Last Friday, I broke my elbow. The doctors said six weeks to heal. I gave myself two, and I think we’re going to make it. Here’s how: (But before any of this, a caveat that simply, I’m thankful: That the break wasn’t worse, or anything other than my elbow; that this is the first hard hit in the years I’ve been biking aggressively in NYC; and for everything I've learned that’s allowed me to give this body what it needs to heal – fast.)
7/24: I took the day off of work to tend to life. Hopped on my bike and ran the rounds, as is standard weekend practice. 20 miles later, en route home, feeling the love, I reflected on the appreciable fact that I’d not had a regrettable wreck yet. Rounded a Williamsburg corner casually and life said, get down.
Some combination of swinging right to avoid a car, and hitting a pothole I had seen clearly, laid me out. I remember palm and road, I believe there was a roll involved, and I ride in clips so the bike was along for that part of the ride too. A couple of pedestrians helped me up, I assessed damage, calmed the shakes, and then with what seemed like full right-body road-rash but nothing, heh, broken, I rode home.
And swore pretty much the entire way back as my right palm was partly missing, there was definitely dual wrist damage, and my left arm was starting to seize.
All said, here's what the route looked like:
I’ve never broken a bone before so had no pain reference. What I thought was, “This feels deep, and cold.”
Your fiercely independent woman who praises singledom and dreams about monkhood was damn glad to have a boyfriend this week.
7/25: I’m determined that we’re still hiking Bear Mountain today. Buy me a sling and lets go. (At this point, I’ve lost nearly all mobility in my arm – it’s pretty well locked at 90 degrees, and hurts.) By the time we get to Grand Central it’s clear that I can’t walk quickly without arm seizures that cause me to curse, and stop, and nearly cry. So instead of the hike, we go to urgent care.
Xrays, pain meds, a tetanus shot, a doctor’s visit prescription and total disapproval of my having chosen to dress the road rash with raw honey. :)
The rest of the day, we stroll around the city, stopping so I can swear every couple of blocks, and despite getting into the vicodin (it was that bad) I excuse myself to cry more than once. I’ve not experienced that consistent a severe pain ever. But, bodies heal. So that became the game.
7/26: I strap the arm on, boyfriend dresses me and ties my shoes, and we go to the gym. Running on the stairmaster was heaven – my ego was elated. At least the rest of me could move. And then I have to get a blowout because washing my own hair is out of the question. So is opening pretty much anything – the right side far from 100% as well, I’m … dependent. Also pick up some bone broth from Chelsea Market to start the process.
7/27: Stumble on the subway steps heading to work, layer some wounds on top of the colorful right knee and wrist and think that I am absolutely positively totally and completely receptive to whatever it is the world wants me to learn from this.
Thereafter, my days were full of the following, which appear to have worked wonders. Note that starting from a strong healthy place helps – but I’ll be saving this first-aid 101 for the next broken bone that crosses our paths:
(*Update: It should (MUST) be noted that all of this is supplemental to a diet which deserves the majority – by far – of the credit for recovery. That diet is, as you likely know by now: plant-based, mostly raw, very vegan, grain-free, alkaline, without processed food, sugar, alcohol or caffeine. Without that, these additions are nothing. And had we to choose one over the other, the vegetables would win, always.)
- Arnica: oral and topical. All day everyday.
- Acupuncture: trigger point (deeper – needles into your muscles)
- Bone broth: daily
- Vitamin D: I was taking this daily already but if you’re not, do.
- Minerals: Calcium/magnesium daily – also something I was already doing.
- Turmeric (anti-inflammatory): Added a supplement on top of my fresh-juiced. And ginger.
- Blue-green algae: I was daily but tripled my dose
- Serious greens (as in chlorella, wheatgrass, spirulina): again a regular for me but doubled up.
- Dragon’s blood (acupuncturist recommendation, topical) “for stagnant blood due to trauma”. That would be me.
- Heat, ice, heat ice, heat. A lot of self-wrap jobs and no shame.
- Physical therapy.
- Other than weight-bearing exercises, I continued the gym, and as soon as I got permission, moving my hand and arm. Knowing the difference between good pain (muscle, nerve) and bad (bone, which I’m reminding myself is still broken) meant I could start working it out. This foot grab is a victory:
A week later, I’m not wearing my sling, have nearly full mobility back (meaning I can straighten my arm – almost, and rotate my hand – almost), can tie my shoes and even washed my own hair tonight. There are overambitious moments (like when I attempted to climb onto the roof today and realized I can’t hoist myself through the hatch -_-) but those are better had than ‘woe-is-me’s. (Not that I wasn’t desperate to tears to get my clothes off and hair up on any one of the recent 90+ degree days.)
As for that breeze of life that chose now to flick me off my feet, and the world’s lesson through this humbling bout, I believe it’s that:
We’re human. We’re breakable, and we’re mendable. So often our default is to indulge injury sickness or discomfort, rather than to right it. Because my situation is incomparable to the severity of illness possible though, I’ll leave it at that – and delicately.
Also, independence is dependent.