Everyone knows time speeds up as you get older. There’s a theory that this occurs because every unit of time is progressively smaller in relation to one’s lifespan already lived. For a five-year-old child the wait until their next birthday seems interminable – it’s approaching one fifth of their life lived to date. At 60 years old, a year is only 1/61st to 1/60th of a life lived.
Whyever it happens, as we get older we usually wish time would do us a favour and just slow down a bit. We tell ourselves to enjoy every moment, as the birthdays accelerate relentlessly towards us. Where have the last few years gone?… “You think it’s bad at 50?” exclaims my dad, “Wait til you’re 70!”.
So with a fractured limb, it seems somehow wrong to be wishing time away. How wicked at my time of life, when every leaking moment is so precious! But <whinge> everything sounds so far away: 2 weeks until the next X-ray; 4 weeks until the bones start to knit; 2 months until the splint can be removed; 3 months til you can drive again; 6 months to get back to running fitness; over a year to do weight-bearing exercise… And so on. The physio is going to drag on endlessly… </whinge>.
And yet, here’s where age-time-relativity (not a thing) kicks in: because with a broken arm, time is whizzing by. Since every single thing takes ages to complete with one damaged arm, before you know it, another day is over. Typing: one hand flying around the keypad, no matter how adroitly, is slow-going compared to two. More mistakes need to be corrected, some key combinations take a bit of working out to achieve. Unpacking the dishwasher one item at a time. Taking a shower…. Sheesh!
In fact I now wonder if that’s why time goes so fast for old folk. Because they can only fit a fraction of the tasks into one day that younger people can.
So I’ll simply take my time with everything. Hopefully I’ll be better in double-quick time!
Today is day 14, two weeks on from splat day. Where does it go, eh?
I can report that things feel a little better in some ways, but are just as bad in others. There are still a great many things I can’t do – see below. Things that have improved or changed:
• I can move about more easily. Standing up, sitting down, stepping up and down are all more natural. I even managed to carry a cup of tea upstairs to my husband this morning.
• The involuntary spasms in my arm are fewer and painless now – a few sudden twitches. My arm still ‘clicks out’ from time to time but is less painful when it does.
• I’ve cut down a bit on painkillers. However my arm is getting heavy and achey. I guess the painkillers were masking that but I’m trying not to take any in the middle of the day, especially codeine which I am leaving to 3 times a day – evening, bedtime and early waking 5 to 6 am.
• I can put on my own proxy sling made out of a cotton scarf and tie it with my teeth. I can take off and put on my own dress and underwear.
• I can bend a little lower to pick up things from about knee height, as long as I bend my knees and keep my back quite straight. So crouching slightly with one foot in front of the other, or squatting in a ballet plié – style move. With ninja moves I can plug something into a wall socket by sliding my back down the wall. I can pick up things from the coffee table using kitchen tongs!
• I can lightly grip things in my left hand if careful.
Things that are still difficult
• I can still only sleep in my monster chair
• I can’t stand up from the normal sofa without assistance
• I cannot pick up anything from the floor. I’m sure somewhere I have a litter-picker-upper that I got as a prop for work but it can’t be located right now.
• My arm is in the sling 24/7. I don’t dare release it except supported by a cushion while I swap to the makeshift sling. It feels very vulnerable.
• I am still very wary of others’ movements near me.
• I can only type one-handed…. Slow and full of typos which keep needing correcting. I can’t type accented letters using the number keypad because the alt key is left of the space bar. I have to gently hold a pen in my left hand to keep ‘alt’ depressed. Tricksy. Scrolling and selecting on the laptop touchpad is challenging.
• Washing under my left arm. Still can’t lift my arm away from my side so poor left armpit only gets a gentle wipe with baby wipes – no chance of deodorant!
• I can’t completely close my fingers on the left hand yet – they are too swollen.
How’s it all looking?
• My upper arm still looks a bit concave
• Some bruising – it took a week for any to show and it wasn’t as dramatic as I thought it would be – but I noticed this evening it’s a bit ugly and green underneath my elbow, where the blood pools I guess.
• My left hand isn’t as swollen but I still can’t make a fist or grip anything
• My feet, lower legs and upper legs are still rather swollen but much better if I spend time with my feet raised. I’m not looking forward to having to wear shoes.
• My tummy is still bloated. I’ve gained 6 pounds, wah!
The other thing to report is itching. Argh, the skin is dry and it gets sweaty under my elbow where my arm is resting. One good time to not be wearing a cast. At least I can have a gentle scratch.
As I fell, the thought which flashed through my mind was ‘Don’t crack your head!’ So I didn’t, which is a plus. I was surrounded by friendly faces who knew how to make me comfortable and to call an ambulance – which was lucky. My husband was at home and only ten minutes’ drive away, which was a bonus.
The journey to the hospital, as previously mentioned, could have been smoother, but at each bend or bump in the road I thought, ‘Thank goodness I only have one limb affected.’ I couldn’t help but remember, as I cradled my poorly arm in its loose sling, people whom I knew had suffered more than one fracture – my friend Marjory’s mum in a car crash last year, my friend Jilly and her daughters with brittle bones, a former colleague’s near-death motorbike crash… one break is bad enough, what on earth would multiple ones be like? Eek!
Then I started thinking about those movies where someone is called upon to escape or change location with a broken limb… and I’m thinking yeah, right, you’d never be able to do that! But it must happen in real life, there must be people who daily suffer in countless ways while also sustaining a fracture, who manage to get through it. Then I thought of people who don’t come out unscathed. The guy at our parkrun whose broken ankle became infected, leading to amputation of his lower leg; the friend of a colleague whose leg was in plaster when he developed thrombosis and died, and so on… I suddenly felt very fortunate indeed with my paltry broken humerus. I started thinking not of the things I would not be able to do, but the things I could *still* do, must try to get better for, and would challenge myself to do.
As the days have gone by I’ve felt very lucky in many other ways and continue to do so…
- It’s summer, so I don’t have to worry about dressing to keep warm. I can pad about barefoot and step into the garden for vitamin D
- I have a wonderful husband who goes out of his way to care for me
- I live in a civilised country with access to free healthcare.
- I don’t have small children to care for
- I don’t have pets to worry about
- It’s a clean, apparently uncomplicated, break
- I’m not ill in other ways. The thought of being sick and needing to vomit is a terrifying one when I can barely squat to pick things up from a coffee table, let alone kneel and stand again (I can’t lean off vertical at all – we’ll come to the ‘can’ts’ later!)
- I work at home – so can carry on best I can with my business while taking the time I need to rest
- Because I work at home I can slob about in whatever is most comfortable to wear
- I’m just coming to the end of a really busy period at work so there is an opportunity ahead to get some proper rest without feeling guilty
- I was reasonably fit at the time of my tumble. Although I’d had the infected leg, my history over the past three years includes lots of distance and trail running, some weight loss and strengthening exercises. This meant I recognised really quickly that squatting slightly and using my thighs to stand, get up and down from the loo, go up and down stairs etc, would be useful to me.
- I found my monster chair after five days in a hospice shop and it’s been a godsend.
- Lovely friends have rallied round to visit, keep me company, bring food, flowers, fruit, puzzles and activities and strapless sundresses.
Things could be so much worse. I’m a very lucky lady.