorrow night.”
With that she left. Beth stayed, and we talked about school, jobs, and Connie. Beth was of the opinion the she was worth the effort. I told her I would reserve judgment, but I liked talking to her when we first met, and anyone can have a bad day.
Well, that bad day was not a normal occurrence. We started dating and about a year later Connie got the job at the bank. I treated her to a good dinner at a local very good restaurant. At the dinner, I asked her to marry me and she said yes.
We were married at a local park by one of Connie’s friends. She was a preacher at a local church. It was a wonderful day, sunny and warm. The reception was at the letter carrier’s union hall and was catered by one of my cousins who did that kind thing as a business.
Things were great for about two years, then I bid* on a different route in a different zip code. The route I bid on was mostly businesses in the downtown area and included the bank that Connie worked at. I was on the route about three weeks when I was leaving the bank building. The injury happened when I walked through a pair of plate glass doors. As I was pushing open the door, the bottom of the door caught on a corner of an area rug. The door broke at the handle, and the top section crashed down on my left arm. The broken glass cut down to bone about an inch below the elbow. At first I wasn’t even aware that I was cut. Suddenly, the mail I was holding went flying as all the nerves and muscles controlling my fingers and forearm were destroyed. Then the shock set in. I went down and out.
Fortunately, someone with medical training put a tourniquet on the arm and controlled the bleeding. I was rushed to the hospital, and again fortune smiled. An orthopedic surgeon who specialized in hand and arm surgery was in the hospital that day. He closed the wound in my arm, and also a long but semi superficial cut on my right leg. I was admitted to the hospital.
The following day the surgeon came in and told Connie and I that what he had done was only a temporary surgery to stop the bleeding and close the wound. Sometime during the next week to ten days, after the swelling subsided, he needed to reopen the arm to reattach the muscles that were severed by the glass. He warned me that I was in for at least four months of rehab, and if the damage required additional surgery, as much as two years of rehabilitation. The next week the muscles were reattached and I was allowed to go home, but in a plastic full arm cast with a 90º bend at the elbow that went from my shoulder to my wrist. My arm was held against my chest by a different type of three way sling that went around my waist and neck.
I had the stitches from the second operation removed about ten days later. The doctor saw that my left hand was drooping and in a closed fist position. When he asked me to open my hand and straighten my wrist, I couldn’t.
The Dr. went on to explain that I had severed the radial nerve at a point that controlled all of the back of my hand and wrist. I would need at least one additional surgery to do a procedure called a ‘Jones Transfer’. That involved moving some tendons from my inner arm to attach to the muscles that control the outer arm and back of the hand. The way he explained it, the tendons involved were in pairs, and what he was going to do was split the pairs. The corrected arm would have about 95% of normal use, and more than 50% normal strength. He did warn that I would have a long learning curve and rehabilitation.
Through all of this Connie was by my side. She urged me to agree to the surgery, because she wanted me to have as normal a life as I could. She agreed that the rehab was going to be a royal pain, but we would get through it together.
I was hurt near the end of July, and the second surgery was in the first week of August. Before I could have the third surgery, I was going to require a couple of months of rehab to get the repaired forearm muscle in good shape. The corrective surgery was not scheduled until the middle of October.
During the rehab, Connie started to complain that we were not going out like we did before I got hurt. I asked her if she wanted to drive me to any movie house or restaurant that she wanted to go to. I couldn’t drive because of the sling. The cast was bad enough, but the sling made me essentially one armed. It was bulky also.
Then she started to complain that I wasn’t doing my normal things like taking care of the garbage and feeding the pets. I finally got pissed off one day and took the sling off and tried to do some stuff with my arm in the cast. My hand would not grip, so anything requiring two hands was impossible. I also caused some injury to the muscles, and the corrective surgery was pushed back to early November. Connie bitched that I was overdoing it and needed to take it easy. Sometimes you can’t win.
The corrective surgery went well. My left arm looked like a rural county road map from all of the scars. Connie was there when the doctor explained that once the stitches were out I would be on a rehab schedule of three times a week for four months for my fingers and an additional six to eighteen months for wrist and fine control movement.
Connie did not say anything while I was in the hospital, but when I got home she told me she was going to start going out with the girls from work because she needed some ‘stress relief’.
When I said fine, go ahead, but remember that you are married, and while I am not able to use my left arm, I can still sign divorce papers with my right hand as that was not hurt.
Connie was stunned by that remark, so I really laid into her, “You have bitched at me like it was my fault for the accident. Remember, I am drawing a full salary and my lawyer is working with the business’ insurance lawyers for a settlement. We are not hurting for money. We do not even have a medical bill because the Post Office is paying them all. If you think that going out with the divorced and single ladies from the bank is more important then our marriage, go ahead and go. However, if I get even a hint that you so much as danced with a man, we are done. Do you understand?”
She nodded and went to the guest room to sleep. She probably thought she was punishing me. Truth was she was a restless sleeper, and more then once had hit my arm while rolling over at night.
Things got real frosty for the next six weeks or so. Connie stayed in the guest room and I only talked to her about household things and finances. It was a strange situation because when either one of us was in the mood to make love, we found a way that did not cause me pain. Connie fell in love with cowgirl position because she was in control.
Finally, Connie wanted to go to the Trust Department Christmas dinner and asked that I not go with her. I said fine, but if I did not go, she would not be coming back to the house.
The dinner was on a Friday at one of the downtown private clubs. By the time the dinner was scheduled, I was in a normal sling, and could take the cast off to sleep. The dinner was great, and Connie and I danced a few of the dances. I took my sling off a few times so I could use both arms to hold her in a proper dance position. I even did one polka, but the bouncing was so much that only one was all I could do. Connie danced with any man that asked me if I would mind.
A couple of the men did not ask me, and Connie turned them down. One drunk took offence and loudly asked why she wouldn’t dance with him. Connie had the perfect response; “Because dipwad, those other men saw that I was with my husband, and they had the manners to ask him if he minded if they asked me. He didn’t and they did. You didn’t so you don’t.”
After the dinner, Connie returned to our bed. It was the same strange existence with our not talking much, but she at least kissed me good bye in the morning and hello when she returned to work.
After the New Year, my rehab involved exercises on both the hand and arm, I was also deemed to be able to perform some light duty functions at the post office. The arm exercises were to restore full movement to my elbow which the cast had immobilized for more then 5 months. The hand exercises were to increase my fine motor control on my fingers. I was allowed to remove the cast for periods of up to an hour a day at work and all night at home.