By Alan Sorensen
When she was about 75, Mom broke her wrist. Shed been visiting Martha on 15th Avenue. She made it down the stairs OK, and then was felled by a rock on the gravel road as she walked around her car.
It was about 10 p.m. and dark. She picked up her severed right hand, got into her 5-speed station wagon, and drove herself to the hospital emergency room. By the time the boys and I were notified, she was clowning around in ER with her orthopedic surgeon, Dr. L.
We arrived to find her right hand resting a few inches to the right of her arm on her gurney. The skin appeared to be the only thing preventing the crab-like hand from crawling into the sea.
She underwent surgery that night and was back home within a day or two.
Tough? I couldnt have done what she did. Or could I.
About seven years later, I got my chance to find out. My breaks both the ulna and radius were nearly identical to Moms.
The mishap occurred at the beginning of the Class A Central Division track and field meet. I was walking backward into the javelin outfield when my heel caught on a chalk line. I thought I heard glass breaking as I sat down, so I checked my back pockets for broken light bulbs. None.
Then I looked down to my right and saw my hand resting on the ground a few inches to the right of my arm. Though it was no longer attached in a significant way to the rest of my arm, the fingers still worked.
I picked the darn thing up, hugged it to my abundant girth, and walked to the street where our sports editor Kent picked me up and took me to the doctors office.
Let me say here and now that Dr. K. did a great job of splinting my arm and saving me thousands of dollars I didnt have to visit the hospital or its emergency room. The orthopedic surgeon, Dr. H., granted my wish when I visited his office Monday morning. The splint kept everything straight and I didnt require surgery.
I should eventually get full feeling back in my fingers, too, he said.
I dont know if Im less fortunate for having the gene that led to the same breaks as Moms or more fortunate for having inherited some of her toughness.
The toughest part about being laid up is the guilt at not accomplishing as much at work or around the house as usual. The helplessness and dependence on the goodness of others is humbling, verging on humiliating.
But beyond the pain and self-pity that go with broken bones and damaged nerves, the lost sleep and incoherence, there can be an upside to physical injury.
The advantages Ive enjoyed to date are varied:
Learning to do all kinds of things with my left one. Does that mean Im using just the right hemisphere of my brain when typing?
Weight-loss regimen: Lie languorously on sofa with severed right arm resting on belly-topped pillow; drink 18 quarts of water each day for seven days; drop 15 pounds without moving a muscle. (Then gain it all back during a 2-day, care-giving visit from your big brother.)
Being reminded repeatedly that no good deed goes unpunished. As coach Bob said outside the office the other day, thats what volunteerism gets you.
Learning to accept help from others. (Expecting it from Spud and Chy-An.)
Helping Spud with some practical practicals in preparation for his First-Responder practicals (exam) at the fire department tonight.
People complain when we reporters inadvertently put them in a bad light, but I see (while languishing on my couch) that a couple of businesses are actually paying someone to do just that, put them in a bad light.
One is nearly local Pro-Lube in Great Falls. The ad claims that Pro-Lubes labors will make your car last. I dont know about you, but I dont want my car to be last.
Then theres the Ultima sports drink, official beverage of the United States Track and Field Team. It has paid its advertising agency good money to tell athletes that Ultima will increase your performance. What does that mean? By using Ultima, Ill be able to lose six races instead of three?