The day I broke my arm


It finally happened. I always dreaded breaking a bone. I was able to dodge it until October 23rd, 2011.

I just moved into a new house. After four days of hard labor, and a full day to safely move my 125-gallon marine aquarium, I did not want to leave behind my Christmas lighting that was still installed since last December. I climbed on a bar stool to remove the red light bulb which I could hardly reach with the tips of my fingers. Many dead flies were falling down from around the bulb. I never understood the fatal attraction flies harbor for red lights. It was a challenge to remove the bulb without breaking it. The mission was successful, “I am proud of you,” I mumbled with a grin on my face. Within seconds, I was on the ground, twitching like a fish out of water, and yelling my lungs out. The pain was the worst I have ever experienced. “Can I move my fingers?! Are my fingers ok?!” I visualized my surgical career collapse. I knew I have broken at least one bone. I held my right forearm with my left hand to stabilize it as the rest of my body shook uncontrollably. I yelled for help. I was so lucky I was not alone.


Now here is the story as narrated by my friend:

I was inside the corridor listening to Hasan’s instructions concerning the lights and their power. He instructed me to switch the controls to assess when the power is off. I stood 2 meters away, however, a wall separated us so I could not clearly see what he was doing. Next thing I heard was lots of commotion happening outside, a bang, and a muffled sound of a body hitting the ground. Seconds later, Hasan started crying in pain and yelling for help. I rushed out just to find him on the ground, in the fetal position, holding his right forearm with his left palm. I checked his airway, breathing and consciousness level. I asked him where it hurts and if he has hit his head. He responded confused. The chair tipped from one leg diving into the wet soil. The worn-out wooden seat slipped separating from the metal frame.  Hasan lost balance, right forearm hit a metal rod before his body hit the ground. I rushed to get ice cubes, then a towel soaked in cold water to cover his arm. After 10 minutes of recovering from the shock, we got in the car and I drove him to the ER for further examination.

Of course he did not mention that he wanted me to go inside the house to lie down. “Something is broken, take me to the ER now” I yelled.

It all happened within seconds. I was so vulnerable and weak. I was dreading permanent loss of function that might impact my career. Not being able to feel the ice cubes on my thick sweater, I begged my friend to soak my whole arm and hand in water to reassure myself that my sensation is preserved.

I was born left handed, but they “talked” me out of it, to put it nicely. Some societies have difficulty accepting those who are different. Why did they do that? I will ask my mother when she arrives tonight.

Oh yes, my mom is flying all the way from Lebanon. She booked the first flight the moment she heard about the incident. She has always yearned to play the maternal role that my siblings and I have insisted on denying her as we grew up. In this she sees a golden opportunity to seize. Her presence will be essential as it is difficult to function with one hand, especially the less dominant one. Will my left hand remember it was born dominant?

Now try this. Put your dominant hand behind your back and try to button up your shirt, floss your teeth or tie shoelace, fold clothes, hang a shirt, cut your steak, or take a shower. It is not easy! We take the duality of our hand functioning for granted. You would assume using a seatbelt needs only one hand. With a cast immobilizing my right elbow and wrist, each day brings new challenges. The learning curve to wearing socks was the longest. While all the above are difficult but doable, I found what is impossible: clipping all your fingernails by yourself!

Of course typing became a challenge, hindering my texting, facebooking, tweeting, foursquaring, and even blogging. Little did you know that this is the first blog I ever dictate as someone else transcribes. Where is Siri when you need it? My iPhone 4S is actually arriving tomorrow. I need to put Apple’s Siri to work until my cast is removed. The one thing I put time and effort into slow single-left-index-finger-typing was voting for Jeita Grotto, Lebanon for the New Seven Wonders of nature. You should too. If you have two functioning hands, it will take you seconds to vote.

Now that two Orthopaedic surgeons reassured me that the fracture will not leave me with any residual dysfunction, I am Looking forward for the next challenge in my new transient disabled days.



Categories: Personal

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