Two weeks ago, I tripped and broke my fall with my right hand.
Instantly, it swelled up. I iced it and carried on. Nothing, short of death, can propel me to an Emergency Room. Not even a ballooning right hand. My knuckles disappeared. My palm and fingers turned black.
I was in pain, but I have a very high pain threshold.
I taught my Seneca classes. Gave a speech at the University of Western Ontario. Lived on Extra-strength Tylenol.
People started noticing my hand. “What happened,” they’d ask.
“I just fell,” I’d say. “Broke my fall with my hand. Stupid me.”
They started urging me to see a doctor. I resisted.
“It’s just a bad bruise,” I’d say. “There’s nothing they can do about it.”
It didn’t improve.
On the sixth day, my husband had a dentist appointment downtown, so I asked him to drop me off at Mount Sinai’s ER.
There, in remarkably shot order, my hand was x-rayed.
It was broken and put into a plaster cast up to my elbow. I was told to see a hand specialist ASAP.
Suddenly, I was incapacitated.
I'm right-handed. My left hand is useless.
I couldn’t type. Do you know the “return” button on my iMac is on the right side. You push it with your right baby finger. Mine is out of commission.
I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t grip the steering wheel. I couldn’t open the door of the car. I couldn’t turn the key to lock the front door. I couldn’t hold a pen. I couldn’t easily shower or shampoo. Or brush my teeth or my hair.
The pain worsened. Sharp shooting pains pulsed up my arm.
Physical injuries are emotionally draining and mentally depressing. I don’t easily depress, but being unable to type – which is why I appear to have abandoned you here, at “Coming Out Crazy” – started getting me down.
Powerful painkillers don’t agree with me. I started sleeping to numb the pain. Napping far too much. A sure sign of depression.
Finally, six days later, a perky plastic surgeon who specializes in hands came to my rescue. Dr. Nancy McKee removed the dreadful cast, informing me that I had “royally” broken my fifth metacarpal close to the wrist. A charming occupational therapist named Julie fashioned a customized rubber and plastic splint.
Bright cherry red with sky blue Velcro straps. Happy colours. No boring flesh tones for me!
“You cannot drive for four weeks,” she sternly instructed.
But I can type! With eight fingers. Shower and shampoo. AND REMOVE THE SPLINT!
Gripping a pen is still a no-no. My students’ essays and exams won’t easily be marked, but they’ll understand.
I’m feeling much better.
Physical pain is emotionally upsetting. Mentally stressful.
Our minds are so vulnerable. They don’t heal like broken hands. In six weeks. You can’t see the breaks on an x-ray.
So, take care this summer. Don’t break a fall with your right hand, if you’re right-handed. Or vice versa.
Be careful. Be well.