It sucks having a body part in a cast, limiting everything you do. Your life slows to a crawl.
What caused this fiasco was most scary. Something I’ve done many times before, I put my foot up on a stool to tie my shoelace. This time an opening in my lug sole got stuck on the edge of the wicker top of the seat.
When I lifted my shoe, unprepared for this, I sailed backward with such force; it felt like being shot from a canon.
My fall was broken only by my dominant hand. My wrist behind me, I slowly pulled it forward, looking at it I felt woozy. I’ve never broken a bone before, but I knew this was bad. My wrist was bent in a way wrists don’t bend. Cradling my arm like a baby, I rocked back and forth, telling my hand, “I’m so sorry, over and over.”
My poor dog, Daisy, saw me in distress and was running in circles because she was scared. She kept kissing me as if to say it’s OK, it’s OK. Daisy is timid, so I worried more about Daisy than I did about my wrist.
Luckily my sister was close by to drive me to the emergency room in a shoreline town nearby.
She thought it would be less upsetting than the Yale ER in New Haven. I agreed.
I was thankful Kate was nearby, but she drives like Brendan Gaughan. My heart was in my throat. If she didn’t slow down, I’d need a larger cast covering more of my injured body.
My daughter was out of town, so she arrived at the ER about an hour later. I was taken by the kindness of the staff, even though it was inordinately busy that day, they were patient and pleasant, which calmed me.
Emergency room staff deserve medals for what they do, see, and how quickly they must act while seeing most people at their worst.
I’m so right-hand dominant. I never realized my left hand was waiting, to learn to take on more responsibility. An injury like this makes you glaringly aware of how much that dominant body part does that we unknowingly take for granted.
Four hours later, the x-rays showed a nasty wrist fracture. They had to set the bones in Yale’s main hospital. I was driven there by ambulance do to liability issues. I wound up in Yale after all.
The Xray showed not only did I fracture my wrist but one end of the bone hopped on the other fractured bone. They shot my sore wrist with Lidocaine, not pleasant but watching the doctors next move I endured it. What seemed like a Medieval torture they slipped two mesh cylinders with hooks over two middle fingers. The mesh tightened so my arm could hang. The hooks were attached to IV post, then weight was added to help slip one bone off the other.. In 30 minutes success. My wrist was then placed in a cast until surgery. My daughter Jennifer drove me home with food for dinner. I would be seeing a hand surgeon the following week.
Home the next morning, after the initial shock of seeing my wrist bent 30% to the side, I began to deal with the cast or try to. It seemed I was swearing every 30 seconds, like a longshoreman.
I tried to make breakfast— a simple breakfast of fried eggs and toast. Using a large cast iron pan, I cracked the eggs with one hand, so far so good. I’m a pastry chef, so that was easy. They began sizzling in sweet butter, toast browning so far so good. Coffee on, I felt triumphant. I went to flip the eggs over lightly, and that’s when all hell broke loose.
My left hand, not used to this maneuver, flipped the eggs in an unexpected trajectory, causing them to sail into the air and half off the pan. This action surprised me because it was a cast-iron pan the size of Rhode Island. Now there’s egg all over the stove seeping into all the nooks and crannies of the stove-top.
I looked down at my left hand, I’ve named her Emma, and said, “It’s not your fault Emma. You were a bit player, small parts, an understudy; then you were thrust into the spotlight, you weren’t ready.”
These simple movements were more challenging than I expected; food was flipping in the air from lack of coordination.
I had to learn how to use a fork and spoon with my left hand, coming in from a different angle, I kept missing my mouth. Peas rolled down into my shirt; I had more food on me than in me. With these mishaps came valuable lessons.
Here are some things I’ve learned.
- Don’t wait to urinate. It will take a while to learn how to undress with one arm. You can use your imagination here.
- Everything takes twice as long. Seemingly simple tasks take forever.
- Sleeping is challenging. The doctors told me to raise my hand over my heart to reduce swelling (I think that’s why?) That’s all well and good in theory.
- I was trying to open the child safety cap on Advil. Almost to the point of throwing it across the kitchen, I saw my emery-board, put it underneath, and magically it stopped the slipping and voila. As a single mother, I became resourceful. I was so excited this worked, you’d think I won lotto.
- Washing dishes, showering.... You’re not supposed to get the cast wet. I was beginning to realize I needed help.
My understanding of what someone with long term or lifelong physical challenges goes through, every day, has been illuminated by my temporary discomfort.
One night while meditating I said out loud to the Universe, “What am I supposed to be learning from this accident. And do you have to be so god-damned dramatic.”
“ASK FOR HELP” is what came to me.
I’ve always been independent, helping others but seldom asking for help for myself. One day a friend said, “Lu, don’t you think your friends might enjoy making you dinner or doing something nice for you?”
I remembered that and realized this is what I needed to learn. So, the next day I let friends and family know I was limited in doing for myself. No driving for at least three weeks, as I drive a standard shift. “I am really in a bit of a pickle, I shared.”
The response was heartwarming and genuine. My daughter and family called daily, asking what I needed and what they could do to help. Instead of telling them, no that’s OK I can handle it, I told them what they could do to be helpful. My neighbors cooked for me. Friends gave me cart Blanche to call if I needed anything. My heart swelled with love; I felt nurtured.
I went in for wrist surgery three weeks ago, Another cast but this time I knew there would be my posse waiting. Independence is great, but I needed to learn when to let people help. There are good people who would love to do something kind if we’d allow them to.
My hard cast is off; I’m wearing just a removable splint cast for a few more weeks, then, Freedom! I haven’t been able to write for a month… until now.
Thank you for reading