Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A small bump in the road...

Meet my new best friend.
We returned from the regatta Monday evening.  I spent the next day unwinding from the long drive by cleaning the boat plus gear and getting everything stowed back in the boat house.  I finished in time to squeeze in the 1-3 pm public session at my home ice, Bowie Ice Arena.  I wanted one more run through of the elements required to pass the gamma level test.  After about an hour and a half into a lightly populated two session, I decided to do one more 7-step Mohawk combo on my weak side since previous attempts were not consistently solid.  I don't know if I touched blades (can't recall hearing the click of death) or if I just caught an edge but no matter, one second I was up and the next second I was down on my wrist and I knew right away that my luck had run out. At the time that I fell there was one other skater on the ice.  She skated over when she saw that I couldn't get up (I needed to use both hands in order to get a knee under me and I couldn't put weight on the right wrist).  She offered me a hand and I told her that I didn't want to risk pulling her down.  She just grabbed me by the good hand and hoisted me off the ice like a sack of potatoes.  Nothing wrong with her upper body strength!  I skated off the ice and while one of the coaches got me a bag of ice another rink employee removed my skates and helped me get my street shoes on. They asked if I thought I could drive to the doctor's to get checked out.  I looked out the windows (it was a warm sunny day) at the little Austin Healey Sprite (stick shift) that I'd driven that day and said "I think so".  Fortunately for me Xenopus, the frog eye Sprite is right hand drive and so shifting gears is accomplished with the left hand.

I drove the Sprite home and was able to get the garage door up, the little car in and the garage door down in between waves of pain.  I reasoned that the trip to the doctor would be better suited in a car with an automatic gearbox--especially for the drive home.  I drove the few miles to our primary care physician and she immediately ordered an xray and referred me to a group of orthopedic surgeons in the next building.  I walked over and got the xray which confirmed that I had a fracture in the distal end of my right radius.  The wrist specialist was not in the office that day so they passed me on to the ER of Anne Arundel Medical Center, some 15 miles away.  They called ahead so that I wouldn't have to wait too long and I drove over. Once checked through the initial paperwork (don't know if anyone can every read my signature), I sat down and called my wife to let her know not to wait supper on me.

The trauma specialist took an interest in me after hearing how I'd broken my arm.  He must not see that many active geezers so maybe I brightened his day.  Before manually reducing my fracture he told me he was going to give me a shot to numb things up a bit.  I watched as he struggled to draw the dose into the syringe.  After an unsuccessful attempt he asked one of the nurses for an 18 gauge needle.  Now I'm a molecular biologist working at a human nutrition research lab and am very familiar with needle sizes--an 18 gauge needle has about the bore size of a Pasteur pipette.  For those outside of the allied health & science fields, we're talking huge!  I steeled myself for what I figured was coming next and got busy with my "game face".  He looked over and must have realized that I knew something about needle sizes because he said "don't worry, I'll change back to a 27 gauge once I draw the local out of this vial". And so he did.  A physician's assistant held the palm and fingers of my hand while the attending physician grabbed my forearm and elbow.  He tweaked the alignment on either side of the break while viewing an endless string of images via some sort of soft xray device.  I noticed that he and his assistants all wore lead aprons but didn't offer me one.  I suppose at my age they assume my fathering days are behind me!  After setting the bones to his satisfaction, his minions quickly cast my arm from palm to elbow before the alignment could change and that was that. His final instruction before disappearing was for me to sleep with my arm vertical to avoid swelling--I tried by propping my arm with a pillow but failed at that bit of advise!  He also told me that although my break didn't require surgical reduction, the time I'd be in cast (and off the ice) would be shorter if I wanted to go that route.  He said that I could mull that over and make a decision next week when I go to his office for follow up visit.  After he left a nurse came and gave me final instructions.  He then asked how I proposed getting home.  I indicated that I'd driven to the hospital with a broken arm and assumed I'd be able to leave the same way.  He said that they couldn't forbid my plan but that they strongly discouraged it.  I asked him to point me in the general direction of the parking garage.  I got home fine.  Diaristwoman poured me a glass of Merlot and told me that a skating friend from her work recommended that I hereafter avoid doing the "slutz".  I feel just like Rodney Dangerfield.

So, two steps forward towards returning to the ranks of credible skaters and one step back.  Obviously there will be no gamma test for me tomorrow.  This blog will also take a short break--ha ha, short break--get it?  But, no worries, I'll be back.  I've heard it said that there's two kinds of skaters in this world:  ones who've already broken a bone and those who will...

Until next time, smooth ice,
Yr faithful Diarist


  1. Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear it. I took a fall a few months back where I tried to do the same thing, but failed. My sprain is pretty well heeled now, but I still have trouble putting all my weight on my right arm- I'm still skating in the brace, and can't get up the nerve to skate without it.

    Hope you heel quickly!

