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.

19 thoughts on “One Armed Bandit

  1. Nick

    Quite a to-do! Good that you had so many helpful friends and neighbours – and Elly – to make things easier. Luckily I’ve never broken or fractured anything.

  2. Thriftcriminal

    Good job. My mother in law did a similar job on her wrist a couple of years back, slipped on a patch of frost, always good to have th mobile at hand. One handedness takes a bit of getting used to alright, I have done both collar bones and when I did the right hand one stuff like opening jars etc was very complex. Bed was nasty when I did a rib, it was on the side I normally slept on, so I would roll over in my sleep and wake up with a painful start.

  3. 5h4mr0(k

    I got a little confused when you said “Now the first rule of falling is NOT to jump up! ”

    Wouldn’t that be flying? 🙂

    You were very lucky.

    It reminded for an elderly single farmer that lives nearby. He was in his 70s and was back the fields checking on some cattle one evening. He tripped in a hole and broke his leg in two places. With the leg broken he couldn’t operate the manual gear box of his jeep.
    The man managed to drag himself several hundreds of metres through the fields to the roadside and got help in the morning.
    Nobody had noticed he was missing since his jeep was gone as well.

    That was about 8 years ago. He’s retired now.

  4. TheChrisD

    Reminds me of the occasions at home, where my wrist got cut up from a broken window, and my mother’s wrist was broken from rollerblading.

    ‘Twas a fun time in more ways than one, two people with both their major wrists out of action and unusable 🙂

  5. Baino

    Quite a tale Grannymar . . . the sad thing is that you could have been there unnoticed for ages if you hadn’t been able to get up. I dislocated my elbow and had a small fracture whilst on holiday in Fiji. Their hospital didn’t notice the fracture due to poor xray equipment. I had to wait a week to get it xray’d properly and a cast fitted when I came home. I’m left handed but do everything bar write with my right so I share your frustration. Plus my job depends on the use of a keyboard so I had a ‘typist’ to whom I dictated. I didn’t realise how quickly words flow from the brain to the fingers until I couldn’t use them all.

    Hot tip for intrepid travellers: Don’t get out of a canoe on a muddy river bank wearing thongs!

  6. Sniffle&Cry


    Isn’t it strange though, that people say how lucky you are, when you have a broken limb? Luckier then a person with two broken limbs I suppose. And the pain thing, that’s really special.

    That hanging out and taking in the washing will get you every time.

    You were spot on about staying down.


  7. Grannymar Post author

    Baino ~ I lived to tell the tale. On day two I needed to go to the ATM for a few pennies spending money. It was out of order and I had to go into the bank for the money and the teller who knew me for years insisted on me giving a signature ❗ Scrawled with my left hand it was no more like my writing than the man in the moon.

    Sniffle&Cry ~ Please don’t, we only allow laughter here! 😆 Welcome on board. I might have to water my tipple if I want to keep hanging the washing out. What do you think?

  8. wisewebwoman

    Gosh GM, thank heavens for the help you had. I was reminded of a dear friend who left her doc’s office after a diagnosis of breast cancer (she is in remission) and literally tripped over herself on the steps and broke her wrist and her leg. She joked for years it was a gift as it took her mind off the cancer even when she was in chemo.
    PS maybe that’s what they meant when they said you were lucky. Ha.

  9. kenju

    You were lucky! I was lucky to have my parents nearby to watch my kids for me when I cut my big toe in the lawnmower and mr. kenju had to take me to the hospital. I had to lie abed for weeks after that.

  10. Lette

    hi ya im a newbie on your blog fellow irish blogger and glad to link you to mine, hope ur wrist is feeling better now 🙂

  11. Grannymar

    Welcome Lette

    My wrist is fine and gets plenty of exercise these days.

    I think we should all learn how to use both wrists when we are young.

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  13. dominique

    You are a very strong women i got in a situation similar and its been hard to deal with because i broke my arm and i was right handed also. So stories like your help me not feel sorry for myself.

  14. Grannymar Post author

    Welcome Dominique,

    Working with only one hand when used to having both is difficult. I am pleased this post gave you encouragement.


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