Paying an arm and a leg for an arm was a bargain

I might be in love with my new cast.

Keep in mind that love doesn’t have to mean you adore everything about your SO. This ol’ thing chafes my thumb something fierce. It’s waterproof, but it still takes a while to dry. The palm is very chunky and restricts how well I can use moderately sized computer mice. It’s quite solid, but it digs into my forearm a little bit and I haven’t gotten used to sleeping with it yet.

I mean geez, we just started going steady yesterday.

It took a long time to get. You know how yesterday I was all I’m signing off because I don’t want to be durdling around on my phone when they call me. They called me maybe five minutes later and took me to another room with other hospital beds. I waited for perhaps another 30 minutes before anyone saw me. They tended to two other patients, then two new patients were brought in. Then a fellow (like, he was a gentleman but also “Fellow” was his title) was all “oh, have you been seen yet?” and I was all “nope” so he saw me and said a nurse would be back to check/remove my old cast, then he’d come back in 20 minutes. Meanwhile, the other patients were seen and excused. He came back in 20 minutes and I hadn’t been seen by the nurse. So he called a nurse who came ten minutes later. She cut off my cast and I waited for the Fellow to come back with the Doctor. This was maybe another 15 minutes’ wait. Then they said I needed a cast, so a nurse would be back to give me one. Ten minutes later she returned and gave me the option of a free plaster cast, a $45 lightweight fibreglass cast or a $90 fibreglass cast that would be waterproof. The second she stopped talking I opted for the $90 blue one. $90 for the ability to easily shower or wash dishes/hands for the next five weeks was a bargain. I left the hospital and it was absolutely pissing down. I had immediate gratification for my purchase.

So this new boi is an azure blue, supportive and functional. Plus I have full access to my fingers and thumb again, so I can actually perform basic tasks. I took one of my friend’s ideas and ran with it. Since sharpies were kind of de rigueur, she suggested getting paint markers so people could make colourful doodles. The concept assuaged my disappointment over the lack of brightly coloured cast options available. I let my girlfriend have first dibs on placement and design. So my arm is now adorned with a silver love heart with our initials and an arrow running through it. Also my fist comes emblazoned with a pretty rainbow arch in celebration of Pride Month. If joy is this easy to come by, you’re losing out by not jumping for it.

Best of all, I managed to root around the Service Desk at work for a teensy computer mouse. I can once again do my job unimpeded by the clumsy boundaries of my cast. I’m not gonna lie, my inability to do simple things was playing havoc on my self-worth. My independence is incredibly important to how I view myself. If I’m incapable of doing things without aid I get frustrated. Wrong as it is, on some level I believe that if I can’t do it on my own, then it’s not something I deserve.

On that note, something I deserve is to get the fuck out of here. I’ve put in a solid day of work.

Cast you later, alligator.

Advertisements

Is the Canadian medical system Pro Bone-o?

I’m A36, they just called A25.

I guess this means I’m live reporting the wait before I get my cast. I’m sure its as exciting for you as it is for me. Blame my lack of cellphone reception in tall buildings. Otherwise I’d be on the internet and we’d both be getting on with our lives. But I’m here and so are a number of people whose injuries look worse than mine. The dude next to me has a full arm cast. Still managing to left hand wield his phone. Whenever you think you have it bad, right? Gawd think of the sweat up there. I’m sure his arm has created it’s own micro-bacterial culture by now. Life as we know it, but just a bit smellier. At least HE gets internet here.

I know a game of “who has it worse?” serves nobody. That being said, there are a ton of slings and crutches here. As much as I’m jonesing to get to work, some folks look like they’re in severe pain. Maybe best to get to them first? I don’t know how the system works. I’ve got a number (and haven’t heard any new numbers called since A25), but I’d hope if it was urgent the hospital would have procedures in place to sort that out. They probably do. It seems that most people here are of advanced age. They old. I guess that makes the most sense. Bones and bodies get fragile as the years pass. I mean, post age 20 injuries have taken longer to recover from. I think I went to physio maybe five times before I left my teens. After that, I’ve had months (or weeks, even) when I’ve been that often.