    1. hi jessim, sad but true. i should have asked the blogosphere for wrist guard recommendations in today's post as i'm sure there are good and not so good variations on that theme. thanks for the good wishes.

      george (busy relearning how to be a lefty)

  2. Oh no! I hope you have a speedy recovery and are back on the ice ASAP!

  3. Mer, thanks for the kind regards. But it's not all bad news--hey looky--I can do caps at appropriate places in email replies with my left hand! So I'm busy reactivating long dormant brain circuits for being left handed. I'm of that generation that got knuckles rapped if we used our left hands during penmanship class (do schools even bother with penmanship these days?), so I'm a semi-repressed old lefty. Sounds politically dangerous. Good thing I live in a "blue state"! And that reminds me--when/how did left leaning politics become "blue"? I though those of us with socialist tendencies were supposed to be pinkos. Oh dear, oh dear--stream of consciousness alert; the old boy is rambling. Time to wrap this reply up!

  4. No!!!!! And then again you do realize that you are now considered a battle-scarred skating veteran don't you. Drat those mohawks! Not worry, one of my friends ended up with a metal pin in her wrist after one of her early axel attempts and the grand old age of 39 and she's now got her axel and double sal on a good day.

    Thank goodness for key boards.

    Actually our federal Conservative party has a blue logo and our federal liberal party has a red logo which to our neighbours to the south is a moot point since they consider Canada a socialist enclave any way. But I digress.
    Suspect you will be 4 weeks in a cast and then physio. The hardest part will be doing up your skates. In the meantime keep those left fingers moving so they don't stiffen up.

    ...and Xenopus? What a sweet drive that baby must be :) Thank God for right hand drive eh?

    Take care and happy healing.


    1. Thanks Lori! The ER physician and I talked briefly about time tables when I mentioned that I have another boat regatta on the 28th of April. His prediction, based perhaps on my age, is that I'd be in a short cast by then. That's really not good enough to deal with the boat safely so I've already volunteered for race committee duty for that event.

      I've added a calcium/D3 supplement to my daily regime but suspect that's more psychological than actually useful in terms of bone mineralization since I eat a sufficient diet. But it might help speed things along. My test for healing will be when I can do a few push-ups with out obvious problems.

      I won't say it's depressing to have a broken arm but it certainly is annoying! Just a few days ago I was fit enough to race a boat in stiff winds well enough to place 2nd in my division, I could skate strongly, ride a bike and drive Xenopus. All those things plus a whole host of hand oriented tasks that demand sterile technique in the lab are off the table--but there's nothing gained by moaning about it. I'm very motivated to do whatever it takes to speed the healing process along! I'm also very grateful I didn't have this injury when I was down in Florida last weekend! My wife would not have been a happy camper having to deal with me, the boat and the 1000 mile drive home!

      Interestingly, there's not much practical knowledge, either anecdotal or science-based, addressing broken bone recovery on the various skating blogs I follow. Typically the blogger posts that (s)he has an injury and then months later the blog picks up again with the story of a frustrating path to regain skills lost during the down time. Perhaps I'll continue blogging with at least the more practical tips that I discover along my path back to fitness.

  5. Hej George !
    Aj aj det måste ha gjort ont? Bambi på hal is eller? Vad jag
    förstår så är du högerhänt också. Min syster gjorde en rova
    på isen för 3-år sedan och kan känna av det än i dag. De enda
    gånger jag varit på isen är när jag kunnat sladda runt med en
    bakhjulsdriven bil, det roade när man var yngre. Hoppas på snabbt
    Hälsningar !

    1. Hej på dej, Johannes: Ledsen att det tagit ett tag innan jag svarat dig. Jag behöver min frus hjälp att skriva nuförtiden. Ja, vad kan man säga? Man måste ju ha nån slags hobby, eller hur? Man måste hålla igång, annars så tynar man bara bort. Jag läser din blogg ofta, och det är något jag kan göra utan att skriva en kommentar. Min svenska är ju inte den bästa, och jag får be min fru att hjälpa till då och då. Men det är alltid roligt att se dina bilder på folkbåtarna och de gamla bilarna.
      Hälsningar från George

  6. Oh George! I'm so sorry to read this!

    As you know I had a similar injury in 2004. I think I had a cast for 10 weeks. My doctor at the time told me he could send me to PT after, or I could just do it myself. I chose to do it myself, it mostly consisted of exercising the wrist with weights (3 lbs and then 5 or 10, don't remember).

    My wrist is mostly good as new but it does pop in a way it didn't before.

    Heal well!

    1. Thanks Gordon. Luckily(?) I didn't break a wrist but rather the radius (large bones mend faster than small ones). I'm hoping to be out of the long cast and in a shorty by the end of April. I see the orthopedic surgeon this Friday so we'll see how things have progressed after a week and a half. That should give an idea of the duration. ER trauma doctor told me that the break was clean enough for a manual reduction, but that things would heal faster if I have a surgical reduction. I'm waiting to see what I'm told on Friday.