Of fractures, splints and other unpleasantness

Unless you live with me, work with me or have me as a friend on Facebook you won’t know that I have accidentally fractured a bone in my right hand (as opposed to *intentionally* breaking it I guess).

I knew it was serious pretty much right away but hoped it was just a sprain, but as my hand kept swelling more and more it was quickly obvious that something more serious had happened. I went to the hospital, got an x-ray, and was told I needed a splint. I’ve had a splint to heal a pinky finger before, it was just a metal bar with foam on one side. I wasn’t so lucky this time and this splint was made of a large, heavy piece of plaster covering the outside of my right hand.

Now, I am right-handed. VERY right-handed. I could probably lose my left hand and not have to adjust my life much. I have NO fine motor skills in my left. In fact I remember from my early 20s incidents where I went to a book shop, selected a book, picked it up with my left hand, then realized that I had grabbed the book next to the one I wanted. So, this past 10-11 days have been a real pain in the ass. For those of you who have never temporarily lost the use of your dominant hand, here are a few things this affects:

  1. Writing. I have tried to write with my left. It just doesn’t work. At all. In a pinch, if my signature is required, I can manage to grab a pen with my right thumb and index finger and sign by moving my whole arm, since my wrist is immobilized. Anything more than that and it looks like I fell asleep in the middle of writing a word. It’s completely ridiculous.
  2. Typing. My left hand can carry on typing, but the best I can do with the right is to bend my middle finger down and type with that. This works and is not too uncomfortable, but my typing accuracy has gone to sh*t and I have to look at the keyboard all the time.
  3. Eating. I look like someone who’s never handled utensils before, or perhaps have some sort of tremor issue, but if I take my time I manage, as long as I don’t have to cut anything.
  4. Cooking. Oh boy. I always handle knives with my right hand, so that’s not going so well. My brain knows how I should hold a knife, but that knowledge fades sharply as the command gets to my left arm.
  5. Driving. Good thing I don’t still have my manual transmission A4. Driving an automatic is at least straightforward. Getting into and out of the car is a little arduous.
  6. Hygiene. That one’s tricky. Because I have this plaster splint I can’t just jump into the shower carelessly, I must wear a plastic bag , but that’s not so bad. I can take the splint off for short periods too but it’s a pain getting everything back on so I try not to do it. The more difficult aspect, and no one talks about this because it’s not a comfortable thing to talk about, is that wiping is surprisingly arduous. After all I’ve been doing it for what, 45 years the same way, but suddenly I have to re-develop the skill with a hand that’s extremely *gauche*. It takes a long time everytime, and if you combine this with my mild claustrophobia it usually means that I come out of the washrooms sweaty and somewhat flustered. That’s definitely something that gets taken for granted in normal life.

This is all good and fine, but by far the aspect of life most affected by this is my mood. People think that having this fracture hurts physically, but that’s very minor and more discomfort (from being immobilized) than pain really. Along with the cast it feels like I’m carrying a dark cloud over my head all the time.

It all comes down to having to live the life of a 48 year old, father to two including a rambunctious four-year-old, with a shocking lack of fine motor skills.

While I can still do pretty much everything that was a normal part of my life a mere two weeks ago, it’s like someone’s turned up the difficulty level on every single task. And while the difficuty itself is not insurmountable, but every little thing takes a little toll on my state of mind. I end up at the end of every day frustrated, bitter and angry. My ongoing depression isn’t making things any easier either.

So, what’s the point of all this besides venting? It reminds me of how important it is to be patient with people, because inevitably you have no idea what’s really going on in their lives besides the obvious. All you really know is your own situation, and oftentimes you’re not even fully aware of that. Stop judging and cut others some slack. Someday you’ll realize how much you need that yourself.

One Reply to “Of fractures, splints and other unpleasantness”

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