Gimme a break

Almost two years ago, just before Christmas 2016, I slipped on the ice (ironically, while throwing down rock salt so that no one would slip and fall…) and fell and broke my wrist – both the ulna and radius. It hurt like hell. The good news was that it wasn’t my dominant side. The bad news was that I had broken the same wrist in the same location of my ulna 40 years ago when I was in grade school. It wasn’t set properly and therefore didn’t heal properly, plus there has been a tiny bone fragment floating around inside all these years which has caused issues off and on since.

As an adult, carrying around a heavy cast and going through the healing process affected everything in my body – my gait, my right arm and shoulder (even though my left wrist was the one broken), my hips, my back, my balance, my stability. And my mental state. And, therefore, my spiritual state. “Where the hell are you, Universe?! I thought you had my back?? I trusted you to protect me and now look what’s happened!”

It sucked. In a big way. Not only did my wrist and arm hurt for practically the entire six weeks of lugging around that cast, but I quickly became inactive, out of shape, and basically a depressed and miserable recluse. It was a shitty winter with lots of ice and snow. I was afraid to go anywhere for fear I would lose my balance or slip and fall again. Not that I felt like going out anyway. Everything was a major chore.

Taking a shower was exhausting. Getting dressed was not only painful but took considerable effort and a long damn time. Going to the grocery store? Yeah, that was fun. Putting on and taking off a big puffy down coat with one arm, carefully tucking my broken arm inside and somehow getting the zipper pulled up one-handed was a daily exercise in pure frustration. I had to learn to do literally everything differently. Or not do it at all. Throughout this experience, though, I learned new combinations of cuss words that I hadn’t previously used, so there was that. I know. Thank you. I do try to find the silver lining in everything.

My temporary disability gave me such a different perspective on my life. Yes, I felt like my world sucked. For awhile. But honestly, it made me so much more cognizant of my surroundings. I was acutely aware of everything that may affect my ability to navigate, to interact with people, to take care of myself, and to take care of my family and my home. Asking anyone for help of any kind pre-broken wrist was essentially a nonstarter for me. I have always been very independent so I suppose, for me, asking for help was a sign of dependence – something I had never been (and never wanted to be).

What breaking my wrist gave me was a teeny tiny bit of insight into how people with permanent disabilities live every day of their lives. It gave me true empathy. It instilled in me tremendous respect and admiration for individuals who overcome adversity and make the most of their lives, despite, or in spite of, physical limitations. It also provided some contrast for independence and dependence.

My broken bones have long since healed and I have about 90% use of my left wrist and hand. Some might be annoyed, resentful, or frustrated if they didn’t regain 100% use back. I haven’t forgotten what it was like to be limited in activity and function, so I’ll take my 90% with gratitude.


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