On Sunday evening, I had an accident at work. In the hallway by our supply room, there had been a leak in the ceiling from the rain. We had put up a wet floor sign and called maintenance, and someone had put down some towels to clean up the water. I went around all this to go into the supply room, but was on autopilot coming out, and my first step out the door was right onto a towel. I slipped, and went down, making a loud smack on the tile, landing primarily on my left elbow. Pain shot up into my shoulder, and I stayed sprawled on the floor for a moment, reeling. My coworkers were there in seconds (we are ICU nurses after all) and I pulled myself to a sitting position. I cradled my arm and tried to figure out how badly I was hurt. My coworker cracked a joke that it could have been worse, one of the items from the supply room (that we use to catch and measure urine) could have been full of urine! They helped me stand and I got back to the nurse’s station, taking some ibuprofen. I decided I should go to the ER since I couldn’t extend or bend my arm without severe pain. In the ER, my supervior had me fill out paperwork for workman’s compensation and everyone tried to speed the process along for me as a courtesy. They took x-rays (positioning my arm made me cry for the first time that night) and sent me home with some Lorcet, telling me to follow up with an orthopedist the next day. The ER doctor wasn’t sure if anything was broken since it wasn’t obvious but “elbows are tricky”. On Monday, I figured out that I am allergic to Lorcet (my first medication allergy), and had to get a prescription for another pain med. Tuesday morning, I saw the orthopedist and got some bad news. I was told I had fractured the head of my radius, and would be unable to work for up to six weeks.
Thankfully, I’ll have all my medical expenses covered by workman’s comp and some income coverage, and my employer is trying to get me back to work in whatever capacity I can as quickly as possible. Still, I have been frustrated by my new limitations, not to mention my increased level of pain. I have been surprised by the number of things that are either made difficult or imposssible with the use of only one hand, but I am trying to count my blessings, too, by thinking about what I can still do and how glad I am I injured my non-dominant hand.
I can’t get my hair in a ponytail, dry it with a towel effectively, or tie shoelaces. I can’t crack my back the way I normally do, or much at all. I have trouble getting dressed or undressed, and with blowing my nose. I’ve had to change how I shower and how I type. Driving, preparing food, and even texting (I definitely thought of that as a one-handed task) are all more challenging. Carrying things is harder and sometimes requires more than one trip [this is how I was before]. I can’t open medicine bottles with childproof caps. I can’t do much that necessitates I hold an item with one hand and twist or pull with the other since it’s painful for my left arm to give that much counterforce. Yesterday, some friends from church came and did my laundry because I couldn’t use both hands to carry the bag to the laundry room and my husband is still out of town. I also can’t wear my wedding rings right now because my left hand is so swollen.
Despite all this, I am reminded by this experience that I have many blessings for which to be thankful. I am incredibly grateful that I still have the use of my dominant hand. I can still feed myself, brush my teeth, hold a book, surf the internet, take care of our cat and plants, and so much more. I am thankful I hurt my arm and not one of my legs so I can walk around, get in and out of the shower, drive, and not be laid up in bed or stuck with crutches. I am certainly glad I did not hit my head at all, because I might have had a concussion or worse, lost some mental functions. I had been missing my husband before, and having him gone was making me appreciate everything he normally does, but now I really can’t wait til he gets home!
This experience has brought to mind that there are many people who care about me and are available when I need them. Apparently, I have yet to learn that I need to swallow my pride and ask them for help, so God is using this to teach me that lesson (again). I’m reminded that God is not surprised by any of this, and that He will provide for us. I’m glad that this happened at work, because at least I’m not incurring more expenses and I have some help from workman’s comp. Although it seems to me the worst timing for this to happen, while Andrew is gone, while we’re living on one income, and while I still have so much student debt, God’s timing is His own, and His reasoning is far better than mine. I hope that in the next few weeks, whatever I do, I can learn some patience, trust in Him, and practice counting my blessings instead of focusing on my limitations.