A26 and A27. Double Whammy. Guess that’s the upside of killing time. Everyone seems to be walking out of here- wait, limping- with blue casts. Maybe my dreams of a rainbow technicolour dream cast are dead to rights. Much like a Dreamcast of any colour. A28 and A29 were just called. Wowee. What’s the bet they change the letter system just before we get to A36? Look, I’m definitely still not complaining. This Canadian healthcare system is wonderful and it’s only done good by me. If a little wait and a blue cast is the worst I deal with then color me chuffed. Abadee abadye. Full arm cast dude just absconded with a doctor in silence. Are there secret alliances afoot? Or anarm?

Whatever injuries people have, most of them have been tempted by food court Tim Hortons. At least their patriotism to shitty coffee hasn’t been fractured. A30! We’re getting there. A dude with a similar looking arm cast to mine is A34. He and I shared a knowing nod earlier. I guess everyone here has a story of some variety. Not all eventful, I’m sure. A ton of fracture stories are just “I fell. Le Fin.” A32. Oh hey, I recognise a couple from the night I came in, primarily because the husband kept giving me shifty looks. He just gave me another shifty look, but he waved. Maybe I don’t know what congeniality looks like in the first place. Whoops. His wife had a particularly nasty broken arm in emergency and I kinda questioned why I went first. Not complaining, of course. A33 and A34. If we get one more double whammy I’m in! People around are sharing war stories now. I guess sharing pain is halving pain? It’s a good way to kill time in any sense

I’m signing off now. I want to be attentive and not on my phone when they call. These doctors’ time is valuable and I’d like to treat it as such.

Catch y’all after the “break” I guess.

Swing at The King? Swinging was what got me into this mess

My life right now is structured around healing, but it struck me yesterday how much of my everyday is focused on maintenance.

It brought me back to one of those thought experiment questions that was going around. “If you could continue to have either the mind or body of a 30 year old as you aged, what would you choose and why?” I immediately jumped on the mind train. Having that kind of mental alacrity on hand, without the hurdles of gradual degeneration would be amazing. The quickness of wit, the curiosity and openness. Sign me up. My friend on the other hand saw it differently. She said you’d feel like your body was a prison. If your body stayed in good health, you wouldn’t notice the effects of ageing as much. It’d ease the passing years and allow you to continue to explore the world. Plus you’d have a bangin’ bod. Case closed. Come to think of it, If LeBron pays $1.5 million a year to have the body of a 20 year old, maybe she’s onto something.

Maintenance. It’s what keeps me going back to the gym and running. Strength and a healthy heart make the rest of life more bearable. It’s why I (begrudgingly) sleep each night, because my body (once again, begrudgingly) needs it. It’s why I watch what I eat and try to ensure I have enough protein/fibre in my diet. Need the protein to build muscle and the fibre to make sure the excess stocky protein doesn’t get lodged in my digestive tract. Food is how I keep my body running and if I’m ever super drained my first question is food or water?

I also take other substances to help me tackle the world. To keep my body running as smoothly as possible. I’m not sure if all of it totally works as advertised, but I’m certainly not gonna regret it if it does. Plus placebos have a 30% success rate or something, right? It’s all come from a variety of sources. Nutritionists, doctors, friends, probably my mum. So here’s the list of what I take every day (plus of course the stuff I’m taking for my wrist).

  • First up, allergy meds. I have a nasal spray called Mometasome. It’s a corticosteroid that cuts down on inflammation in my nose. I’ve had environmental allergies my whole life. This one lets me breathe through my nose, a luxury I didn’t know for my first 26 or so years on this planet.
  • Next allergy med is Cetrizine. It’s an antihistamine by any other name, but a little bit higher dosage. No runny nose, itchy eyes or any somesuch for me. It’s certainly made the outdoors a lot more habitable.
  • Post shower I’ll have a drop or two of Vitamin D. For my boooooones. I don’t get a ton of sun, despite the aforementioned antihistamine, so taking a few drops helps. Supposed to be good for the heart too.
  • Omega 3 capsules. Two per diem. I’m still not 100% on what Omega 3 are meant to do. I know they’re apparently great for heart function and the body doesn’t produce them on their own. I’ve heard they support healthy brain activity, which is something I too support.
  • At the moment for my wrist I’m taking two Naproxen/Esomeprazole a day. The doctor said it’s great for inflammation and the combination makes it far easier on your stomach than ibuprofen.
  • At the advice of my EMT friend, I’m also dabbling in homeopathy (something I usually try to shy away from). At this point I’ll do anything that could help me heal faster. I’m taking Arnica (to reduce swelling) and Symphytum (bone healing? Seems dubious but if there’s a chance it works, I’m on board). For each of them she suggested 30CH strength, five or six tablets each day, 1-2 at a time for the first week. After that, maybe one per day. Fingers crossed.
  • Lastly, before bed, I’ll take two Calcium & Magnesium Citrate capsules. (I’ve heard that) Calcium is great for bones and helps muscle function. Magnesium helps the body absorb calcium. Seems like a no-brainer, if it’ll keep things running at their peak.

