Since my last blog post my life has been a bit of a roller coaster. I have worked through 2 months of pretty intensive physical therapy and I am now able to make half a fist. My pinkie and ring finger still do not bend enough to be useful to me but I have enough hand strength that I am able to shear again and that is the important thing:)
I started shearing again in the middle of September, staring with small jobs. I was able to knock out just a few at a time and slowly begin to get a feel to what my limitations are. Since my left hand was the one that was hurt and I am right handed I found that I did not have too many issues with shearing even without being able to bend all my fingers. I found the hardest part has been shearing goats. Goats require more manipulation of the skin and a firm hold when shearing around the head. I had some rough days fighting with goats because of my weakness but I did get them all done (with a little help from my sweetie:)
People have been incredibly understanding this year since I have has to move around shearing dates and refer out jobs that I couldn't handle. This fall had to cater to my healing and the availability of my help so I want to take a second to thank everyone for their understanding and encouragement as I continue to get back up to speed. I found this fall also was nice because I was able to group my work into chunks instead of having it spread out over 3 months. It was nice to get everyone done and then be able to go visit friends and have time for all my physical therapy and doctors appointments! I feel like I am going to continue with this schedule in the future as it really made life simpler.
I am currently out in Iowa where I have been able to push myself to my limits and really work my arm to try to regain my strength. We shear about three days a week out here and for the most part they have been long days so I have been able to see how my hand responds to stress (answer: not so well). I have woken up a few times the next day and was unable to move my hand at all. But with stretching and soaking in hot water and rest days it comes round again. I am now aware of the phenomenon of weather changes and how it effects compromised body parts. When people complain that their bad knee hurts when a storm is coming, they are not kidding! My hand aches when the weather is changing and there is nothing that helps completely to numb the pain. But I hope that the more time I put between this incident I will think about it less and less.
So for now I am achy but working so I am happy. It is nice to be working with a team of supportive shearers. Nice to have lots of lambs to shear. Really nice to be healthy.
As for my future plans, right now I have one more surgery scheduled right before thanksgiving. This is a quick outpatient deal where they will open up my hand and remove the scar tissue connections that are preventing my fingers from fully closing. I will have about a week to recover (just to let the stitches heal) then I am ok to shear again. From here on out I am supposed to move my hand as much as possible so that scar tissue doesn't re-adhere the tendons. I really hope I can make a full fist after this. But even if it only gives me back a fraction of my flexibility I think I will still be happy. I know what it feels like to not be able to move those fingers at all and I am functioning well enough with my current limits. I am so grateful for what this year has taught me and I'm looking forward to finally putting it all behind me and focus on next year and the opportunities I will have.
I'm already thinking about spring and can't wait to see everyone again:)