Typing With One Hand

One day, back in 1995, I was riding my bicycle home and fell. I fell because some other bicyclists were coming at me from the other direction (we were in an alley, so it is unclear which one of us was going the wrong way) when we did the bicycle equivalent of constantly blocking the other person by trying to get out of the way by going to the right, then the left then the right and all you do is mirror their movements. This little two wheeled two step ended when I fell to the ground.

I sprained my shoulder, broke my wrist, and dislocated my elbow. That last injury was the one which caused all the pain. So much pain that I had difficulty answering basic questions, like my birthdate, as I was being admitted to the ER. So much pain, I begged the nurses to give me more Demoral because the shot they had given me had no effect. So much pain, I ceased to remember what it felt like the moment after the doctor pulled my arm and the bone snapped back into position--probably an innate coping mechanism on my brain's part because I am positive if I did not forget, I would never be able to leave the house, much less get back on a bicycle. (Of course, one may argue that forgetting the pain was also a result of the Demoral finally taking effect.)

That was eleven years ago.

I may not remember the quality and intensity of the pain itself, but I will never forget how much it hurt. I still use the experience as a gauge by which I judge all other pain. During labor, when asked where, on a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate my pain, I never said anything over an 8. I said 8 when my contractions were coming every 30 seconds and double peaking, when my OB recommended I get an epidural because I wasn't progressing and she feared I would not have any energy left to push. I constantly thought back and knew I had felt worse, I knew that the pain of my arm muscles being forced into unnatural positions trumped the pain of my uterine muscle doing the thing for which it was designed.

It would be dishonest of me to say that I have noticed no changes in my body due to that injury. I lost a good deal of muscle tone in that arm during my recovery, muscle tone I never completely got back. Some of my affinity towards ambidextrousness was lost as well, the sling on my left arm forcing me to do more with my right arm. Occasionally there's an ache in the muscles surrounding the elbow which has no real cause. Minor things which someone else may not even notice and about which I gave little thought. I certainly never favored that side. At this point in my life, I hardly ever even think about it.

Until today.

We were out riding, Fred on his bike, Julian and I on mine, and I approached an intersection. I was distracted. I slowed and my front wheel hit a break in the rode. My leg went down, but that was not enough to withstand the force of gravity and its pull on the weight of me, my bike, and Julian. My arm went forward to slow the fall and to protect Julian.

Apparently, once you dislocate a joint, that joint becomes more susceptible to future dislocations and there is no statute of limitations on this susceptibility.

I sat on the road and noted that I didn't really feel any pain, but I could tell something was very not right in my left elbow. You could kindof see the bone jutting out in an unnerving way. I told Fred I dislocated my elbow and told him to take care of Julian. Then I sat there thinking about having to go to the emergency room and what they would do there. I pulled on my wrist with my other hand and slowly unbent my arm and my elbow popped back into place.

It would seem I was paying attention back in the ER, in spite of the pain and the Demoral.

Some people who lived nearby brought me ice (I didn't even get their names or address, so a thank you here may have to suffice). Fred rode my bike home, with Julian, and came back with the car to get me and his bicycle. Passersby ignored me sitting on the bench in front of the not yet open library. I felt like Supermom. This injury protected my child from getting hurt, and, not having time to waste, I healed myself.

I know it isn't as simple as I am pretending it is, I know I will have to see a doctor and my arm will probably be immobilized in order to allow my stretched ligaments to heal and this lack of movement will negatively impact my daily life, I know that the ibuprofen I took when I got home (in addition to the glass of Obsession, not to mention the post-injury endorphins) is probably doing a lot to hold back the pain. Tomorrow will be a hard day. But tonight, I'm sewing a big red S on my pyjamas.


Francesca said…
Or, indeed, burning it into your pj front with your laser vision. This is an incredible story and i am glad that you are as okay as you seem to be in the circumstances. What you did this afternoon seems in some ways to epitomise motherhood: the sacrifice of one's own self for the good of the child.

Now that I wrote that, I'm kinda spooked by it since I don't actually subscribe to the pelican theory of parenthood but still, go you.

And I hope you feel better.
karrie said…
I'm sorry about your arm, but I'm pleased that you and the stuntmother have found one another's blogs. You're both so eloquent and make pretty things with sharp sticks. I thought about directing you to one another, but how strange would that have been?

Post on Smart Women Who Like To Argue (love that, btw.): Hey Ali:There's a blogger I think you'd really enjoy.

Or the reverse to the SM. Weird! Or maybe not. I'm so confounded by proper internet etiquette lately that maybe its the way to carry on. Anyway.

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