Who knows how all this junk is interacting? For all I know, vitamin in-fighting is turning my innards to mush. Or maybe it’ll give me super powers. If it’ll even just help me age gracefully, I’ll take that too.

Watch the throne LeBron, I’m comin’ for ya.

To be fair, couches take up a lot of room

I wonder what I’m gonna talk about today…

The thing is, it’s the one big happening in my life now. I’ve got no kids at home, just a girlfriend. Every moment of these recovery days is in the service of getting back to a level of self-sufficiency. I need to get back to work so I can pay the bills. I want to get back to activity so I can keep myself sane. To work my body and feel better. To have the dexterity to perform all manner of tasks efficiently again. To return to social spaces without getting totally worn out. To navigate life as an autonomous, independent person. So I’m taking my time, limiting the use of my right hand. Staying home rather than venturing out, so my ankles can heal up.

Yesterday I delved further into the Toronto medical industry. At my evening doctor’s appointment, I was told that the x-rays showed I had an ulnar styloid fracture in my wrist. As far as fractures went, it was the best I could’ve had. A light fracture at that, maybe a month’s healing with a cast. He also looked at my ankles and thought they were most likely lightly sprained, but could do with x-rays to be sure. He was curious to hear how I’d sustained such an unusual set of injuries and laughed at the mention of a giant standing 360° swing. “Vertically” I said. His jaw dropped. He said that with a good cast and rehabilitation I could be good to go in a month’s time. He sent me off to emergency to get checked out and cast up.

I had a dream run at Toronto Western Hospital’s emergency department. Two hours end to end. Having never visited a hospital’s emergency department before, I didn’t know what to expect. Someone directed me towards a sign up sheet. I’d been warned about the lengthy waits at busy hospitals. “How long do you think the average wait is?” I asked. “You’re the first name on the waiting list, so probably not long.” She replied. Before I’d finished jotting down my details, a clerk said “don’t bother, just come on through.” I told her her the details from my doctor “and you injured it how?” She asked. I mentioned the vertical 360° swing. Her reaction was much the same as his. I handed over the sheet he’d given me. She laughed. “He starts this form ‘strangely enough, this patient…'” She printed me out an armband and told me to sit and wait.

All of 20 minutes later I was checked out by an ER doctor and told to go through to x-rays. I waited there for at max five minutes before a young man in a lab coat told me to follow him. I lay down on a table as he took x-rays of my ankles, each in four different positions. I struggled to hold in a fart and distracted myself by marvelling at the amazing x-ray rig. It was attached to the ceiling on multiple tracks, so it could move anywhere in the room. It was awesome to see how manoeuvrable it was. He took more x-rays of my wrist just in case they couldn’t read the ones taken by the previous clinic. I was told to go and wait back in emergency. 15 minutes later a doctor pulled me over for a quick consult. She asked how I’d done it and I told her “well my friend replicated this massive swing he saw at Burning Man” She stopped me. “Burning Man says enough.” Apparently she was friends with my GP. She told me the ulnar styloid fracture diagnosis was correct, and they were gonna cast it up. It’d take about a month to heal. My ankles were confirmed as a light sprain. “Give them two weeks before running. If they hurt, stop.

She took me over to the casting area. There was a chair labelled “casting seat”.

