Six months ago, by date and by day, I went roller skating for the second week in a row. It was my new escape from an unpleasant 9 to 5 situation. By the end of that night, six months ago, by date and by day, I had a new situation to deal with, and it involved me not being able to move or bend my left wrist for at least six weeks.
You know how a lot of times it seems like six months ago? That went so fast/slow! But I actually can believe it was six months ago, no more, no less. Each day passed and the experience kept me focused on one at a time. I struggled to stay in the present in the past, but this gave me laser focus on the now.
The first week featured a bit of shock, which was finally subsided on day four when I said out loud, I broke my wrist? I broke my wrist! Then, on day five, after my removable cast was put on, with instructions not to take it off for at least four weeks, I experienced a week of anxiety and longingly looking at the button that I could pull to release the steel cords holding the cast tightly around my broken bone’s skin. Once that settled, I felt better and relaxed into my new reality (I also now knew the name of every bone in the hand, wrist and arm, which I hope will come in handy on Jeopardy!).
I’ve always been a bit MacGyver-y, but this experience took that to a new level. I found new and interesting ways to shower without hanging my arm outside the curtain, to get a headband into my hair, to open jars with one hand. The one thing I struggled with was the tops of bottles of soda and water, leading me to make everyone laugh when I demanded that someone TWIST MY CAPS!
This experience also took my independence down a notch, and ya know, it really needed a vacation. I let other people open doors (and bottle caps), cook for me, carry things, and anything else that I would have insisted on doing on my own before, easily with two hands, and that I would have found a way to do with one hand. Then I finally said, “OK, you do it.” And I let them.
After four weeks in the cast, Dr. Ortho told me I could take it off to shower. Squeezing my hand through the hard opening that tightly held my wrist was no easy feat, even with the cords loosened and my being able to pull the cast open slightly. Needless to say, I only took it off four or five times combined during weeks five and six.
The last time I took it off was for the x-ray during the week six visit. Dr. Ortho said I didn’t have to put it back on and I was grateful (it hurt to take it off and on). He gave me a carpal tunnel brace thingy to wear while working and sleeping, and I used that off and on for the next two weeks. Then I stopped wearing any support and began trying to use my arm and hand again.
It’s amazing — fascinating (said like Spock) — how such a small amount of time in stillness can make your hand and arm practically useless. But I’m a trooper, so I started washing my hands like normal, except I couldn’t bend my wrist or my fingers of my left hand. It was like washing my right hand with a stick. But every day, I kept trying and washed like normal. And every day, things got better, looser, more flexible.
I remember the day in late January when I put an elastic ponytail holder in for the first time in months. It hurt a little to use my left hand’s fingers to pry the elastic open. But I did it. And now it’s a piece of cake.
I even baked a cake recently! Now, I can lift a bowl of batter-y goodness and scoop its contents into a pan. I can carry small loads, cook for myself, open jars and yes, I can now again twist my own caps.
My wrist doesn’t bend all the way down again yet, but that will come in time. My fingers feel stiff still sometimes. It’s making me a meteorologist — I can predict the weather with the aches in my bones!
It’s a situation I didn’t plan on being in, but I made the most of it. People commented on how accepting I was of the pain, the limitations. But what was my alternative? It was broken. It had to fix itself. Going with that flow made things so much easier. I’ve always wondered why people struggle against what is.
Six months ago, I broke my wrist. My arm — and my life — will never be the same. I think they’re going to be even better. The wrist break caused a life break which gave me time to rest, which helped me get strength to get a new 9 to 5 gig. And I met some really nice nurses, doctors, and medical professionals. If one must go through something like this, it helps to have nice people to help.
I’ve already marked on my calendar six months from today. That’s the day I’ll return to the rink. I have to complete the circle, to make amends with the floor, and to get back on the proverbial horse. (Perhaps horseback riding would be safer?)
And my outlook and response to this event means that the next time I go skating, it won’t be as an escape, but instead as the fun I remember (minus the fall and injury, of course) and a celebration filled with joy.
And wrist guards.
And possibly a helmet.