Broken News

Home from hospital Thursday night. More on that broken arm:

Not much to say about the accident itself.  It would be nice to be able to say it happened while defending the property at my security job from hordes of ninjas and zombies, but it actually was just a bad fall on a concrete sidewalk.  The sidewalk won.

The break, in the shaft under the head of the right humerus, produced enough pieces the doctors decided against trying to use plates and screws to put the bone back together.  So Tuesday afternoon the top part of the humerous was removed and a metal prosthesis put in its place.  I guess this now makes me an Official Cyborg.  When bandages are removed and scars healed, I will see if I can use any of our fridge magnets to stick a to-do list to myself.  (First entry on that list: "DON'T FALL")

If it sounds like I'm trying to make light of the situation, it's because a totally serious account would read something like this: "AIIIEEEEE!!!!  AIIIIEEEEEEE!!!!  AIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!"  God damn, that hurt.  That hurt.  That hurt.  Every time the arm moved, it hurt like jagged pieces of broken bone were trying to cut their way further into already-traumatized tissue.  Oh, wait....

It didn't help that in the day between accident and surgery, every separate x-ray or catscan -- at least half a dozen -- seemed to require a separate trip down to radiology, with each requiring at least one painful shift from gurney or bed to x-ray table or CT machine, then back again.  AND with shifters who didn't seem too concerned about my screams when those shifts took place.  (You might think it just couldn't be avoided, but the guy who took my pre-op chest x-ray managed to shift me carefully and cautiously.  It wasn't painless, but it was a lot LESS painless than everyone else's transfers.  A LOT less painless.  Thank you, Brian; thank you, thank you, thank you.  That hospital should have you teaching your techniques to the other employees; I'm serious about that.)

Less pain, but still quite a bit, post-surgery.  Like my rotator-cuff-surgery recovery a few years ago, I'll be in a sling and with that arm mostly out of use except for physical therapy for some weeks to come.  Since the injury was to my right arm this time, it will be even more inconvenient.  Financially at least, most should be covered by Workmen's Comp, and my private insurance hopefully taking care of the rest.

Mentally, I find myself more disturbed by this accident than I expected.  Part of the reason the bone broke so badly was that my 60-year old body is starting to show osteoporosis, with loss of bone strength.  Twenty years ago, I'd probably have bounced up from such a fall, maybe with abrasions and/or a sprained shoulder.  And, even after just a few days post-surgery, I can tell I'm recovering more slowly than after the rotator-cuff surgery only two years ago.  A few days after the cuff surgery, I was able to supervise a yard/estate sale for a lot of our deceased friend Anne's belongings.  A few days after breaking the arm, I'm still barely moving.  Just typing this one-fingered post is deeply wearying.

(There also seemed to be an unspoken attitude on the part of some of the medical personnel I was involved with this week: "Oh, he's an old guy.  When old people fall down, they break.  Situation normal."  No.  No, IT'S NOT NORMAL, DAMN YOUR UNCORRECTED 20-20 VISION EYES!)

I've always been fairly physically strong.  I've always known I had that reserve of strength to fall back on, even in periods of illness or injury.  But this is the first time I recall feeling not only weak and feeble, but fragile.

If we didn't have Tabbi, Hilde's live-in night-time caregiver when I'm at work, to step up and take more care of not only Hilde, but to assist me with day-to-day tasks while I'm recovering, we'd be screwed.  (We've had Tabbi living with us for seven years.  It's gotten to be a lot like having an adult daughter sharing the house.  She makes a good "daughter"; hurt her, and I'll break your arm.  Eventually.  I'll put it on a to-do list and stick it to my shoulder with a magnet until I'm recovered.)

BONUS VISUAL AID:  Barely noticeable painwise, but pretty spectacular visually, I also hit my face on the sidewalk when I fell.  I'm putting a photo below the break, in order not to frighten young or sensitive Internet users who might stumble across this post.

