• Brachial Girl

1 Year Anniversary

So … it’s been awhile.

12 months ago (1st March 2015) I was enjoying a long weekend away with my husband and some friends in Donnybrook, Western Australia. It’s inland from Bunbury.

We rode all around the countryside, had an awesome lunch at a pub in Nannup, then headed for Bridgetown.

I wasn’t a very experienced rider. I’d been riding an automatic 150cc scooter for 12 months or so and wanted to ride normal bikes with a goal of having my own Harley. My husband’s mate taught me to change gears on his girlfriend’s 250cc and I took to it like a duck to water. So the next day off we all went, with me on a “big” bike. I was so excited. I loved it. The feeling of complete freedom.

Anyway, I hit some gravel, lost the bike, hit a tree flew through the air and landed in a barbed wire fence ….. and got my brachial plexus injury, along with breaking my arm in 2 places. I was very lucky they were my only injuries.

My status – I have limited use of my triceps, bicep, brachialis and deltoid. I have no external rotation or shoulder lift. I can use my hand quite well. Though it’s stiff and constantly hurts like hell.

I started out with only some triceps. After 4 nerve transfers and a lot of occupational therapy, I can bend my elbow using my biceps and brachialis, though it’s very limited. I can move my arm forward, sideways and back to about 30-40 degrees using my deltoids.

That’s about it.

Of the 5 nerves that make up the brachial plexus, going from the spinal chord to the arm, originally it was thought that I had 2 nerve root avulsions and some damage to another. However, I saw my surgeon, Alex O’Beirne on Friday and he viewed the new MRI scan I had done and he said I’ve lost 4 nerves not 2. I’m just very lucky that I have some extra nerve endings in my hand, otherwise I’d have no use of that either.

Alex was really concerned that my supraspinatus is not working. This is what aids the shoulder to raise the arm up high. He also mentioned concern that I have no external rotation. He let me know that it’s still early days, and that he could perform a muscle transfer to give me some rotation, and he could fuse the shoulder and scapula together to strengthen my lift, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Life has been pretty hard. The pain never lets up. I still have really bad pain days. Some days are almost normal. My husband and I are still looking for work, and I’m praying my application for early access to my retirement superannuation will be accepted. Our debts are mounting up and I avoid answering the phone to avoid debt collectors.

My daughter has moved out of home and started university. She’s got a lovely self contained apartment on the university campus. She’s loving uni life.

My husband wants to leave Perth. I’m all for new adventures, but I really love living in Perth so will be very sad to leave. It took us a long time to build a life here, friends hobbies etc. So it will sort of suck to have to do that all over again … but it’s a new adventure in a new place. Might be Kalgoorlie, might be Mt Isa, might be Mackay, might be Hunter Valley.

Who knows!

So, life goes on. I’m happy in general. I’ve started a Diploma of Marketing online, and I’m applying for jobs like crazy. Fingers crossed I can get a job and make some money!

Brachial Girl out!

PS - Photo is of a huge tree on my daughter’s uni campus. I thought it was quite symbolic of life. So many paths and options.

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