One Arm Banditry: entry level
Updated: Mar 20
An artist/art therapist friend once told me about the rule of three in relation to critical milestones on a journey to recovery and wholeness after crisis or trauma: three minutes, three hours, three days, three weeks and so on. Heading into day three after falling and fracturing both ulna and radius in my left arm, I would say I'm at One Arm Banditry: Entry Level.
I've scoured the internet and saturated my mind with medical information. I now surmise that the reason I didn't get a solid cast at ER on Friday is that, depending on severity of the case and activity level of patient, contemporary practice is to splint and bandage first and allow swelling to abate for a week or so, before a solid cast is applied. The assumption is that at my age I do not fall into a "highly physically active" category. Oh! that would be funny, if it didn't hurt so much. Why does everyone assume that one becomes sedentary the minute one turns 65? I was way more sedentary all my 45 years of professional librarian life.
But sedantary is what I'm actually doing more of at the moment. I've arranged some of my ample stash of firm yoga bolsters and a variety of cushions in my bed to support the arm and wrist for more comfort lying down or sleeping. The bolsters help with physical comfort hugely even though the past two nights have not been restful at all.
I'm addressing physical pain with a combination of taking only one quarter of the prescribed opiates (one pill a day instead of four) none of the NSAIDs, and deliberate, regular yogic pain management practices of breathing (pranayama) and meditation. Later today I plan on an hour or so of gentle asana practice, informed by my studies in adaptive yoga. I'm so grateful for all the teachers who have schooled me in recent years, in the possibilities of yoga for the differently abled, wounded and physically broken among us.
I'm wriggling the three fingers which I can move on my left hand as much as possible, (thumb and little finger do not respond to "please move" memos - hopefully temporarily) as well as regularly moving my shoulders and neck to keep muscles, ligaments and connective tissue adjacent to the injury vital and to maintain as much range of motion as possible in nearby joints. Textbook yoga therapy 101. Until the broken bones are stabilized in a cast or by whatever other means a bone doctor deems appropriate, I can't really do much more.
Baking some savory herb scones for brunch perhaps represents today's peak achievement. Suddenly having to do everyday things one armed, after a lifetime of two, is arduous. Frustrating. Exhausting. I am learning to use my teeth, chin, shoulder, hips, knees. I drop things. I fumble. I bump or move the wounded arm.
Anyone familiar with me knows I cook largely from scratch. After raiding my freezer stash for basic bean soup the past two days, (Thankyou Covid prepper mentality) I was ready for something fresh and different. Cutting an onion thinly, or chopping vegetable and grating carrots for a salad, is still beyond me, but mixing scone dough and pressing it into a pie dish seemed achievable
And there it is: breaking my fast this Sunday like the queen I am, with homemade red cabbage sauerkraut, avocado, fresh baked vegan herb scone and, instead of my go-to chutney, I broke out the saving-for-a-special-occasion Jalapeño jam (from a farmers market vendor this past summer). To wash this down, I add an eighth of a teaspoon of cardamom to a coconut milk latte for a little Ayurvedic support of adrenal glands.
I'm especially proud of this plate of food as every jar and drawer and cupboard that had to be opened and closed again, required a rethink of automatic patterns. Slicing an avocado was an interesting experience. It helps to keep kitchen knives sharp (lesson noted, late great god of all things kitchen, Anthony Bourdain)
Any movement of the left arm leaves me stunned by breathtakingly severe shooting pain, since I'm only splinted not immobilized in a cast. I've reinstated the tacky sling, which I discarded yesterday, as it does help immobilize that limb which jumps in unbidden, remembering still being useful. I'm working on reassuring that left arm that it has one purpose now and only one: to stay still and heal if I am ever to achieve a full two handed downward dog (ardo mukha svanasana) again. Hint: prognosis for that happening, factoring in the type of break sustained in left arm, and my age, is poor but the opinion I read was an allopathic prediction, and did not consider informed yoga therapy. I hold out hope for full downward dog somewhere down the line.
I've also (finally) managed to change out of the clothes I've had on since Friday, given myself a rudimentary basin and washcloth bath, changed my bed linen (aaargh putting pillows slips on one handed is REALLY hard) done a load of laundry, hung same on the line, and walked a bit in the garden, admiring the signs of spring, among them the first formation of little apricot fruit, all elvish, narrow and pointy.
Iris Germanica buds have swollen since last I looked.
The freshest of spring green leaves are starting to unfurl on the apricot tree as well.
Allium neapolitanum (white garlic) surprised me flowering for their second season in an area of the garden where I haven't really begun any spring clean up. I am grateful, however, that possibly 80% of my spring garden preparation was done before this broken arm. I think it's going to take me a few weeks to adjust to One Arm Banditry: Garden Maintenance Level.
A late winter storm blew through yesterday while I drowsed in an opiate haze. By the time I got myself together enough to get outside with a camera, the dusting had melted from the crest of Turtleback Mountain, but is still, today, blanketing the Caballo and Black Range mountains to the south and west of me, lowering our temperatures unseasonably.
I thought about taking a drive to better see the snow on the mountains, but realized, after going a few blocks, that I'm not quite up to driving any distance yet. I retreated home to elvish apricot dreams in my bolstered bed.