This was taken Friday morning, so the discoloration and swelling has actually dropped a lot..  For the full effect, yank the image into Photoshop, darken the bruise color about halfway closer to solid black.  Then stretch the swollen area to about triple it's size and manipulate it to droop over about half the eye like a floppy beret.  For that final touch, give the eyebrow more dried blood and scabs to taste.

Oh, and I forgot to mention my roommates.  Four altogether, the middle two normal people, the others... holey schlamoley. 

The first was, verbally, the most viciously abusive piece of crap I have ever heard.  His girlfriend was present when I was brought into the room, and I had to listen to a torrent of filthy, ugly, vicious talk about how unlovable, and worthless, and disgusting, the girlfriend was.  And it never stopped, never varied, never lessened.  And the worst thing was... the girlfriend sat there, and whimpered, and took it, and took it, and took it, for hours, until she finally had to leave for work.  And almost as soon as she left, he started calling her on his cell phone, demanding she come back to the hospital.  And when she stopped answering her phone, he called in the floor nurse... and ordered him to call the girlfriend and make her come back to the hospital.  That didn't go over well with the floor nurse.  (Polite version of response: "No.")  When he didn't get the respect he thought he deserved, he ended up pulling out hs own IV and walking out of the hospital.

Ghaaah.  I hope that guy got hit by a fast-moving bus as soon as he reached the street.  And I hope the bus was one the girlfriend was leaving town on.

My last roomate, late Wednesday night, was a homeless guy who probably never should have been sent to my floor at all.  He had obvious mental problems, but he'd been admitted for a facial injury, so he was sent to the trauma floor.  At first, he seemed tolerable; when they inventoried his personal possessions, about all he had in his pockets was a ratty wallet, a single dollar bill, and a piece of sandpaper; he kept them all with him rather than sending them down to Security.

He chattered constantly, even after curtains between our beds had been drawn and room lights turned off.  It was a disjointed and confusing narrative about his lifetime of abuse and hard luck.  As the minutes passed, his voice sped up, his narrative got even more disjointed, and the details got even more extreme.  (Gang raped in school.  Gang raped in the military.  Gang raped by police.  Gang raped in prison.  Gang raped by Mormons.  Forcibly tattooed with designs that made people want to hurt him.)  Repeated phrases included "I don't want to exist," and "I want to erase myself.'

As I listened to this, I realized that for several moments I'd been hearing a rapid, repeated scraping sound underneath his raving.  I remembered that inventory of his personal possessions.  And the question arose in my mind:  "Could he be trying to commit suicide-by-sandpaper?"  At which point I pressed my call button with some vigor.

The roommate's bed was closest to the room door.  The staff nurse came in within a few seconds, flipping on a light as he did so.  "Can I help y---HOLY SHIT!" he said.

Things happened quickly.  The staff nurse later told he'd worked there for a year, but it was the first time he'd called a Staff Emergency.  (Basically, "All Hands On Deck!")

Reading this over, the thought strikes me some people might think. "Jeez, Bruce, you saved that guy's life."  Ummmm, no, I hardly think so, and didn't think so at the time.  It would have taken more time, and effort, before the guy's life was actually in danger.  On the Boy Scout Scale, this counts more towards a Good Deed Per Day merit badge than a Life Saving badge.  But I'm glad I was able to help move him closer to getting the care he needed most.

That's the difference between that first roommate and the last.  The first was a vicious, hateful piece of slime who enjoyed hurting other people.  The last was a seriously mentally ill person whose brain was on fire and didn't know how to let other people know what was happening to him.  I felt sorry for my last roommate.  I hope he's getting, and continues to get, the help he needs, though that's unlikely in today's political and social climate.

(Thanks, Ronald Reagan, for ending so many government-run mental health programs and facilities, and throwing so many seriously mentally ill people out on the streets.  Thanks a lot, you vicious, inhumane, degenerate piece of shit.)

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