It was June 2020. We were just a few months into the pandemic but staying inside was never much of a problem for me. Besides being an introvert, I always have projects in the works – writing, art, clients. But the clients had disappeared along with reasons to leave the house, so, I started the big art project I’ve been thinking about for years ―a 6 by 6 foot wall hanging. It was a collage ― a personal project made from old fabric and artwork ― a fabric memoir.
I was about 15% through when I fell off the ladder and shattered my elbow. The artwork is now on hold indefinitely, yet still hanging on the wall stuck with 500 pins.
The ER doctors kept asking was I dizzy, drunk, or just completely uncoordinated. Truth is I’m actually quite adept at managing ladders and have been up on some quite high doing hi-vaulted ceiling painting. I was simply wearing grippy shoes that caught on the step as I turned to get down, so you don’t have to fall far if you fall just right.
I had a monteggia and a comminuted olecranon fracture, open reduction surgery and now I have a lot of metal holding my arm together including a new radial head, several plates and a dozen screws. The whole thing is terrifying. People are trying to say encouraging things like it could have been your head, better your arm then your leg, and at least it’s the pandemic and you don’t have to go anywhere. I guess, but I have to admit right now, I am in a very bad place mentally. My doctor has repeatedly said my arm will never be the same.
The bottom line: Even if all goes well in physical therapy, I will have significantly limited use of my arm in the future. I will also, more than likely, develop arthritis in that arm.
The first scary thing ― I was in the hospital during the early months of the pandemic. I had numerous doctor and nurse visits plus x-ray technicians and other walkabouts through my shared hospital room. They were all wearing masks, as I was most of the time.
Some sort of upside―my anesthesiologist was amazing. He asked me details about pain and nausea before surgery and said he was going to make sure I had none of that, and he was right. I woke from surgery with no pain and was able to eat dinner without a problem, and that comfort continued the whole time I was in the hospital.
I was only in the hospital 3 days mostly because I wanted to get out of there. The pain was minimal the whole time and I stopped the oxy on my first night home.
I’m writing this on July 4th – two weeks postop and no covid symptoms. I’m still in the splint which is uncomfortable and I’m having a hard time sleeping, but I’m not in pain, although my arm feels tingly and itchy. The hardest thing is just realizing all the things I can’t do with one hand, so I sit and watch a lot of TV or buy things I think will make me more comfortable from Amazon.
The biggest problem is trying to control the constant fear and anxiety. I have nightmares that I’ll fall down again or roll out of bed and break something else, or, worst of all, that it won’t heal right and I’ll have to do this all over again.