Friday, October 06, 2006


I forgot to mention that I had a fall and broke my left wrist, two weeks ago last weekend.

Briefly, I was out running (for exercise) in the evening, it got dark, and I ran smack into a metal post in the greenway path. Never saw it. I fell forward, hard, and tried to catch myself with my hands. I got up slowly, inventoried all the places that hurt (right kneecap, right shoulder, left wrist) but was able to walk home. I thought I'd gotten away with bruises and maybe a sprained wrist. But the throbbing in my wrist got worse, I couldn't sleep, so after dithering for a few hours (should my wife drive me? who could we call to watch the kids?) I finally drove myself to the ER at 2 a.m. (Steering with my knees, right hand supporting my injured left hand, eyes watering from pain, but I made it.)

As trips to the ER go, it was good. I waited an hour or so before someone saw me, but everybody I talked to was pleasant and soothing and answered all my questions. It took two separate trips to the X-ray room, but they eventually found a fracture: a small crack in the navicular or scaphoid bone.

So I'm sporting a cast, thumb immobilized, though I can make the "OK" sign, which is more than I could do with the splint I got at the ER. The cast is made of fiberglass (the PA who put it on jokes I'm part man, part Corvette), and it's blue. I joke that it's not to honor any sports team (the shade is in between Duke and Carolina colors) but to reflect my renewed love and loyalty toward Blue Cross / Blue Shield. Sorry, I know they're lame jokes.

My kids want me to let them write and draw on my cast. That's not what you do when you're a grown-up with a cast. Is it? I'm saying it's not what you do, but I'm afraid I may be wrong. I'm more of a grouchy spoilsport dad than usual lately.

The scaphoid bone is the most common wrist fracture. It's a little bone near the base of the thumb, but a troublesome little bone: doesn't get good blood flow, so healing is slow and unreliable. I'll be in this cast for 8 to 12 weeks total, if things go well, which seems like a long time for such a little crack in a little bone. I think if I had neatly snapped in half one of the big bones in the arm, my recovery time would be shorter.

I make a lot of lame jokes lately. I'm tired of explaining how it happened to everyone I see--the truth is boring and stupid--so I'll say I was wrestling alligators or leaped from a burning airplane. I'm tired of people asking if it hurts--it doesn't hurt--so I'll complain over-dramatically of the hardships of not being able to tie my shoes or cut my meat.

My pride is bruised. Personal hygiene is suddenly difficult and time-consuming. I shower with a plastic bag over my cast to keep it dry; it seems like the right side of my body hasn't gotten a good washing in over two weeks. The women in my life (wife, co-workers, even daughters) are helping me with simple physical tasks. Bugs the shit out of me. Makes me feel old. It doesn't seem like tripping on the sidewalk should cause this much damage, but I must be more brittle than I used to be. And what I did was pretty doggone stupid, an egregious breakdown of common sense. I was running, hard, in the pitch dark; you wouldn't do that in your own house, much less the outdoors. If I was in the routine of running, or just being outdoors, like I should be, I would know what frickin' time the sun goes down.

I miss my arm. Miss just seeing it. In two weeks I go in to get the cast changed, and I'm looking forward to having no cast for a few minutes, to scratch the itchy places freely, and just to see my arm, to have bodily integrity again.


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