I know in fiction, my heroes get hurt– like all the time. Well, in February I found out what it is like to break one bone… in your hand.
First, there was the sound as I misjudged where I was and hit the doorframe with my ring and pinky finger. It was the usual ‘thump’ when I walk into something. For someone who scores in the top 97-99% when it comes to spacial relations… I really suck at judging where I am.
Then there was the crack sound. I froze. I stood there for almost a minute waiting for any sign of trouble: pain; a dull throb; my hand falling off. When nothing happened… I moved again. My fingers weren’t jammed, but the outside edge of my hand hurt when I put pressure on it.
The hospital was at code red – not taking patients due to the flu, and nothing was poking out. My hand just… felt bruised. So I braced it and waited until the morning (That part was a cautionary tale about going to the bathroom in the middle of the night and not turning on the lights or wearing your glasses)
The next day, I went to the doctor’s office where I learned that I had indeed broken my 5th metacarpal in what is called a boxer’s fracture. They splinted it and told me to call the orthopedists and get a real cast put on it.
And for the next 30 days I learned what it is like to have your pinky and ring finger tied together and only have use of your thumb, index finger and middle finger usable– but not really usable because of the angle of the wrist and the size of the cast.
It was good for picking things up… ish. But when you’re a software developer; a writer; a musician; and you know, anybody who uses their hands… this was what we in technical circles call- not good.
I got by all the while thinking…30 days and my nightmare will be over. It wasn’t. After 30 days in the cast, my pinky and ring fingers had decided that they didn’t really want to do anything. They stuck together, and it took me a week to get them to straighten out, and I was in a ‘soft cast’ (aka a brace) for the next 30 days.
While my ring finger decided it liked hanging out with the other fingers, my pinky became stand-offish. When I put all my fingers together, like I was telling people to stop, my pinky would not join the others.
And then a friend asked, “but can you do the Vulcan salute?”
I could, but when I tried to sign “I love you,” pain shot down my wrist and into my forearm. I read up on different exercises I could do and I started working my way through the manual alphabet. (Js, Ys, and Qs were the worst).
I started drilling through them, and I had to work on “I love you” because I sign that to my brother-in-law all the time.
Even now, when I wake up, I have to work the stiffness out of my piny and it doesn’t fold right when I make a fist. My wrists are almost as flexible as they were, and they weren’t even injured, just held in place and kept from bending for 30-60 days.
But in that time, I was able to finish an article I was reading and work on writing – and I’ve had a lesson in just how long real healing takes vs. fictional.
I think I’d like to keep those injuries fictional.