Me: Isn’t this usually a couch?
Doc: It’s a hospital. Budgets are tight around here 😉

She wrapped my forearm and hand in a soft bandage, then pressed a more firm one on top of my arm reaching right to my knuckles. She put some kind of adhesive substance on it, then wrapped it in a soft cloth bandage. I told her it was my first ever cast. “Well unfortunately your friends won’t be able to sign it. It’s cloth.” She told me. “But when you get your fibreglass one it can be any colour you like.” I smiled. “Can I get a cool rainbow one for Pride?” She laughed. “Depends how bored they are over in fractures. If it isn’t busy, I don’t see why not.” She left me there with my arm in the air while I waited for it to dry. 15 minutes passed and a nurse told me I was free to go. The fracture clinic would give me a call and let me know when my fitting was. If I got fit in a more mobile cast I should be free to get back to work. As it stood with this cloth one, I was warned not to get it wet. Or feed it after midnight, obviously.

The clinic called today and told me the earliest I’d be able to get a fitting was Monday morning. I guess it’s gonna be a dry weekend.

I was amazingly lucky with a slow night at the hospital. Two hours after arriving I had x-rays on both ankles and my wrist, and a wrist cast. The staff were very friendly and informative, making a rough situation a hell of a lot more bearable. I was pretty damn unlucky to have the accident in the first place, but I’m all sorts of grateful for everything OHIP’s done for me. So far all I’ve paid is $30 for the meds. We’re pretty bloody fortunate here in Canada.

I figure that’s something worth talking about.

Life’s a lich and then you die. Better pack a phylactery

Apparently I could have a fractured wrist.

It’s convoluted, but I went to a walk in on Sunday. Got an x-ray yesterday. Today the results were faxed to my GP. My GP is on holiday, so another doctor called back with my results. Supposedly it’s fractured and I’ve made an appointment tonight to have it checked out. Pray for Mojo.

With my feeble limbs-a-flappin’, I’ve had idle time for idle thoughts. While trying to sculpt a dumb lich pun yesterday (as you do), I wondered about being a lich. Would that be an enjoyable (un)lifestyle? It could be all sorts of snazzy to have mind control, immortality (tied to my handy phylactery of course) and the ability to summon skeleton friends. Thing in, liches are undead. I don’t think they need to eat, sleep or have sex. I’m not sure where the boundaries lie, but do they have internal organs? Muscles and tendons? A heart? You can have all the power in the world, but from the perspective of a human, what good is power without the pleasure it can provide? I’m not a rich person, but I imagine people do it so they can enjoy the finer things in life. To some people I guess this would be respect and admiration, or the ability to abuse your station in order to manifest your desires. I don’t know that this particularly appeals to me. I’d love to have access to all the best things, but not enough that I’d give up my connections or desire to struggle. Without conflict, these things have precious little meaning. I’d want to feel creatively actualised, following pursuits or passions. More than that, I’d want love around me. Do liches love? What warms the cockles of the icy space where their heart once was?

This is a thought experiment, so we can go further. What attributes would I love to have? The ability of flight? To be able to swim the depths of the ocean? Endless stamina? Telekinesis? Cool light-up body parts? A chitinous exoskeleton? An incurably curious mind? Mental alacrity? Super speed? What would I give up of my humanity for them? What would I not want? When I start putting words to what I have to lose, I’m coming up short. Like the original thesis, it’s all the stuff I feared losing to lichdom. My brittle bones? Tactile sensation? Taste buds? Soft skin? Tenderness? My capacity for heartbreak? Memories? Emotional resonance? It reads like a list of what it is to feel. To be human.

Could I give up humanity?

Maybe I lack conviction. Perhaps it’s having been encultured with a human perspective. It’s possible that I don’t possess the ambition to think on a large enough scale. I’m not sure I could give it up. I love my humanity. The knowledge that I’m fallible is what keeps me trying. None of this is worth anything if you don’t have to sweat, bleed or cry for it.

I suppose that’s worth an injured limb or three.

Just like my favourite dinosaur: Ankle-o-sore-us

What a pain.

It’s looking like I may well have sprained three of my four favourite limbs. It’s a pity, cause I used them for so many things. I’m awaiting an X-ray at the moment and I’ve got an ultrasound next Monday. I had no idea that the delineation between X-ray and ultrasound was that X-rays look at bone while ultrasounds look at muscle. Seems obvious now, but still, cool to know. Making porridge for breakfast this morning was a bit of an ordeal. It’s usually such a defacto process, but when you’ve got issues rotating your wrist it’s kind of hard to use scoops or spoons. Ditto for eating it. Do I need to start eating everything with one of those bubble tea straws? I could get my very own feed bag like I’ve always dreamed of. Hell, maybe using my left hand for everything will finally help fix the strength imbalance between my left and right arms.

