Monday, July 26, 2010

Among injured people there is an instantaneous bond.   Within 30 seconds, all the people in the subway car with injuries--broken arms, walking casts, sprained ankles--have made knowing eye contact.  Much in the same way that you immediately begin to notice every other red Jeep on the road once you get one yourself, your eye immediately, almost involuntarily, gravitates to those who are sharing your particular state of being.  It's an instant topic of conversation.  The waiting room at the orthopedic surgeon's office is a veritable cocktail party, with the requisite bad jokes ("You shoulda seen the other guy!" "Hey, doc, after I heal will I be able to play violin?") and easy-flowing conversation ("Dude, I'll NEVER try windsurfing again").

On Saturday night, I managed to break a big tendon in my thumb while I accompanied my son on a carnival slide ride.  Amazingly, I got in the door of a great surgeon today who will make it better.  I had to withdraw from a much-anticipated gig (the Monadnock Music Festival) because neither tendon surgery nor long-planned festival programming can wait.  I'll be in a cast for five weeks.  No beach, swimming, tennis, etc. for the rest of the summer.

It would be silly to say how tough it is to suddenly be a lefty, inasmuch as it is far from a permanent problem.  Rather, I'd prefer to focus on the fact that doing tasks requiring dexterity with the non-dominant hand supposedly develops the brain and can help stave off mental deterioration.  I am already developing some skill at one-handed shampooing, left-handed toothbrushing, and clutching bottles in my right elbow and wrenching them open with the left hand.  Whether this will prevent me from becoming senile in my dotage is a matter of speculation.  When I regain use of my hand, it will take me time to unlearn all this, much as the time when, returning from Brazil, I was unable to type for a week because my body had learned the Portuguese keyboard a little too well.

I am embarrassed to say that my left hand is still too weak to turn the (very stiff) key in my own door.  Nor can I type very effectively or floss my teeth (must master that today).  However, my temporary cast is a great thing on which to balance my book or hot cup of tea (it's basically a giant, rigid potholder).  In addition to being a conversation starter, my removable cast actually represents the difference between comfort and protection, and agony and fear.  I have never worn one in my life, and I expected it to be unwieldy, itchy, hot, and uncomfortable.  To my astonishment, it is none of the above.  So, my summer's plans have taken a different path, but it's alright.  I now have a whole new group of unexpected compadres everywhere I go.  Who knew?

All this comes hard on the heels of Charlie's accidentally attempting to ingest two nightshade berries--as few as two can prove fatal in children--found in a badly overgrown garden in our local park.  Poison control was called, as were the paramedics...who helped us determine that by "I ate them", Charlie actually meant "I put them into my mouth, intending to consume them, but upon discovering them to taste bad, I ceased masticating and ejected them from my mouth, but not before smearing a good deal of residue on my cheeks so as to adequately confound and distress my mother."  The paramedics departed, having revived us from our gratitude-inspired fainting spell, Charlie was totally fine, and the next day I hit the ER.  I can only manage what Aetna will think.

So these are the latest in a year filled with unexpected, occasionally agonizing episodes.  At this point, I just plan to sit back and let the next five months unfold as they will, hoping for a better year next time (because of course, EVERYTHING will improve at the stroke of midnight on January first, twenty-eleven).  I have decided that this is The Universe's way of shoring us up for the future, building up a few psychic calluses just in case.  Funnily, this is not unwelcome.  If everything else that has happened so far HADN'T happened, I think I'd be feeling a lot sorrier for myself right now.  I realize this year has given me the gift of perspective and forbearance.   July, however, is probably the wrong time to make this observation... what if I suddenly strike it rich, become unimaginably famous, and achieve perfect self-awareness?  It will ruin everything.


  1. I am SO SORRY to hear/ read about this! I am also sorry that we wont be working together this week. Also, man... a carnival ride!!! My little man has a love of those too and that is scary! I will miss seeing you in NH and hope you have a successful surgery and speedy recovery!

    Doug P.

  2. I'm impressed that you managed to type such a long post with your left hand! Wishing you quick healing.