Daily Archives: May 23, 2008

One Armed Bandit

In August 2005 I fell and broke my right wrist, or should that be the wrong one, since I am right handed! It was certainly a learning experience for me, but it could have been much worse. Another four inches to the right and I might have split my skull on the edge of a flagstone step or broken my spectacles and ended up with an eye full of broken glass.

It was a bright summer day and I fell in the back garden as I was collecting my washing from the clothesline. For once I was wearing a skirt – bad idea since it had no pockets. I am sure I blacked out for a moment and came too as I approached the ground because I landed on both hands. There was no mark on my shoes so I know that I didn’t trip. I have the habit of un-pegging a couple of items from the line before bending to put them in the linen basket on the ground. The sudden movement of my head down and then up again may have been the cause.

Now the first rule of falling is NOT to jump up! The shock of a tumble can hide the pain of injury. Knowing this I rolled over on to the grass after a minute or two. I lay for a few moments and then sat up slowly. Nobody came to my aid, but then nobody knew I was there. If something serious happened I could lie there for days. I live in a frost pocket and for this reason I never use my back door in wintertime. This was summertime and I was wearing a skirt with no pockets. No pockets meant my mobile/cell phone was sitting on my dining table and my GTN spray was keeping it company. That was the end of skirts for me I resolved to only wear trousers with pockets from then on. That way I would have the spray and phone with me at all times.

I was not sure that the arm was broken, but it was very painful. I knew I would not be able to wrap a bandage round it properly so I soaked a face flannel in white vinegar, squeezed the excess out the best I could with my left hand and put it round the right one. I used a couple of rubber bands to hold it in place, no worries they were large enough to hold the flannel yet not interfere with my circulation. This I hoped would stop it from swelling. Since I don’t drink tea I managed to make a weak coffee with plenty of sugar. While I sat drinking this a friend called unexpectedly. She insisted on taking me to the hospital, where we took our turn at A&E.

Examination and X-Rays proved that I had a hairline fracture, it could have been so much worse. I was a very lucky lady. When I returned to the waiting area it was 10.30 pm and I was sporting a cast from my knuckles to my elbow. When we reached home I assured my friend that I would be fine and sent her on her way. I had ruined her evening and didn’t want to detain her any further as she had a days work to face in the morning.

Once home I phoned Elly and she offered to travel up from Dublin there and then. I told her not to attempt to move that night and that I would phone again in the morning to tell her how I was.

I quickly realised that living alone with my ‘major’ arm in plaster was fun. Undressing, showering and washing my hair with one hand etc was interesting… I tossed and turned all night trying to find a comfortable position. Resting my arm on a pillow gave some relief and the painkillers began to take effect. By morning the rest of my body was screaming for attention and sympathy. I needed stronger painkillers so phoned the Health Centre where the ‘On-call Dr’ said he would leave a script at reception for me. That was handy, I couldn’t drive with a plaster on my hand and the thought of walking the mile and a half to collect it, before going to the chemist and then a mile and a half back uphill was not on. Looking out the window I saw a neighbour reversing his car out of his garage. I called to ask if he would take me to the health centre. He did, and waited while I collected the tablets at the clinic before taking me home again. He said that if I needed anything to call on them. I didn’t call nor did he or his wife ever check to see how I was managing.

I knew Elly was worried so I took a photo of myself with the arm raised and emailed it to her. Immediately came her reply ‘I see you managed to put on a bra one handed!’ I did with difficulty, and succeeded in cooking my meals, washing my dishes as well as all the other chores about the house. I missed driving so contented myself at home, my left-handed mouse skills improved quickly and a multitude of other skills with it. I had made a start on Elly’s wedding outfit but had to leave it on hold for the duration.

I bought two sponge balls the size of tennis balls and used them to exercise my fingers every day and I went for walks. I taught myself to use PowerPoint and prepared a presentation for a family gathering. Two ex-work colleagues, one was the girl who took me to the hospital, came a few times and brought dinner clearing away the dishes before they left. They took me grocery shopping and out for the odd evening.

When I was due to return to the hospital Elly insisted in travelling up to take me for the appointment. The plaster was removed and replaced with a splint. The sight of my wrist and palm was a shock the bruising ran from my fingers and half way up my arm. The Consultant repeated over and over that I was a very lucky woman! When we left the hospital we went for a coffee and then travelled straight to Dublin. Elly thought that a change of four walls was what I needed. I stayed 10 days and it did me good, Elly and George took me back up the road once more doing a big shop for me on the way. While Elly packed everything away in one portion sizes George cut the grass and generally tidied up for me.

I appreciated all that Elly, George and my two girlfriends did for me and will never take my right hand for granted again.