It’s crazy how exhausted I am. You just don’t think about how many muscles and tendons are firing in order to perform simple tasks. Having to outsource that load to muscles unfamiliar with working that hard takes a lot out of you. This morning I found it pretty draining to get out of bed. Emotionally more so than anything. It’s an altogether foreign sensation for me. Normally relaxation and slowing down feels synonymous with death. I need to be doing something otherwise I feel restless. If I’m not busy, why am I alive? These injuries are forcing me to take it easy regardless of my own wishes. I fucking hate it. I want to be out there running and climbing things. I want to be at the gym getting into my Tough Mudder training. I want to go out dancing at all the stellar Pride parties over the next few weeks. Most of all I want to feel comfortable with the way my body moves. To not have to think of it. The privilege of being able bodied is not something I’ve taken lightly, but goddamn I miss it to bits right now.

The most frustrating thing is that I know I have to do nothing. The best thing I can do for myself is to do the least. I’ve had injuries I didn’t take care of before and they’ve come back to haunt me. The more I care about my physical rehabilitation, the less I need to be doing. If they say two weeks recovery, I need to make sure I’m giving three to four. Instead of jumping back into it at the first sign of feeling better, I need to take my time. Slow the fuck down. Rest. Recover. I dunno, read a book or something. Write. Think. Use my brain instead. Maybe just marathon something I’ve been meaning to watch for a while. Is now the time to get into Anthony Bourdain’s back catalogue?

Look, I’ll be fine. This is a short term frustration and maybe a teachable moment to be more considerate of how those with limited mobility interact with the world. I’ll have to be sure not to beat myself up to much about it because, frankly, I’ve only really got my left arm and it’s not that strong.

For now, at least.

Wrist in peace

Well this is frustrating.

After a significant amount of pain and my protestations to the contrary, I’m quite sure my right wrist may actually be strained. Because Canada is amazing, I went to a walk in clinic and had a doctor look at it. For free. From walking in the door, the whole appointment maybe took ten minutes. Unwrapping the boxing wrap from my afflicted hand may have been the bulk of that time. He didn’t think my ankles were twisted, but said I should take time off them as much as I can to rest. Definitely no bone damage, maybe a slightly pulled muscle. He gave me an x-ray referral and prescription for pain meds/anti-inflammatories. Typing is actually a little bit sore at the moment, so I hope y’all appreciate me metaphorically putting my blood, sweat and tears into this.

It’s incredibly frustrating not being able to do all the things I just take for granted as an able bodied person. I’m borderline one handed right now. Sorta. My flexibility on my right hand extends in certain ways. It’s fine for my palms to be facing down, but not up. It just hurts too much. I have some use from the hand sideways too, but not rotated too much. The aforementioned boxing wraps have been amazing. The hand is kept straight and rigid, preventing tiny jerky movements from causing pain.

Activities that’ve been difficult:

  • Pooping – Left handed wipes only.
  • Opening my pill bottle – Why is push down and twist so difficult with my off-hand?
  • Public transit – Keeping myself steady with only my left hand fully functional has been annoying. Since my ankle injuries are basically invisible, I’ve felt bad about using priority seating.
  • Doing the washing – It’s a heavy basket with one hand.
  • Washing dishes – I flat out just can’t. I don’t have that right handed dexterity/strength.
  • Cooking – I made a cup o’ soup at least.

I’m normally so active and this gonna clamp down on that. I have a hard time asking for help, but I think my girlfriend’s gonna end up doing a bit of the heavy lifting around the house. Usually we do a cooking/cleaning division of labour. She might need to do both. It sucks, because I love cooking. I certainly don’t mind cleaning. Most of all, I love accomplishing tasks. At the moment, they’re gonna take much longer. Even outside the house, there’ll be no gym for a few weeks. I don’t know how many days I’m gonna have to take off work. I’ll definitely need to cut down on computer time ’cause using a mouse isn’t easy. My typing is so much slower now. I’m gonna have to get used to putting my feet up so the blood isn’t pooling there. Maybe I’ll watch movies. Maybe I’ll even finally get to watch Paddington.

I guess that’s something to look forward to?